music, charts, opinions


La Fiera de Ojinaga

¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Cuisillos, Jovanko Ibarra, y más)


nino-albertelli-amor-y-saxo-vinilo-argentino-6294-MLA79618094_3701-OIn the movements known as Puro Zacatecas Sax and Puro Chihuahua Sax, one of the biggest wasted opportunities is the lack of terrible “sax” puns in album titles. Research reveals the Argentinian Nino Albertelli once released an album called Amor y Saxo, but that’s Argentina’s problem. Where is the Saxo Tántrico, the Saxo En La Playa, the Paga Para El Saxo of northern Mexico? Smooth jazz would’ve had this all locked down by now.

fieraFortunately the Mexican bands in question play with more lively energy than they use when bestowing titles, and this week sees new releases from two of ’em. In this corner, La Fiera de Ojinaga (“The Beast of Ojinaga”!) represents Chihuahua with the album Como Una Fiera (Azteca); the first spritely single goes by the same title, and from what I’ve heard, the rest of the album promises much much more. Possible alternate title: Saxy Fiera.

retonosIn the opposite corner, representing Zacatecas with one half-ton of bounciness, is the sextet (saxtet?) Los Retoños del Rio, whose “Por Qué la Engañe” NorteñoBlog has already recommended. It’s totes Intocablish, and frankly better than Intocable’s last couple singles. Their new album is De Buena Escuela (Goma) (alternate title: Saxo Con Mi Profesora), and NorteñoBlog has slacked by not listening to any of its other songs yet, but these bands are nothing if not consistent.

primaveraThe kings of this genre, Conjunto Primavera, have a new compilation out this week, because it is the position of the benevolent Fonovisa corporation that no band can ever be compiled enough. La Historia de los Éxitos (alternate title: El Mejor Saxo Nunca) is part of a series that also includes best-of’s by grupos Bryndis, Yndio, Liberacion, y Los Rehenes y Los Traileros. Get it quick before another one comes out next month!

Moving along to banda, the jokesters in Banda Cuisillos have a fine new-ish single called “Cerveza”, which features several of NorteñoBlog’s favorite elements: two different singers trying to outdo one another in the passion department, brass alternating with guitar, and deplorable sexism. Please accept it as this week’s Pick to Click with my apologies, but also with the understanding that, using the late Ellen Willis’s formula, “Cerveza” still isn’t as deplorably sexist as Cat Stevens’s “Wild World.”

jovankoBanda singer and former La Voz Mexico contestant Jovanko Ibarra is an extremely handsome man who should wear a helmet when he rides his motorcycle in the video for “No Le Hagamos al Cuento.” Look at it this way: when the Smithsonian moves the Hope Diamond, do you think they just toss it like a football to whichever flunky happens to be standing around? No. The Hope Diamond requires layers of padding and precautions and moving techniques that have been honed over decades, to ensure that the Hope Diamond makes it through the moving process unscathed. My point is, Jovanko Ibarra is prettier than the Hope Diamond. His new album No Le Hagamos al Cuento (Prodisc) has his picture on the cover.

agostiniSince we’re speaking of pretty dudes, I’ll turn your attention to Daniel Agostini and his 2003 album Sentimientos Vol. 1 (Magenta), whose album cover depicts him as an angel. Whether the songs bear this out I can’t say, but a cursory listen reveals some charming and very twee electrocumbia. I bring it up because it’s new to streaming services, and also because THE ALBUM COVER DEPICTS HIM AS AN ANGEL.

chavezBanda singer Sandra Chavez “La Comadre” is planning something. Most likely it’s an album or EP release, but the rollout by her label Music Eyes is proceeding in a slow and seemingly haphazard fashion. Earlier today three “singles” hit Youtube, and you can count yourself among the first human people to listen to them. “Sinceramente” is just that; “Me Das Asco” is stately; “Mejor Sin Ti” is heartbroken. None packs the punch of last year’s “Mucha Mujer” and its biker chic video where, I’d just like to point out to my new friend Jovanko, Sandra had the good sense to wear a face-obscuring helmet while riding her bike. Of course, using the late Roger Ebert’s formula, you’d expect that from her.

Finally, three recent albums of corridos:

Los Canelos de Durango sing about El Señor de la Montaña (Pegasus);

Luis Salomon sings about cartel figure Tito Beltran in “Por Encargo de los Viejos (Tito Beltran)” (ICON);

and Los Meros Meros Alteños sing Corridos y Canciones (Hyphy).

¡Nuevo! (starring Larry Hernández, Pesado, y más)


larry hernandezHere at NorteñoBlog we’ve not yet explored the career of Larry Hernández, corridista and family man, creator of both controversial Youtube smashes and a reality show called Larrymania. He’s out with a new album today, 16 Narco Corridos: Vol. 2 (Fonovisa), whose psychedelic purple cover — complete with frolicking spiders and ungulates! — suggests a lyrical move from production to consumption. No idea whether that’s true, since none of the songs seem to have found their way onto the internet yet. (Though I’m probably wrong about that, since Hernández knows his way around the internet better than I do.) Instead we have the sweet if stalkery “Vete Acostumbrando”, in which Hernández promises to show up outside your window at midnight with a banda, looking for your silhouette on the shade. Nice of him to provide warning.

