Punk, cumbia, new wave, reggae — there’s a legion of Latino music bands from Los Angeles that are borrowing rhythms from all over the globe and making them their own. Here are 11 essential LA bands you should check out.
La Chamba Cumbia Chicha
Photo Credit: The Get Down Collective / Facebook
They carve a Peruvian sound with an East LA twist and a band name that means “to put in work.” Think cumbia with guitar leads and heavy bass lines. A working-class message that is, as they put it, “adding a rhythm to the daily bustle of life.”
Photo Credit: Las Cafeteras / Facebook
This is an active group that has unapologetically created a hybrid sound of Son Jarocho, hip hop and pop. An East LA music scene staple with an infectious, politically conscious sound, Las Cafeteras have created a sound that crosses generational lines.
Photo Credit: Josué Rivas / chicanobatman.com
Their most recent achievement is being added to the lineup for Coachella 2015. Led by Mexican-Colombian Bardo Martinez, their sound is probably the most experimental on this list. Blend romantic ’70s Latin American music with its heavy keyboard sound add a Pink Floyd feel and sprinkle with funk.
Photo Credit: Cristian Vargas / Facebook
With a new approach to an old vibe, this three-piece band brings an aggressive, stripped down sound — think cumbia channeling punk. A rebellious, youthful is sure to win over new fans; their covers of Selena and Los Caminantes are must-listens. With nine independent albums last year alone, their momentum keeps growing.
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This is the band that other bands go see. They are open to many sounds but the thread that binds them together is funk. Also a three-piece, the difference is that Viento Callejero have rotating singers, so the focus is the sound. The technique seems to be working for them as they are quickly gaining traction throughout the Los Angeles music scene.
Photo Credit: Buyepongo / Facebook
Mixing afro beats with hip hop swag, Buyepongo has been hitting the scene hard for a few years. If you’ve ever been to one of their shows, you know that the groove will have you dancing all night long. Hailing from Norwalk, Calif., this group keeps the party going well into the morning hours.
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The musical is in the bands’ name, boogaloo, a genre that took root in New York City. Thrown into this mix of 60s sounds are soul, salsa and other Latin rhythms. They’ve been active since 2007 and have a strong following throughout Southern California. It’s like having a slice of New York in Los Angeles.
Photo Credit: Zapoteca Roots / Facebook
Reggae meets Sonidero. What sets this group apart is the it has created. The “Sonidero” sound is a Mexican type of cumbia that has many fans in LA, and Zapoteca Roots caters to them. They create a contemporary vibe that will bring back memories of family gatherings and quinceañeras.
ECNO (El Conjunto Nueva Ola)
Photo Credit: ECNO / Facebook
ECNO has managed to turn New Wave ’80s classics into new cumbia mash ups. This Mexico City band hit the scene with a fury and acquired fans just as quickly. But they don’t consider themselves a cover band. They’re more interested in keeping the new wave melodies and giving the lyrics new life. Oh, and they wear luchador masks.
La Santa Cecilia
Photo Credit: La Santa Cecilia / Facebook
Perhaps the best known band on this list is Latin Grammy Award-winner La Santa Cecilia. They’ve come a long way from playing free fundraisers. Lead vocalist “Marisoul” has a voice that many have compared to classic rock icon Janis Joplin. An eclectic sound that covers a wide range of genres has been key to their success.
Photo Credit: El-Haru Kuroi / Facebook
This bossa nova-influenced trio has been under the radar but they’ve definitely got a of their own. They combine Mexican, Central American and African sounds and rhythms at a pace that echoes punk. This year they plan on expanding their fan base by taking their blistering sound to the midwest.