It is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the puro sax styles of Chihuahua and Zacatecas would improve with the addition of more terrible “sax” puns in the titles. From the fabled Chihuahuan city of Ojinaga — home to El Zorro de Ojinaga, La Fiera de Ojinaga, Capitanes de Ojinaga, El Deshollinador de Ojinaga, you name it — come Norteños de Ojinaga, a saxy quintet-or-sextet whose latest album for the Discos America label is their lucky umpteenth. It’s called Besos Nuevos (proposed subtitle: … y Saxo Oral!!! ), and it seems pretty pro-forma as far as Chihuahuan sax albums go. Sadsack lead single “Tus Mentiras” (alternate title: “Saxo, Mentiras, y Videocinta”) runs over four minutes, which feels like an eternity in puro sax world, possibly because the rhythm section’s oompah seems to be slowing down as they play. A neat formal experiment with time? Maybe, but it violates the first law of puro sax music: get in, get out, leave ’em wanting more, and, for heaven’s sake, remember what genre you’re in. This is no place to get emo!
Next up is La Reunion Norteña, who formed in Chihuahua but whose members also hail from neighboring states Durango and Texas. (Thom Jurek wrote a thorough bio at Allmusic.) Their seventh album in as many years, Historias de Amor en Canciones (alternate title: Historia de la Saxualidad Humana), is out on Azteca Records, a Dallas label that knows its way around the puro sax world. La Reunion’s labelmates include La Maquinaria Norteña, who stand astride this genre like saxophone colossi, having recently been Grammy nominated for one of 2015’s best albums. On first listen, Historias is in Maquinaria’s league — the bouncy riffs never let up and frontman Rogelio Martinez sings with relaxed authority and an chivalrous quiver in his throat. He might fail at love (“En Qué Fallé,” aka “Fracaso Saxual”), but if he does he will apologize (“Te Pido Perdón”… i.e.,”Por Mi Fracaso Saxual”), and then he and the band will salve your pain with a big dumb cumbia like “Ahora Sí Baila El Muñeco,” this week’s Pick to Click. (“Ahora Baila Con Esto Muñeco Saxual”? Nonono.)
The young New Mexico quintet Anexo Al Norte has released several albums for regional indie labels. Their latest, Mas Grande Que El Sol (subtitle: … y Mejor Que el Saxo), came out last year on the Albuquerque-based Blas Records. The video for its single “Decidi Vivir Sin Ti” was a harrowing glimpse into heartache-induced drunkenness and violence. It sounded jaunty as fuck. New single “Perfecta” features Beto Ronquillo of another Albuquerque sax quintet, Voz Norteña, and it is not nearly so harrowing. In fact, it’d sound perfecta as the first dance at a wedding; though we all know that, whether because of alcohol or pressure to perform, wedding night sax is usually far from perfect.
And finally, the quartet-or-quintet Aviadores has a new single called “Ya No Te Molestare” (Aley). Since the puns basically write themselves for that one, and since each pun is more offensive than the last, NorteñoBlog will not even try. I will express confusion, though, over whether this is the same band as Aviadores de Ojinaga, who have a different and not nearly as cool airplane logo. “Molestare” is wonderfully skippy and saxy, but the singer’s pitch issues make it sound like cabin pressure is dropping at a dangerous rate. NorteñoBlog discourages playing a sax — or any other strenuous mile-high activities — under such conditions.