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Banda Pequeños Musical

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Enero – Marzo

el armenta

Please excuse the note of shame in NorteñoBlog’s voice, but 2016 has gotten off to a more… focused start than last year. On the list (and YouTube playlist!) that follows, you’ll find no bands devoted to cumbia, no musicians from outside la patria, and — despite my doubtless inadequate searching — only one woman. (Karla Luna snuck on at the end, with a song that might end up growing on me. And Helen Ochoa‘s album deserves a listen.) What we’ve got here is nine norteño songs and six banda tunes by dudes who are pretty open about their lusts — if not for las mujeres, then for power and fancy wristwatches. But their music is no less compelling, because within those confines live several worlds of possibility.

El Armenta‘s big dumb cumbia (#1), Remmy Valenzuela‘s power ballad (#8), and Banda Pequeños Musical‘s pan flute monstrosity (#15) are all romantic banda songs that find vastly different paths to greatness. Or near greatness. The same thing happens on the norteño side. Though everyone’s working the same genre turf, Adriel Favela‘s guitar-saturated version of a new corrido standard (#3) couldn’t sound further from the Intocable love song (#10) with the distorted electric guitar and the show-offy accordion solo, as precise and memorable as a prime Van Halen break. Regional Mexican music pitches a bigger and more inventive tent than half the U.S. political system. Speaking of which, I sort of feel like El Armenta’s video, in which grotesque rubber-faced men enact an inexplicable ritual while carrying big sticks, gives us a terrifying preview of June’s Republican convention. At least nobody dies from the sticks.

1. El Armenta“El Perro Se Soltó” (Armenta)
Of all the big dumb banda cumbias I’ve heard this year, “El Perro” is the best, with horns and clarinets blaring all over the place and a churning beat that doesn’t quit until the perro in question barks at the end. The sound’s a little clipped in the head-scratcher of a video, which only adds to the Lynchian daytime nightmare feel of the whole endeavor. Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Enero – Marzo”

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Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/29/15

el mimoso

Mexico and the U.S. might not agree on how to end the drug war or where to store El Chapo, but say this for international unity: we both love us some Banda MS. The banda’s uncharacteristically snappy “Piénsalo” continues at #1, both on the Mexican “Popular” chart and on Billboard‘s Regional Mexican chart, which measures U.S. airplay. Within the genre, they occupy the same position Arrolladora did a couple years ago, where any single they release is guaranteed to inundate radio playlists and hang out high on the charts for a couple months. (Not that Arrolladora’s doing badly for themselves lately — see #7 below.) I for one welcome our new romantic overlords and would like to encourage them to play a unity concert for the Supreme Leader of Iran.

New and notable this week:

At #12, Noel Torres’ ballad “Me Interesas” finally enters the Mexican chart, more than a year after topping U.S. airplay. More notable as an accordion hero and corridero, Torres also knows how to do banda romance right, largely because he knows his own voice. Nobody’s ever gonna mistake him for the world’s greatest crooner, so he skimps on the vibrato and instead delivers each lyric with forthright efficiency that cuts through the sentiment. Hearing him grow more confident with ballads has been an unexpected pleasure of following his career. (Don’t confuse “Me Interesas” with El Komander’s “Me Interesa,” returning to this chart at #16 and not nearly so interesante. Nobody’s ever gonna mistake El Komander for the world’s greatest crooner either, but he has fewer coping strategies for ballads.) An unenthusiastic Pick to Click!, then — did I mention this song is really old?

Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/29/15”

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