When NorteñoBlog last noticed the West Coast sierreño quartet/quintet T3R Elemento at summer’s end, the shrift was short. Teenage lead singer Kristopher Nava “pushes his way through [debut hit single ‘Rafa Caro’] like the frantic-to-impress kid he likely is,” I wrote. Four months later, “Rafa Caro” is still hanging around both the Hot Latin chart and the radio airplay chart, and now these guys have another single on just the big chart — i.e., streaming and sales, but not much airplay yet. “Fire Up” is the new least favorite song of genteel antebellum marionette Jeff Sessions, offering as it does a Dr. Seuss-like panoply of suggestions for ingesting THC. Would you, could you, with a bong? Would you, could you, en el avión? Would you, could you, con la skunk? Saca un blunt and fire up!
“Fire Up” is a decent enough minor-key sierreño waltz — good harmonies during the chorus! — that it convinced me to check out the band’s 2017 debut studio album Underground (LA R/Parral). With some relief, I can announce I wasn’t sleeping on much. T3R Elemento are more interesting than good. Bilingual and multinational, they’ve got two members (requinto player Jose Felipe Prieto and acordionista Zeus Gamez) hailing from Mexico, while bassist Sergio Cardenas comes from Cuba and 17-year-old frontman Kristopher Nava is from Vegas. Produced by prolific Californian Fernando Cavazos, the album’s a mix of semi-energetic narcocorridos, for which Nava musters an overeager McLovin’ vibe, and drooly romantic ballads, which studiously avoid mustering any vibe at all. Notably, the ’50s sock hop ballad “Nos Pertenecemos (We Belong Together)” appears in both Spanglish and English versions, and fails to leave an impression either time. It’s entirely possible the whole thing sounds better if you follow Nava’s advice and get high off a doctored Swisher Sweet; I’ll let you know after I finish my Mario Kart/Unlikely Animal Friends marathon. NO VALE LA PENA
The better sierreño-laced sock hop single comes from DEL Records artists Lenin Ramirez and Ulices Chaidez. (more…)