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La Rumorosa

Lo Mejor de 2016: Where the Action Is

The Grammys and the Mexican government would very much like Mexico’s musical output to consist of genteel roots music. Fortunately, NorteñoBlog’s annual playlist 2016 VALE LA PENA shows that Mexican-American musicians have other ideas.

Our playlist has El Komander singing about immigration in two very different, equally urgent songs: once from the vantage point of a mother whose son is missing, and once as a proudly binational drug dealer. The playlist includes a defiant statement of national pride from Los Inquietos and Marco Flores. There are love songs from guitar bands, brass bands, accordion bands, sax bands, and synth bands.  El Bebeto and Banda Tierra Sagrada stop by to plug liquor; Fuerza de Tijuana celebrates two real-life American narcos. The guys in Los Titanes de Durango drive way too fast. La Rumorosa curses a terrible boyfriend; Intocable mourns absent amor with distorted guitar and a smoking accordion solo. At the top of the list, El Armenta offers a low-fi Lynchian nightmare of a cumbia about his girlfriend’s dog. All in all, it’s as energetic and varied as any single-genre playlist you’re likely to find.

THIS, Grammy voters, is where the action is.

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vicente-un-aztecaEven as NorteñoBlog congratulates living legend Vicente Fernández on winning his third Grammy for Best Regional Mexican Music Album (Including Tejano) (But Not Including Grupero ‘Cause That Shit Suuuuuuuux), we gotta note that this particular win is lame in a very Grammy-ish way. Continue reading “Lo Mejor de 2016: Where the Action Is”

NorteñoBlog’s Top Singles of 2016: Abril – Junio

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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”

¡Indies a Go Go! (starring La Rumorosa, Los Rodriguez, y más)

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la rumorosaIf there’s one thing NorteñoBlog loves, it’s a nasty kiss-off delivered with borderline psychotic cheer. If there’s another thing, it’s a pop song brassed up with a banda or mariachi chart. This week’s Pick to Click is both. La Rumorosa is the nombre de electro-polka of María Inés Ochoa, a Mexican singer with a thick alto and a mile-wide vibrato she deploys at dramatic moments. And make no mistake: every La Rumorosa song contains dramatic moments. Last year’s album Lamento (Espiral) has its intermittent moments of fun, too; but they’re not quite as fun as her new single “Todo Lo Que Merezcas.”

It’s a cover of a song by Spanish indie rocker Xoel López (what does the idea of an “indie label” even mean in Spain?), a song that wishes karmic justice upon someone who did the singer wrong. Neither López nor Rumorosa specifies what this cad did, but whatever the deed, it earned the doer some delicious curses. Rumorosa wishes they would lose all their air, drown in the silence, and cry every day; that their days would be filled with an infinite desert. (Maybe the perpetrator will wake up inside a Buñuel movie.) She belts all this in commanding ranchera fashion, over a jaunty accordion/brass polka, with a tuba-based rhythm section that sounds hopped up on lollipops. There’s even a synth solo fanfare in the middle. Honestly, before I ran the lyrics through Sr. Translator I thought this was the happiest song on earth.

La Rumorosa’s next album Yo Por Amor drops sometime in May. Pray do not cross her. Continue reading “¡Indies a Go Go! (starring La Rumorosa, Los Rodriguez, y más)”

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