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Chuy Vega

¡Nuevo! (starring El Komander, Grupo H-100, y más)


el komanderAlfredo Ríos El Komander (I guess that’s what we’re calling him now?) continues to fire off charming singles that sound like he wrote them on a napkin and recorded them in the back of the bar. His latest, “Fuga Pa’ Maza” (Twiins) makes the theme explicit. It’s a drinking song whose background crowd noises exist as much for their musical energy as their verisimilitude — note how the crowd abruptly shuts up mid-whoop at the end of the song, rather than fading into a jumble of congratulatory high-fives. “Mi vida es pura pura pura borrachera,” Ríos brags, his tuba and requinto (I think) players capering around the bar, spilling everyone’s drinks. Youtube commenters seem disappointed this isn’t a corrido, but it wins NorteñoBlog’s coveted VALE LA PENA/CLICK TO PICK double shot. Now go corrupt some youth!

chuy vegaYou’ll remember la semana pasada NorteñoBlog noted two new Hyphy releases by corridistas Chuy Vega and Los Originales de San Juan. They’re both back this week, having released other albums of apparently new music for different indie labels. Not that I’m complaining — jazz players like Wadada Leo Smith and Rob Mazurek busily compile equally confusing discographies, and putting the pieces together is part of the fun. This week, Vega’s Puras Norteñitas (jesus jose vega cuamea) and Los Originales’ Celebrando 39 (Long Play) both sound (on cursory listen) like solid country collections, with a slight edge to Vega, but if you don’t have Spotify or Rhapsody you might just have to take my word for it because Youtube’s not yielding much.

grupo h-100Not to overlook Hyphy, their young bass quintet Grupo H-100 has a debut album out called Nada Que Hacer. Its cover hearkens back to the golden age of hyphy norteño, with bullet-holes, skull jackets, and a shiny urban metal-and-leather aesthetic. But these guys have nothing to do with hyphy norteño. (Thinkpiece forthcoming.) Lead singer Jasiel Felix has kind of a Noel Torres thing going on, where he seems to be perpetually holding your shoulder and looking you in the eye without expression. I really find this style of singing appealing. What this says about my cauterized emotional receptors I’m not sure, but they’re worth a listen. Biggest hit so far is the corrido “Chuy Verduras,” and the band also has a rewarding new series of videos where they play live in a garage.

los nuevos rebeldesH-100’s sometime labelmates and duet partners Los Nuevos Rebeldes have a new live album with Banda La Conquista, (En Vivo), that has one of the busiest covers I’ve ever seen. The cover matches the sound, where the crowd is barely audible but every instrument is dry and upfront. Given the Conquista trumpeters’ haphazard approach to tuning, this strategy has its drawbacks. I’m not finding Youtube excerpts, but here’s one of those garage concerts with all the same players and then some.

The sextet-or-septet Puro Domador (aka Domador de la Sierra) play a fusion of grupero and Tierra Caliente, which in the case of single “Tu Profesor” means happy norteño pop with a sax, tambora, and a keyboard that I think is playing some very convincing tuba lines — but miraculously without any cheesy basement-psycho synth leads. The fusion has NorteñoBlog’s approval.

¡Nuevo! (starring Javier Rosas y más)


[Updated to correct some discographical confusion.]

javier rosasSometimes it’s nice to hear pretty songs, or a variety of songs. But sometimes you just want an album to knock you flat for a half hour, and this seems to be Fonovisa’s goal with their new and unrelenting compilation reissue of Javier Rosas y Su Artillería Pesada‘s early-career highlight, Otro Golpe, featuring a flashier cover photo and a couple additional songs. Rosas and his rocking bass + tuba quintet released three (I think) albums on independent labels before their breakthrough hit “La China” led to a 2014 major label debut. (Because it wouldn’t be norteño music without confusing discographies, one of those indie albums was also titled Otro Golpe.) The singer-songwriter looks a little like Jonathan Rhys Meyers with his penetrating gaze, and he sings with blunt exuberance, as though spewing truths nobody else allows themselves. He enjoys spoken asides, too, which furthers the impression that he’s singing the collective unfiltered id. (Today’s gringo country comparison: Toby Keith.) Otro Golpe cherrypicks features some excellent math-oriented corridos like Pick to Click “Por Clave Llevo El 13,” “Soy El 4,” and “El 3-1.” I need to listen on better speakers, but I’ll go out on a limb and give this comp NEWLY REISSUED 2013 ALBUM a big VALE LA PENA.

invasionRosas also appears on Fonovisa’s new compilation Invasión del Corrido 2015: Sold Out, the third comp (at least) to feature Calibre 50’s “Javier El De Los Llanos.” Fonovisa repackages their songs as brazenly as Cook’s Illustrated recycles their recipes — not that I’m ready to abandon either friendly corporation.

los originales albumThe Hyphy label is also friendly — I know because I’ve talked with the owner (thinkpiece forthcoming!) — and it has two recent albums out: Chuy Vega’s Mas Underground y Mas Maldito: Puros Corridos and Los Originales’ Corridos de Poca M… (Ellipsis theirs.) Without running them through the translator, I’m gonna say both albums feature corridos, those traditional Mexican story-songs that often fixate on heroic tales of the drug trade. Listening while cleaning, Chuy Vega sounded slow and Los Originales sounded fast; do with that what you will. I will caution that neither album has anything to do with hyphy rap or hyphy norteño. (See thinkpiece, forthcoming.)

los chacalesAs we’ve discussed, the Goma label loves spreading the joy of puro Zacatecas saxophone to the world. Real “Up With People” types. To that end, they’ve released the latest dance album from Los Chacales de Pepe Tovar, Llego el Chacal, from Zacatecas by way of Wichita, Kansas. Lead song “Entre Fuegos Cruzados” is a spritely frolic.

los grandesLos Grandes Del Desierto are shrouded in sandy mystery, but they also have a sax and a new album, Reflexión (JB). Based on their album cover, the desierto in question belongs to Titan, the sandworm-infested (and poorly Photoshopped) Saturnine moon from Beetlejuice.

tierra caliRemember back in 2006-07, when tierra caliente music briefly became a thing? Like duranguense, tierra caliente had synths playing banda parts, only with less frenetic tambora NRG. The band Tierra Cali, hailed by Billboard‘s Leila Cobo as standing “at the helm of this new wave,” recently released the very twee Enamorado de Ti (Los Creadores del Sacadito)(Ciudad). As you see from the album’s subtitle, at some point in their career Tierra Cali created a dance step, the Sacadito. I haven’t figured out the dance yet, but this live video, featuring the band looking and sounding markedly less twee, might help.

nancyhernandezladamabravIn singles, Nancy Hernandez, “La Dama Brava,” has a likable/annoying little song called “Mi Nuevo Cellular” (Starss). Basically it’s a single melodic phrase repeated over — and over — two chords and a ringing phone, but tuba and accordion are busy and Hernandez has the beginnings of a musical personality.

luis vegaMore accomplished but also more generic are Banda Pequeños Vendaval’s “Quiero Que Te Largues!” (Mayra) and Luis Vega’s “La Chica Nice” (Pegasus), two cheerful banda tunes. Vega’s better and faster, so if your clicks are limited click on his.

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