Banda Cuisillos is a big bunch of brass-playing hippies. According to their useful biography, they got their name by combining the Mayan word “KU,” a sacred space, with the Spanish word “sillos,” which hasn’t appeared in my Spanish lessons but which apparently means “little (or at least diminutive) pyramids.” They dress in “Indian” garb, with a sentimental fondness for the Apaches who populated Mexico and the U.S. in the halcyon days before our two nations were separated by a border, when everyone lived together in peace and harmony. (Must research.) Besides the requisite love songs, every Cuisillos album includes one or two songs about “diferentes aspectos importantes” of being human; these aspectos include drug addiction, ecology, forming a new world, and single mothers. Their February single “Cerveza,” for instance, addresses the modern epidemic of “beer goggles.” Just say no, kids.

cuisillosBut in general you should say yes to Cuisillos, whose independently released albums have featured fine songs, unexpected sonic touches, and cover art puked up by the Luck Dragon. Unfortunately, their new single “Soñando Despierto” (Independent) has none of those things; it’s your standard-issue happy-go-lucky banda lope, not too far removed from something puked up by Luis Coronel. It’s not nearly as good as Willie Colón’s song of the same name. As daydream songs go, it captures all the cloying bits of the Lovin’ Spoonful but neglects the Monkees’ majesty.

diana reyesAlso lacking in majesty is Diana Reyes, whose latest album Yo No Creo en los Hombres (DR) opens with the lackluster theme song from the novela of the same title. Its quality plateaus from there. NB readers know I’ve long admired Reyes, both for her music (her husky voice is an ideal vehicle for heartrending pop melodies) and for her business sense (DR is her own label). Some of her clattery indie duranguense albums stood as the most exciting in that genre. Hombres is mostly banda and not at all clattery; it hovers in the same swinging midtempo space as Cuisillo’s daydreaming single. One exception: the fevered tempo changes of “Si He Sabido.”

ZAFIROS NorteñoBlog is having trouble finding information on Los Zafiros Del Norte without getting a hundred hits for plain old Los Zafiros, an old Cuban group who sounded like the Platters. Don’t confuse the two! Not that you would: Los Zafiros del Norte have been around since last decade or so (I think), they’re from Michoacán (I believe), and they sing about cartel figures and their misdeeds (I’m guessing), with breakneck accordion fills over a tough rhythm section (of this I’m sure), while plain old Los Zafiros… sound like the Platters. You know which Zafiros we’re interested in. Their new single “El Prieto Ortiz” (Hyphy) is a rollicking good time and this week’s Pick to Click, although I’m still trying to determine who they’re singing about. (The lyrics are also hard to find, and — lo siento — my Spanish brain lacks Los Zafiros’ quickness.)