Alacranes Musical was notable for being one of the best bands, duranguense or otherwise, of the ’00s. After the duranguense boom of the mid-to-late ’00s, Alacranes lay low while battling over the rights to their name; the suit was settled in favor of the Urbina family of instrumentalists. (Singer Omar Sanchez has gone on to release his own music.) In the meantime, Durango fever has never left Chicagoland — there are still plenty of cars driving around with scorpion stickers on their bumpers. In 2014 Alacranes released the single “Zapateado Encabronado #3,” the single best pro-cockfighting video of that year, although my cousin in Waukegan shot some in his backyard that were chilling.
The octet returns with the new album Una Nueva Era (Terrazas). Lead single “Amor Que Nace” mixes the classic duranguense sound — keyboard brass oompahs at Sousa march speed, sax riffs, rattly percussion-as-lead-instrument solos — with some of Alacranes’ trademark experiments in tone color. In this case, they give their singer a shot of Autotune and push some lovely guitar arpeggios way up in the mix during the verses. The results are sleek, clean, and indelibly Alacranish. But I know what you’re thinking: did they continue the “Zapteado Encabronado” saga? Yes they did, and #4 is this week’s Pick to Click. No official video yet, and so no word on whether they’ve renounced cockfighting in this their Nueva Era, but the song itself is a wild kaboom of tambora madness, itchy keyboard brass fingers, and shoutouts from primo to primo. Somewhere horses are dancing.
Also making the horses dance are Los Grandes del Pardito, a tuba-Sierreño trio led by serious requinto hotshot Rafa Pardito, who was blessed with a perfectly straight line for a mouth. Biographical info is not what you’d call abundant: they hail from the peninuslar state of Baja California Sur, and they’ve cut at least one previous album as a bass-anchored quartet. But holy shit, this new corrido single “El 8 de Culican” is a tangle of wild counterpoint verging on noise. All three instruments pack every available space with notes yet somehow hit their chord changes together. Hearing this music is like watching some other form of unimaginably complex human or animal behavior — flocks of birds in flight, well-orchestrated city traffic — turn and twist as one mind. You hear this effect more with urban norteño quartets, like those led by Noel Torres and Javier Rosas; Sierreño usually allows for some breathing room between the notes. But nobody in “El 8” rests until it ends. Second Picks to Click are rare but in this case warranted: