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El Komander

Flaming Gallos and Dancing Jesuses (Desfile de Éxitos 6/10/17)

el gallero

KOMANDERLoyal readers understand that any new single by Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” makes NorteñoBlog crow with excitement. El Komander is one of the best, most prolific singles artists on the continent and his new radio hit “El Gallero” (#13 airplay) is another feather in his cap. And just so we’re clear: this song is some straight up, undiluted, no-question-what-he’s-singing-about cockfighting bullshit. I’ve combed the text for mitigating factors and found none. It’s not a metaphor. It’s not simply a video featuring the sport, like Alacranes Musical‘s strutting dance classic “Zapateado Encabronado #3”, which the Blog could not in good conscience endorse back in 2014. No, “El Gallero” pecks away at the same magnificently plumed tradition as Vicente Fernandez‘s “La Muerte de un Gallero” — only, where Fernandez told an O Henry-ish short story set in the competitive cockfighting world, Komander’s song is pure identity politics and local pride.

We’ve seen this sort of dynamic before, specifically with narcocorridos: “In one of those ironies that’s defined parent-child musical tastes since forever, [my librarian] Fatima’s dad is a big Chalino Sanchez fan but thinks these new corrideros are a bunch of idiots. Those old school corrideros knew how to tell a real story.” Whereas, the argument goes, new jack corrideros like El Komander simply revel in the decadent trappings of the game.

Where else have we seen this play out? Oh, right — country music. Recall Marty Robbins’ “The Strawberry Roan,” a short bronc busting story I’m on record loving. In a few compact stanzas, Robbins uses obscure terms of rodeic art to immerse listeners in the seedy bronc busting underworld, and his story of Man meeting his equine match turns into an awe-stricken proverb about life’s eternally unexplored vistas:

“I know there are ponies that I cannot ride;
There’s some of them left, they haven’t all died.”

Four decades later Garth Brooks recorded “Rodeo,” which also rattled off obscure terms of art but, like “El Gallero,” was pure identity politics and local (well, professional) pride. You could argue that Brooks helped inspire today’s bro-country movement of good old boys obsessing over how Country they are, and becoming aesthetically impoverished in the process, but what we’re really talking about is different songwriting tools. At their cores, the parallel cases of “Strawberry Roan” vs. “Rodeo” and “La Muerte” vs. “El Gallero” represent differences in perspective. (I mean, “Rodeo” is my least favorite Garth Brooks song, but just on a musical level.) Brooks and Komander both have excellent storytelling songs in their repertoires, but sometimes you just want to sing a damn anthem.

But, right, cockfighting. Sigh. NorteñoBlog cannot in good conscience endorse this middling El Komander single whose video seems to depict a rooster killed in battle. What I CAN endorse is getting onto U.S. radio with a line that translates “My cock is always on fire.” Your move, Kings of Leon.

dinastia mendozaFar as I can tell, “El Gallero” hasn’t raised the hackles of the SPCA or any other group of moralizers. The same cannot be said for the song at #46 on the big chart, “El Pasito Perrón” by the gregarious dance band Grupo Dianastia Mendoza. Continue reading “Flaming Gallos and Dancing Jesuses (Desfile de Éxitos 6/10/17)”

¡Controversy! ¡Polémica! (Who’s On the Mexican Radio?)

marco-flores-dancing

Controversy! ¡Polémica! NorteñoBlog’s favorite dancer Marco Flores (aka Marco A. Flores) y su Banda Jerez (aka #1 Banda Jerez, or simply La Jerez) are back on the Mexican airwaves with “Los Viejitos” at #17, an amped up waltz that takes an insanely complex approach to both rhythmic subdividing and cultural appropriating.

los-viejitos-400x400The song, you see, plays on the traditional Danza de los Viejitos, danced for centuries by the indigenous Purépecha people in the highlands of Michoacán. Flores lives two states to the north in Zacatecas, but because he bows to Terpsichore in all her forms, he’s opened his new video with a not necessarily accurate re-enactment: five guys in flamboyant stooped-old-man costumes walk a circle, “helped” by members of La Jerez, who keep looking underneath their ponchos but seem otherwise respectful. The slow, trad fiddle music of la Danza stops abruptly, La Jerez kicks into its waltz, Flores flails his limbs, and the stooped old men spring to life, emboldened by this rad new beat. There’s a long, proud history of affectionately tweaking the Olds by replacing their slow rhythm with a new, faster rhythm — recall the Clash’s “Wrong ‘Em Boyo” or Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings.” Flores seems to be operating on the same impulse here.

