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¡Lo Mejor de 2018!

el-dusty

In 2018, Regional Mexican radio chilled out. Amid the ever-shifting blend of genres that comprises the format, the two “new” styles that commanded the most attention sounded remarkably blase about their surging popularity. In fact, “command” seems like the wrong word for the genres of cumbia and corridos verdes, since they were just sitting around in a smoky haze, waiting for audiences to trip over them.

As Elias Leight explained in a spring Rolling Stone feature, cumbias have been around for decades, having traveled from South America throughout the Spanish-speaking diaspora over the last 70-or-so years. Turn-of-the-millennium hits from Los Angeles Azules, a swanky Mexican big band, have never outgrown their use as commercial bumper music on U.S. radio. The band’s recent resurgence culminated in a 2018 Coachella performance, dug by none other than Justin Bieber, and a current hit rearrangement of Natalia LaFourcade’s tune “Nunca Es Suficiente.” And that’s just the acoustic stuff.

The electronic technocumbia scene, pioneered by Selena and her producer brother A.B. Quintanilla in the mid ‘90s, got new energy from former nano-satellite engineer Edmundo Gómez Moreno, aka Raymix, and his unkillable singles “Oye Mujer” and “¿Dónde Estarás?” The Blog admires the mysterious modality of these singles and admits they don’t really sound like anyone else.The Blog also never wants to listen to them. Like the band Low, for whose 2018 album Double Negative I also didn’t have much time, Raymix zeros in on precisely one mood and hits his mark. It’s a feat that demands acknowledgement rather than repeated listening.

If Raymix songs seem like they might sound better stoned, corridos verdes make that theme explicit. Praised by Snoop, played mostly by young sierreño bands who weave hypnotic patterns from acoustic guitars and either bass or tuba, these songs can get sort of samey. If you thought shoutouts to narcos were getting old, or if you were having trouble differentiating weeping meditations on drinking away lost amors, wait until you hear a bunch of young dudes sing about how high they are. These guys stick to themes. Their songs are sometimes hilarious, though, and the tubists and lead guitarists occasionally stumble across moments that’ll legitimately drop your jaw, regardless of how much THC is in your blood. As with so much else, it depends which strain you get.

Corridos about smoking weed aren’t new, either, but they do represent a shift, at least in terms of mainstream radio fare. A boyband like T3R Elemento might occasionally sing about real-life narcos and the marijuana production business, but unlike the older generation of corrideros — Gerardo Ortiz, El Komander, Noel Torres — they make no pretense that they’re singing from experience or proximity. Born and raised in the U.S., T3R Elemento sings about weed from a bilingual suburban U.S. high school point of view, a vantage their video iconography reinforces. It’s similar to what we saw with the Bay Area’s hyphy movimiento a decade ago. That movement also focused on drug and alcohol consumption, with little reference to Mexico or the drug production narratives that had long dominated corridos. Call these movements “assimilation” if you want, but they represent wilder, less predictable patterns of assimilation than political discourse or radio programmers have led us to expect.

Of course, Regional Mexican radio still plays frantic dressage polkas from Marco Flores, and plenty of maudlin slow jams from the likes of Banda MS. Old narcocorridos from Los Tigres rub shoulders with new ones from El Fantasma. Frantic emotions and spirited boasts will never die; but neither will the phenomenon of getting really baked, and then singing about it.

——————————————————————

Having accounted for trends, here are 11 Regional Mexican albums the Blog recommends, genre by genre — in several cases paired with their higher profile inferiors.
Continue reading “¡Lo Mejor de 2018!”

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Dance Komanders

saumet

Bomba-Estereo-AmanecerOver the weekend NorteñoBlog met up with the redoubtable Bilbo’s Laptop to see Bomba Estéreo play Chicago’s Concord Music Hall. The Colombian electro-boogie band only wanders within NorteñoBlog’s purlieu insofar as the genre tag “Latin music” says anything coherent, but we’ve enjoyed them here before, and new album Amanecer (Sony) is VALE LA PENA. Carefully honing a tight set from four(!) albums worth of material, the Bombas gave us seven or eight massive jams, most of them new, and little changed from their recorded templates besides some extended intros and party-hearty crescendos at the ends. Where improvisation appeared, it was rhythmic. Bomba Estéreo prizes rhythm over all. Drummer Kike Egurrola played rock-solid beds of beats — dembow, cumbia, others I can’t name — providing a foil for the contrapuntal jabs of guitarist Julián Salazar and bassist Simón Mejía; during songs like “Somos Dos,” they were the grooviest little indie rock band on the planet. Salazar and Mejía spent roughly half their time at their electronic sound banks, keeping the details of their recordings while thickening the sound. “Soy Yo” was already the most ridonkulous song on the new album. Live, with its Colombian flute and sampled voice mixing with deep, body-shaking bass and frontwoman Liliana Saumet’s explosive gestures, it sounded like banger of the year.

Saumet’s job, at which she excels, is to cut through the bass and mobilize the crowd. She sets a good example: her unfussy dancing gave us a nice repertoire of rippling body movements, perfect for a crowded floor of hipsters holding cups of beer. That said, the main mobilizer was Saumet’s voice. Her high whine can come off as strangled on romantic melodies — even “Somos Dos,” which Saumet humbly introduced as “beautiful,” went a little long — but usually it’s a fourth rhythm instrument, punching and goading along with the others. This is true of her raps, of course, but Saumet also builds her melodies for rhythmic impact. Hearing her voice and its syncopations emerge from the electro-throb, the mass of bodies understands its implicit commands: Dance. Love. Clap. And Saumet’s most crucial, Dr. Seussian directive: Shout loud at the top of your voice! SOY YO!

Alfredo-Rios-El-Komander-Detras-Del-Miedo1-450x450On the drive down I listened again to El Komander’s latest album, Detrás Del Miedo (Twiins). It’s as effortlessly charming as you could hope, but of course that lack of effort is an effect — YOU try lassoing a four-or-five-piece band into the stop-start precision of the title song. Komander’s released about half these songs as singles already, and I’ve been skeptical of his ballads, but even they sound better in the middle of his faster tunes. The guy can write melodies! His singing has improved, too; as Komander grows into his timing, he convinces us that “El Papel Cambio” emerges straight from his mind. Él es él. Plus, any album containing both “Malditas Ganas” and “Fuga Pa’ Maza” would have to work pretty hard to avoid a big VALE LA PENA.

“Go Tejano Day”: What’s In a Name?

go tejano day

[Note: This article has been edited to reflect NorteñoBlog’s belated realization that HLSR is in fact a non-profit, using its proceeds for full college scholarships. Outside accusations of discrimination remain.]

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo sounds like a county fair on steroids and gamma rays, an orgy of horses, country music, and mad cowboys deep frying everything that’s not nailed down. I’m frankly jealous we don’t have one up in Chicago. But there’s trouble in Bayou City, and there has been for the past eight years, specifically surrounding the rodeo’s annual “Go Tejano Day” event:

Go Tejano Day is one of the biggest days at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo but it didn’t stop protestors from rallying outside of NRG Park.

Tejano supporters protested Sunday afternoon saying officials here have chosen musical acts in the Norteno and Banda genre and have not stayed true to Tejano music and culture.

Indeed, yesterday’s Go Tejano Day crowd broke the rodeo’s alltime record for attendance: 75,357 people paid to enjoy the music of Arrolladora and La Maquinaria Norteña, one banda and one norteño group, both of whom NorteñoBlog has been known to enjoy. Neither group has anything to do with Tejano music. To repeat, that’s the biggest ever paid attendance at any day of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which otherwise features first-tier country artists and a couple top-40 pop stars. (Dierks Bentley’s playing tonight; tomorrow’s Ariana Grande.) The second most attended day in history? 2012’s Go Tejano Day, which featured Julión Álvarez and Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon, one banda one norteño, neither of them Tejano.

