Well this is the stuff of myth and legend:
Desde el filo de la sierra
Viene la historia que traigo:
Que por esas tierras
Suelta anda una fiera
Entre aquellos pinos altos…
From the edge of the sierra
Comes the story that I bring:
Through those lands
Freely walks a beast
Among those tall pines …
Plenty of corridos begin in a similar manner, of course, establishing their (anti)heroes as larger than life figures. But Noel Torres’s new single on Gerencia 360, “No Andan Cazando Venados” (“Don’t Go Hunting Deer”), opens with knowing mastery of the form. Torres begins by placing himself into the story as storyteller, thus joining the long historical line of corridistas, stretching back not just to Ramon Ayala but to Homer recounting the tales of brave Ulysses. (“Tell me, O Muse…”) Then things get scary. I admit I shuddered when I got to the part about the beast roaming through the tall pines — it’s such a contrast with the folksy opening, and “fiera” arrives at the end of its line with a jolt. Torres reclaims the word’s savagery. (I swear, if I hear one more TV chef tell me he’s “a beast in the kitchen”…) Now I just need to figure out the rest of the song. Something to do with the DEA and big-ass guns. The translation service is limited help in this case.
The song was written by El Diez and Danilo Avilés. El Diez is the shadowy figure who wrote the equally mythic “El Karma,” recorded most iconically by the late Ariel Camacho, but also by Torres and lots of other people. Avilés wrote the second song on Camacho’s El Karma album, and Torres’s arrangement of “Venados” sounds like he’s adapting Camacho’s unusual instrumentation. He takes stripped down passages of requinto guitar solos over lurching tuba, the same dynamic you find in Camacho’s repertoire, and alternates them with full banda sections. Horns replace rhythm guitar. The result is both serious and silly (ay, esos clarinetes), a fitting tribute that also fits with Torres’s swagger. Pick to Click, obviously.
Should you develop a hankering to delve into corrido history, the Freddie label has released a new Ramon Ayala comp entitled Corridos Famosos. Ayala’s muse speaks to him the tales of brave Gerardo Gonzales, Juanita y Miguel, y otros. No idea how this compares with other Ayala compilations out there.
If we’re already talking (probably) unnecessary cheapo Ramon Ayala reissues, you may have guessed it’s a light week for albums. You’re right! The singles, though, they never stop. Fonovisa has recently sent to radio new work from some of its heaviest hitters. Los Tigres are back with their third Realidades single, the midtempo waltz “Hoy Le Hablo El Diario,” which does the thing where the rhythm section rushes the second beat of every bar so the waltz feels slightly nauseating. In a good way. If you like beards and flannel and don’t wanna move to Seattle, Codigo FN has a slow one out called “Pinche Vieja Interesada,” which is less interesante than its title. Better are the new Proyecto X corrido “5 Letras,” reeling off verse after verse like a gold-plated machine gun eating up magazines, and Remmy Valenzuela’s very stripped-down chiquitita ballad “Menti,” in which his accordion seems capable of breath and thought.
But who needs major label distribution when the internet frontier beckons musicians to simply release their own music? Tejano singer Bobby Pulido has been on the scene since the mid-’90s, and his new “Si No Te Hubiera Conocido” is a likable walking tempo number that could’ve come from Intocable — but does Intocable have its own line of Western wear (see top of page)? I submit that Intocable does NOT.
The equally breezy Los Grandes de Tijuana DRANK YOUR LOVE! Just drank it right up. Los Grandes are also ’90s music lifers, and “Me Bebi Tu Amor” has the lazy front-porch-with-squeezebox vibe of Bob Dylan’s Tejano album Together Through Life, still my favorite of his post-’70s catalog.
NorteñoBlog swooned when Gerardo Ortiz mixed up the banda with the bachata in “Eres Una Niña,” and now I hear Omar Sánchez Omi trying something similar on “Tu y Yo.” Rhythmically it doesn’t vary too much from Recodo’s romantic moods, but Sánchez’s voice is husky and swarthy like King Romeo’s and could have some of the same R&B appeal, if enough people hear him. Sánchez used to sing for Chicago’s Alacranes Musical, one of my favorite duranguense bands, and there exists a photo of him dressed up like Santa Claus and standing next to Diana Reyes, so I’m pulling for him.