Pittsburgh's independent music source
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

The Sounds Of SoCal

Los Hollywood, a Southern California band whose bilingual power pop has us entranced.
Courtesy of the artist
Los Hollywood, a Southern California band whose bilingual power pop has us entranced.

English / Spanish

Road trips are great for gathering just the right music to keep the miles from becoming one long blur. High-energy songs to keep the forward momentum going. Singalongs to wake you up. Moody, introspective sounds to accompany starry nights.

My family's recent midsummer drive from DC to California and back was the first time music was waiting for me halfway through my trip. During my week and a half in Southern California, I felt like the Indiana Jones of rock en Espanol — discovering and collecting enough wonderfully engaging music to make a road trip mixtape for the ride back.

Southern California is one of the world's centers of Latino culture. More Mexicans live there than in any city in Mexico aside from its sprawling capital. And the bands we feature on the show this week illustrate the variety of forms Mexican and Mexican-American music can take, from the politically strident stance of rapper Malverde to the folk-tinged otherworldliness of Aparato.

The homeland is also present in the lucha libre-inspired cumbia of Mexico City's El Conjunto Nuevo Ola. And Los Hollywood give us a taste of what it's like to grow up Chicano and stare up at that famous Hollywood sign. In the Afro-Colombian grooves of Palenke Soul Tribe, we hear that Mexicans aren't the only Latino culture present in SoCal.

I obviously discovered only the tip of the iceberg on this trip. I met quite a few more musical contacts at jam sessions, Latin alternative parties and even taco trucks.

The music is there waiting to be discovered. So put on your Indy fedora and some earbuds and come along for the musical journey. And be sure to tell us in the comments what you've found lately.

Read More about the show in Spanish and see the full list of songs here.


English / Spanish

Las Increíbles Aventuras De Felix Y Jas En El Sur De California

Los viajes por la carretera son buenísimas ocasiones para eligir la música perfecta, para que cada milla tenga un recuerdo especial. Hay canciones que te dan energía para seguir. Hay canciones que te despiertan. Y hay música introspectiva para escuchar mirando un cielo lleno de estrellas.

Hace poco mi familia y yo hicimos un viaje desde Washington DC hasta California y de vuelta. Durante nuestra semana y media en el sur de California, me sentí como el Indiana Jones del rock en español - descubrí y recogí una increíble cantidad de música encantadora para hacer un excelente mixtape en mi regreso a Washington DC.

El sur de California es, sin duda, un centro de cultura latina. Hay más mexicanos en esa zona que en cualquier ciudad de México- sin contar Ciudad México. Las bandas que destacamos en el show de esta semana demuestran la gran variedad que existe dentro de la música mexicana y chicana, desde el rap activista del artista Malverde hasta la etérea música de Aparato.

La cultura mexicana está presente en la cumbia de El Conjunto Nuevo Ola, una banda del D.F. También Los Hollywood nos dan una idea de como es criarse en una familia Chicana en Los Ángeles y estar viendo todo el tiempo ese letrero de Hollywood tan famoso. Pero solo hace falta escuchar los ritmos Afro-Colombianos de Palenke Soultribe para saber que los mexicanos no son los únicos latinos cuya música suena en el sur de California.

Obviamente durante este viaje, solo descubrí un poquito de lo que es un enorme mundo musical. Presencié mucha buena música, durante sesiones improvisadas, fiestas, y aún mientras esperaba a que preparen mi comida en un típico camión de tacos.

Prepárate para venir con nosotros en este viaje musical. Y por favor cuéntanos en la sección de comentarios que música has descubierto tu últimamente.

Copyright 2024 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

This Week On Alt.Latino: Felix and Jas's Excellent Adventure

No Te Agüites

From 'Los Hollywood'

By Los Hollywood

Sounds like: Early No Doubt with a bilingual flair.

Coming at you from: Los Angeles and San Diego

Te Busco

From 'Te Busco'

By Los Hollywood

Take On Me

From 'Take On Me'

By El Conjunto Nueva Ola

Sounds like: The 80s got a cumbia make-over.

Coming at you from: Mexico City

Es Mas Grande Que (Hip Hop)

From 'El Mixtape Sessions'

By Malverde

Sounds like East LA flow with a hint of reggaeton, güey.

Coming at you from: Los Angeles and the border

Note: This is a cover of the Dead Prez song, "It's bigger than hip-hop".


From 'Palenke Vs Palenque'

By Palenke Soultribe's

Sounds like some kids from Colombia got lost and found themselves in Los Angeles.

Coming at you from: Los Angeles


From 'Aparato'

By Aparato

Sounds like blissed-out, magical realist post-punk.

Coming at you from: Los Angeles

Toro Mata

From 'Toro Mata'

By Bang Data + Eva Ayllón

Sounds like: An Afro-Peruvian classic gets an update

Coming at you from: Oakland

Felix Contreras
Felix Contreras is co-creator and co-host of Alt.Latino, NPR's pioneering radio show and podcast celebrating Latin music and culture since 2010.