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NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Julio – Septiembre

marco flores

UPDATED YOUTUBE PLAYLIST HERE

Three months ago on our Top Singles list, NorteñoBlog was concerned about a lack of chart hits and puro sax music. Worry no more! There’s a bit less variety on this list than before, in part because I devoted the month of agosto to a project that prevented me from trawling for indie singles. (More on that project soon.) But the states of California, Chihuahua, Texas, Tijuana, and Zacatecas all represent below, along with ever-present Sinaloa.

(First quarter singles are here; second quarter singles are here.)

1. Marco A. Flores y Su Numero Uno Banda Jerez“Amor de la Vida Alegre” (Garmex)
Mexican radio hit
Flores, who also made NorteñoBlog’s favorite single six months ago, is like the Ramones with better beats, Rae Sremmurd if they were fast, early Madonna with a better voice. He makes termite art of the most gnawing and forward-thinking sort. He spends half this song crowing over just drums and tuba.


Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Julio – Septiembre”

Indie Animales (starring Los Inquietos, El Chapo de Sinaloa, y más)

peyoyo

We all know insufferable (and occasionally kickin’) Brooklyn indie bands love naming themselves after animals. But did you know that kickin’ (and occasionally insufferable) indie norteño bands also dig animal metaphors? And were you aware that writing intros is not NorteñoBlog’s strong suit? Read on!

los inquietosLos Inquietos del Norte started one of norteño’s most successful artist-directed indie labels, Eagle Music, in 2002. Along with their fellow Bay-area natives Los Amos de Nuevo Leon, Los Inquietos helped create the sound of hyphy norteño, the party punk version of bro-norteño, all lickety split tempos, simple accordion slashes, and lyrics about wild debauchery. Inquietos quickly went their own way: though their songs still sounded hyphy, they dropped the hyphy name and started adding wobbly violin-based ballads to their repertoire. They also grew their record label. Along the way they’ve cut distribution deals with mom-and-pops and majors. I’m not sure how their new album De Noche Enfiestado is being promoted, but I did hear its wobbly violin-based lead single “No Dudes De Mi” on midwestern corporate radio the other day, so somebody’s pushing it.

In addition to their Eagle mascot, Inquietos are into perro y gallo metaphors. NorteñoBlog has discussed their wobbly, weirdly operatic single “Como Perro Amarrado,” which is sort of like Jamey Johnson’s “Dog In the Yard” without the rue. Like, serious lack of rue. The Meza brothers’ vibrato is where rue goes to die. Their profane and violent “La Cerre el Hozico al Perro” has more energy, and I’m partial to “Los Tres Gallasos,” if only for the accordion. Rosalio Meza has some fast licks at his disposal, but he’s not afraid to simply hang out on one repeated note, frowning his instrument’s approval at the lyrics. There’s a cultivated carelessness in this bunch.

Continue reading “Indie Animales (starring Los Inquietos, El Chapo de Sinaloa, y más)”

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2015: Abril – Junio

cuisillos

This quarter’s list contains fewer radio hits than last quarter’s — only four out of 11 — but don’t worry! Both radio and Youtube continue to inundate us with all kinds of great music under the banner of “regional Mexican.” Below we’ve got cumbia from the underrepresented state of Nayarit, violin-driven dance music from the underrepresented state of Oaxaca, a brass banda from Jalisco who dresses in indigenous garb and doesn’t play corridos but sometimes plays piano pop, Linda Ronstadt-style pop country from Nuevo León, Chicago’s hometown heroines Los Horóscopos hitting Mexican radio and giving everybody cuernos, aaaaand (as usual) a whole lotta Sinaloa. NorteñoBlog has apparently been sleeping on the states of Chihuahua and Zacatecas, though, as I’ve dug up zero hot new singles to represent their puro sax styles. Better luck next quarter!

