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Hello Seahorse! Breaks Dawn in Tijuana

"Arunima" isn't just the album name of this Mexico City band, it's their music philosophy



    When it comes to the capital of Latin alternative music, Mexico City, we can always depend on profound vibing music to hit our eardrums and hearts.

    One of the bands to know is the female-led quartet Hello Seahorse! Yes, with an exclamation point. They embody everything that comes with the duties of being a transborder musician: Denise Gutirerrez, Van Nuys-born and raised in Mexico City, met Cuidad Juarez-born Oro de Neta on MySpace. De Neta later recruited multitalented drummer Bonnz! and guitarist Jose Borunda, and the head-turning indie-pop operatic quartet was born.

    They're currently on tour supporting their third studio album Arunima, which in Sanskrit means "red glow or dawn." HS! made their northernmost stop at Tijuana's Black Box in October, where fans patiently waited a grueling hour for the sound crew to sound-check HS!'s equipment.

    The blank stares of the audience turned to a vibrant glow -- Arunima -- when lead singer Gutierrez hit the stage and grabbed the mic, followed by her cohorts, who were rocking matching black letterman jackets with the Arumina symbol emblazoned on their backs. With such an official entrance, we knew we were about to get bit by the HS! bug. They played most of Arunima, mixed with just a few hits from the previous albums and, of course, their 2008 big hit, "Bestia," which launched the success of HS!, prompting invitations to huge music festivals Indie-O Fest, SxSW, Coachella and Vive Latino. They also played "Despues"; the song's remix was produced by Money Mark, who's famously known for mixing with the Beastie Boys and the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

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    Despite Arunima only being out a year, HS! fans in Tijuana knew every word to the 11-track album, which was produced by Camilo Froideval, who's known for working with Ely Guerra, Molotov and Julieta Venegas.

    Guiterrez is a striking vocalist without all the superficial accessories; in fact, she prefers to wear her prescription eyeglasses 24/7 along with a sartorial signature of hers, a simple all-black outfit. On Friday, she opted for an unadorned black-and-white polka dot chiffon blouse with a pair of black jeans. Super simple, super cute. She's a little bit of powerhouse Heart, a little bit of contraalto Portishead, sometimes achieving Mariah Carey highs but not quite.

    HS!'s '80s-esque lead-single love ballad, “No Es Que No Te Quiera,” off Arumina, is the perfect jump-off in getting to know Guiterrez's soul and her hypnotizing vocal skills. The song has already been streamed more than 650,000 times on YouTube and was easy to see as a fan's favorite when Guiterrez handed the mic to her full-house audience -- you could hear everyone singing in chorus over the speakers.

    To buy Arumina, go here.

    Dita Quiñones is a multimedia journalist born in Tijuana with a passion for Latin alternative and hip-hop music news. Her main goal is to uplift and inform so that the Latino and Hip-Hop community get knitted into the fabric of American history. In addition to SoundDiego, she contributes to Latina, FOX News Latino, Poder, VidaVibrante, and HipHopDx. She is also the founder of the infamous music and politrix blog GN$F! Follow Dita on Twitter.