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La Iniciativa

Julio Tiene Calor

Pg13-Mens-soccer-celebration

Thanks to you, a loyal coalition of corrido heads and puro sax devotees, NorteñoBlog enjoyed its most-clicked month yet in julio. Here are the posts that got the most attention, both current articles and old ones:

Current Posts:
1. Trap is Hyphy and Hyphy is Trap (¡Nuevo!)
Hyphy Music Inc. is still going strong; Martin Patrón’s Trap Corridos is rad.

2. NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio
12 tunes worth hearing; NorteñoBlog will totally update the YouTube playlist sometime in the next decade.

3. Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (julio 2016)
Sax riffs and terrible puns comin’ at ya!

4. Desfile de Éxitos 7/9/16
Intocable sets a chart record; the blog continues to marvel at how much the kids love Los Plebes del Rancho.

5. Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 7/8/16
Songwriter’s Showcase underrates the new Recodo single.

Old Posts:
1. Explosion Norteña: Beto’s Revenge
Manuel celebrates the inimitable flow of Beto Cervantes, lead MC of Explosion Norteña.

2. Top 5 W.T.F. Corrido Moments!
More intersections of rap and corridos: Manuel counts ’em down.

3. Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/23/16
La Iniciativa and Banda Los Recoditos team up for a tongue-twisting tune about wingmen and the women they share at the club.

4. 100 Regional Mexican Compilations Released in 2015
Seriously, who buys these things?

5. Pronounced “Jai-Fi”: The Rise and Fall of Hyphy Norteño
Almost a decade ago, Los Amos and friends went hyphy; WHAT DOES IT ALL MEAN?

¡Gracias por leer!

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio

chiquis-rivera-624x351

Last time out, NorteñoBlog counted six chart hits among the quarter’s best. This quarter we’re down to three, which doesn’t necessarily mean the radio has turned into a wasteland — after all, part of the thrill of radio is hearing a song you never much cared for, like Gerardo Ortiz’s “Fuiste Mia,” suddenly sound really good in the company of entirely dissimilar songs. Not that you’ll find “Fuiste Mia” below. But who knows, I may relent before the year is out.

No, all this means is that norteño and banda music have thriving independent scenes, geared more toward online video than terrestrial radio — see the tiny labels and self-releases promoted by Beto Sierra, whose YouTube clients make up a good portion of this list. In terms of their commercial outlook, bands like Máximo Grado and Los Rodriguez don’t resemble the reactionary ’80s heyday of “indie rock” so much as the early rock heyday of the ’50s and ’60s, when bands simply wanted to get paid to rock out, whether they recorded for Excello or Sun or Decca or RCA. Today’s world of online promotion means it’s easier for musicians of all genres to get heard, though not necessarily to get paid. But the barriers between majors and indies seem more porous in Mexican regional music than they do in Anglo pop and rock. Indie artists like Fidel Rueda and Los Inquietos regularly get played on mainstream radio; major and indie bands record the same corridos, and sometimes the same love songs. Everyone tours the same venues relentlessly. That’s not to say everyone is equal. Indie label acts are routinely priced out of performing on the glamorous award show circuit, and I’m guessing major label artists have first pick of surefire radio hits by Luciano Luna and Horacio Palencia. NorteñoBlog needs to research this more, but in Mexican regional music, the indie-major borderline isn’t drawn philosophically or aesthetically so much as with scrap and hustle and practicality: Who’s got the money? Who’s got the chops? How do we use our chops to get more money?

Of course, 10 years from now, when Ortiz and Julión Álvarez have catalogs full of dull 20-track prestige albums, who knows? Boredom has a way of shaking up philosophies and aesthetics.

1. Banda Renovación“Los Ninis” (Talento Lider)
Continue reading “NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/23/16

cuisillos

Sorry for the relative radio silence; NorteñoBlog has lately been norteñobogged down in real-life work and living changes. But you know where the radio ISN’T silent? (Wait for it…)

That’s right: in Mexico, where faith in the police is sky high and noted Chapo trollers Los Titanes de Durango can talk themselves out of speeding tickets by Knowing A Guy. I refer of course to their speedirific “Rumbo a Maza,” already a small hit in El Norte and a previous Pick to Click, now at #18 on la patria’s radio chart.

Also big on the radio this (and every) week are ballads stained with tears. At #17, the nomenclaturally gifted Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza demand “Dime Cómo” from the mujer who broke their collective heart. The only sadsacks sadder are Banda Cuisillos at #12, who demand “Utilízame” from the mujer who keeps getting her heart broken by some douchebag. (In the circus-themed video, said douchebag is a smoldering trapeze artist. Trigger warning: SAD CLOWNS ENSUE!) NorteñoBlog often enjoys Cuisillos, who veer wildly from ’80s-style pomp banda to raucous drinking songs, but the generic ballad “Utilízame” doesn’t utilize their strengths.

The real action is at #15, where the Calibre 50 splinter group La Iniciativa has teamed up with the swanky bros in Recoditos for a tongue-twisting tune about wingmen and the women they share at the club. (Standard translation caveats apply.) Like “Dime Cómo” and “Utilízame,” not to mention three of Taylor Dayne’s first four singles, “Convidela” issues demands; like Dayne, the combined norteño+banda ensemble actually sounds urgent about it. I’m also a big fan of throatiness in my banda singing, and Ariel Inzunza and Luis Angel Franco turn the tune into a total throat-off. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 6/23/16”

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? 1/19/16

iniciativa

Thanks to an extremely geeky background playing in concert bands, where mixed meters and overlapping rhythms kept my mind off the pain of my sputtering lips, NorteñoBlog will always dig bands doing proggy rhythm stuff in non-prog settings. This week’s 15th most played norteño/banda song on Mexican radio comes from the young tuba quintet La Iniciativa de Angostura Sinaloa, or simply “La Iniciativa” to their madres. “El Loquito del Rancho” (PCol) is a quick waltz, but singer Ariel Inzunza’s inventive melody throws in all these quintuplets, giving the first half of each line a crowded five-against-three feel. (You can play along at home! Tap your chest “ONE two three/ ONE two three” over and over again, and then start saying “onetwothreefourfive/ ONE two” so that the “one”s in your voice line up with the “one”s in your tapping. Got that? Now balance a ball on your nose!) Add to that a great chorus hook and a tubist (Rigoberto Cruz) who keeps messing with everyone, plus some hot accordion work from leader and co-singer Martín López, and you’ve got yourself a Pick to Click.

López is a triple threat who used to play tuba in Calibre 50; he and drummer Agusto Guido left that superstar band about two years ago to form La Iniciativa and possibly the PCol label, which seems to promote no other acts. NorteñoBlog slept on their 2015 album Ya Estás Olvidada. Among other things, it includes a beefed-up cover of the late Ariel Camacho’s “Hablemos” that doesn’t cut the original, but does demonstrate that they are caballeros of good taste. Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 1/19/16”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 4/10/15

iniciativa

This week’s two new songs present a conundrum. Do I prefer Los Recoditos’ new ballad “Me Toco Perder,” specifically the heartfelt manner in which the lead singer pronounces the word “estrellllllas,” holding himself back from the crucial high note until his vibrato bursts through like a tear-filled reservoir? Or should I direct you instead to the speedier pleasures of La Iniciativa’s “La Reina,” which has lots of stop-start precision and chewy tuba-vs.-accordion lines? Probably the latter. But there’s a third song that deserves your attention more: Ariel Camacho’s love song “Te Metiste,” debuting this week on Billboard’s Hot Latin chart but not the regional Mexican chart, which means it’s getting most of its listens from streams and/or downloads. This could still be the result of Camacho’s death bump, but I prefer to think people are seeking out this song because of its great melody played by an excellent band. Pick to click:

In other news, Julión Álvarez’s “El Amor de Su Vida” goes top 10 in both countries. Clearly I am wrong about it.

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!”, “Sugar,” and, sounding like they crashed from all that sugar, Juan Gabriel singing with Juanes.

1. “Contigo” – Calibre 50
2. “Después de Ti ¿Quién?” – La Adictiva Banda San Jose
3. “Que Tal Si Eres Tu” – Los Tigres Del Norte
4. “Perdi La Pose” – Espinoza Paz
5. “A Lo Mejor” – Banda MS
6. “Si Tuviera Que Decirlo” – Pedro Fernandez
7. “El Amor de Su Vida” – Julión Álvarez
8. “Confesion” – La Arrolladora Banda El Limón
9. “No Fue Necesario” – El Bebeto
10. “Todo Tuyo” – Banda El Recodo

11. “Malditas Ganas” – Alfredo Rios El Komander
12. “Indeleble” – Banda Los Sebastianes
13. “Escuchame” – Fidel Rueda
14. “Me Importas” – Los Primos MX
15. “Que Aún Te Amo” – Pesado
16. “Ponte Las Pilas” – America Sierra
17. “Que te Quede Claro” – Saul El Jaguar
18. “Adicto a la Tristeza” – Banda La Trakalosa ft. Pancho Uresti
19. “Me Toco Perder” – Banda Los Recoditos
20. “La Reina” – La Iniciativa

¡Adios!
“Sencillamente” – Raúl y Mexia + SuenaTron
“Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)” – Intocable

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