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Café Tacuba

Nary a musical genre is safe from the radical Mexican pop-rock band Café Tacuba. Such is illustrated on the group's most recent album, a live set recorded during a two-night stint in Mexico City last October.

Acoustic folk, Top 40-style pop, thrash metal, bouncy ska-punk, tropical flavors, breezy jazz--they're all fair game for this quartet, and Un Viaje serves them all up, capably played before an adoring audience.

Available in different versions, the three-CD, one-DVD set is the most satisfying and very affordably priced--I got it at Zia for less than $20. The title means "a journey" in Spanish, and refers primarily to the band's 15 years of redefining the concept of rock en Español. But enjoying Café Tacuba's rich sound and voracious musical appetites can be, more colloquially, "a trip."

Some folks have praised this set as a faithful recreation of the experience of seeing and hearing Café Tacuba perform live before thousands of screaming fans. That's true, although I wish it contained a little less of the authentic experience.

The mix is heavy on the crowd noise, and although singing along to your favorite songs amounts to an inalienable right for concertgoers, I didn't buy this set to listen to the assembled throng drown out the band--which it does on several occasions across the three discs.

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