Out of the dusty wilds of Instagram floats the apparition of a scratchy-voiced corridero and his Sierreño band, Equipo Armado. With a name like El Fantasma, you might expect to find little information on this guy, and you’d be right. El Fantasma is thoroughly frustrating NorteñoBlog’s Googling skills. But think of it this way: when a phantasmagorical Leonardo DiCaprio clawed his way back from bear death in Revenant: El Renacido, did his adversaries start Googling to find out who he was, or did they simply marvel at his acting chops and physical endurance? Before he killed them all, I mean. If I had seen that movie I would humbly submit that the frontier fur trappers did NOT use Google, they simply marveled and died, and so does NorteñoBlog marvel at the chops on display in El Fantasma’s debut album Equipo Armado (AfinArte). Like Los Plebes del Rancho, still going strong a year after Ariel Camacho’s death, Armado features flashy lead requinto effects set against rhythm guitar and a tubist who can’t decide whether he’s playing lead or bass, so he plays both at once. A banda (Banda Los Populares Del Llano?) joins El Fantasma for the final five tunes, and the album sounds better if you accidentally listen to it on shuffle, because then the Sierreño gets all mixed up with the banda. Check out lead single “Mi 45,” in which Fantasma: El Renacido actually shows us his 45. But don’t let your kids watch it.
VALE LA PENA
Almost a year ago, noted national anthem mangler Julio Preciado released a single with La Original Banda El Limón. La Original, you’ll remember, is cladistically related to unstoppable hitmakers La Arrolladora Banda El Limón, having sprung from the common ancestor Banda el Limón sometime in the late Pleistocene. That single, a spritely weeper called “Lloremos por Ellas,” was pretty well received, so now Preciado has released an entire album with La Original. Más Original Que Nunca (Luz), they call it. I don’t know about that, but it’s got some very likable moments. On “Leña de Pirul,” for instance, Preciado holds notes for a really long time with his air raid siren voice. He also growls just enough that it seems less a tic than an integral part of his singing style. The frustrated drum major in me directs you to Pick to Click “La Simona,” a frantic waltz locked into a Gordian Knot of brass rhythms.
VALE LA PENA
Kevin Ortiz first charted back in September of 2011, when his big brother Gerardo dropped his album Entre Dios y El Diablo (Del) and stormed Billboard‘s chart for Regional Mexican Digital Songs. In the album’s first week, Gerardo occupied five of that chart’s top 10 positions. One of those digital hits was “Ojo Por Ojo, Diente Por Diente,” a badass duet with Kevin in which the two brothers avenge their father and totally misapply their Sunday School lessons. Kevin’s solo career has since gone a different route: he’s a lover, not a fighter, and Mi Vicio y Mi Adicción (BadSin) is 13 tracks of (mostly) romantic banda, plus an “unplugged” thing. “Volverá” is another duet with big bro, who has since become more of a loverman (and the biggest star in this genre); “A Los 18” is a lickety split duet with Beto Vega. The jury’s still out on this album, but honestly, the most interesting thing about Kevin is his crossover potential. He makes straightforward banda and norteño, but look at him there on the cover! More like Miami Vicio, no?
At least he’s not as skull-numbingly boring as this new Banda MS album!