Cinco de Mayo is rapidly approaching, so we figured now was a good time to turn our gaze southwards. We wanted to get an idea of what’s happening with music in Mexico -- once you elbow past the wandering mariachi bands. (But if you’re really dying to hear a new release, the Beastie Boys will oblige.) Then we head even further south to find out what happens when South American hipsters are set loose with cameras. And lastly, take a minute to enjoy our video pick of the week. Repeatedly, if need be.

Get Schooled By The Mexican Institute of Sound
Camilo Lara, aka The Mexican Institute of Sound, is one busy dude. He’s buddies with the Beastie Boys (check out Ad Rock’s remix of his song “Alocatel”), he’s become an underground sensation on both sides of the border (rocking Coachella in 2009) -- and he works at a major label by day. And, oh yeah, he’s helped make cumbia cool again. Is there anything the indefatigable Lara can’t do? This week, he shows us the Mexico he loves -- not the land of men sleeping under sombreros, but the teaming streets and thriving music scene of Mexico City. Check out his utterly fresh playlist: we guarantee you’ll be shouting “cumbia!” within five minutes, or your money back.



Freak Folk, Latin American Style
In keeping with this week’s Latin theme, we have to give big ups to Yatoka, the Chilean hipsters who seem to be redefining how Latin music reaches the world. This ain’t your parents’ Chile: freak folksters, hip-hop groups, and everybody in between gets in front of the camera for a series of easy, intimate outdoor performances. (Yes, LaBlogotheque fans may experience some deja vu.) There’s no easier way to find your next favorite singer-songwriter: we think Pascuala Ilabaca might just be ours.



Grouper “Alien Observer”
And now for the weird. Nobody defines the weird more delicately than Portland’s Liz Harris, aka Grouper, whose dark and deceptively simple music seems to grab at big things under the surface. We could talk about drones and guitars and psychedelic vocal overlays, but you really should just experience it for yourself. Her “Alien Observer” video is an odd and impressionistic work, and whenever you think it’s going in a conventional direction, something derails it -- to our great relief. Haunting stuff.



Sarah Bardeen, Music Community Manager, recently watched “Pascuala Ilabaca - Lamenta la Canela.avi.”