Indeed, you have to go back to 2007 to find an actual Tejano act playing Go Tejano Day. (It was crossover country star Emilio.) Not coincidentally, that was also the last year the event didn’t spark protests. In 2008 the concert planners broke with tradition. For the first time since Go Tejano Day started in 1990, its headliners weren’t Tejano bands — instead they were Duelo, Texans playing norteño, and Los Horoscopos de Durango, playing Chicago duranguense. 71,165 people still showed up, but so did some protesters:

“The bands that are inside are representing Mexico,” said one protester, Steve Rodriguez, 54. “That’s not representing Tejanos.”

The rodeo’s excuse has always been reasonable, as you’d expect from a gigantic moneymaking corporation. If you’re a Tejano music fan, maybe it’s infuriatingly reasonable. Go Tejano Day was never meant to refer to Tejano music; rather, it was a play on the “Go Texan” slogan and designed to appeal to Houston’s large-and-growing Hispanic population, and the nineties just happened to be when Tejano music was on the rise. As we saw around Grammy time, back in 1996, when the Grammys were busily neglecting norteño music, the Tejano music industry marshaled its clout to create the “Best Mexican-American/Tejano” category, which La Mafia promptly won. Since then, though, Tejano has grown less and less popular. As Tejano fan Ramiro Burr pointed out in 2008, “When it comes time to booking the bands, the Houston Rodeo folks are doing what commercial radio and record labels do — they go for what brings in the largest crowds.” Since Go Tejano Day started featuring norteño and banda acts, the event has consistently broken attendance records for the rodeo’s organizers. Can you blame them?

Well, maybe.

The thing is, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, to whom I’ll start referring as the more nefarious-sounding HLSR, has also done that big-corporation thing of changing the terms of the debate. The HLSR has accomplished this with diabolical ease. (MWA-jajaja!) The 2008 protests weren’t only about which bands would play the main stage; they made other demands:

1. Award greater number of scholarships to Hispanics. Only a few
scholarships are awarded to Hispanics.

2. Need Hispanic representation at the Executive Committee Level of the
rodeo’s governing group. Currently, Hispanics do not have
representation.

3. Retain event title as “Go Tejano Day”, while building greater
awareness of Tejano music & culture.

4. Expand role of “Go Tejano Committee” in the entertainment selection
process. The Go Tejano Committee has no role in selecting bands to
perform.

5. Pay parity for Tejano music artists. Tejano artists are paid much
much less than the other non-Hispanic artists. Yet, the Tejano artists
have broken numerous attendance records.

6. Increase Hispanic themed days/events at the Houston Rodeo.

Indeed, in 2008, “Several black lawmakers, including State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, joined the Tejano cause…, saying blacks, too, should play a bigger role in the show.”

But:

Rodeo officials counter that about one-third of scholarships already go to Hispanic students. And while there are no blacks or Hispanics on the rodeo’s highest volunteer committee [it’s called The Executive Committee, MWAjajaja], that’s because membership is based on years of service and financial contributions.

I can’t speak to the scholarship numbers. But that second point is a classic method of refusing to integrate your organization while still seeming cool with the idea of integration. The idea goes, “They, the people whose money we’re taking in record-setting amounts, can’t help us plan the specific means of taking their money because they’ve never done it before. But seriously, we’re concerned.” Well, if nothing changes, nothing changes. Here, feast your eyes on the pasty faces of the current 2015 Executive Committee! The rodeo does have a black Vice President and some Latino-sounding names on the Board of Directors, which isn’t nothing. But it also isn’t integration. And if you’re serious about representing your clientele, it won’t take you eight years to integrate your Executive Committee, sure as you don’t wanna touch your shoe soles after visiting the livestock show.

(Um, I would like to pre-emptively apologize to Chris Richardson or any other members of the Executive Committee who might, in fact, be Hispanic. Set me straight!)