1. Banda Cohuich“Son Kora Kau Te Te Kai Nie Ni (Dialecto Huichol)” (Pegasus)
Huichol is an indigenous Mexican language, and “Son Kora” is a relentless jerking propulsion machine with brass, gang vocals, and a slippery synth line (I think).
hasn’t charted

2. Laura Denisse“Sigo Enamorada” (Fonovisa)
Denisse has a big clear voice in the vein of Linda Ronstadt, and she’s been singing a mix of banda and pop since she was a kid in the ’90s. The big brass riff here is simply a series of repeated notes, but the players articulate and syncopate like swaggering jazz cowboys.
hasn’t charted

3. Ariel Camacho y Los Plebes Del Rancho“Te Metiste” (Del/Sony)
This gorgeous love song sounds just as strange and sparse as “El Karma” when it plays on the radio.
U.S. radio hit

4. Grupo El Reto ft. Alta Consigna“La Parranda Va a Empezar” (Gerencia 360/Sony)
This quartet belongs to la corriente escuela of corridistas who sing about corruption while their corrosive tubists imitate machine gun fire. Corre! The quartet Alta Consigna also has a tuba in the band, so you’ve got two tubists and a requinto (I think?) playing furiously over everything.
hasn’t charted

5. Banda Cuisillos“Cerveza” (Musart/Balboa)
This isn’t even my favorite Cuisillos song of 2015 — that’d be this swinging piano-driven non-single — but these Jaliscanos do indulge several of NorteñoBlog’s weaknesses: two different singers trying to outdo one another in the passion department, brass alternating with guitar, and deplorable sexism.
Mexican radio hit

6. Leandro Ríos ft. Pancho Uresti“Debajo Del Sombrero” (Remex)
This not-so-humble ranchera ballad takes as much pleasure in the act of rhyming as any random song by Sondheim. Although, going through my Spanish rudiments, I’m disappointed the song doesn’t take place in enero, and why doesn’t our heroic caballero own a perro?
U.S. and Mexican radio hit

7. Banda Costado – “Pinotepa” (Talento)
This is a way different sound than we usually enjoy here: lots of percussion, tuba bassline, wild violin, and singers. Many independent lines and very little chordal harmony, in other words.
hasn’t charted

8. Banda Culiacancito“Lastima de Cuerpo” (Del/Sony)
If you’ve read this blog long enough, you know one of my favorite musical effects is rapid fire barrages of syllables that never seem to end and make me feel totally inadequate about my grasp of español. Prolific songwriters Geovani Cabrera (Regulo Caro, Calibre 50) y Horacio Palencia (todos) deliver. Knock yourself out with a trombone slide!
hasn’t charted

9. Los Gfez“Hasta Tu Dedo Gordito” (Remex)
I implore you not to google images of dedos gorditos unless you get off on toe injuries. No judging. I should mention that the quartet Los Gfez, last seen joining Diego Herrera on a likable Mexican hit, start their search for the mystery dedo fast and, through the magic of time changes, find a way to get faster.
hasn’t charted

10. Noel Torres“No Andan Cazando Venados” (Gerencia 360/Sony)
Torres’s arrangement of “Venados” sounds like he’s adapting Ariel Camacho’s unusual instrumentation. He takes stripped down passages of requinto guitar solos over lurching tuba, the same dynamic you find in Camacho’s repertoire, and alternates them with full banda sections. Horns replace rhythm guitar. The result is both serious and silly (ay, esos clarinetes), a fitting tribute that also fits with Torres’s swagger.
hasn’t charted

11. Los Horóscopos de Durango“Estoy Con Otro En La Cama”
Mexican radio hit

10 more good ones:

Miguel – “Coffee”
AB Soto – “Cha Cha Bitch”
Sam Hunt – “House Party”
Markus Feehily – “Love Is a Drug”
Honey Cocaine – “Sundae”
Chemical Brothers ft. Q-Tip – “Go”
Brandon Flowers – “Can’t Deny My Love”
Haley Georgia – “Ridiculous”
Bobby Brackins ft. Zendaya and Jeremih – “My Jam”
Vanbot – “Seven”

¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Cuisillos, Los Huracanes, y más)

cuisillos feathers

huracanesWith a career nearly as long as Los Tigres’ and a catalog just as intimidating, San Jose’s own Los Huracanes del Norte have been playing their corridos and love songs for more years than I’ve been alive. Longevity is part of their story. So naturally, their new album on GarMex/Universal is titled #. The cover, you see, is festooned with a bunch of Twitter hashtags you can use to spread your love of Los Huracanes, and most of them seem legit, although tweeter beware: when I looked up #queseoigaesebajosextomipancho, I didn’t get any results. You can be the first, I guess. All those hashtags make for an attractive album cover, and my keen-eyed friend Anthony likes the font they used. Los Huracanes have already hit the U.S. radio top 20 with “Como Tu No Hay Dos,” a sad country waltz played amid a surreal video landscape of inverted toilet plungers. Their reach also extends to #Manástylepopballadswithsopranosaxleads, as evidenced on last year’s #1 “Cero a la Izquierda.”
Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Cuisillos, Los Huracanes, y más)”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/3/15

claudio

Last week NorteñoBlog recommended “Cerveza” by the cruel drunks in Banda Cuisillos. It turns out “Cerveza” has garnered one of the 20 biggest radio audiences in México but, due to some chart formulas I don’t quite understand at the website monitorLATINO, hasn’t yet hit the radio top 20, which measures total spins rather than estimated audience. (This could just mean it’s more popular in urban radio markets, where more people will hear its fewer spins…???)

ANYWAY, my point here is not to reveal how little I know about Mexican radio stats, but rather to direct you to two more such songs. The first is “Te Extraño Poquito” by Claudio Alcaraz y Su Banda Once Varas. It’s got breathless banda bombast and Alcaraz moving through increasingly desperate stages of post-breakup grief until, in the video, he goes Lloyd Dobbler on his ex and shows up outside her window with the entire banda. Neither ex nor neighbors call the police; rather, ex turns out the light, so everyone just gives up and goes home. Continuará…

Popular but less-spun song two is the charming “Amanece Y No Estas” by Diego Verdaguer, who splits the difference between mariachi and Jason Mraz-style hippy dippiness. No ukelele though, promise.

But today’s Pick to Click is yet another top 20 single from NorteñoBlog’s album of the year so far, Marco A. Flores’s Soy El Bueno. “Dudo” is more of Flores’s trademark Sinaloan banda played at Zacatecas speed. He uses pop chord changes but avoids sentimentality, mostly because he’s got a voice like a tornado siren playing a wax paper comb. The song lasts all of 2:48. I swear this record’s like the Ramones or someone.

Other newbies include ballads by Saul “El Jaguar” and Luz Maria, and something by Los Titanes de Durango featuring 14-year-old Jaziel Avilez. Being a sucker for such novelty and having once enjoyed Los Titanes, who despite their name play plain old norteño and not duranguense, I so wanted to like this song, but “Padre Ejemplar” goes on way too long. 40 seconds longer than “Dudo,” to be exact. Talk about self indulgence!

These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by monitorLATINO. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also “Uptown Funk!”, “Sugar,” “Love Me Like You Do,” and an Alejandro Sanz ballad about scratchy-voiced zombies.

1. “Después de Ti ¿Quién?” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
2. “Contigo” – Calibre 50
3. “El Amor de Su Vida” – Julión Álvarez
4. “Confesion” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón
5. “A Lo Mejor” – Banda MS
6. “Perdi La Pose” – Espinoza Paz
7. “Me Toco Perder” – Banda Los Recoditos
8. “No Fue Necesario” – El Bebeto
9. “Tranquilito” – El Chapo de Sinaloa
10. “Indeleble” – Banda Los Sebastianes

11. “Dudo” – Marco A. Flores y No.1 Banda Jerez
12. “Que te Quede Claro” – Saul El Jaguar
13. “Si Tuviera Que Decirlo” – Pedro Fernandez
14. “Padre Ejemplar” – Los Titanes de Durango ft. Jaziel Avilez
15. “La Reina” – La Iniciativa
16. “Ponte Las Pilas” – America Sierra
17. “Y Esa Soy Yo” – Luz Maria
18. “Que Tal Si Eres Tu” – Los Tigres Del Norte
19. “Un Ranchero En La Ciudad” – Leandro Rios ft. Pancho Uresti
20. “Escuchame” – Fidel Rueda

¡Adios!
“Adicto a la Tristeza” – Banda La Trakalosa ft. Pancho Uresti
“Que Aún Te Amo” – Pesado
“Me Importas” – Los Primos MX
“Malditas Ganas” – Alfredo Rios El Komander
“Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo

¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Cuisillos, Jovanko Ibarra, y más)

ibarra

nino-albertelli-amor-y-saxo-vinilo-argentino-6294-MLA79618094_3701-OIn the movements known as Puro Zacatecas Sax and Puro Chihuahua Sax, one of the biggest wasted opportunities is the lack of terrible “sax” puns in album titles. Research reveals the Argentinian Nino Albertelli once released an album called Amor y Saxo, but that’s Argentina’s problem. Where is the Saxo Tántrico, the Saxo En La Playa, the Paga Para El Saxo of northern Mexico? Smooth jazz would’ve had this all locked down by now.

fieraFortunately the Mexican bands in question play with more lively energy than they use when bestowing titles, and this week sees new releases from two of ’em. In this corner, La Fiera de Ojinaga (“The Beast of Ojinaga”!) represents Chihuahua with the album Como Una Fiera (Azteca); the first spritely single goes by the same title, and from what I’ve heard, the rest of the album promises much much more. Possible alternate title: Saxy Fiera.

retonosIn the opposite corner, representing Zacatecas with one half-ton of bounciness, is the sextet (saxtet?) Los Retoños del Rio, whose “Por Qué la Engañe” NorteñoBlog has already recommended. It’s totes Intocablish, and frankly better than Intocable’s last couple singles. Their new album is De Buena Escuela (Goma) (alternate title: Saxo Con Mi Profesora), and NorteñoBlog has slacked by not listening to any of its other songs yet, but these bands are nothing if not consistent.

primaveraThe kings of this genre, Conjunto Primavera, have a new compilation out this week, because it is the position of the benevolent Fonovisa corporation that no band can ever be compiled enough. La Historia de los Éxitos (alternate title: El Mejor Saxo Nunca) is part of a series that also includes best-of’s by grupos Bryndis, Yndio, Liberacion, y Los Rehenes y Los Traileros. Get it quick before another one comes out next month!

Moving along to banda, the jokesters in Banda Cuisillos have a fine new-ish single called “Cerveza”, which features several of NorteñoBlog’s favorite elements: two different singers trying to outdo one another in the passion department, brass alternating with guitar, and deplorable sexism. Please accept it as this week’s Pick to Click with my apologies, but also with the understanding that, using the late Ellen Willis’s formula, “Cerveza” still isn’t as deplorably sexist as Cat Stevens’s “Wild World.”

jovankoBanda singer and former La Voz Mexico contestant Jovanko Ibarra is an extremely handsome man who should wear a helmet when he rides his motorcycle in the video for “No Le Hagamos al Cuento.” Look at it this way: when the Smithsonian moves the Hope Diamond, do you think they just toss it like a football to whichever flunky happens to be standing around? No. The Hope Diamond requires layers of padding and precautions and moving techniques that have been honed over decades, to ensure that the Hope Diamond makes it through the moving process unscathed. My point is, Jovanko Ibarra is prettier than the Hope Diamond. His new album No Le Hagamos al Cuento (Prodisc) has his picture on the cover.

agostiniSince we’re speaking of pretty dudes, I’ll turn your attention to Daniel Agostini and his 2003 album Sentimientos Vol. 1 (Magenta), whose album cover depicts him as an angel. Whether the songs bear this out I can’t say, but a cursory listen reveals some charming and very twee electrocumbia. I bring it up because it’s new to streaming services, and also because THE ALBUM COVER DEPICTS HIM AS AN ANGEL.

chavezBanda singer Sandra Chavez “La Comadre” is planning something. Most likely it’s an album or EP release, but the rollout by her label Music Eyes is proceeding in a slow and seemingly haphazard fashion. Earlier today three “singles” hit Youtube, and you can count yourself among the first human people to listen to them. “Sinceramente” is just that; “Me Das Asco” is stately; “Mejor Sin Ti” is heartbroken. None packs the punch of last year’s “Mucha Mujer” and its biker chic video where, I’d just like to point out to my new friend Jovanko, Sandra had the good sense to wear a face-obscuring helmet while riding her bike. Of course, using the late Roger Ebert’s formula, you’d expect that from her.

Finally, three recent albums of corridos:

Los Canelos de Durango sing about El Señor de la Montaña (Pegasus);

Luis Salomon sings about cartel figure Tito Beltran in “Por Encargo de los Viejos (Tito Beltran)” (ICON);

and Los Meros Meros Alteños sing Corridos y Canciones (Hyphy).

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