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Pesado flirts with angels, interrogates machismo

presentaciones-pesado-2018

You know how it is. One week you’re delivering a PowerPoint presentation on how young hat acts deconstruct traditional machismo (Coming soon! Watch this space!), then the next week you’re looking up old hat acts on Allmusic.com when you run across an intriguing passage like this:

“[Pesado] struck again quickly with [their 2007 album] Gracias por Tu Amor, a controversial album that challenged physical abuse and the traditional notions of male machismo in Latin America. The album and its title track single were the subject of hot discussion on radio and television talk shows, but they only served to grow sales and airplay.”

gracias por tu amorNorteñoBlog is always hungry for some polémica, but in this case we need to award Jason Ankeny with a well-earned [citation needed], because I can’t find any evidence of the controversy to which he alludes. Furthermore, Pesado’s song “Gracias Por Tu Amor” hardly seems like anything to get worked up over. Its video is a head-scratching depiction of (I think) a poor working-class man dreaming of a better life for his family before he has a heart attack on the job and as a result gets to move into a nice suburban home. (Workers’ comp! God bless unions.) That plot is nowhere to be found in the song’s lyric, which mentions only that the narrator’s amor is an angel from heaven and the living image of love. It’s a midtempo Intocablish thing, pretty but innocuous. I’m having trouble imagining why all the fuss, unless there were some anti-angel haters running their mouths, as anti-angel haters will.

But this does demonstrate something useful: Before today’s Mexillennials were interrogating machismo with their Izod polo shirts and their tears, Pesado was on the case. The Nuevo León quartet/quintet got started in 1993, around the same time as Intocable, and the two bands were soon celebrated as modern updates on trad vaquero accordion slingers. In a 2003 Billboard article, Ramiro Burr lumped them in with Costumbre, Duelo, Iman, and the sensitive mascaraed metalheads in Siggno, writing, “These acts sound as if they would rather whisper in their girlfriends’ ears than raise hell with the guys.” They got big in the years following Selena’s death, when the fairly gender-balanced Tejano style was giving way to more male-dominated norteño as the central sound of regional Mexican music. Burr quoted a San Antonio program director: “There is a large, disenfranchised Tejano community that feels comfortable with these artists that are not really defined as Tejano or traditional norteño. The [new groups] just have a fresh sound. It also helps that many… have lyrics that relate to younger audiences.”

los angeles existenI mention all this because Pesado has a new album, Los Ángeles Existen (Remex). Its title single is apparently meant to convince the haters that, yes, angels from heaven do exist, and, yes, they want to make out with the guys in Pesado. While this is not outside the realm of possibility, Pesado’s songs have trouble transcending pleasantness, let alone our drab earthbound reality. The album’s best single is probably last year’s “No Yo Tengo Remedio,” which has a soaring chorus melody and extremely dialed-in rhythm section, not unlike (you guessed it) Intocable. On “Ojitos Chiquitos,” they even pull the ol’ ‘Cable trick of starting with some rockin’ distorted guitar, before settling into the familiar watered-down cumbia lope. But faithful readers know the Blog is maddeningly ambivalent when it comes to Intocable, while acknowledging they remain the gold standard among this particular strain of norteño — which, right, is adored by throngs of people.

So… RSTG Intocable? Pesado flirts with angels; after some cursory listening, the Blog is flirting with calling Los Ángeles Existen NO VALE LA PENA. Their importance in mediating machismo between hardcore vaqueros and the new jack diaspora, though, won’t be denied. Now we just have to figure out how they could ever be considered controversial…

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Los Sencillos Mejores De 2017 (enero – junio)

retonos de tijuana

NorteñoBlog has heard your clamorous cries, and brings you a YouTube playlist of
NORTEÑOBLOG´S TOP SINGLES OF 2017
(Spotify playlists are here and here.)

valentin-elizalde1. “Volveré a Amar” – Calibre 50 (Fonovisa)
Swanky midtempo heartache with backbeat, doo-wop tuba, and Eden Muñoz doing his best low-range impression of the late Valentín Elizalde. From the VALE LA PENA album Tributo a Valentín Elizalde (Fonovisa).
U.S. radio hit
2. “El Paciente” – Alfredo Olivas
Endlessly appealing, rippling deathbed banda, including a shoutout to the mythic Catarino, a corrido legend who fought in the Revolution and healed his wounds with his own saliva.
U.S. and Mexican radio hit
3. “Huapango El Pisteador” – Conjunto Águila Real
With a few changes in timbre, this could pass for a British folk-prog instrumental from the early ’70s. Other points in its favor: the rad sections where the accordion plays lightning fast triplets over the slower sax melody, and a dramatic ending on what they call in music school the “James Bond chord.”
hasn’t charted
nueva rebelion4. “La Gorrita” – La Nueva Rebelión (Puro Party)
This is still a band trying desperately to pull as much music as possible from their poor instruments. “La Gorrita” is a good example: six verses following the titular beanie-wearing dude from cartel hub to hub, each verse played differently, with unpredictable fills and accents jumping at you like faces in a crowd. From the VALE LA PENA 2016 album La Gorrita y Que Suene La Rebe.
hasn’t charted
comere callado5. “Recordando a Manuel” – Lenin Ramirez ft. Gerardo Ortiz and Jesus Chairez (DEL)
Banda corrido that invites flabbergasting instrumental flourishes, covered on Ortiz’s VALE LA PENA album Comeré Callado Vol. 1.
hasn’t charted
6. “Mi Son” – Azierto Norte
Another galloping 6/8 instrumental with tricky internal rhythms and those rarest of all beasts: bajo sexto solos.
hasn’t charted
7. “Nada de Nada (Vete a la Fregada)” – Pepe Aguilar ft. Ángela Aguilar (Equinoccio)
An impressive band workout, with tuba and percussion burbling along like synth polyrhythms and the horns draping sweeping melodic lines over everything. Also, both singers undersell the song, making it one of banda music’s rare Big Smart Cumbias.
Mexican radio hit
no estas tu8. “Adios” – Jose Manuel Figueroa (Fonovisa)
More bouncy backbeat banda, with a tuba bassline groove that balances out the pretty melody and keeps it from turning maudlin, even as Figueroa sings about losing precious bodily fluids through his tear ducts and saliva glands. From the VALE LA PENA album No Estás Tú.
Mexican radio hit
9. “Escuela 6-1” – Adriel Favela (Gerencia 360)
Contains badass bajo sexto riffs.
hasn’t charted
el jerry10. “Te Deseo Lo Mejor” – Gerardo Coronel (Rancho Humilde)
A breezy sierreño kiss-off in which Coronel offers to teach his ex’s new pendejo “la forma correcta” to make love to her. His series of video tutorials is forthcoming. From the VALE LA PENA album El Jerry.
hasn’t charted