But in 2008, Leroy Shafer, the HLSR’s Chief Operating Officer, saved his fighting words for the musical argument. “The very vast majority of the Hispanic community knows that this is a subterfuge to try to keep a dying music industry alive,” he said of the protest. “They’re not buying into it.” He’s right about that. This 2009 message board thread is a good read, with every other post offering a sound argument about appropriate names for the event (the meaning of Tejano isn’t in question) and which music is worth supporting. But nobody really addresses the power structure like those 2008 protesters, except for a poster named MH, who says, “[W]e will not be able to influence the Tejano Day if we do not start becoming involved in their planning…”

This year’s protests got some extra attention thanks to Oscar de la Rosa of La Mafia, that Grammy-winning Tejano band; de la Rosa went on a profane rant against rodeo organizers during one of his concerts. (La Mafia has played the rodeo in the past.) There was also a change.org petition. But neither addressed the power structure of the HLSR; they just implored Tejano fans to boycott so that the HLSR would schedule some Tejano bands. The HLSR responded in kind: “We put music on our main RODEOHOUSTON stage that attracts fans and sells tickets.” There are bigger fish to fry here. I frankly don’t care who plays Go Tejano Day, but there’s no question Tejano’s appeal has waned for a while. It simply has fewer fans than norteño and banda. Changing the name to “Hispanic Heritage Day” or hiring La Mafia instead of Arrolladora isn’t gonna change who’s in charge of the rodeo or how they make their scholarship money. They’d just make less money if they hired La Mafia.

Ariel Camacho Really WAS Unusual

In a good, brief interview with Public Radio International — listen to it here — narcocorrido scholar Elijah Wald supports the notion that nobody else really sounded like the late singer-guitarist Ariel Camacho, who died in a car accident last Thursday. “[Camacho’s music is] not norteño — norteño is the accordion sound,” Wald corrects the interviewer. Rather, Wald says, Camacho was bringing together two distinct Sinaloan sounds: the “classic, old-fashioned sound everywhere of just guitars and singers,” and “the classic Sinaloan sound” of brass bands. He locates Camacho’s sound in the 15-year-old El Canelo de Sinaloa y Los Dos del Sitio, also two guitars and a tuba. (This Canelo song is faster than Camacho’s stuff and the vocal harmonies aren’t as pronounced, but you can hear the lineage.) Wald also says that Camacho likely didn’t do corridos on commission, since his were about the real big shots — “like Hollywood movies” — and he confirms that Camacho’s death had nothing to do with cartel violence: “As with most touring musicians, the most dangerous thing is the touring itself.”

This interview is a refreshing contrast to the misinformation in most of the other bewildered obits, some of which think Camacho played with a bass and an accordion, revealing that their authors didn’t take five minutes to watch the Camacho videos they posted. To be fair, I hadn’t watched the video for Camacho’s love song “Hablemos” until now. It’s pretty and 100% accordion-free.

Ariel Camacho D.E.P.

ariel camacho

Malas noticias:

Una tragedia envolvió la madrugada de hoy cuando cuatro jóvenes que circulaban por la carretera Angostura-La Reforma a exceso de velocidad, sufrieron un fuerte accidente. Dos de los cuatro jóvenes lamentablemente perdieron la vida…

(Tragedy early [Wednesday] when four young men traveling on the Angostura-La Reforma road [in Sinaloa] were speeding, suffering a serious accident. Two of the young men lost their lives.)

Uno de las víctimas del aparatoso accidente, es el cantante José Ariel Camacho Barraza de 22 años de edad con residencia en la comunidad Juan de la Barrera, municipio de Angostura. Se dice que Ariel Camacho y los Plebes del Rancho, horas antes de la tragedia, se habían presentando en el cierre de las fiestas del Carnaval Mocorito 2015.

(One of the victims is the singer José Ariel Camacho Barraza, 22 years old, of the community Juan de la Barrera in Angostura. Hours before the tragedy, Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes del Rancho had played the festival Carnaval Mocorito 2015.)

And lest we forget, two 22-year-olds died in the crash:

En el accidente automovilístico, también murió la joven Melina Sarahí Durán Martínez de 22 años de edad con domicilio en la colonia Magisterio, en la ciudad de Guamúchil, Sinaloa.

