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Los Rieleros Del Norte

Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (diciembre 2016)

cumbre-nortena

It is the longstanding position of NorteñoBlog that the puro sax styles of Chihuahua and Zacatecas would improve with the addition of more terrible “sax” puns in the titles. When we last checked in with the New Mexican quintet Anexo Al Norte, they were pursuing perfection with fellow New Mexican Beto Ronquillo. That pursuit failed, so they’ve settled for a limp Christmas cumbia on Blas Records, “Parodia Botas de Navidad,” unfortunately NOT a parody of “The Christmas Shoes” (aka “Los Zapatos de Saxmas”). Announcing your song as a parody is never a good move, especially when the song isn’t funny, but sax player Iván Murillo almost makes up for it with his groovy syncopated takes on “Jingle Bells.” In the song, Santa brings the boys in the band a bunch of instruments, along with the titular botas and a mixing board. One of them falls asleep with the mixing board, which is sure to mess up his levels. In the video’s high point, the band leaves a bowl of tamales out for Santa Claus, a tradition I will now force upon my own family. (NO VALE LA PENA)

no-hay-quintoAs you’d expect, the Dallas saxtet La Energia Norteña has far more energy. They’ve just released their fifth album for the Azteca label, an ode to saxual endurance entitled No Hay Quinto Malo. And, because the fifth time’s the charm, the album debuted at #1 on Billboard‘s Latin Album chart. Lead single “Hoy Me Toca Perder” (aka “Hoy Me Toca de Dar Saxo Oral”) is a maudlin thing, with string cues and a video full of meaningful looks and lonely rooms, though it does afford Israel Oviedo a chance to wail in full Clarence Clemons mode. Better is “Me Ganó la Calentura” (aka “Calor Saxual”), which sounds more like winning, even though its chord progression gives it an undercurrent of heartache.

But NorteñoBlog is most partial to their cover of Joan Sebastian‘s straight-up country song, “El Taxista.” (“El Saxista”? Too easy.) Written by Sebastian’s son José Manuel Figueroa, its melody soars through a tale of lovelorn despair, told from a stoic taxi driver’s point of view. In other words it’s perfect for this genre, where jaunty beats and riffs try to ignore their songs’ anguish every day of the week. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (diciembre 2016)”

Desfile de Éxitos 7/23/16

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This being summer in the northern hemisphere, and summer being the perfect time for weddings, and weddings being the ultimate nexus of comedy, pain, and terror (apart from this week’s Republican convention), it’s no surprise that two of this week’s debut videos feature newlywed hijinx. At #47 Hot Latin, the Los Angeles DJ Deorro has recruited Nuyorican merengue singer Elvis Crespo to sing the festive electrosalsa tune “Bailar.” Angling for the drop-heavy wedding reception market, Deorro has yoked the song to a video featuring an angry padre de la novia who keeps trying to sabotage his new son-in-law. A chicken suit makes a prominent appearance. The video will make you yearn for the trenchant realism of the Steve Martin movies, while the song itself might make you yearn for a couple more chord changes and a wall to bang your head against.

Equaling Deorro for NRG are Ojinaga’s sax stalwarts Los Rieleros del Norte, at #18 on the Regional Mexican airplay chart. Lead singer Daniel Esquivel narrates the song with a heart full of rue and a bloodstream full of liquor, “una botella en cada mano,” because his mujer has left him all alone. In the video, Esquivel’s tears are precipitated by the wedding of his daughter, who drives off with her young jagoff of a husband, leaving lonely Dad to his tequila distillery. “I’m still alive,” he sings, reassured by the undying riffage of chipper staccato sax and accordion. The video has a happy ending, but the song leaves room for doubt.

But the best new tune this week comes from La Séptima Banda, Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 7/23/16”

¡Nuevo! (starring Julión Álvarez, Shalia Dúrcal, y más)

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Julión Álvarez has been called many things: the best singer on the continent (OK, that was me), “un gran ejemplo para la juventud mexicana” (THAT was the president of México), the biggest deal in regional Mexican music last year because Gerardo Ortiz didn’t release a new album, and… Well, people don’t actually talk about Álvarez that much, even though he’s never made a bad album that I’ve found, and his last album produced three radio hits. The former Banda MS singer has worked his way from an indie to a major label with an impressive consistency that may be hard to write about. Álvarez emerges from the studio once a year with an untroubled good album: mostly uptempo, a variety of styles, and a voice that sounds both lived-in and young, toying with its own scratchy crags and the tricky rhythms of his trio and a big banda. “Y Así Fue,” his single from 2014, could have been anyone’s spritely sex romp, but Álvarez rendered it indelible with the little swoops in his voice. His unpredictable vibrato threatens to lose the pitch at any moment, almost like he’s about to cry.

