Being a duranguense fan has lately felt like being a scorpion at a Sierra Club meeting — everyone runs away when they see you coming, but once they’re safely across the room, they talk about you with condescending pity and acknowledge your vital role. Hence the new compilation from Diana Reyes, Mis Mejores Duranguenses, a promising overview of an important career. Back in ‘04-’05, Chicago duranguense music was the hot sound of norteño, a pared down take on banda with synth horns, faster tempos, unhinged tambora, and a ridiculous dance step all its own. Born in Baja California, with family from Sinaloa, Reyes began her career recording traditional norteño but hopped aboard the Durango bandwagon and released several albums for different labels, including her own DBC. To give you an idea of how bankable this stuff was, her third album for Musimex/Universal was a Christmas album, Navidad Duranguense.
In 2010 Reyes released her best album, Amame Besame, through Capitol Records — back on the majors! Half duranguense, half techno corrido, and all exquisitely produced, it effectively marked the end of duranguense not just for Reyes but for regional Mexican music in general. Former heavy hitters like Grupo Montéz and Alacranes Musical have seen their popularity dwindle and their sound give way to banda pop. (That new Alacranes song, which I shouldn’t in good conscience endorse because the linked video promotes cockfighting, sounds rad.) Los Horóscopos de Durango just up and went banda. Reyes herself returned to norteño for an underwhelming 2011 album, and recently released this power ballad telenovela theme, “Yo No Creo En Los Hombres.” (Hey, me neither.) I won’t vouch for the song, whose horns read more “‘80s Chicago” than any horn-based music you’d actually wanna hear wafting from our fair city, but her husky vibrato remains a powerhouse. As for this new hits album, 20 straight duranguenses will be too many, but Reyes sang them as well as anyone. Aside from making lots of pretty, clattery pop, her music might make lots of people nostalgic for a time when they could reliably hear women’s voices on regional Mexican radio. Let’s hope so.
Also new this week:
Senzu-Rah from singer-songwriter Regulo Caro, whose album last year trafficked in off-kilter songwriting experiments and character studies, while still digging deep into corridos;
Así Te Quiero Yo from Banda Tierra Sagrada, who, if they don’t get sucked into a sarlacc pit of samey banda ballads, might deliver more energetic bad-boy anthems like the album’s lead single “Soy Un Desmadre”;
and a new live comp from Pesado, which’ll probably turn out to be a couple hours of mildly pleasant stodge that you either already own in some other form, or never need to hear again.