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Jenny and the Mexicats

¡Feliz 2016! (y ¡Lo Mejor de 2015!)

2016-copia

Regional Mexican music had as good a year in 2015 as any other style of popular music, but you wouldn’t know it from any music magazine’s year-end coverage. This Mexican-American radio format is only one small musical laboratory within the vast complex of U.S. pop; but figured by their percentages, norteño, banda, cumbia, and Tejano bands released as many great, vibrant singles and albums as their peers in other popular music subgenres. Yet good luck finding this music on year-end lists. Even at Billboard, which provides the best English-language coverage of Mexican music, the list of Top 10 Latin Albums contains only one (very good) regional Mexican album, which came out in 2014. None of the magazine’s Top 10 Latin Songs represent Mexican regional styles. (Shoutout to the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff, though, for getting Remmy Valenzuela’s “¿Por Qué Me Ilusionaste?” into the paper of record.) And never mind year-end coverage — this fun, fascinating music rarely gets covered throughout the year in mainstream publications, although NPR and Annie Correal in the Times are notable exceptions. As is The Singles Jukebox, where Josh writes and where the editors and writers share an expansive definition of “pop.”

This is pop music, dammit! MILLIONS OF AMERICANS LISTEN TO IT.

(An appropriate YouTube playlist to accompany that claim.) Continue reading “¡Feliz 2016! (y ¡Lo Mejor de 2015!)”

Lo Mejor de 2015: Banda Costado, Grupo Cañaveral, and some Mexicats

jenny canaveral

The countdown continues to regions not often heard…

Foregoing such musical niceties as Chordal Harmony or Being Able To Tell The Songs Apart, the percussion-heavy southern septet Banda Costado reels off one minor-key violin melody after another on their album Chilenas de Oaxaca (Talento). Fiddle and singers work in counterpoint, with the tuba diving into the rhythmic arsenal — which, if you pay attention to it, sounds nearly as complex as the stuff avant-jazz legend Henry Threadgill has been playing with his tuba-inclusive band Zooid. Banda Costado is samier and less metrically ambiguous than Zooid; but to Costado’s credit, they sing and joke around more.

Turn of the millennium cumbiaderos Grupo Cañaveral have lately invited the trans-Atlantic pop band Jenny and the Mexicats onstage to sing their decade-old hit “Tiene Espinas el Rosal” (Fonovisa), about roses having thorns and whatnot. Jenny sings lead and takes a trumpet solo while the two bands groove toward infinity.

Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK

gerardo birthday

NorteñoBlog doesn’t always Pick to Click, but when I do… sometimes I get it wrong and type “Click to Pick.” This made searching for the previous year’s worth of Picks INTERESANTE.

The Pick to Click began as a shameless ripoff from Charles Pierce’s must-read liberal politics blog at Esquire, as did a couple other, possibly subtler NorteñoBlog tics. (Spot them all! Both! Whatever!) It’s a useful way to highlight the song I enjoy the most in a particular post, so that you the loyal reader don’t have to wade through a pool of Banda MS’s tears to reach the good stuff. Of course, if you enjoy the delectable bouquet wafting from Banda MS’s tears, you can always Click what I don’t Pick, though you’ll run the risk of turning Banda MS happy and then they might run out of Art. Besides current singles, the following list includes some older singles and current album tracks.

Most Picked at three apiece: NorteñoBlog’s probable artists of the year Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” and Marco Flores y #1 Banda Jerez. Banda Cuisillos, Noel Torres, and Chuy Lizárraga each scored two Picks. So did Los Gfez, Pancho Uresti, and Ariel Camacho, though one Pick from each of those three was in a “featured” role. Besides norteño and banda, the list includes cumbias and puro sax stomps, reggaeton and ABBA-schlager, Jenny and the Mexicats and Pitbull, and covers of Johnny Cash and — first up — Shania Twain. Happy Clicking!
Continue reading “Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 2/15/15

diego herrera

Two picks to click this week, the first of which probably shouldn’t count. Down at #19, Grupo Cañaveral De Humberto Pabón played one of their turn-of-the-millennium cumbias, “Tiene Espinas El Rosal,” in concert. They brought out the little Spanish/Mexican indie band Jenny and the Mexicats to sing it with them. It turns out I’m a sucker for both turn-of-the-millennium cumbias and Jenny and the Mexicats, who are classified in Allmusic as “Jazz Blues” because, um, Jenny plays the trumpet? No no. A cursory listen tells me they’re cumbia rockers, and I totally slept on their 2014 album. Confused by this sudden mixture of guilt, cumbia-suckertude, and wanting to sing “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” in the shower, I direct you to their live video and Jenny’s excellent trumpet intonation.

REAL pick to click is Diego Herrera’s (ft. Los Gfez) “Es Todo Un Placer”, one of those norteño quartet-meets-banda mashups the NorteñoBlog loves. You could do worse than subscribing to Remex’s Youtube channel.

I like Fidel Rueda’s “Escuchame” a touch less, but it has the advantage of being short. It also has some really tight brass charts packed into what’s essentially a midtempo norteño quartet waltz.

Picks to run far away include El Bebeto’s second boring ballad in a row, although he returns to banda from his brief mariachi nap; Espinoza Paz’s brief mariachi nap; and Los Primos MX’s insufferable sax ballad. My displeasure has a theme.

These are the Top 20 “Popular” songs in Mexico, as measured by radioNOTAS. Don’t confuse “Popular” with the “General” list, which contains many of the same songs but also “Uptown Funk!” and the ABBA-schlager of Natalia Jiménez.

1. “Contigo” – Calibre 50
2. “Que Tal Si Eres Tu” – Los Tigres Del Norte
3. “Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo
4. “Me Sobrabas Tu” – Banda Los Recoditos
5. “Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)” – Intocable
6. “Malditas Ganas” – Alfredo Rios El Komander
7. “Que Aun Te Amo” – Pesado
8. “A Lo Mejor” – Banda MS
9. “Lo Hiciste Otra Vez” – Arrolladora
10. “El Que Se Enamora Pierde” – Banda Carnaval

11. “Eres Una Niña” – Gerardo Ortiz
12. “Sencillamente” – Raúl y Mexia + SuenaTron
13. “Mayor De Edad” – La Original Banda el Limón
14. “No Fue Necesario” – El Bebeto
15. “Si Tuviera Que Decirlo” – Pedro Fernandez
16. “Perdi La Pose” – Espinoza Paz
17. “Escuchame” – Fidel Rueda
18. “Me Importas” – Los Primos MX
19. “Tiene Espinas El Rosal” – Grupo Cañaveral De Humberto Pabón ft. Jenny and the Mexicats
20. “Es Todo Un Placer” – Diego Herrera ft. Los Gfez

¡Adios!
“El Pajarito” – Marco Flores y La Número 1 Banda Jerez
“Nos Acostumbramos” – Los Horoscopos de Durango
“En La Sierra y La Ciudad La China” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
“Debajo Del Sombrero” – Leandro Ríos ft. Pancho Uresti de Banda Tierra Sagrada
“Broche De Oro” – Banda La Trakalosa
“Cuando Tu Me Besas” – El Bebeto
“Dime” – Julión Álvarez y Su Norteño Banda

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