¡No tan rápido! says Michoacán’s secretary of indigenous people, Martín García Avilés. (Let’s just note how great it is that a Mexican state has its own secretary of indigenous people.) García Avilés calls the video an insult to native traditions nationwide. Flores and La Jerez are denigrating the Purépecha people and subjecting them to ridicule, he says, and they should take down the video. Flores expresses surprise, countering that he’s trying to rescue and exalt la Danza and bring it to the attention of younger generations. NorteñoBlog, watching a video of an actual Danza, asks warily, “Aren’t the dancing fake old men supposed to be funny? At least a little bit?” Not that I plan to start making video parodies of indigenous dances any time soon. Tumblr would have a collective aneurysm. But I’m curious to know how Flores’s video reads to other people who’ve grown up with la Danza de los Viejitos. Offensive? Funny?

Anyway, as I mentioned, the rhythms in this thing are also stellar — bar by bar, the band divides the basic pulse into either two or three, with Flores subdividing those beats into even smaller and faster bits during the choruses, his accents landing in unexpected places. Limbs flail accordingly. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “¡Controversy! ¡Polémica! (Who’s On the Mexican Radio?)”

Lo Mejor de 2016: Where the Action Is

The Grammys and the Mexican government would very much like Mexico’s musical output to consist of genteel roots music. Fortunately, NorteñoBlog’s annual playlist 2016 VALE LA PENA shows that Mexican-American musicians have other ideas.

Our playlist has El Komander singing about immigration in two very different, equally urgent songs: once from the vantage point of a mother whose son is missing, and once as a proudly binational drug dealer. The playlist includes a defiant statement of national pride from Los Inquietos and Marco Flores. There are love songs from guitar bands, brass bands, accordion bands, sax bands, and synth bands.  El Bebeto and Banda Tierra Sagrada stop by to plug liquor; Fuerza de Tijuana celebrates two real-life American narcos. The guys in Los Titanes de Durango drive way too fast. La Rumorosa curses a terrible boyfriend; Intocable mourns absent amor with distorted guitar and a smoking accordion solo. At the top of the list, El Armenta offers a low-fi Lynchian nightmare of a cumbia about his girlfriend’s dog. All in all, it’s as energetic and varied as any single-genre playlist you’re likely to find.

THIS, Grammy voters, is where the action is.

———————————————–

vicente-un-aztecaEven as NorteñoBlog congratulates living legend Vicente Fernández on winning his third Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) (But Not Including Grupero ‘Cause That Shit Suuuuuuuux), we gotta note that this particular win is lame in a very Grammy-ish way. Continue reading “Lo Mejor de 2016: Where the Action Is”

El Komander en la Jukebox

el-komander-habla-nexos-narcotrafico

Mi español es inactivo. “Piensa en español,” me digo a mí, “y escriba sobre El Komander.” OK. Estoy pensando sobre El Komander en español.

“En la biblioteca…”

Ay-yi-yi.

Pero es ok, porque mi bibliotecaria Gloria ha almorzado con El Komander, una esquema promocionál por un estación de la radio, y ella dice Sr. Ríos es muy amable. Y puedo escucharlo en su música. En The Singles Jukebox, donde escribimos (en ingles) sobre Sr. Ríos, Jonathan Bogart no está de acuerdo. “Pared down, emotionally uninflected,” él dice. Sí… pero como Ice Cube o mi abuelo, “pared down emotional uninflection” es central para su encanto.

Nota: esto fue mi “Amnesty Pick” por el fin del año, y en ocasiones nos volvemos mushy reflexivo.

