After a month’s hiatus, we’re back! Please accept with the Blog’s apologies a Spotify playlist of the year’s best singles so far. (And here’s the bilingual version.)
NorteñoBlog’s recent lack of new content comes down to a couple factors, some excusable (extra work), some not (a new Minecraft addiction), and one germane to the Blog. If you’re near Seattle Saturday afternoon, stop by the Museum of Pop Culture, where I’ll be talking about Mexillenial gender presentation and how young dudes like Luis Coronel relate to their increasingly suburban fanbase. It’ll show up here eventually. In the meantime, let’s celebrate that Luis Coronel no longer sucks and has made one of the year’s best singles, in whose video he removes his shirt.
“Cambio de Papeles” – Cornelio Vega y Su Dinastia ft. Luis Coronel (Gerencia 360)
Under the tutelage of his famous papa, Cornelio Vega Jr. has emerged as a surprisingly gritty bandleader. He tosses off inventive accordion lines and sounds about a decade older than he is — just listening to him, you wouldn’t guess he’s got a mouth full of braces. In “Cambio de Papeles,” a stomping banda kiss-off, he pulls the prevoiusly personality-free Coronel up to his level — like, you actually believe these guys are jerks. Wronged jerks, but still jerks. Also worth checking out: the Coronel-less “Yo Soy,” a bouncy norteño number in whose charming video the band dresses up like teenage FES officers, trying to help their colleague win over a mujer. And then there’s “La Kushura,” in which Sr. Vega allows Jr. to hop aboard the latest high-flying musical trend: corridos verdes.
“Como Los Vaqueros” – Lenin Ramirez ft. Ulices Chaidez (DEL)
Is this super-catchy ballad with the “Stand By Me” chord changes a proud assertion of Mexicanness in a foreign land? Or a proud assertion of traditional machismo against the encroaching suburban void? Or an acknowledgement that the vaquero act has always been just that: an act? Or a really pretty and simple way to practice your reflexive verbs? ¡Sí sí sí y sí! When I heard it twice at the Aragon in February, everyone sang along, men and women, so there’s room for all God’s people inside the persona of the lovelorn vaquero. The backsplash in the video remains a thing of wonder.
“Antecedentes de Culpa” – Alfredo Olivas (Sahuaro/Sony)
What the Blog said then: A precise, subtle portrait of how two lovers can choose exactly the right words to wound one another. (Standard translation caveats apply.) The music, naturally, is all swinging and sunshine, the band ruefully shaking their heads while their leader tries to talk his way out of his regret. Special props to Olivas’s drummer for leavening his beat with some cool snare rolls and subdivided cymbal work, and to the bassist for playing hooks.
“Sentimientos” – Alicia Villarreal and María José
What the Blog said then: In this cover of Villarreal’s 20-year-old Grupo Limite cumbia, she and José work up a mariacheño head of steam like Christian Nodal never dreamed. There’s just as much string/accordion swooning, but a much kickier beat and the knowing winks that appear when you find yourself in your 40s, mooning “Ahhhh… FEELINGS.”
“Ese” – Cardenales de Nuevo Leon (Remex)
A straight-down-the-middle country rebuke to a mujer who treats her chivalrous man like crap. From bajo sexto strums to snare rolls to accordion fills, everything in this list song bounces along like clockwork, with skill and just enough invention to make it worth hearing, even though you’ve heard it a thousand times before. The norteño equivalent of a highly competent post-bop combo doing “My Favorite Things.”
“Zapateado Endemoniado” – Marco Flores y La Jerez (MF)
This is the title song of the sexy MF’s latest album, which is 20-some songs long but only feels like… 18? It captures lightning in a bottle and will make you want to huapango around the village square with a horse who dances better than you do.
“El Narco de Narcos” – Crecer Germán (UMG)
Crecer has left his band Alta Consigna and he is not messing around, OK? Here he is, a stern looking young man who knows about gangster shit, covering Enigma Norteño’s ode to Rafa Caro. (You can Google Sr. Caro. He’s a bad dude but proud of his homeland and handiwork.) Come for the morally ambivalent local pride, stay for the rippling interplay between Crecer’s requinto and tuba players.
“Dame Tu Cosita” – El Chombo (Ultra)
The Blog feels duty-bound to alert you to this viral hit, which doesn’t belong here at all but does bang a reasonable amount. Naturally there is a Challenge where you have to video yourself dancing like a green computer-generated alien, preferably in public. In other news, the Blog is your grandpa. Ooh, a Minecraft version!
“Mitad y Mitad” – Calibre 50 (Andaluz/Disa)
When these guys are on, they’re on. When they’re womanizing, they’re really womanizing. Here they go halfsies with two different women, one a devil and one an angel, because those are the available options to women dating Calibre 50. So no pity for the louts, but in his best performances Eden Muñoz is crassness become flesh, and this one is up there.
“A Lo Lejos Me Veran” – El de la Guitarra (Rancho Humilde)
Also riding the corridos verdes wave is this sierreño singer-guitarist, more mysterious than even El Fantasma because NO ONE HAS EVER SEEN HIS FACE. His identity is secret. Is he a superhero, a free-spending billionaire, a narco, an undisclosed Trump offspring, or your dentist? Who knows! His Facebook page offers no hints, but here he is playing the song for a sweet home Chicago crowd who knows every word. Your faithful Blog refuses to rest until this mystery is solved. Our team of super sleuths is on the case.
“Amor Traicionera” – La Maquinaria Norteña (Azteca)
“El Aroma de Tu Piel” – Gerardo Ortiz (DEL/Sony)
“Todo Nos Pasa Por Algo” – Grupo Codiciado
“Firme y Pa’Delante” – Los Inquietos del Norte (Eagle)
“Shoot Me Straight” – Brothers Osborne (UMG)
“Stir Fry” – Migos (Quality Control/UMG)
“Duck Duck Goose” – cupcakKe (self-released)
“Paradise” – Trick Daddy & Trina ft. Mike Smiff (Slip N Slide)
“Handyman” – AWOLNATION (Red Bull)
“Dancing” – Kylie Minogue (BMG)
“High Horse” – Kacey Musgraves (MCA Nashville)
“Raining Glitter” – Kylie Minogue (BMG)
“Cartoons” – cupcakKe (self-released)
“Crash Out” – OMB Peezy & Sherwood Marty ft. Sherwood Flame (300)
VALE LA PENA ALBUMS:
Awolnation – Here Come the Runts (Red Bull) (indie, rock)
Summoning – With Doom We Come (Napalm) (indie, metal)
Tracey Thorn – Record (Merge) (indie, pop)
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen is a Reptile (Impulse!/Verve) (major, jazz)
Soñadores de Sinaloa – Lo Improvisado (Mayra) (indie, Latin)
Meat Beat Manifesto – Impossible Star (MBM) (indie, dance)
VOMITOR – Pestilent Death (Hells Headbangers) (indie, metal)
Kacey Musgraves – Golden Hour (MCA Nashville) (major, country)
Boyo – Supply and Da Man (Vicious 2013?) (indie, rap)
Corazón Serrano – Volverás (Leader) (indie, Latin)
Marco Flores y La Jerez – Zapateado Endemoniado (MF) (indie, Latin)
Superchunk – What a Time to Be Alive (Merge) (indie, rock)
Kylie Minogue – Golden (BMG) (major, country, pop)
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