A Quick Guide to South American Rock

Having spent the last couple of weeks digesting the rattlingly good album from Mexican neo-grunge funksters, Ikkarus. All of which made us think – from a continent so huge, why are there so few successful rock bands?


Well, since they inspired us, where better to start? Their debut album, Stains & Echoes is an immediately arresting collection of songs which have the buzzing, growl of the early 90’s Pacific North-West combined with the bass thump of Red Hot Chili Peppers. The end result is catchy, raucous and both nostalgic and forward-thinking at the same time. Recommended!


Question Mark (also answering to Rudy Martinez) founded his band in 1962 and are still a going concern, largely due to their break-out hit, 96 Tears. Though actually hailing from Michigan, their Latin roots made them one of the first rock bands to have a number one hit in America with a South American heritage (honorable mention to Ritchie Valens).


We could hardly get away with not including Carlos Santana, perhaps the most famous Mexican musician to ever live (certainly to an English-speaking audience). Taking the blues and infusing it with traditional South American music and rock have led him to enjoy a career where he is adopted by new generations of musicians and audiences with each new release.


Brazilian psych legends, Os Mutantes, sprang into life in 1968, well-soaked in dripping technicolour visuals and trippy, Beatles-esque harmonies. They achieved attention decades later when cited by Kurt Cobain as an influence and were rumoured to be lined up as Nirvana’s support band for a tour, that for tragic reasons, never happened.


Formed in the mid-80s in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, it wasn’t until the early 90s that they became one of the most successful metal bands on the planet. Their early death metal sound grew to include more mainstream riffs, punk and Brazilian rhythms. Their 1193 album, Chaos A.D. is still hailed as one of the greatest metal albums of all-time.