Escribí:

Whether because 40 is gliding toward me like a drop-top Brougham or simply because my taste has improved, I’ve lately been listening to a lot of urban AC radio. This means twice in a week my son and I got to hear Ice Cube’s “It Was a Good Day,” which I’m glad to report is still great — even greater than it used to be — and undiminished in its ability to speak horror and pleasure in the same words, to sound utterly chill about a life that’s utterly precarious. I don’t think my boy picked up on any of that, and why should he, wrapped in his fifth grade cocoon of Cub Scouts and Pokemon? We’ve had the post-Trump talks with him: We’ll probably be OK, but some of your friends might not, and you need to look out for them and help them, even as our voices fade into helplessness. And then here comes Alfredo Ríos: like Ice Cube a lover of women and mind-altering substances, packing a cuerno, acutely aware of every authoritarian eyeball tracking his whereabouts. Like Ice Cube he does himself no political favors with this song, bragging about his shipments from Bogotá. But “El Mexico Americano” has stormed U.S. Regional Mexican radio, a good chunk of whose audience feels as precarious as young black men in South Central. The Komander band’s tuba/accordion blats and howling high harmonies deliver a “fuck you” every bit as exuberant as “Good Day,” or “Move That Dope,” or Jay-Z mewling the cop’s eternal line, “Are you carrying a weapon on you, I know a lot of you are?”

¡VALE LA PENA!

NorteñoBlog’s Top Albums of 2016

fuerza-de-tijuana

Polkas and waltzes, yes. Accordions and brassy fanfares, check. Songs about impossible amor, violent negocios, and getting pisteando, you bet. But once you accept those rhythms, tone colors, and subjects as merely the constraints its talented artisans and occasional geniuses have given themselves to work around, Mexican regional music produced a pop scene as colorful and varied as any other. The difference between El Komander’s shaggy storytelling and La Maquinaria Norteña’s frenetic heartache pop is a contrast in visions. Give or take a tuba and a sax, they employ pretty much the same musical building blocks and arrive at wildly different results.

And both results are better than Intocable’s Highway, for NorteñoBlog’s dinero the most overrated norteño album of the year, insofar as these albums get rated at all. Intocable is a talented band, no question. They’ve refined a unique sound, and as they demonstrate over and over on Highway, they’re able to open songs with stylist feints as authoritative as their originals. (One sounds like ’60s handclap pop, one sounds like “Kashmir,” that sort of thing.)

The problem is, Intocable’s sound is as constrained as any other band’s; and once the opening feints end, the songs themselves are among Intocable’s most generic batch yet. We’re left with just more four-chord Intocable songs, melodies that allow Ricky Muñoz to stretch his throat to el cielo and noodle on his axe — sometimes for way too long — and a rhythm section lope that could have anchored any Intocable album in the past 20 years. It might be perverse to complain about sameyness in a genre that never wanders too far from accordion/brass polkas and waltzes, but great new bands like Fuerza de Tijuana and Norteño 4.5 (see below) are burrowing into that basic sound and digging up new rhythms and instrumental combinations. On Highway, Intocable offers few interesting musical ideas, and they barely try to work through their constraints. The most interesting ideas, those opening feints, only last a moment. (The great seven-minute exception, “En La Obscuridad,” ends with a Beatlesque psych coda. It’s cool, but it should tell you all you need to know about Intocable’s idea of “innovation.”) I don’t knock Intocable for giving their songs gimmicks; gimmicks, as we learn from Banda Rancho Nuevo, are good. But Intocable rarely has the musical courage to follow through on their gimmicks.

So here are 50 albums, including 13 from Mexico, that are better than Highway — less of a chore to play and full of surprises.

1. Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution (Concord) (indie, jazz-prog jaw dropper)
2. I.P.A. – I Just Did Say Something (Cuneiform) (indie, Norwegian jazz tone color fest with kickass rhythm section)
systema solar3. Systema Solar – Systema Solar (Nacional): This Colombian crew has about as much to do with norteño as Lil Jon does; but on the other hand, they sometimes play cumbias, Mexican-American radio digs cumbias, and this career overview of explosive raps and minimal dance experiments is undeniable. Plus one of the dudes says “Yeah!” exactly like Lil Jon — who incidentally scored his own Latin hit in 2016.