Vol. 2 is the sequel to 2009’s 16 Narco Corridos, for a time Hernández’s biggest selling album and spawner of the hit “El Baleado.” Hernández got the same rap as Movimiento Alterado: that he glorified violence by singing explicitly about the violent murders surrounding Mexican drug cartels. According to Billboard‘s Leila Cobo, Hernández saw it differently:

Hernandez says he in no way seeks to glorify that way of life. While some of the appeal may lie simply in its shock value, composer/singer Hernandez says he sings about what he knows. “I lived violence as a child,” says Hernandez, who’s also an avid reader of books about drug cartels and the drug trade. “I was born in Los Angeles but was raised in Mexico, and as a boy, I saw how this person or the other was killed. They are my experiences.”

But while this may be the reality in Mexico, it isn’t the same in the United States. This fact, producer Adolfo Valenzuela says, makes the songs harmless- and appealing- in the United States. “Here, it would be almost impossible for [young people] to go around toting guns,” says Valenzuela, whose company, Twiins Enterprises, has signed several new acts like El Kommander. “I think they merely see it as something forbidden and cool. They see it as a new trend.”

Sometimes I wonder whether Adolfo Valenzuela inspired the character of Caesar Flickerman in The Hunger Games.

pesadoIn the past we’ve been annoyed by the superabundance of Pesado’s live albums, but we’ve also appreciated their acumen for soaring melodies and male video models. Their new album Abrázame (Disa) may or may not be out today, or possibly sometime in May, but there’s no question it opens with their VALE LA PENA single “Que Aún Te Amo,” and it’s quite likely that lovelorn singer Mario Alberto Zapato could use a hug.

capitanes de ojinagaThe border city of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, has a dual musical personality. In the ’80s it was home to man myth legend Pablo Acosta, El Zorro de Ojinaga, one of those storied drug traffickers who gave back to the community before getting offed by los federales. As such, Ojinaga and El Zorro himself will live forever in the form of corridos, including one by Los Tigres. But Ojinaga is also the musical home to a slew of peppy saxophone dance bands, including Conjunto Primavera and Los Rieleros, giving rise to the “puro Chihuahua sax” sound. Two such bands have new music out: La Fiera de Ojinaga just released the single “Como Una Fiera” (Azteca), and Capitanes de Ojinaga have the album Volando Hacia Ti (Goma) with its solid romantic lope “Cuando Quieras Llorar.” Capitanes’ singer even sounds a little like Primavera’s Tony Meléndez, one of the higher compliments NorteñoBlog can pay.

triny y la leyendaThe Go Tejano Day protesters had a point — their music has suffered neglect in recent years — but what about those poor fans of tierra caliente? Man, nobody’s even talking about that stuff any more! NorteñoBlog would seek to right this wrong, but I actually don’t like tierra caliente, since it always just seemed like duranguense for supper clubs or church socials. Here to prove me wrong are genre stalwarts Triny y La Leyenda with Me Voy a Ir (Discos Arpeggio). Triny’s single “Tu Desastre” could be worse — the accordionist is spitting out some wicked fills in the background — but I fear it won’t change hearts and minds. Neither will the latest hits compilation by supertwee Tierra Cali, La Historia… Mis Éxitos (Universal).

rocio quirozYou would perhaps like some cumbias? Argentina’s Rocio Quiroz has a new album, Vivir Soñando (Ser Música), thoughtfully uploaded to Youtube by some scofflaw. This seems really good, especially its Pick to Click single “La De La Paloma”, a minor key stomp with its drums slightly off-kilter in that delicious cumbia manner. The guitar tone is like something out of ’80s new wave, and Quiroz sounds great spitting out heartache.

Grupo Maximo GradoLike many corridistas before them, Grupo Máximo Grado think they are Iván Archibaldo Guzmán Salazar, and they sing as much on their latest album and single, Yo Soy Ivan (Sol/Hyphy). See also Gerardo Ortiz’s “Archivaldo,” where Banda El Recodo and Los Tucanes show up at Ivan Archivaldo’s party. Máximo Grado’s Ivan has hot licks and a good tune that climbs its way into the upper register (akin to how Ivan’s dad climbed his way into the upper ranks of the Sinaloa Cartel, hmmmm?), but little in the way of uncanny lyrical detail. Corridistas take note: you should always namedrop who plays your icons’ parties, because it gives me more to write about.

bisnietosI know nothing about Los BisNietos except each one is un Hombre De Rancho (Luz), although their singing comes more from the school of clean norteño vocals, reminiscent of Glenn Medeiros. (As opposed to Marco Flores’s more extreme norteño vocals, reminiscent of a rooster.) The single “Me Creo” has some wicked accordion, fitting for a song in which Los BisNietos cast themselves as villains… OF THE HEART. Their sideburns are their rapiers.

Create a free website or blog at

Up ↑