music, charts, opinions


Alfredito Olivas

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? (starring Alfredo Olivas, Los Inquietos, y más)

zapateado endemoniado

la rueda de la fortunaContinuing the sad theme of Albums NorteñoBlog Slept On In 2017, we turn to the fifth-or-so release from prodigious 23-year-old singer-songwriter-accordionist Alfredo Olivas, La Rueda de Fortuna (Sahuaro/Sony Latin). The Blog first encountered Olivas in the pre-Blog morass of 2013, when he appeared as a teenager on Hyphy Records’ cheapo compilation Hyphy Music Inc. Presenta El Corrido VIP 1era Edición. Comparing him and his cohort to punk rockers, and misspelling his name, I wrote, “Olvidas creates thin slashes of song, sometimes with one instrument insistently out of tune, tuba and accordion prancing around one another like bird of paradise evading some jungle cat, if that ever happens.” (I think I’d been watching a bunch of Planet Earth.)

Since then, Olivas has been sounding like more of a pro. He’s written a ton of songs — according to Wiki, over 1,000 during his life — and has lately turned away from the narcocorridos of his youth into more reflective and romantic work. Which isn’t to say he’s stodgy. “El Paciente” was one of 2017’s best singles, a soaring deathbed meditation whose energetic horn charts were set to “burble.” For his accordion songs, his band tackles different rhythms like Intocable, moving beyond the typical polkas and waltzes into grooves that approach rock. And his lyrics tend to be more interesting than typical for this genre, where song themes tend to stick to “I’m so in love with you,” “You unfaithful whore,” or “I’m such a big shot.”

antecedentes de culpaSee, for instance, the song sitting at #13 in Mexico. (Blog note: it’s since climbed to #4, but I’m too lazy to change the chart below.) In “Antecedentes de Culpa,” a guy has a drunken argument with his mujer, wakes up hung over, and regrets the whole thing. I’m not even sure what they’re arguing about, but it hardly matters; the argument dredges up a host of insults that sting worse than the subject of disagreement. It’s 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. Pick to Click!

Also notable:
Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? (starring Alfredo Olivas, Los Inquietos, y más)”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? (1/27/17)

christian-nodal-bigWelcome to the Mexican radio charts*: Changing quicker than Mexican-American diplomatic relations! More exciting than the Doomsday Clock! Not even half the existential threat of those stupid made-up islands in the South China Sea!

NorteñoBlog is pleased to note that, since we last checked in, we get to enjoy nine new songs. Two are straight-up replacements for the better:

At #13, La Arrolladora Banda swaps its slow jam “Yo Sí Te Amé” for the busy merengue-flavored “Traicionera”;

and at #2, the young hotshot accordion slinger Alfredo Olivas trades the decent bluesy norteño number “Seguramente” for the skippy deathbed meditation “El Paciente,” con banda. He even works in a shoutout to the mythic Catarino, a corrido legend who fought in the Revolution and healed his wounds with his own saliva. Alfredito doesn’t fare as well in the song, but the Blog is looking forward to his next, apparently posthumous album. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? (1/27/17)”

¡Nuevo! (starring Trakalosa and Alfredo Olivas)

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We’ll start with esta semana’s pick to click, and it’s a weeper. It turns out Edwin Luna, lead singer of La Trakalosa de Monterrey, is very convincing portraying un “Adicto a la Tristeza.” It helps that his voice chimes like a throaty bell. Luna’s labelmate and guest singer, Pancho Uresti from Banda Tierra Sagrada, is somewhat less convincing because his voice is scratchy. When the woman in the video spurns his advances, he’ll feel nothing and should be able to pick up pretty easily with someone else. I myself am addicted to the urgency of their chorus melody, and a quarter-million Youtube viewers in the past two days seem to agree.

Other newish singles include Hijos de Barrón’s “Mis Quimeras” (LNG/Hyphy), featuring cool bass work and a syncopated groove;

“Así Es el Juego,” an underwhelming cover of Colmillo Norteño‘s profane kiss-off (in a couple senses), by Luis y Julián Jr. ft. Naty Chávez. It’s available in both obscene and family-friendly versions!;

and I’m not sure if this counts, but Graciela Beltrán throws herself into a new ballad, “Qué Tal Se Siente,” and it’s good to hear her voice.

The big new album this week is Alfredo Olivas’s El Privilegio (Sahuaro/Sony), which originally seemed to have come out late last year but maybe it was leaked. Olivas is an alumnus of several labels, including Fonovisa and the aforementioned Hyphy, here making his Sony debut. He’s also written songs for big names, so maybe Sony sees in his boyish grin the next Gerardo Ortiz?

The quintet Los Ramones de Nuevo Leon’s Con La Rienda Suelta (Grupo RMS) exists, as does a new retrospective from hyphy floggers (and Hyphy alums) Los Amos de Nuevo Leon, 20 Éxitos (Mar).