4. The 1975 – I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it (Dirty Hit/Interscope) (major, long-ass pop album equal parts hooks and pretentious bits — see my review of “The Sound”)

el komander top 205. El Komander – El Komander 2015 Top 20 (Twiins): To cap his year as North America’s most prolific and consistent singles artist, Alfredo Riós dropped this digital playlist to ring in 2016. How prolific is he? Top 20 actually contains 21 songs, and Sr. Riós has since released even more essential singles, notably the point-counterpoint “Desaparecido”/”El Mexico Americano.” His small, tuba-bottomed band remains a shambolic marvel; the musicians threaten to spill over the edges of the songs. This compilation stands with the greatest instantly incomplete mid-career summaries: think Madonna’s The Immaculate Collection or Garth Brooks’s The Hits.


6. Greg Ward – Touch My Beloved’s Thought (Greenleaf) (indie, Mingus tribute of nonstop invention)
7. Anaal Nathrakh – The Whole of the Law (Metal Blade) (indie, beautifully layered Satan metal)
8. Brandy Clark – Big Day In a Small Town (Warner Bros.) (major, country singer-storyteller)
9. Anna Webber’s Simple Trio — Binary (Skirl) (indie, sharp elbowed Canadian jazz)
10. YG – Still Brazy (Deluxe) (Def Jam) (major, West Coast rap)

bandononona11. Banda Rancho Viejo de Julio Aramburo La Bandononona – La Bandononona en Mi Rancho (Disa): Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Albums of 2016”

Desfile de Éxitos 12/24/16

omar_ruiz_el_quesito

Since NorteñoBlog last checked Billboard‘s Latin charts, the magazine has decided to give us all a gift: the website is now posting 20 more spots on its Regional Mexican airplay chart. There you will find such curiosities as:

Marco Antonio Solis crooning about a lying mujer while swathed in a toga of strings and synths (#29);

— a previous Pick to Click from Fuerza de Tijuana, about a former honcho in the Medellín Cartel (#31);

— more chipper puro sax bands than you can shake a slimy mouthpiece at (#23, #30, and #32) — all of them ruled by the saxophone colossus at #18, La Maquinaria Norteña;

— and even more clones of Ariel Camacho. Am I alone in thinking The Clones of Ariel Camacho would make a great Univision variety show? TWENTY SUPER SERIOUS YOUNG REQUINTO PLAYERS SING OF DEATH AND LOST LOVE, Omar Burgos furiously triple-tongues his tuba whenever someone gets voted off, and everyone forgets the names of their second guitarists. Could work. In any case, Nano Machado, Los de la Noria, Los Plebes, and Ulices Chaidez are all representing Sierreño music in the bottom 20, and Chaidez has two additional songs in the overall Hot Latin top 50. This fountain of youth isn’t drying up any time soon.

Also brightening up the bottom 20 is another dude who fooled around with Sierreño earlier in 2016: Adriel Favela, whose “Tomen Nota,” a duet with Los Del Arroyo, was a credible candidate for Wristwatch Porn Video of the Year. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 12/24/16”

Desfile de Éxitos 11/5/16

el-bebeto-muscle

In the month that NorteñoBlog has been on involuntary sabbatical (short story: a mind-scrambling vortex of appointments and work stuff leavened by a beloved houseguest and foster kittens and APPLE PICKING!!!), Billboard‘s Latin charts have gone through Ozzy-level changes. For one thing, there’s a new #1: Daddy Yankee‘s one-take tossed-off “Shaky Shaky,” long a favorite of the blog, has turned into a viral sensation and received a final boost from a remix. For his part, Sr. Yankee aims to please. He tells Billboard, “The fans are already requesting a new track based on the ‘hula hoop’ hook from the remix, which we are going to release in the near future.” I think I speak for Yankee’s entire fan base when I say, “That’s not exactly what we meant, but OK!” The world needs more of two things: 1) answer songs, and 2) songs that become hits by accident. Although now that I think about it, the one precludes the other…

