The Rock en Español musical movement has been building momentum for the last decade, and much of that popularity is due to the astounding Café Tacvba, whose brilliant blend of traditional Mexican folk and post-punk pop has set the bar for the entire genre.
Café Tacvba traces its roots to 1989 when singer/guitarist Elfego Buendía (who changes his name and alter ego with almost every album, while his birth certificate lists him as Ruben Albarran) met guitarist Joselo Rangel at art school. Shortly after that meeting, Joselo’s brother Quinque picked up a bass and brought his friend, keyboardist Emmanuel “Meme” Del Real, along to a rehearsal. Café Tacvba was born.
Café Tacvba (named for a restaurant in their native Mexico City) eschewed a drummer and relied on drum machines for their first six albums. That absence helped the band develop their manic punk-meets-folk sound, but with their current album, Cuatro Caminos, they’ve added a drummer and toned down their folk roots. And while no one will confuse Cuatro Caminos with Metallica, comparisons to The Beatles' White Album have abounded and are apt.
But this is no Anglo band. Says Meme proudly, “This is Café Tacvba’s most rock[-oriented]album because we play with a drummer, electric guitar and an electric bass. Our Mexican influences are still there, and you can hear it in the songs: we sound like a Mexican rock band, not from another country.”
They may be a Mexican band, but their reach is global. While they toured with Beck in 2000, 2003 is the year mainstream rock audiences discovered them. Having toured throughout the Americas this summer and fall, one of the band’s U.S. tour stops included the three-day Coachella Festival, where Café Tacvba shared the bill with The Red Hot Chili Peppers and The White Stripes. Continuing to grow in importance and fan-base, Café Tacvba more than hold their own and have proven that they are a band on the verge of conquering language barriers worldwide.