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Espinoza Paz

La Impersistencia de la Memoria (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/22/17)

chayinRubiotopradio

Forgetting has a long and proud history in pop music, from Elvis’s “I Forgot to Remember to Forget,” to Shakira chirping “Can’t Remember to Forget You,” to Robin Thicke having no idea how he wrote “Blurred Lines.” In country music alone, NorteñoBlog has forgotten hundreds of songs about singers’ misguided attempts to grapple with the past by flooding their temporal lobes with alcohol. So the recent appearance of four or five(!) simultaneous Mexican hits about forgetfulness doesn’t necessitate much more than an exclamation point. Yet here we go…

(Treat the blog nice, or I’ll remember to turn this into a full-fledged thinkpiece about how banda forgetfulness channels Paz’s Dialectic of Solitude or some shit.)

Banda El Recodo De Cruz Lizarraga - Me Prometí OlvidarteFirst up! The oldest of the four comes from the venerable Banda El Recodo, doing Edgar Barrera and Martin Castro’s midtempo waltz “Me Prometí Olvidarte.” Turns out that, after we collectively cheated on Banda El Recodo and destroyed their collective heart into a thousand pieces, they promised to forget us. Guess how that worked out. They forgot us so thoroughly they commissioned a song about how thoroughly they forgot us! I blame our world class gams. This song is mid-tier Recodo, fairly trad with the polished spit sheen of expert arranging and recording. But our gams demand more than mere professional competence, do they not? NO VALE LA PENA

Julión Álvarez Y Su Norteño Banda - Esta Noche Se Me Olvida-300x300Next oldest is from the man blessed with the continent’s best voice, Julión Álvarez, whose “Esta Noche Se Me Olvida” is a slow banda ballad from Calibre 50’s Edén Muñoz and relative newcomer Gussy Lau. You, faithless lover, have driven Álvarez to drink, that he might forget your kisses. Why would you choke that beautiful scratchy warble on alcohol and tears? The video portrays our hero playing to throngs of adoring fans at an outdoor concert, cementing his status as the biggest norteño star outside Gerardo Ortiz, but this middling ballad isn’t getting me excited for Álvarez’s forthcoming album, Ni Diablo, Ni Santo, due out Friday. NO VALE LA PENA.

arrolladoraWe turn to our next victims of love’s cruel dementia, La Arrolladora Banda, who know how to kick out the slow jams, some of which are really good. Continue reading “La Impersistencia de la Memoria (Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 5/22/17)”

Joss Favela en la Jukebox

joss-favela-guitar
“That score saddens me.”

Donde algunas escuchan “banda,” quizás porque el trovador contrató un tubador para tocar, NorteñoBlog escucha una canción muy olvidable, y el combinación de la guitarra, el acordión, y la batería no ayuda. Pero me sigue gustando Joss Favela, porque el compositor de “Te Hubieras Ido Antes” sabe como escribir una melodia. Debería haber escrito una aquí.

Escribí:

Having survived the teen talent show Código F.A.M.A. and worked with electrocumbia dudes 3Ball MTY, the man born José Alberto Inzunza Favela has been busy chiseling his way onto a norteño-pop songwriters’ Mt. Rushmore whose other inhabitants include Espinoza Paz, Horacio Palencia, and Favela’s frequent collaborator Luciano Luna. Like most prolific songwriters, Favela’s virtue lies in his fecundity: if you like at least one of his songs, that just means he wrote 10 others you forgot as soon as you finished making out to them. “Cuando Fuimos Nada” falls into that heap: decent tune, a life lesson out of a novela, and further proof that a small norteño group can’t rescue a pop nonentity the way a banda can.

NO VALE LA PENA

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”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 2/16/16

lafourcade

First off, NorteñoBlog congratulates friends of the blog Los Tigres, Natalia Lafourcade, and most charming man alive Pitbull on their recent Grammy wins. Los Tigres’ very good Realidades won for “Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano),” a category that included no Tejano albums but whose name testifies to the lingering power of the Tejano voting bloc. Or at least to the outspoken crankiness of the Tejano voting bloc. (I assume there’s still a Tejano voting bloc.) Lafourcade’s fine Hasta La Raíz tied with Pitty Wap’s intermittently banging Dale for “Best Latin Rock, Urban, or Alternative Album.” NorteñoBlog woulda picked Maquinaria Norteña for Regional and Bomba Estéreo for Rock/Urban/Alternative — after all, the Bombas excel in all three areas — but these were still respectable and relevant choices.

Next, NorteñoBlog congratulates Espinoza Paz for writing lots of decent, non-sappy songs recently. Paz is capable of biting hilarity — see Marco Flores’s “El Pajarito” and Los Horóscopos’ “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama.” He can also concoct musical experiments that look deceptively simple, like Arrolladora’s “Cabecita Dura” — 120 straight syllables without pause or apparent breath! — and straight up banda bangers like Roberto Tapia’s new single “Vale La Pena.” (That video seems to have fallen off a truck, so watch it while you can.) Back in 2009, after he’d won his second straight BMI songwriter of the year award, Billboard‘s Leila Cobo interviewed Paz, a former migrant worker who doesn’t read music.

Cobo: How would you describe your music?

Paz: Commercial.