In other news, two death bumps have stopped bumping: the recent, short-lived Juan Gabriel bump, which began the week after the Mexican legend shuffled off to the liberally mascaraed land of amor eterno; and the longer-lived Ariel Camacho bump, which had been bumping for more than a year after the young guitarist’s death, spawning the ancillary Los Plebes del Rancho wave. All of Gabriel’s songs have dropped off the chart — see the impressive list down below in the “¡Adios!” section — and Los Plebes are down to one song, “No Lo Hice Bien,” that began as an internet phenomenon and has now transitioned to a radio hit.

ulices-chaidez-albumBut Camacho’s not totally gone — his fleet fingers have left their prints all over radio and internet. You can hear his influence in the teenaged Sierreño-with-tuba trio Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes — hmmm, wonder where they got that name — who were quickly picked up by Camacho’s label DEL Records. To further confuse or simplify matters, Los Plebes’ hotshot tubist Omar Burgos is now one of Chaidez’s Plebes. Chaidez, Burgos, and rhythm guitarist Mario Arredondo are charting with two songs: the machete-fetishizing “Andamos en el Ruedo,” a previous Pick to Click, and the decent lovey dovey ballad “Porque Me Enamore.” Like Camacho, Chaidez balances his gangster boasts with heartfelt romantic squints; also like Camacho, the gangster boasts are way more fun. Both songs appear on Chaidez’s debut album Andamos en el Ruedo, which NorteñoBlog totally needs to hear.

Down at #20 on the Regional Mexican airplay chart we find the no-longer-teenaged El Bebeto also hopping a ride aboard the Sierreño-with-tuba rickshaw. When NorteñoBlog last caught up with El Bebeto, who in real life is a grown man, it was to admire his norteño whiskey commercial “Etiqueta Azul,” which has been getting play on Mexican radio. Bebeto’s U.S. hit is the equally good “Cómo Olvidarte,” which is romantic drivel but doesn’t get all fussy about it. Tuba and requinto sound like they’re getting paid scale for a job well done, and Bebeto and his high harmony singer emote just as much as is necessary. A very easy listening Pick to Click:

el-bebeto-no-que-noBoth songs appear on Bebeto’s new album No Que No (Banda y Tololoche) (Disa), whose cover depicts our wary knight scowling through his emotional armor, riding across the desert with a fine Arab charger. Singular excursions aside, it’s a pretty straightforward banda pop album, and it may prove to be El Bebeto’s best since his 2011 debut. VALE LA PENA at least.

Other things to note:

The continent’s best singer Julión Álvarez continues his slide into arena showbiz stodge with a wordy Joss Favela number, “Afuera Esta Lloviendo”;

the continent’s hardest working singles artist El Komander hits with “El Mexico Americano,” one of his best new tunes (and previous P2C);

regulo-caro-en-estosand Regulo Caro, one of the people on the continent most resembling a cousin of Gerardo Ortiz, is back with the title song of his new album En Estos Dias (DEL), which NorteñoBlog totally needs to hear. The song is a slow, long reflection on prison life that sounds like it was written and recorded in real prison time. As I listened I found myself drawing involuntary hashmarks on the wall.

These are the top 50 Hot Latin Songs and top 20 Regional Mexican Songs, courtesy Billboard, as published November 5.

1. “Shaky Shaky” – Daddy Yankee
2. “Hasta El Amanecer” – Nicky Jam (41 weeks!)
3. “Duele El Corazón” – Enrique Iglesias ft. Wisin
4. “La Bicicleta” – Carlos Vives & Shakira
5. “Otra Vez” – Zion & Lennox ft. J Balvin
6. “Chillax” – Farruko ft. Ky-Mani Marley
7. “Safari” – J Balvin ft. Pharrell Williams, BIA & Sky
8. “Bailar” – Deorro ft. Elvis Crespo
9. “Vente Pa’ Ca” – Ricky Martin ft. Maluma
10. “Tengo Que Colgar” – Banda MS (#2 RegMex)

