In the tradition of bands like CafÉ Tacuba and El Gran Silencio, Mexico's Los de Abajo propose a widely divergent mix of styles—cumbia and salsa blended with Mexican folk, hip-hop, and e

In the tradition of bands like Café Tacuba and El Gran Silencio, Mexico's Los de Abajo propose a widely divergent mix of styles—cumbia and salsa blended with Mexican folk, hip-hop, and electronica—that's at once eclectic and coherent and fiercely Mexican. On the act's sophomore album, the eight-piece band manages to be intensely angry and lyrical in one fell swoop. The opening "Qué Mala Suerte" kicks off with a driving rap set over acoustic piano and bass before delving into a chorus chanted over a melodic, jazzy trumpet. "El Loco" spotlights a beautiful melody accompanied by guitar, tres, and a touch of electronica; "Nada," with its lovely vocal harmonies and unexpected rhythmic changes gives a different meaning to ska. Unlike many other alternative bands that strive for fusion, Los de Abajo have the songs and musicianship to carry it off brilliantly, overpowering even the leftist ideology that, in the band's promo material, is given more relevance than its music. If truth be told, this music needs no props, not even political propaganda, to stand tall.—LC