Camacho was just getting started, and already he sounded like nobody else on the radio. He sounded old — or at least his music did, even when it was brand new. Listen to his version of “El Karma” next to Noel Torres’s, and it’s hard to believe Camacho was the younger man: he slurs some words and takes the song slower, his sparse trio refusing those qualities — vigor, speed, change — we associate with youth. Mostly he sounds weary, and it’s that weariness that makes Camacho’s “El Karma” the most sinister version. (Revolver Cannabis also took a shot at the song.) A hotshot like Torres can brag about karma visiting his daughters’ kidnappers in the form of an R-15 rifle. Camacho doesn’t need to brag. He’s seen this story play out before, and so he tells his tale with the grim determination of a man trapped by fate. After his real-life accident the song’s final line is chilling: “Nadie de la parca se puede escapar.” Nobody can escape the reaper.

Weary fatalism got him onto U.S. radio: #7 regional Mexican, #16 Hot Latin. For a format that’s mostly sappy love songs and exuberant crime songs, this was remarkable. His hit debut album was a whole lot of the same. Last month I wrote:

This hypnotic trio album wants to trick you into thinking it’s traditional corrido music, when in fact it’s very modern. The 14 drumless songs follow a formula: Camacho and his guitarist, César Iván Sánchez, sing simple tunes in close harmony while tuba player Israel Meza plays basslines that double as leads. With the tuba hurling interjections around his vocal throughlines, Camacho calmly sets his requinto rippling. The results sound like dusty folklore, not at all like the shiny banda pop or driving corridos that currently occupy the regional Mexican zeitgeist.

Camacho sang newly composed songs, not classic corridos. Other acts like Justicieros del Rancho and Lenin Ramirez have recently combined requinto, guitar, and tuba, but as far as I can tell Camacho was the only one to hit big with the sound. Tributes have been pouring in from almost every norteño singer you can name, and with good reason. Camacho was a fine musician, with a knack for making his music sound vital even as he rejected modern trends. I’ll miss hearing all the refusals he could’ve made.

How Big Is Number 1?

For the past two weeks, regional Mexican music has claimed the #1 spot on Billboard‘s Top Latin Albums chart. Keep in mind, these were two very slow weeks. How slow? Remember the week Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star was the #1 movie in America? THAT slow.

Last week Intocable was on top with their live album XX: 20 Aniversario. The week before was led by Disa’s annual compilation Las Bandas Románticas de America. (Just in time for Valentine’s Day! Wanna role-play a “tryst with the vintner’s daughter” scenario?) We’ve got a stopgap in Intocable’s case and a brazen moneymaker for Disa, neither designed to put new songs into the world. But musical irrelevance isn’t the whole story. Just behind Bandas Románticas was Privilegio, the Sony debut of hotshot corridista Alfredo Olivas. I’d assumed some pent-up hunger for this guy, who’s had multi-million-hit videos and a Triunfo cover. But sales figures reveal otherwise:

The compilation set Las Bandas Romanticas de America 2015 leads the list at No. 1 (over 2,000 units shifted, according to Nielsen Music). The album follows the 2014 edition which spent four weeks at No. 1. Newcomer Alfredo Olivas bows in the No. 2 spot with his first charting album Privilegio, starting with 2,000 copies sold. The singer-songwriter spends a second consecutive week at No. 30 on Regional Mexican Airplay with the set’s lead single “Mi Porvenir,” its peak. The track climbs 11 percent in audience impressions, to 1.5 million, in its sixth week on the chart.

I’d like to say it took a population the size of my podunk hometown to top the Latin Albums chart, but my podunk hometown was more than twice that size. 2,000 people lived in the even podunker town next door. That was the town we all made fun of. 2,000 people is not very many. Intocable didn’t do much better:

Regional Mexican group Intocable scores its seventh No. 1 on Top Latin Albums, as XX Aniversario debuts atop the list with 3,000 sold in the week ending Feb. 1, according to Nielsen Music.

