Billboard magazine, 2009:

In forming Banda MS, manager/producer Fernando Camacho says he wanted a group that would play downhome party music, including corridos. But the danceable [novelty] material, besides being easier to promote at some corrido-shy stations in Mexico, is especially popular on morning radio shows. “They use them to wake people up,” Camacho says.

And that was the last time anyone would accuse Banda MS of keeping people awake.

banda msJajaja! NorteñoBlog loves to kid Banda MS, because the 16-piece ensemble of well-embouchured lovermen invariably responds by curing NorteñoBlog’s insomnia with a soothing romantic ballad. Over the past half-decade, MS has gone from starring in a trendpiece about novelty songs — the Billboard headline was “Looney Tunes” — to being the most consistent hitmaking banda balladeers on the U.S. Latin charts. Their polite waltz “Háblame de Ti” spent a couple months inside the top 10 of the Hot Latin chart, which measures a combination of radio play, sales, and online streaming. Before that it was the polite backbeat of “No Me Pidas Perdón.” I tend to forget these songs seconds after they’re over, but judging by the rabid audience responses on their new live album En Vivo: Guadalajara – Monterrey (Lizos), I’m the only such cretin. Banda MS cedes entire verses to the audience, and the audience doesn’t disappoint. This indie album by former major-label stars is #1 on the Latin Albums chart, and with all that audience energy, I can grudgingly see why. And hey — any album that includes “Hermosa Experiencia,” “Me Gustas Mucho,” and “El Mechón,” that debut novelty hit from six years ago, can’t be all bad.

leccionesSpeaking of Banda MS and discographical confusion, former MS singer and owner of the continent’s best voice Julión Álvarez has a new best-of entitled Lecciones Para El Corazón. It debuted at #8 on Billboard‘s Latin Albums chart, not bad for an off-label best-of with likely zero artist input. Leccion #1, which Garth Brooks and AC/DC have already learned: Wal-Mart exclusives sell anything. Actually, I don’t know if the Walton touch helped this particular album or not. It looks decent, but every Álvarez album is worth hearing in its own right, and this best-of doesn’t even contain my beloved “Ojos Verdes,” so I’m mad at it. Unionize Wal-Mart!

german monteroSpeaking of ex-singers of incorrigible balladeers, Germán Montero, formerly of Arrolladora, is back with his second album of the year, Me Seguiras Buscando (La Luz). Its title song is decent! Montero seems like a cad, but what a singer!

clave nuevaAnother spinoff: until recently Max Peraza sang for Banda Rancho Viejo, who make shiny pop albums laced with novelty tunes and wild “bandononona” shoutouts. Peraza then set out on his own, forming the nomenclaturally gifted La Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza. NorteñoBlog has already admired their duet with Saul “El Jaguar,” “Al Estilo Mafia”; that song closes the Bandononona’s debut album, Ya No Vives En Mí (Fonovisa). The album opens with the most played song on Regional Mexican radio, the moody midtempo cumbia “Cuál Adiós”, which the funkillers at Billboard insist on crediting to Banda Clave Nueva. We know the truth. BANDONONONA!!!

el bebetoSpeaking of Fonovisa releases, the once exciting El Bebeto (who spun off from Banda Sairú, if you’re scrawling a banda family tree on your basement wall) has dropped a whole album of his mariachi shit, Eternamente Mexicano. Good idea in theory, but man, is this album dull. Last post I approved of the Mexican radio hit “Besos Nuevos,” and on first listen, that seems to be the only song worth hearing. As even Banda MS could tell you, reverence for the traditions of your elders only gets you so far.