music, charts, opinions


Banda Lamento Show de Durango

NorteñoBlog’s 41 Esencial Songs Since the Year 2000


As a recovering rockist and certified Old, I enjoy listening to the radio station The Current, 89.3 FM, whenever I’m driving through the Twin Cities. Recently The Current held a listener poll to determine the 893 essential songs since the year 2000. This list is a hit of sweet, unfiltered white elephant art. “Seven Nation Army” is #1 — and to be fair, it’s got one of the first riffs learned by today’s budding guitarists. Arcade Fire is everywhere, and Duluth folk-rockers Trampled By Turtles are more ranked than they’ve ever been ranked before.

In response, last week the Minneapolis City Pages, led by the excellent Keith Harris, published a list of 40 non-essential songs since the year 2000. This was the termite-tapeworm-fungus-moss riposte to all that Art. As you might guess, the non-essential list is way more fun, since it contains songs about dog sex and smashing things with hammers. But still, there was something missing, and I don’t mean Trampled By Turtles.

Both these lists gave NorteñoBlog an excuse to indulge in its two favorite pastimes: bitching that nobody pays attention to regional Mexican music, and shamelessly stealing the ideas of its betters.

So, in the pioneering spirit of 7-Minute Abs: ¡NorteñoBlog’s 41 Esencial Songs Since 2000!

What does “esencial” mean in this case? I only got into Mexican music in 2005, so my list will look different than the list of someone immersed in this music for years, let alone decades. If you’ve followed the Blog at all, you know my taste leans toward novelty: cumbias, tubas, brass sections turned into backbeats, and squalid consortiums of instrumentalists all trying to outplay one another. I have Complicated Feelings about violent narco songs celebrating real criminals, but I don’t dismiss them outright, and I think they often make bands sound more exciting than they would otherwise.

In short — and this is one of the points I read in the City Pages’ subtext, and in Richard Meltzer’s The Aesthetics of Rock and Chuck Eddy’s books — the non-esencial is esencial to the whole enterprise. That’s why this list sometimes looks like a mutant termite-elephant hybrid.

Before we get started, here’s something else you won’t find on either of those other lists: an artist who’s currently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury! Romantic balladeer Julión Álvarez, despite being basically Iran, has the distinction of being the continent’s best singer, and he recorded the most esencial melody here, but you can’t find it on the Spotify playlist at the bottom. So enjoy “Ojos Verdes” as you peruse.

And now, get a whiff of the Blog’s essence.

40. Edwin Luna y La Trakalosa de Monterrey – “Mi Padrino el Diablo” 2014
Whether flaring his nostrils or trying to jumpstart his perpetually nascent acting career, Luna over-enunciates more dramatically than anyone in banda music. Here’s a jaunty waltz where he gets down with the devil.

39. Los Angeles Azules – “El Listón de Tu Pelo” 2000
Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s 41 Esencial Songs Since the Year 2000”

Fonovisa Phones the Past (¡Nuevo!)

luis humberto

recoditosThe big new album last Friday was Banda Los Recoditos’ Me Está Gustando (Fonovisa). Based on their track record I’ll assume it’s another shiny, debauched, smutty, jokey, not great but actually pretty good 12-song collection with a couple too many ballads. (See this review of their 2014 album Sueño XXX, for example.) This time around, the album cover comes with a paranoia-inducing game: NAME THE EYES THAT SEEM TO BE FOLLOWING YOU. We’ve already marveled at the lead cry for help single “Pistearé,” currently at #4 in Mexico and threatening to enter the Hot Latin top 10 in the U.S., in which Luis Angel Franco (the lower left set of eyes) vows to drink away the memories of the mujer who done him wrong. (In the video he gets into a fight with co-singer Samuel Sarmiento — the lower right set of eyes — over said mujer. The cycle of booze being a vicious one, this drama also drives her to drink.) Even better is big dumb cumbia “La Cruda, which celebrates the inevitable hangover with way more gusto than I’ve ever felt during a hangover. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Fonovisa Phones the Past (¡Nuevo!)”

Banda Lamento Show: Chicago Vive Otra Vez

banda lamento show

The invaluable if annoyingly pop-uppy radioNOTAS alerts me to the existence of a new song, “El Señor,” by Banda Lamento Show de Durango. (I also see they’re playing Waukegan late this Saturday night, roughly a mile south of the church where I play early Sunday morning — i.e., I can’t see them. Have a good time and tell ’em I say hi.) Lamento Show, you’ll remember, were the wildest of duranguense bands and also the happiest, wearing ironic hipster ponchos and hauling around a little boy on a burro for their mascot. Unlike some of the buttoned down heartachers in this genre, listening to Lamento Show felt like getting away with something. True story: when I called their label nine years ago looking for press photos, the PR person I spoke with had no idea who they were.

When you get a chance, listen to their 2005 Platino album La Noche Que Murio Chicago, named after the Paper Lace song covered therein. This album is our generation’s Disco Tex and His Sex-O-Lettes: canned crowd noises, nonstop dance songs running one into the other, and a feeling that, despite the songs’ apparent simplicity on paper, the players can do whatever they want and anything could happen. By comparison, “El Señor” is reined in, but whoever’s singing enjoys his swanky vibrato enough to give it a big

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