And I’m confused about Hyphy alums Los Rodriguez de Sinaloa — didn’t they just put out an album? Well, there’s another one out there called Entre El Rancho y La Ciudad (Independent), which so far seems more energetic than Sr. Olivas’s album.

What’s that? — you’re worried Hyphy music is under represented? — very well, the trio Los Kompitaz released 12 Corridos y Canciones at the end of 2014.

Accordionist, singer, businessman, and crier of single tears Fidel Rueda releases Música del Pueblo on his own Rueda label. His latest single “No Te Vayas” has stuttering accordion and horn lines that sound like they’re fighting to squeeze through his tear ducts.

Feeling romantic and/or cash-starved, Fonovisa has released it’s annual Bandas Románticas de América comp, which last year sucked. As companion pieces, they’ve compiled 20 Kilates Románticos for a bunch of groups, including Recodo, Primavera, Bryndis, Bukis — you know, groups who have never been compiled before.



This week’s new or newish releases are motley and middling, sort of like the white elephant prize table at the office Christmas party.

Alfredo Olivas – El Privilegio (Sahuaro/Sony)
When we encountered Alfredito last week, we were hearing his song “Con La Novedad” covered by Banda Rancho Viejo. It’s possible this album won’t actually be released until January, per Amazon, but it’s also possible the whole thing’s currently up on Youtube, what with the Sony corporation’s attentions somewhat diverted these days. Olivas is a distinctive and “ito”-faced corridista and romantic who works with both a banda and a small group. He had a couple tracks on Hyphy’s El Corrido VIP comp.

Siggno – Zodiacal (Martzcom/Freddie)
Salido – “Ya No Eres La Misma” (Martzcom/Freddie)
Intocablish lopers.

Los Palominos – Strait Tejano (Urbana)
Now here’s something you don’t see every day: a Tejano band releasing an album of George Strait covers. Interesting, eh? In theory, at least. From what I’ve heard, these songs are less interesting than Strait’s own cover of José Alfredo Jiménez, “El Rey,” which may deserve its own thesis.

La Trakalosa de Monterrey – “Broche De Oro” (Remex)
A fairly nothing ballad with some nice close harmonies. Their padrino el diablo made them do it.

Chavela Vargas – Que Te Vaya Bonito (Caribe reissue)
Easily the most interesting person on this list, Vargas was a highly dramatic singer of ranchera torch songs, a movie actor, and a lesbian who came out late in life. Here’s a thesis to read! Like “El Rey,” this collection’s title song was written by José Alfredo Jiménez.


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Abundant biggish names this week, led by:

Banda Rancho Viejo – Dejando Huella (Disa)
Lawyer-turned-producer Fernando Camacho’s LATEST latest moneymaking scheme involves throwing songs at this group of colts, whose 2013 album I enjoyed a lot. Their new album leads with the meh single “De Por Vida,” but on first listen that’s the meh-est thing about it. The highlights are mostly covers: Alfredito Olivas’s “Con La Novedad,” Banda El Mexicano’s delirious study in phonemic differentiation “Ma, Me, Mi, Mo, Mu,” and best of all, Banda Brava’s even more delirious “Cumbia Con Opera,” a 1995 novelty of operatic interpolations that sounds like super-competent junior high kids goofing around. I’m enough of a hick that I find this hilarious.

Voz De Mando – Levantado Polvadera [Deluxe] (Afinarte/Sony)
You remember them — last week labelmates Dueto Consntido were playing “El Rolex” live in front of Voz De Mando’s drum kit. The title song has gone Top 20 Hot Latin, but the sixth-or-so full length by this tuba-anchored corrido band is disappointing, at least on first listen. Like Calibre 50 and LOS! BuiTRES!, whenever they try to break up their corrido onslaught with romantic ballads, their instruments have trouble filling the sonic space. Anemia ensues. Obviously the listening public disagrees with me because they’ve scored some big romantic hits.

Los Robles Del Norte – El Dinero (Frontera)
Los Robles already released one 2014 album, Desde Ojinagua Pal Mundo, with the exact same cover. Four months later, without even bothering to remove the old title, they’ve simply slapped a big pink “EL DINERO” on there and released 10 different songs. This is obviously as radical an act of commodification and semiotic collapse as anything Andy Warhol ever tried. First impression: they sound OK.

Los Rodriguez De Sinaloa – Me Miran Por Mayo (Hyphy)
Though I’ve never listened to a full album by this duo-plus-quartet, I’ve had a soft spot for them since they appeared on Hyphy’s El Corrido VIP comp a couple years ago. They were the most polished of the four bands on that collection, young go-getters while everyone else was bouncing off the cacti, but they were still more raucous than most major label corrido bands. Having since been nominated for “Corrido of the Year” at the Premios De La Radio, they’re back with this promising 16-songer. Lead single is a fast “¡Ay Chiquita!” number called “Lo Bonito De Tenerte,” pleasantly rambunctious.

Also new:
Alejandro Fernández – Confidencias Reales (Fonovisa)
Grupo Exterminador – Es Tiempo De Exterminador (Universal Latino)

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