JulionAlvarez_ElAferradoSo he’s a romantic who makes easy listening. The thing is, Indispensable was the best album of 2014 because it was so easy to listen to, and each listen revealed something new about the singer’s devotion to musical pleasure. Álvarez’s new album, El Aferrado (Fonovisa), sounds after a couple listens like a singer who’s successfully codified that pleasure, at least for himself. There are surprising moments like the title song, a Pick to Click that combines the two ensembles to jarring effect. But though trombone, tuba, and accordion reinvent the song nearly every second they play, nobody ever sounds like they’re about to lose it. It’s a very professional take on Wild Banda + Trio. The lead single, a ballad called “El Amor De Su Vida,” is far worse, to the point where you might not even know Álvarez is singing. The greatness of his singing has always dwelled in his sense of rhythm and phrasing as much as the unique grain of his voice. Now the grain of his voice remains, but nothing gets caught on it, least of all the pat melody of “Amor.”

luis y julian jr.The band name Luis y Julián Jr. pays tribute to Luis y Julian, a stolid country harmony duo from, oh, the ’90s or possibly earlier. I’m not sure whether Luis y Julian Sr. sang songs with the kind of macho, tight-lipped sense of humor that makes me certain they’re about to bash my head against the bar; but Luis y Julián Jr. sure do! “Las Muchachas de Estos Tiempos” is your standard “women and their Facebook dragging me away from my cockfights, amirite” song; the duo also sings something I’m guessing not entirely complimentary about Boy George and “Georgie” Michael. Drinks in your faces, assholes. NorteñoBlog has previously covered their latest single “Asi es el Juego,” ft. Naty Chávez, a cover of Colmillo Norteño. Its explicit take on Real Talk norteño balladry is sort of cute, but it’s not like you’d wanna listen to it for the music or anything. So three more drinks to the face, and expect more of the same on what I think is their debut album, A Chin… ¿pos Qué Pasó? (Remex).

shaila durcalShalia Dúrcal is from Spain but has gotten some traction in México, having sung with Jenni Rivera and delved into Mexican styles. Her latest single “No Me Interesa” blends Nashville guitar licks, ranchera horns, and electropulse into something that never peaks but is more compelling for it. Second Pick to Click, what the heck, and her self-titled sixth (?) album is just out on EMI. The album opens with “Has Sido Tú,” a tech-folk-ranchera stomper whose main riff is lifted directly from one of Slash’s solos in “Sweet Child o’ Mine.” Now the second song, sweeping ballad “Yo Daría,” is sweeping me off my feet. I have extremely high hopes for this album and should probably just liveblog it. (I won’t tell you who Durcal’s mom is, you’ll have to look that shit up, but fear not — it’s in the first paragraph of every bio.) Go listen to Shalia Dúrcal!

uriel henaoUriel Henao, “El Rey del Corrido Prohibido,” releases albums on his own self-titled label and just put out an Éxitos comp. “La Mafia Continua” is about the mafia and how it continues.

Not to be outdone, Los Rieleros del Norte have just released their 42nd album, Corridos y Canciones de Mi Tierra. Their tierra is Pecos, TX, though like many Texas bands they get their puro sax style from Chihuahua. Lead single “Mis Peores Deseos” has effortless appeal, just like every other Rieleros song I’ve ever heard.

Sadly I don’t have time to lead you down the rabbit hole of puro Chihuahua and/or Zacatecas sax, but check out the good folks at MundoNorteño, who’ve been going crazy with that stuff.

Archivos de 1999

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These were the top Regional Mexican songs of December 18, 1999, as reported by Billboard. Some things to note:

Los Angeles Azules continue to intrigue.

Several of these bands — El Recodo, Primavera, Los Tigres — released music in 2014. All of them sound pretty much the same today as they did 15 years ago.

The attempt to pinpoint when banda pop became today’s banda pop continues. I’m still looking for a swanky swinging midtempo backbeat ballad with doo-wop chord changes played by an entirely brass band. In the meantime, Recodo’s “Te Ofrezco Un Corazón” could’ve been released yesterday, but it’s more what Billboard would call “mainstream banda,” as in this excerpt from the March 3, 2001 issue:

The group’s somewhat avantgarde approach to music can be attributed to Don Cruz, the man who made vocals a staple of the band and who back in 1985 even dared to use a keyboard (not a banda instrument) on one of the group’s live albums.

A typical El Recodo album mixes genres. Y Llegaste Tu, for example, includes merengues and ballads, but the title track is more mainstream banda (in contrast to “Deja,” which is a ballad, says Moreno).

“We’re a typical banda sinaloense [a band from Sinaloa, Mexico, featuring brass instruments and percussion] that’s evolved,” says Alfonso. “We’ve tried to put on a more modern show and at the same time preserve a sound older followers can identify with. We want to offer a first-rate show that’s very Mexican.”

1. “Te Ofrezco Un Corazón”Banda El Recodo
2. “Te Quiero Mucho” – Los Rieleros Del Norte
3. “El Liston De Tu Pelo” – Los Angeles Azules
4. “No Le Ruegues” – Conjunto Primavera
5. “Con Quien Estarás” – Banda Arkangel R-15
6. “Mi Gusto Es” – Ezequiel Peña
7. “Sonador Eterno” – Intocable
8. “Dos Gotas De Agua” – Banda Maguey
9. “Perdoname” – Pepe Aguilar
10. “Paraiso Terrenal” – Priscila Y Sus Balas De Plata
11. “No Compro Amores” – Banda Machos
12. “Alma Rebelde” – Limite
13. “Eternamente” – Vicente Fernández
14. “Con La Soga Al Cuello” – Los Tigres Del Norte
15. “Basura” – Los Mismos

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