This chart is not always so slow, especially when it comes to fresh-faced crossover prospects. Luis Coronel’s second album debuted to 10,000 copies sold last year, which got him to #33 on the overall Billboard 200. The year before, Gerardo Ortiz moved 14,000 copies of Archivos de Mi Vida in its first week, enough to peak at #68 on the top 200. (A busier week, apparently; he’d peaked higher in the past.) But things are down all over, right? People are setting dubious records left and right. Last April, Pharrell scored the lowest selling No. 2 album in history when he sold 29,000 copies of G I R L. I don’t bring up these low numbers to mock Intocable, Olivas, or Disa’s roster of heartthrobs. It’s just good to have a sense of scale.

Also worth noting: Top Latin Albums measures album sales only, while the top 200 has moved to a new “multi-metric” algorithm, with digital track sales contributing to an album’s placement on the big chart. This is how Enrique’s latest album is the highest Latin album on the top 200, down at #190, without topping the Latin album chart. “Bailando” still going strong! Stream it 1500 times and Enrique gets his wings a sale.

Desfile de Éxitos

Welcome back! Posting dried up due to a spate of year-end list making and turkey cooking, but that’s all over with.

These are the top 25 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published Nov. 27. Things to note:

The Andy Warhol movie running time chart count for “Propuesta Indecente” increases to 70 weeks. 70! I’m not sure about the stats for genre charts, but that’s longer than “How Do I Live” was in the Hot 100.

We say adiós to “No Me Dolio” by La Original Banda el Limón, and hola to a second song by Calibre 50, “Qué Tiene De Malo” ft. El Komander, already a #1 hit in México and, you’ll remember, written about here. (And one of the best singles of the year, to boot.) In the bottom reaches of the Regional Mexican chart, another hola to Regulo Caro’s new one.

1. “Bailando” – Enrique ft. Descemer Bueno, Gente de Zona, & the word “contigo”
2. “Ay Vamos” – J Balvin
3. “Propuesta Indecente” – Romeo Santos (I just wanna point out this song is 70 WEEKS OLD, and that maybe someone’s chart methodology needs tweaking.)
4. “Eres Mia” – Romeo Santos
5. “No Me Pidas Perdon” – Banda MS (#2 Reg Mex)
6. “Y Asi Fue” – Julión Álvarez (#3 RegMex) (Is this man the best banda singer around right now? Or should we forget the qualifier?)
7. “Travesuras” – Nicky Jam
8. “6 AM” – J Balvin ft. Farruko
9. “Adios” – Ricky Martin
10. “Odio” – Romeo Santos ft. Drake

11. “Tus Besos” – Juan Luis Guerra 440
12. “Hasta Que Salga el Sol” – Banda Los Recoditos (#5 RegMex)
13. “Yo Tambien” – Romeo Santos ft. Marc Anthony
14. “Javier El de Los Llanos” – Calibre 50 (#1 RegMex)
15. “La Bala” – Los Tigres Del Norte (#4 RegMex)
16. “Perdon” – Camila
17. “Plakito” – Yandel ft. El General Gadiel
18. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortíz (#11 RegMex) (Hooray!)
19. “Soy El Mismo” – Prince Royce
20. “Levantando Polvadera” – Voz De Mando (#6 RegMex)

21. “Qué Tiene De Malo” – Calibre 50 ft. El Komander
22. “Que Suenen Los Tambores” – Victor Manuelle
23. “Soy Un Desmadre” – Banda Tierra Sagrada ft. Marco Flores y La #1 Banda Jerez (#7 RegMex)
24. “Llegaste Tu” – Luis Fonsi ft. Juan Luis Guerra
25. “El Agüitado” – Jorge Valenzuela (#8 RegMex)

—————–

#9. “Zapatillas Ferragamo” – Meno Lugo
#10. “Mi Princesa” – Remmy Valenzuela

#12. “Tenerte” – Luis Coronel
#13. “Al Estilo Mafia” – Saul El Jaguar ft. La Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza
#14. “Asi Ya No” – La Maquinaria Norteña
#15. “La Historia De Mis Manos” – Banda Carnaval
#16. “La Indicada” – Kevin Ortíz
#17. “Ahora Por Ley” – Los Huracanes Del Norte
#18. “El Karma” – Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes Del Rancho
#19. “Soltero Disponible” – Regulo Caro
#20. “Me Voy De Ti” – Fidel Rueda

