whether multicultural or region-specific, the contenders for top honors all struck a chord


LABEL: Bizarro Records
PRODUCERS: Juan Campodónico, Gustavo Santaolalla, Anibal Kerpel
ENGINEERS/MIXERS:Joe Chiccarelli, Julio Berta, Anibal Kerpel

The debut album from producer Juan Campodónico together with Academy Award winner Gustavo Santaolalla, founder/co-producer of the Bajofondo Collective, Campo mixes elements of pop, electro and rock with neo-tango, neo-cumbia, Latin retro and pop music. It was recently also nominated for a Latin Grammy.

Déjenme Llorar
Carla Morrison
LABEL: Cosmica Records
PRODUCERS:Andres Landon, Juan Manuel Torreblanca
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Alejandro Jimenez, Christopher Manhey, Diego Suarez

At the 13th annual Latin Grammys in November, Carla Morrison took home two trophies for best alternative music album and best alternative song. A strong pop balladeer known for her deep, lovelorn lyrics and passionate live performances, the Mexican-born singer/songwriter is scheduled to return to the giant music festival Vive Latino in March along with Morrissey, Blur and Los Fabulosos Cadillacs during a four-day event in Mexico City. The title song of her album, which translates to "Let Me Cry," has become an anthem for many of her fans.

LABEL: Smithsonian Folkways Recordings
PRODUCERS: Quetzal Flores, Daniel E. Sheehy
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Pete Reiniger, Quetzal Flores, Alberto Lopez, Camilo Moreno

Quetzal, a bilingual and Chicano band from East Los Angeles, writes about social, cultural and political themes in its songs. In the early 1990s co-founder Quetzal Flores saw the revival of traditional music from Veracruz known as son jarocho and decided to learn the music and its folk instruments, but fused it with influences from such acts as the Smiths, Ruben Blades and Stevie Wonder.

Sistema Bomb
LABEL: Round Whirled Records
PRODUCERS: Hector "Hecdog" Perez, Greg Landau
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Hector "Hecdog" Perez

Electro-Jarocho is a trans-border album that introduces collaborations between the masters of traditional son jarocho music from Veracruz and a group of U.S. and Mexico-based Latinos who have made this style of music part of their identity. The self-produced indie project is Hector "Hecdog" Perez's debut album as Sistema Bomb featuring several guest artists including Asdru Sierra of Ozomatli, Los Cojolites and Roco Pachukote of Maldita Vecindad. Perez performed tracks from the album at Wirikuta Fest in Mexico City earlier this year with Pachukote. The documentary "Daughter From Danang," which was scored by Perez, was nominated for an Academy Award in 2003.

La Bala
Ana Tijoux
LABEL: Nacional Records
PRODUCERS: Andres Celis, Ana Tijoux
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Carlos Barros, Arturo Zegers, Todd Fairall

La Bala was recently nominated for a Latin Grammy for best urban music album. It's the follow-up to Tijoux's 1997, which was previously nominated for a Grammy and featured on AMC's "Breaking Bad." The French-Chilean rapper co-headlined with Puerto Rico's Calle 13 at the Latin Alternative Music Conference in New York last summer.

best Regional mexican music album

Pecados y Milagros
Lila Downs
LABEL: Sony Music
PRODUCERS: Lila Downs, Paul Cohen, Aneiro Taño.
ENGINEERS/MIXERS:Aneiro Taño, Rodolfo Vázquez, Alberto J. Rodríguez, Alan Saucedo, Kamilo Kratc, Sandra Kratc, Mauricio Cano, José Limberg

Lila Downs recently won for best folk album at the Latin Grammys and continues to build recognition. The singer/songwriter incorporates traditional Oaxacan folk music into her projects and this album, which translates to "Sins and Miracles," has become a world music favorite. During the Latin Grammy telecast in November, Downs performed "Zapata Se Queda" (Zapata Remains), leaving viewers mesmerized as a colorful "Day of the Dead"-themed set served as the backdrop to her commanding voice and powerful composition. The album peaked at No. 33 on Top Latin Albums.

Sembrando Flores
Los Cojolites
LABEL: Round Whirled Records
PRODUCERS:Greg Landau, Hector "Hecdog" Perez
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Hector "Hecdog" Perez, Greg Landau

This marks Round Whirled Records' second nomination in the current slate of Grammy nominations, which caught the label by surprise. Los Cojolites is comprised of a young group of son jarocho musicians who were first seen in the 2002 Salma Hayek film, "Frida." This is the first son jarocho album nominated in this category featuring the style of music from the Veracruz region of Mexico.

365 Días
Los Tucanes de Tijuana
LABEL: Fonovisa
PRODUCER: Mario Quintero Lara
ENGINEERS/MIXERS:Fernando Cavazos, Mario Quintero Lara, Noe Sepulveda, Sergio Vargas.

Founded in the late '80s, the venerable act known as Los Tucanes de Tijuana have since built a loyal following of fans. 365 Días has sold 26,000 albums, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and peaked at No. 3 on the Top Latin Albums chart. Led by Mario Quintero Lara, the band was formed in Tijuana, Mexico, and is best-known for its corridos (narrative compositions).

Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea
LABEL: Shea Records/East Side Records
PRODUCERS: Alberto "Beto" Jimenez Maeda, Cindy Shea
ENGINEERS/MIXERS: Salvador "Chava" Sandoval, Alberto "Beto" Jimenez Maeda

Mariachi Divas de Cindy Shea returns this year with another nomination. The group has been performing as the official mariachis of Disney in Anaheim, Calif., for several years. Its album contains 14 new recordings, including "I Will Always Love You," a tribute to the late Whitney Houston. Directed and founded by trumpet player Cindy Shea, the group has been together since 1999.

El Primer Ministro
Gerardo Ortiz
LABEL: Sony Music Latin
PRODUCER: Gerardo Ortiz
ENGINEER/MIXER: Ignacio "Nacho" Zamudio

Prolific singer/songwriter Gerardo Ortiz has built a strong following thanks to his popular corridos. At just 23, his lyrical compositions have helped reach a new generation of regional Mexican fans. El Primer Ministro has sold 36,000 units and was No. 1 for two weeks on Top Latin Albums. The norteño crooner won seven trophies at the 2012 Billboard Mexican Music Awards, including artist of the year.