The big new album last Friday was Banda Los Recoditos’ Me Está Gustando (Fonovisa). Based on their track record I’ll assume it’s another shiny, debauched, smutty, jokey, not great but actually pretty good 12-song collection with a couple too many ballads. (See this review of their 2014 album Sueño XXX, for example.) This time around, the album cover comes with a paranoia-inducing game: NAME THE EYES THAT SEEM TO BE FOLLOWING YOU. We’ve already marveled at the lead
cry for help single “Pistearé,” currently at #4 in Mexico and threatening to enter the Hot Latin top 10 in the U.S., in which Luis Angel Franco (the lower left set of eyes) vows to drink away the memories of the mujer who done him wrong. (In the video he gets into a fight with co-singer Samuel Sarmiento — the lower right set of eyes — over said mujer. The cycle of booze being a vicious one, this drama also drives her to drink.) Even better is big dumb cumbia “La Cruda, which celebrates the inevitable hangover with way more gusto than I’ve ever felt during a hangover. Pick to Click!
If Juan Gabriel’s Los Dúo albums have taught us anything, it’s that we shouldn’t underestimate the appeal of an unabashed ham basted with eyeliner. If they’ve taught us anything else, it’s that Mexican music still has an audience eager to relive its own history, and also that the benevolent Fonovisa corporation is eager to help. This week sees Fonovisa updating its La Historia de los Éxitos series, a group of individual artist compilations by the likes of Beto y Sus Canarios, Chayito Valdez, Duelo, Exterminador, Ezequiel Pena, Grupo Montéz, and maybe others. As I admitted last month, I can only guess who’s purchasing all these compilations in the Age of Streaming, but the collections are cheap to produce and it wouldn’t take too many sales to land one on the Billboard Latin albums chart. They’re like the dark purple properties in Monopoly. They won’t make you rich, but maybe they’ll finance the next Boardwalk hotel — i.e., Recoditos blockbuster — that will. (It’s also possible I have no idea how Fonovisa’s finances work.)
Prolific songwriter José María Napoleón is also peering into the past, as wistfully as the Recoditos dudes peer into an empty bottle of Buchanan’s. Napoleón’s latest album Vive (Fonovisa) is a live overview of a storied and successful career, performed with utmost taste and guest-starriness in front of an audience whose applause sounds sampled from a golf tournament. Like Juan Gabriel, Napoleón has crossed the boundaries of Mexican pop and regional music. Here he performs his tune “Pajarillo” with Luis Humberto Navejas, the impressively hairy leader of the rock band Enjambre. If you prefer polkas to backbeats, or a sax and percussion section that sounds like me digging through the Tupperware cabinet and squawking with frustration when everything falls down, here’s blog faves Banda Lamento Show doing the same song.