It is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the puro sax styles of Chihuahua and Zacatecas would improve with the addition of more terrible “sax” puns in the titles. This week the máquinas de saxo in La Maquinaria Norteña drop their eighth (I think) album, Ya Dime Adiós (Azteca/Fonovisa) (alternate title: Break Up Saxo), from whence comes their top 10 airplay hit “Para Qué Amarte.” Maquinaria hail from both Chihuahua AND Zacatecas, doubling their potential fan base, and they’re solid and reliable polkaderos with a really good logo. On first listen, though, this album isn’t saxing it up for me like the next one:
The puro Zacatecans in La Inquietud Norteña venture into minor key territory for the title single to their latest album, Dimelo (AGLive) (alt title: Vamos a Hablar Sobre el Saxo). Singer Hugo Avellaneda wails high and clear, sax and accordion skate across the song with as little apparent effort as spinning Olympians, and whoever’s playing the polka bass gets his R&B licks in. Pick to Click!
We’ll round things out with the puro Chihuahua masquerade of Costumbre Norteña and their single “Perdóname” (Blas) (alt title: “Perdóname… PARA TODO EL SAXO!!!”). The song is decent, and its video follows the sad corazón of a man suffering through some cellphone infidelity b.s., with a weird sadsynth coda. Slouched over a snowflake-shaped scrap of paper at the bar, our bereft hero scrawls out a single word: “Perdóname.” His mind then blurs into a fog of drink and despair. We know this because the cinematographer starts dabbling in expressionism.
We now leave these sax-obsessed caballeros to their own maquinaria and move on to the saxpots in Los Horóscopos de Durango. I discovered the Chicago-based Terrazas sisters a decade ago, when they were still a duranguense (read: small group, synth banda) ensemble. Their live DVD revealed two excellent musicians:
The Terrazas sisters, front ladies of the popular Horóscopos de Durango, trade off instruments like the Band, switching between vocals, tambora, keyboards, trumpet, and sax. Throughout their En Vivo Gira Mexico 2005 DVD, Marisol Terrazas stands stock still and smiles in concentration. Her fingers fly over the keyboard, left hand hitting ornate tuba lines, right hand alternating with spot-on horn jabs.
They maintained the duranguense lineup until 2010, when (I’m guessing) they or their father, bandleader Armando Terrazas, sensed the winds of change shifting from duranguense to banda. (The duranguense fad blew away on a Chicago gust right around then.) When I caught them live at Taste of Chicago 2011, they were still alternating between full brass banda and their duranguense hits, during which the silent horn players would do little dances. Their latest album Vivir En Pecado (Fonovisa) continues with the banda, taking on songs from commercial bigshots like Joss Favela, Horacio Palencia, and the Diane Warren of norteño music, Luciano Luna. As is their tradition, they also cover Espinoza Paz, whose dramatic cheating song “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama” NorteñoBlog likes. NorteñoBlog should also note that the Terrazas sisters are beautiful, that they know they’re beautiful, and that, with their album art and promotional photos, they understand their genre’s default setting is “male gaze.” More video clicks to ’em!
In 2012 Los Horóscopos appeared on a cheapo compilation called Amigos de Espinoza Paz, featuring a bunch of norteño and banda acts singing songs by the hitmaking balladero. Several of those same acts — El Coyote, El Chapo de Sinaloa, and La Arrolladora Banda, who never met a sappy ballad they couldn’t lull into a stupor like snake charmers — also appear on Joan Sebastian y Sus Amigos (Fonovisa), an appealing compilation of songs by the recently deceased and mega-prolific songwriter. Sebastian himself sang some of these tracks, and the rest are covers that showcase Sebastian’s trademark blend of Mexican regional styles with U.S. countrypolitan. Listen to the string glissandi on Alicia Villarreal’s “Me Gustas” and tell me you don’t hear Billy Sherrill’s influence. (Although, with crossover influence running rampant in these genres, who knows how much the sound of mariachi strings seeped into Sherrill’s approach. Further research!)