Catching Up With Corridos

Sorry for skipping the week’s new releases — they look like mostly exitos and live albums anyway — but I’ve been too busy getting BLOWN AWAY by La Nueva Rebelión’s stunning two-week-old album Me Hicieron Mas Fuerte. (La Nueva Rebelión approved this metaphor.) I know I compare norteño bands, in particular Noel Torres’s maelstroms, to rock groups a lot, maybe more than is healthy for an old gringo; but Rebelión invite the comparison. Just listen to the title single, with its rock chords and the second singer’s strained-neck melismas, and tell me it doesn’t rock harder than… wait, who was supposed to have rocked this year? Don’t say Foo Fighters. Don’t say Five Finger Death Punch either. If you said Behemoth or Against Me! I’d have to think about it.

This discovery, along with the hurried reshuffling it required of my year-end lists, made me decide to hunt for other albums I (and you?) have overlooked. I’ll be helped in this quest by Fonovisa’s Invasión Del Corrido 2014 disc.

For instance, Remmy Valenzuela! How’d I miss him? An album cover that gorgeous and steely gray doesn’t come along every day. “Te Tocó Perder” is a tempo-switching almost-jam, and on title track “De Alumno A Maestro” his fingers whirl like the wind. His voice blares like some obnoxious horn. These are good things. Remmy Valenzuela approved these similes.

Grupo 360 — styled “Grupo TR3S60,” which shouldn’t be confused with the computer I got from Radio Shack in 1985 — sound way too goony and nice to have any relation to the bullet scarred thug in their “Neto Roca” video. Their album Dos Jovenes Muchachos came out back in May, and presumably someone noticed.

More catching up to come!

¿Dónde están las mujeres?

Since tonight’s award show Premios de la Radio is a blatant moneymaker for the media barons at Liberman Broadcasting, and since it’s voted on by fans, its nominees aren’t surprising. Surprise would be antithetical to its purpose. Turn on regional Mexican radio for a half hour and you’ll hear a couple of the honorees, and that’s the point — it’s a state of The Scene. And at least one aspect of The Scene is disturbing.

No, nothing to do with corrido violence. This year’s Artista del Año nominees include El Komander, the current poster-bro for El Movimiento Alterado; Gerardo Ortiz, who’s transitioned away from Alterado into his unofficial role as poster-bro for the whole genre; and two more romantic banda acts, La Arrolladora Banda el Limón and the continent’s best singer Julión Álvarez, along with his Norteña Banda. That’s two sorta bad boys, two bandas full of good boys, and fewer women than Iowa has ever elected to national office. Among the nominees for best canción, colaboración, and corrido, there are no songs by women. If you watch the nominees for best video, you’ll at least see women in various states of undress.

What’s worse, this is an accurate state of The Scene, at least as it exists on FM radio. In the last hour, my go-to station has played Komander’s “Soy De Rancho,” Álvarez’s “Y Así Fue,” and zero women. For its Top Songs of the Week, said station lists alt-popper Ximena Sariñana’s year-old cumbia collaboration at #20, and beyond that… well, I haven’t checked all 423 songs, but Sariñana was the only female in the top 60. Where are all the women?

At the Premios, the four nominees for Artista Femenina del Año are the late Jenni Rivera, her daughter Chiquis, Ana Bárbara, and Gerencia 360’s token artista femenina, Helen Ochoa. Rivera remains an icon and a chart-topper, albeit with posthumous live albums. Ana Bárbara’s fine banda album came out at the end of 2013, like Ortiz’s album, and its first single reached #25 on the Regional Mexican chart. Chiquis and Ochoa have slight outputs so far — just two singles for Ochoa, far as I can tell — but let’s hope they’ll get bigger. Chiquis really knows how to throw herself into a song, just like Mom. Unfortunately the Premios didn’t see fit to nominate Nena Guzman, a labelmate of Ortiz who released a solid norteño album earlier this year, or previous winners and chicas malas Los Horóscopos de Durango. For all the talk of bro-country elbowing women to the margins of country radio, in regional Mexican music these days, the margins seem razor thin.

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