Having begun his career several years ago as an intimidating narcosinger, Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” has since softened into norteño’s cuddliest barfly, a charming lout with an endless stream of stories about heartaches and the bottles they’ve occasioned. In 2015 he released a single nearly every month. Thanks to his rambunctious band and self-referential writing style, these songs never sounded like work, whether they grew into big radio hits (“Malditas Ganas”) or remained little-heard square dances (“Fuga Pa’ Maza”). Komander included some, but not all, of these singles on Detrás del Miedo (Twiins); there’s also a duet with the recently incarcerated (but no less charming) Larry Hernández, a couple banda remakes, and a tuba player hellbent on cracking everyone up. Next year’s album should be another corker.
Not content to release one fine album in 2015, Sr. Ríos just keeps putting out music about mind-altering substances. On his two best non-album singles, he sings about the ominous presence of a white Ford Tacoma on his pot farm (“La Tacoma”), and about quenching his dangerous thirst (“Hoy Toca”). His band eagerly takes up whatever he hands them.