11. “Nunca Me Olvides” – Yandel
12. “La Carretera” – Prince Royce
13. “Amor del Bueno” – Calibre 50 (#3 RegMex)
14. “Ya Me Enteré” – Reik
15. “Me Vas a Extrañar” – Banda MS (#1 RegMex)
16. “Bobo” – J Balvin
17. “Te Dirán” – La Adictiva Banda (#5 RegMex)
18. “Fuego” – Juanes
19. “De Pies a Cabeza” – Maná & Nicky Jam
20. “Yo Si Me Enamoré” – La Séptima Banda (#1 RegMex)

21. “Sin Contrato” – Maluma ft. Fifth Harmony
22. “Quien Te Entiende” – Crecer German (#12 RegMex)
23. “Si No Te Quiere” – Ozuna ft. Arcangel & Farruko
24. “En Estos Dias” – Regulo Caro (#11 RegMex)
25. “Vacaciones” – Wisin
26. “Dile Que Tu Me Quieres” – Ozuna
27. “Sola” – Becky G
28. “Cuatro Babys” – Maluma ft. Bryant Myers x Noriel x Juhn
29. “Afuera Esta Lloviendo” (#10 RegMex) – Julión Álvarez y su Norteño Banda
30. “Deja Que Te Bese” – Alejandro Sanz ft. Marc Anthony

31. “Yo Sí Te Amé” – Arrolladora (#6 RegMex)
32. “Pa’ Que Me Invitan” – Jencarlos ft. Charly Black
33. “Cómo Te Llamas” – La Trakalosa de Monterrey (#7 RegMex)
34. “No Es Normal” – Cheyo Carrillo (#8 RegMex)
35. “Si Ella Quisiera” – Justin Quiles
36. “Tú No Vive Así” – Mambo Kingz & DJ Luian presenta Arcangel x Bad Bunny
37. “Traicionera” – Sebastián Yatra
38. “Quisiera” – CNCO
39. “Andamos en el Ruedo” – Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes
40. “Como Sanar” – Frank Reyes

41. “Tú y Yo” – Tommy Torres ft. Daddy Yankee
42. “Amorcito Enfermito” – Hector Acosta “El Torito”
43. “¿Desde Cuándo No Me Quieres?” – Banda Carnaval (#8 RegMex)
44. “Porque Me Enamoré” – Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes
45. “Como No Queriendo” – Fidel Rueda
46. “Reggaeton Lento (Bailemos)” – CNCO
47. “Take It Off” – Lil Jon ft. Yandel & Becky G
48. “Acércate” – De La Ghetto
49. “El México Americano” – El Komander (#14 RegMex)
50. “Todo Es Diferente” – La Maquinaria Norteña (#12 RegMex)

¡Adios!
“Querida” – Juan Gabriel
“Hasta Que Te Conocí” – Juan Gabriel
“Así Fue” – Juan Gabriel
“Yo Te Recuerdo” – Juan Gabriel ft. Marc Anthony
“Abrazame Muy Fuerte” – Juan Gabriel
“Amor Eterno” – Juan Gabriel
“El Noa Noa” – Juan Gabriel
“La Frontera” – Juan Gabriel ft. Julión Álvarez & J Balvin
“Te Quise Olvidar” – Juan Gabriel ft. Alejandro Fernandez
“Have You Ever Seen the Rain?” – Juan Gabriel
“Ay Mi Dios” – IAmChino ft. Pitbull, Yandel & Chacal
“El Perdedor” – Maluma
“Algo Contigo” – Gente de Zona
“Imaginar” – Victor Manuelle and Yandel
“A Donde Voy” – Cosculluela ft. Daddy Yankee
“Vine a Decir” – Christian Daniel ft. Jerry Rivera
“Ella Y Yo” – Pepe Quintana ft. Farruko, Anuel AA, Tempo, Almighty, and Bryant Myers

—————–

4. “No Lo Hice Bien” – Los Plebes Del Rancho de Ariel Camacho
9. “Me Está Gustando” – Banda Los Recoditos

13. “Cicatriiices” – Regulo Caro
15. “Fuiste Mia” – Gerardo Ortiz
16. “A Ver a Que Horas” – Banda Carnaval
17. “Renunciacion” – Los Huracanes Del Norte
18. “Me Estorbas” – Pesado
19. “No Me Vas a Convencer” – Conjunto Primavera ft. Antonio Meléndez
20. “Cómo Olvidarte” – El Bebeto

