grupo el reto

Extollers of Mexico’s indigenous Huichol people and composers of relentless electrocumbias, the members of Banda Cohuich inhabit the liminal nexus of old and new. I mean who doesn’t? But I’m guessing Cohuich limns the nexus a bit more loudly than do you and I. Their single “Son Kora Kau Te Te Kai Nie Ni (Dialecto Huichol)” is a blaring ringwalk of a Huichol anthem, and most of the songs on their entertaining compilation No Te Equivoques (Pegasus) follow suit. One exception: the unapologetically goofy “Cumbia de Voz”, a low key groover that’s acapella except for a synth beat, with the band singing the part of falsetto trumpets.

“Veneno” (La Bonita), Duelo’s Tejano ode to a venomous mujer, opens with a moody guitar riff reminiscent of Def Leppard’s “Hysteria”, then grows into an accordion-fronted backbeat of lovelorn beauty. Duelo came up at the tail-end of the Tejano boom — according to Billboard‘s Ramiro Burr, they were one of “a wave of boy bands emerging from the Rio Grande Valley” in the wake of Intocable, back in the early ’00s. This was in the same July 2003 article where Burr noted that romantic bands were poised to surpass corrido bands in popularity, and he said this: “Artists and record executives realize that clichéd attire, corrido-heavy sets and other time-honored norteño conventions don’t appeal to young fans.” Sometimes the times change very quickly. But there remain enough Tejano romantics (or nor-Tejano; there’s some dispute) to maintain a viable subculture, and Duelo keeps plugging away.

There’s only thing better than a tuba-based norteño group singing a wild drinking song: two tuba-based norteño groups singing the same wild drinking song at the same time. Like the mujeres saturating their WhatsApp account, relative newcomers Grupo El Reto and even newer-comers Alta Consigna fill every bit of “La Parranda Va a Empezar” (Gerencia 360/Sony) with a jumble of tubas, drums, and hot guitar work.

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