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SA Music Awards

2012 Latin Alternative/Rock Artist/Band: Piñata Protest

Photo: Tove K. Breistein, License: N/A

Tove K. Breistein

Piñata Protest

Self-taught acordeonista Álvaro del Norte's norteño-soaked squeezebox dancing drunkenly over Matt Cazares' hardcore guitar: that's the simple essence of Piñata Protest's sound. But like the fare at your favorite hole-in-the-wall taquería, it's the simplicity that brings out the flavor. A concept as basic as layering the joyful noise of traditional Latin border music over the reliable, mosh-ready riffs of old-school punk, is what defines the band's self-described mojado punk, and that's all it needs. Instantly recognizable and just as instantly likable, Piñata Protest's sound is addictive and satisfying. And don't let the name fool you: while del Norte has a fine line in working-class political protest, this isn't some dour bunch of feel-bads whose music is just a delivery system for social scolding. The only axe-grinding comes from Cazares' guitar, and lyrically, the band is at its best when it engages in funny, perfectly detailed bits of everyday observation in delightfully bent love songs like "Cold Fries," "Love Taco," and "Jackeee." The Spanglish lyrics also never fail to entertain, hurtling from the flowery poetry en español one expects from top-drawer Tejano to twisted English put-downs ("y le digo: you smell like pee!"). Back in town after a reportedly red-hot appearance at South by Southwest, the reader's pick as best Latin Alternative/Rock Band is a pure and simple illustration of what our city's cultural drifts can wash up.

2. Bombasta
3. Jai Roots Herb-N-Café

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