¡Adios!
“Que Caro Estoy Pagando” – Los Plebes del Rancho de Ariel Camacho
“Como Quiera Sigo Vivo” – Los Rieleros del Norte
“A Los 18” – Kevin Ortiz ft. Beto Vega
“Me Gustas” – El Coyote y Su Banda
“Espero Con Ansias” – Remmy Valenzuela
“Si No Es Contigo” – Banda El Recodo
“Quiéreme (Ámame)” – Intocable (#13 RegMex)
“Todo o Nada” – Alfredo Olivas (#12 RegMex)
“Me Va a Pesar” – Arrolladora (#4 RegMex)

Keeping Up With El Komander

komander-cigar

When NorteñoBlog last checked in with Alfredo Ríos El Komander, it was right after el primero de enero and everyone was still pisteando. This is inexcusable. Komander is the premier singles artist of our time, as proven by the 21-song digital album El Komander 2015 Top 20 (Twiins), which showcases his tuba-driven norteño band. Under their fingers, the nerviest sentiments become off-the-cuff, and the silliest drinking songs swing like a hammer throw competition. Despite sounding like they’re inventing their music as they go, they rarely settle for less than consummate hooks and popcraft.

They also rarely stand still. Since that collection, Komander and his manos have released a bunch more songs. NorteñoBlog sleeps on them no longer!

komander-chefFirst up is “El Chef de las Cocinas,” in which Sr. Ríos introduces us to his stove. Turns out he runs a cracking meth biz in Sinaloa, where he can enjoy the fresh air while strolling through the hills surrounded by his army of ex-militia soldiers. His product is all locally sourced — “nada es ‘Made In China'” — and socially responsible, in that Komander doesn’t deal with people who are racist. I’m not ashamed to tell you I would vote El Komander’s meth operation for president over Donald Trump. Not that meth is so great, but Trump’s just a really low bar. Musically the song is an appealing but rote corrido, with most of its action coming from the tubist, who plays as a rock-hard extension of the drum kit, coordinating his hits and fills with the cymbals. VALE LA PENA

komander-mayitoWe move from there to some Mexican CNN type shit, or at least to some Hasty Cartel Googling. Continue reading “Keeping Up With El Komander”

Attack of the Teen Idols (Desfile de Éxitos 8/13/16)

ulices chaidez big

The world waits, selfie sticks and hair product poised and ready, for 20-year-old heartthrob Luis Coronel to release his next album. Uncharacteristically, NorteñoBlog will cut the guy some slack. Fielding a lawsuit from a former producer and going reggaetón would slow down anyone’s career. The last time I went reggaetón, the local barnyard animals went unmasturbated for months. It was chaos.

cheyo carrilloAfortunadamente, the job of “young dreamy norteño singer with enviable hair” is not so hard to fill, and this week’s charts have two hopefuls squeezing through the Coronel-shaped void. At #20 on the Regional Mexican radio chart is L.A.’s teen corridero Cheyo Carrillo, who rarely settles for the typical fade-with-fauxhawk look, instead coaxing volume and body with frightening abandon. As a pre-teen, his accordion skills landed him a gig with Los Bukanas de Culiacán, and then with El Komander. This got him noticed by Komander’s label bosses and noted amoral purveyors of candy everybody wants, the Valenzuela Twiins. NorteñoBlog slept on last year’s self-titled debut album (on Twiins-affiliated La Disco Music), which included an authoritative version of Komander’s “Soy de Rancho,” but desafortunadamente I haven’t made the same mistake with this new single, the romantic banda snooze “No Es Normal,” released by Fonovisa and written by industry lifer Adrian Pieragostino. The video features a young, apparently dorky woman who wears glasses but is secretly hot, and lots of slow motion chewing. The song features some rote brass charts. Es normal, pero NO ES VALE LA PENA. Continue reading “Attack of the Teen Idols (Desfile de Éxitos 8/13/16)”

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