NorteñoBlog starts the day by wandering down to the next continent, as we do sometimes — specifically to Argentina, where the cumbia and its omnivorous psychedelic folk cousin chicha are still going strong, and the gauchos still roam the countryside. (I’m not sure whether “omnivorous psychedelic folk” is the best descriptor since it makes me think of the Grateful Dead, but let’s not worry about that now.) Buenos Aires singer La Yegros is back with her new single “Chicha Roja” (Waxploitation/Soundway); her album Magnetismo will come out in March. Nice song! It’s got a rolling I-wanna-say electro-acoustic cumbia beat, accordion and melodica (you can tell because a melodica appears in the animated Georgia-O’Keefe-on-shrooms video), crowd noises, a dense breakdown with flutes playing out of tune, and the appealing presence of La Yegros herself. Her voice sort of reminds me of Shirley Simms from the Magnetic Fields — only, you know, marshalling a cicha like a friendly dance commander.
Themselves no strangers to cumbias, indie corrideros Los Rodriguez de Sinaloa released a humdinger of one last year; I regret never having Picked to Click “Bye Bye.” Although I should note, norteño/banda cumbias differ from the South American kind, or even from the slow and steady cumbias favored by Mexican bands like Los Angeles Azules. Namely: norteño cumbias are way faster. Witness Julión Álvarez’s “Cumbia del Rio.” At his pace you can still hear the cumbia’s trademark “1 2-and 1 2-and” grind divvied up among the different instruments, but once a band starts approaching hyperspace — as in “Bye Bye” or Calibre 50’s current hit “La Gripa” — the subtleties of the beat smear into one homogeneous oompah.
Anyway, Los Rodriguez’s new single is NOT a cumbia, but the ice-cold breakup tune “Te Tengo De Cortar” (self-released). Taking a cue from K Camp, Los Rodriguez decide they need to leave this particular mujer where she stands, and it’ll be much less painful for the mujer in question if they end it with some quickness. Pulling off Band-Aids and whatnot. Los Rodriguez’s tuba player does his best to be convincing, particularly during the chunky, rapid-fire pre-choruses. The song lasts less than three minutes, but nearly every bar sounds like a big jagged glob of something shoved in your face. That’s a recommendation and a Pick to Click.
From that brutal image, we move to Gente Brutal and their new lovey-dovey “Asi Te Quiero” (Zona), and I gotta say — rarely have I seen such a discrepancy between band name and musical affect. If you’re trying to decide whether to listen to this song, base your decision on the song’s title rather than the band’s kickass logo and ear-gauged Men-In-Black image. It’s like one of Calibre 50’s recent power ballads, only with even more blank spaces where music should be happening. If you thirst for musical depictions of man’s inhumanity to man, you sicko, try Brutal’s last single “Soy De Michoacan” instead.
If you prefer the superhuman wrangling of guitars, try the corrido “La Herencia” (Rancho Humilde?), a duet between the young Sierreño quartet Los Grandes Del Pardito (they have one of the fuller sounding takes on “El Karma”) and the young norteño quartet Los Hijos de Hernandez, who may or may not be named after the Los Tigres song. Must research. The two tubists don’t get to play — the video features a lot of standing around and horseback riding and hanging out at the bar — but the guitarists who do play use their chops to astound and delight.