Here 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.
In 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.
The 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.
The 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).
You 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.
Like 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.
I 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.