11. “Adios Amor” – Christian Nodal
Leading off Fonovisa’s new Mexillennials comp is this slow stunner, unfolding into an endless three-minute series of baubles and trinkets, sparkles and flashes, soars and swoops.
U.S. and Mexican radio hit
12. “No Es Tan Fácil” – Impacto Sinaloense (Anval)
The beat lurches like the best of Calibre 50, and the band is tight while still finding pockets for individual flourishes of radness.
Mexican radio hit
13. “Asi es el Muchacho” – Los Retoños de Tijuana
hasn’t charted
14. “El de la Kush” – Diferente Nivel (Twiins)
hasn’t charted
15. “Gente de Accionar” – Grupo Codiciado (Rancho Humilde)
Supertight galloping waltz where the big shot narrator brags about how great his life is.
U.S. radio hit
EL FANTASMA16. “Mi 45” – El Fantasma (AfinArte)
El Fantasma’s narrator is somehow involved in the Sinaloa Cartel. He’s still firm with El Chapo’s sons Ivan and Alfredito, whose Instagram personas out-smarm the Trump brothers’. He may be hiding out in the wilderness with his 45, biding his time or doomsday prepping. International man of mystery! From the VALE LA PENA 2016 album Equipo Armado.
U.S. radio and viral hit
17. “El Pasito Perrón” – Grupo Dinastia Mendoza (Filser)
Chintzy electrocumbia depicting a dancing sensation that utterly failed to sweep the nation, until someone uploaded a video of a toy baby Jesus dancing to it. This was of course hilarious, especially the heaps of background stinkeye given by a wary shopkeeper, and it became a meme: you can now find “Pasito Perrón” videos featuring everyone from Winnie the Pooh to his orange honey-chasing doppelganger Donald Trump. A bunch of stormtroopers even performed the dance on Britain’s Got Talent, and Simon changed his facial expression at least twice.
U.S. viral hit
18. “No Vuelvas a Llamarme” – Joss Favela (Sony Latin)
The interplay between accordion and rhythm section is on point and, whaddya know, the words — about how Favela’s always too busy to take your calls — are funny.
Mexican radio hit
19. “Eres” – Costumbre (Revilla/Azteca)
Intocablish, with harmonies.
hasn’t charted
20. “Los Viejitos” – Marco Flores y La Jerez (MF)
Aren’t the dancing fake old men supposed to be funny?
Mexican radio hit

AND NOW FOR SOME THEORIZING:
If you’ve hung around NorteñoBlog for any length of time, at some point I’ve backed you into a corner, eyes burning with laserlike and possibly alcohol-fueled focus, and tried to convince you of one or more of the following propositions:

1. Plants are alive, man; and furthermore, broccoli, kale, cauliflower, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts are all varieties of the same mustard species, and when you plant them the seeds all look like mustard seeds;
2. The best Christmas movie is Eyes Wide Shut;
3. Regional Mexican music is pop music, dammit!

The first two are objective facts and require no further explanation. But I fear I’ve never been clear on what I mean by #3. Continue reading “Los Sencillos Mejores De 2017 (enero – junio)”

¡Nuevo! (starring Maquinaria Norteña, Los Horóscopos, y más)

puro sax maquinaria

maquinaria nortenaIt is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the puro sax styles of Chihuahua and Zacatecas would improve with the addition of more terrible “sax” puns in the titles. This week the máquinas de saxo in La Maquinaria Norteña drop their eighth (I think) album, Ya Dime Adiós (Azteca/Fonovisa) (alternate title: Break Up Saxo), from whence comes their top 10 airplay hit “Para Qué Amarte.” Maquinaria hail from both Chihuahua AND Zacatecas, doubling their potential fan base, and they’re solid and reliable polkaderos with a really good logo. On first listen, though, this album isn’t saxing it up for me like the next one:

dimeloThe puro Zacatecans in La Inquietud Norteña venture into minor key territory for the title single to their latest album, Dimelo (AGLive) (alt title: Vamos a Hablar Sobre el Saxo). Singer Hugo Avellaneda wails high and clear, sax and accordion skate across the song with as little apparent effort as spinning Olympians, and whoever’s playing the polka bass gets his R&B licks in. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Maquinaria Norteña, Los Horóscopos, y más)”

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