Despite running regular lists of the year’s best singles, NorteñoBlog has kept fairly quiet about the best albums of 2015. That’s not changing today, but if it were, my list would definitely include El Komander’s Detrás del Miedo and Colmillo Norteño’s 10-song “EP” A Quien Corresponda. Say what you will about these acts — and no, I cannot prove that El Komander’s tubist has a rare Tourette’s-like condition that makes him compulsively produce mouthpiece farts — but they don’t rest on their achievements. True to form, both have recently released more new music, and in both cases it’s good.
IN THIS CORNER, Komander’s new single “Hoy Toca” (Twiins) continues his string of songs about drinking and (I think) chinga-ing the haters. Alternating a banda with his small group, tight as a whipcrack yet fraying around the edges, this song sounds sensational.
IN THE OTHER CORNER, the quintet Colmillo Norteño leads off its new album Al Llavazo (Go) with “La Invitación,” a rollicking argument over who gets to enjoy the company of a treacherous mujer. Their adversaries in this argument are El Komander’s labelmates Los BuKnas de Culiacan, who, judging by the video, have grown into an octet at this point. Basically this song’s a remake of Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney’s “The Girl Is Mine.” [Ed: It’s not, not at all.] And since both bands are ultimately lovers, not fighters, they settle for a rapprochement in two stages. First stage: “Mujeres, amirite? Let’s hug it out.” Second stage: “If we just surround ourselves with enough pretty mujeres, we won’t have to fight over them any more!” According to the final verse, the mujeres in question are a gaggle of pelirojas, morenitas, y gueritas. These women improbably decide that, rather than running off to form a bunch of kickass freestyle groups, they will accompany these hombres to a big old fiesta. Somewhere Pajama Party weeps.
Both songs rock, and both are pleasantly cluttered with shifting textures and exciting tuba work, but I’ll give the Pick to Click edge to Komander because his song makes me feel less bad for liking it. Plus, whoever’s playing those mouthpiece interjections is a treasure. Really, though, you can’t go wrong either way.
On first listen, Colmillo’s Al Llavazo album isn’t as good as their EP, but it’s worth hearing for “La Fuga Del Chapo” (timely!) and “Flecha Derecha,” a pretty good example of how you play a pop song if you’re a norteño band. (Answer: lickety split, and make sure the accordion keeps doing stuff.)