NorteñoBlog directs you to Pablo Montero’s live version of Sebastian’s “Estos Celos.” Though it doesn’t touch Vicente Fernandez’s original rendition, it’s still one of the world’s perfect songs:
September 29, 2015 at 9:33 am
Awesome blog, I’ve read as many of the posts as I could the last couple of days. You really know your stuff when it comes to Regional Mexican music, I’m interested to know how you came across this genre, being that you are not Mexican, I’m assuming? Also, if you just found out about Joan Sebastian, you really have a lot of catching up to do with his music. The tribute did they for him in Premios Bandamax was amazing.
September 29, 2015 at 7:46 pm
This is fantastic! Thanks for the comment and for reading — I have a lot of catching up to do with EVERYONE, and Sebastian’s no exception. What are your favorite songs or albums of his?
I came across this music by seeking and scanning through Chicago’s radio market, and by working at Borders bookstores for 10 years. Borders would get promo CDs, and so one day in 2005 I found new albums by Conjunto Primavera and Grupo Montéz in the breakroom, which led to an obsession that’s come and gone over the years.
September 29, 2015 at 11:39 pm
yeah, his rodeos were awesome, Mexico lost a legend. Some of my favorites of his were: “Tatuajes”,
“Sembrador de Amor”
“Hasta que Amanezca”,
“De El Sere” (Los Unicos de Mexico)
“Amor Lismosero” (Los Humildes)
“Mi Complice” and “El Primer Tonto” (Cardenales de Nuevo Leon)
“Hoy Empieza Mi tristeza” (Montez de Durango)
“Estos Celos” and “Million de Primaveras” (Vicente Fernandez)
What are some of your favorites?
That’s awesome, I live in Chicago and really enjoy listening to 105.1 & 107.9 when I’m not listening to sports radio or 101.1. I used to only listen to rock music throughout high school but when I heard two of Los Tigres del Norte’s songs on a mother’s day CD my mom had, I gained interest in Mexican music and have been a huge fan since. Do you go to any concerts? It seems like there is an artist in Chicago every weekend, my first concert ever was Ramon Ayala and Los Tigres at the Aragon 4 years ago.
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October 1, 2015 at 11:06 am
Nope, no concerts. Between working up the courage to go with my shaky Spanish and finagling my weekend schedule, I’ve never made it. I should, though — there’s so many shows, both downtown and in the suburbs. How were Ayala and Los Tigres? Have you seen other good ones?
“Estos Celos” is the only Sebastian song I’d know well enough to list as a favorite, though I’ve enjoyed listening to others recently. To give you an idea where my head’s at, here’s other regMex songs that are all-time favorites:
Gerardo Ortiz – “Dámaso” and “Eres Una Niña”
Roberto Tapia – “Mirando el Cielo”
Yolanda Perez – “Esto es Emor” and “Cuando Quieras, Como Quieras”
El Komander – “Soy de Rancho”
Banda Los Recoditos – “Ando Bien Pedo”
Ariel Camacho – “El Karma”
Noel Torres – “La Estructura”
Intocable – “Te Amo (Para Siempre)”
Julión Álvarez – “Ojos Verdes” and “Y Así Fue”
Arrolladora – “Cabecita Dura”
Pop banda 4ever. Thanks for the Sebastian list, I’ll do some exploring.
October 2, 2015 at 1:35 am
Yes, you should, it’s always fun. Seeing Ayala play the accordion live is something else. Los Tigres are still going strong 40 years later, there were teenagers and people old enough to be their grandparents there. I’ve also had a chance to see Intocable, Arrolladora, Inquietos del Norte and Espinoza Paz. Also got to see Grupo Violento at a friends birthday party out in a ranch. His cousin knows one of the band’s members and he got them to play at his party. You probably know them from their hit song “Gracias a Dios”
Really want to see the best singer on the continent Julion Alvarez but his tickets sell out quick or re sells are too expensive. He recently did a duo with Julio Iglesias, you should check that out.
BTW all the songs I listed were written by Joan Sebastian, he has ton of good songs but those are some of my favorites. Give them a listen.
All the songs you listed I’ve heard and are all good songs. (With the exception of Yolanda Perez, never heard of her.)
What are some other of your favorite RegMex songs?