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Best Rock Album

September 12, 2000

Reves/Yosoy: CAFE TACUBA

The Mexican quartet's fourth album might just be the most formidable chapter in the book of rock en espanol. Presenting one disc of obscure, dissonant instrumentals ("Reves") and another of richly layered songs ("Yosoy"), Tacuba throws caution to the wind, giving free rein to the experimental vein it had already showcased in previous efforts. This time, though, everything works out with enviable perfection. From the minimalist euphoria of "13" to the epic urgency of "Dos Ninos," this eclectic collection of hypnotic tracks brings to mind the Beatles' "White Album" while revealing an outfit of almost limitless imagination.

Bajo el azul de tu misterio: JAGUARES

At the epicenter of this band's darkly melancholic rock lies singer Saul Hernandez, a composer with the rare ability to infuse every one of his tunes with a somber, anthemic quality. In the '80s, Hernandez gained fame as the leader of Caifanes. His work with Jaguares has continued the exploration of a similar path, but with an emphasis on more sophisticated textures. The first disc in this double set is a blistering live affair. The second, a positively sumptuous studio collection, enhances the band's trademark three-guitar pathos with a symphony orchestra and a brass section.


Infatuated by the funk of Parliament, the gloss of soft-core eroticism and the most obvious physical attributes of actress Jennifer Lopez, the Argentine duo of Emmanuel Horvilleur and Dante Spinetta have metamorphosed from rap imitators to a soul orchestra circa 1975. And although their retro antics have left more than one critic a bit puzzled, there's no denying that Illya Kuryaki and the Valderramas want listeners to have fun on the dance floor. What else can you expect from an outfit that named itself after a TV character from the '60s and a Colombian soccer player.


This Chilean band offers a meat-and-potatoes version of rock en espanol. After a dubious excursion into electronica territory with 1998's "Vertigo," the trio returns to the majestic hooks that first made it famous. The songs here are drenched in spiraling guitars and tasty drum patterns, as lead singer Beto Cuevas sings in Spanish, croons in French and seduces female listeners with his mysterious, solitary persona and movie-star good looks. "Uno" bridges the gap between rock 'n' roll attitude and pop atmospherics. The group's recent concerts brought to mind the guilty pleasures of '80s arena rock.


In 1993, Paez changed the face of Latin pop with "El Amor Despues del Amor," a collection of sunny tunes that made the Argentine singer-songwriter sound like a distant cousin of Paul McCartney. Six years later, Paez has lost none of his melodic talent, but maturity has given his sound a harder edge. His introspective, incisive lyrics are definitely the forte of this austere record, which was produced by Phil Ramone. The centerpiece here is the 12-minute epic "La Casa Desaparecida" (The Disappeared House), a thorough description of the horrors and wonders of his country.

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