True enough; and like most professionals he’s had some bad days at the office, especially in solo work like “Sin Esencia,” a pensive smell-the-fart guitar ballad. Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 2/16/16”

The John Mayers We’ve Been Looking For (Desfile de Éxitos 2/20/16)

roberto tapia

Tomen nota: Regional Mexican’s hot streak in the top 25 wanes this week, with Recodo, Séptima, Chuy Lizarraga, and Ariel Camacho‘s “Te Metiste” dropping off the Hot Latin chart. Banda and norteño acts hold down less than half the chart with 11 of the top 25 spots. The nuevo-Sierreño strums of Los Plebes del Rancho occupy two of those with a couple unlikely hits: a love song from 2014 and a new corrido about the head of their record label. If you’re keeping track at home, this extends Ariel Camacho’s death bump to almost a year.

But Los Plebes aren’t the only guitar heroes to chart this week. “Tomen Nota,” the duet between honey-voiced Adriel Favela and photogenic Sierreño badasses Los Del Arroyo, is threatening to take both acts into new territory: the Hot Latin top 20. This is partly thanks to the eye-catching video, in which our watch-enthusiast anti-heroes use their pistols to turn an everyday game of billiards into BUMPER POOL. On the other hand, said video came out last May, which gave it plenty of time to stream its way onto Hot Latin. I’m guessing the previous Pick to Click is hitting now because its increased radio presence, currently #9 on the Regional Mexican airplay chart, is in turn driving even more streams. ¡Sinergia! Continue reading “The John Mayers We’ve Been Looking For (Desfile de Éxitos 2/20/16)”

Los Horóscopos En La Jukebox

los horoscopos

Seis de los siete Singles Jukebox críticos les gustaba “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama,” el nuevo sencillo de Los Horóscopos de Chicago Durango. (Hometown!) “Seriously, someone give this song to Rihanna,” escribió Andy Hutchins; es una idea muy seductora. Es posiblemente más seductora de “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama,” implicaba Megan Harrington, quien sin embargo le gustaba la canción.

Escribí:

In pop music, real-time sex narratives are fairly easy to come by, but fewer singers have the cuernos to recount their infidelity while it happens, making “Cama” an unexpectedly nasty delight. When songwriter Espinoza Paz debuted the song last year, it seemed a tossed-off joke, like one of Toby Keith’s bus songs. Paz is hyper-prolific and usually maudlin, the driving force behind many drippy ballads about corazones. Vicky Terrazas (the brunette Horóscopo) said in a recent interview that “Paz es un Shakespeare,” which makes sense if we’re comparing their use of horns metaphors, but otherwise not so much. In “Cama,” though, he gives the Terrazas sisters a stately framework to exact diabolical revenge on their lovers, baptizing their anonymous new lays with the name of “amante” and hurling small-dick insults. Speaking of which — and notwithstanding the trenchant realism of the video — which fucking hotel hands out fruit baskets containing not just giant zucchinis, but eggplants? Are they conducting this tryst at the county fair?

¡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)”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/8/15

marco flores

NorteñoBlog has pretty much made its peace with boring ballads about corazones and the hombres who break/nurse/fondle them, so this week’s Mexican Top 20 comes as a pleasant surprise. Most of the new songs are fast! Or at least midtempo, which often sounds like “fast” around this lot. (When Arrolladora’s devious mujer destroyed their collective soul, she also apparently destroyed their ability to play faster than 60 bpm.) Almost every inch of this new batch is perfect, from the bottom to the top:

At #20, Leandro Ríos, of superfun rhyming exercise “Debajo del Sombrero” fame, is now a no-good cheating bastard. But he’s really tortured about being caught “Entre Ella y Tú,” so that’s gotta count for something, right? Oh wait — HE’S NOT TORTURED AT ALL. As long as you’re content with the amount of Leandro you’re getting, what’s the problem? The jaunty accordion gave him away.

Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/8/15”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/26/15

horoscopos11

This week’s Mexican radio roundup looks far different than it did last time, for two reasons: it’s been a month and I’m using a different chart. Inspired by the discovery that audience impressions matter more than total radio spins, NorteñoBlog has begun following the audience impression chart at radioNOTAS. So we say adios to a whopping 10 songs — half the chart — including winners from Leandro Ríos and Zacatecan dancing machine Marco A. Flores, losers from Banda Los Sebastianes and songwriter-to-the-stars Espinoza Paz, and startlingly hot motorcycle enthusiast Jovanko Ibarra.

That said, this week’s Pick to Click is cheating, in more ways than one. The new single by Chicago’s startlingly hot chicas malas Los Horóscopos de Durango, “Estoy Con Otro En La Cama,” is dramatic banda camp about cheating, and it comes from the “spins” chart, not the “audience impressions” chart. This study of hi infidelity uses “cuernos” imagery worthy of Shakespearean cuckoos, and it’s a welcome bit of smut from aforementioned songwriter Espinoza Paz, seen performing it here. (Los Horóscopos don’t have a video yet; that link above will get you to a stream that might disappear at any moment.) Paz’s stripped down version might be even better; his audience keeps laughing at key lines and it has the transgressive feel of a Toby Keith “bus song.”

Also noteworthy: Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/26/15”

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