Monterrey, Mexico: Latin Alternative Central

Cartel de Santa i i

The members of Cartel de Santa live together and record in a rented house they call Casa Babylonia. Jacobo Parra hide caption

itoggle caption Jacobo Parra
Cartel de Santa

The members of Cartel de Santa live together and record in a rented house they call Casa Babylonia.

Jacobo Parra

Last year no fewer than eight bands from Monterrey, Mexico, were invited to play at the South by Southwest music festival in Austin, Texas. Some have called Monterrey the Seattle of Latin Alternative music, in reference to Seattle's role in the early 1990s as the incubator of grunge rock.

Passion for music runs deep in this city of over 1 million, situated 150 miles from the Texas border. A decade ago, Monterrey was known as the hub of groupero music, the accordion-based rural dance music popular along both sides of the border.

Now, other styles share the clubs and the studios with groupero. Because of its proximity to the United States, the city is uniquely situated to produce such popular Latin alternative bands as Kinky, Control Machete, El Gran Silencio and Plastilina Mosh. Up-and-coming bands such as Vaquero and the hip-hop group Cartel de Santa are now looking for inroads to music-industry success, albeit in different ways.

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