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puro Chihuahua sax

Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (febrero 2017)

reunion-nortena

aycci-nortenaIt 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. From the icy wilds of New Mexico comes Aycci Norteña, whose self-released debut album Futuro en Nuestras Manos (alternate title: Saxo Con Nuestras Manos) is an entirely decent jaunt through pop hooks and sax/accordion riffs. As with Geeshie Wiley and Jesus, photos of the Ayccis don’t exist, but the principles of detection tell me they’re a five-or-six-piece: cracking bajosexto/bass/drums rhythm section, an overactive accordionist whose sworn enemy is silence, and sax. Plus whoever’s singing. Plus whoever’s applying heaping doses of reverb. But fair is fair: Aycci’s song entitled “Por Eso Te Amo” (aka “Tu Saxo es Por Eso Te Amo”) has less reverb than Río Roma’s pop dirge of the same name. We’re gonna Pick to Click “Quiero Volver,” though, because then you can watch all these happy couples dancing:

Remember right after Y2K when The Strokes came out, and then suddenly you had all these guitar rock bands named “The [Objects]”? There were The Roots, The Streets, The Avalanches, and I forget who else. Something similar is cooking at la frontera de U.S./Mexico, where saxophones glisten against the desert sands. There we find: Continue reading “Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (febrero 2017)”

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)”

Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (agosto 2016)

maquinaria nortena

maquinariaIt 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. First things first: La Maquinaria Norteña, the Zaca-huahuan/New Mexican quintet that stands astride this genre like a saxophone colossus, has just released its ninth-I-think album in a decade, Generación Maquinaria Est. 2006 (alternate title: Saxo de Cumpleaños). Thanks to some major label Fonovisa distribution, and because they’re on the scene like máquinas saxuales, they sold 3,000 copies of the album its first week. That was enough to debut at #1 on Billboard‘s Latin Albums chart.

Agosto may be slow, but Maquinaria isn’t. Generación skips along in typical unrelenting fashion; the polka beats are sharp and nonstop, brothers Keith and Rory Nieto fill nearly every instant with well-plotted sax/accordion ideas, and Ivan Gutierrez winds his bass through the proceedings like a buoyant breeze. You can hear all this on their current hit “Todo Es Diferente” (subtitle: “… Excepto El Saxo”), but NorteñoBlog notes two other standouts. Keith’s original “El Corazón No Miente” throws in a slamming surprise ending, with electric guitar and drums bashing away; and singer Sergio Soto contributes a new breakneck waltz that sounds old, “Cosquillitas” (i.e., “¡¡¡Tickle Sax!!!”). Maquinaria’s quality is a difference of degree: the group simply sounds fuller, richer, and more distinctive than other puro sax bands. Once you go Maq, you’ll never go back.

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

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!

Yo Quiero Tu Saxo (julio 2016)

en que falle

nortenos de ojinagaIt 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. From the fabled Chihuahuan city of Ojinaga — home to El Zorro de Ojinaga, La Fiera de Ojinaga, Capitanes de Ojinaga, El Deshollinador de Ojinaga, you name it — come Norteños de Ojinaga, a saxy quintet-or-sextet whose latest album for the Discos America label is their lucky umpteenth. It’s called Besos Nuevos (proposed subtitle: … y Saxo Oral!!! ), and it seems pretty pro-forma as far as Chihuahuan sax albums go. Sadsack lead single “Tus Mentiras” (alternate title: “Saxo, Mentiras, y Videocinta”) runs over four minutes, which feels like an eternity in puro sax world, possibly because the rhythm section’s oompah seems to be slowing down as they play. A neat formal experiment with time? Maybe, but it violates the first law of puro sax music: get in, get out, leave ’em wanting more, and, for heaven’s sake, remember what genre you’re in. This is no place to get emo!

reunion nortenaNext up is La Reunion Norteña, who formed in Chihuahua but whose members also hail from neighboring states Durango and Texas. (Thom Jurek wrote a thorough bio at Allmusic.) Their seventh album in as many years, Historias de Amor en Canciones (alternate title: Historia de la Saxualidad Humana), is out on Azteca Records, a Dallas label that knows its way around the puro sax world. La Reunion’s labelmates include La Maquinaria Norteña, who stand astride this genre like saxophone colossi, having recently been Grammy nominated for one of 2015’s best albums. On first listen, Historias is in Maquinaria’s league — the bouncy riffs never let up and frontman Rogelio Martinez sings with relaxed authority and an chivalrous quiver in his throat. He might fail at love (“En Qué Fallé,” aka “Fracaso Saxual”), but if he does he will apologize (“Te Pido Perdón”… i.e.,”Por Mi Fracaso Saxual”), and then he and the band will salve your pain with a big dumb cumbia like “Ahora Sí Baila El Muñeco,” this week’s Pick to Click. (“Ahora Baila Con Esto Muñeco Saxual”? Nonono.)

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

¡Nuevo! (starring Los Plebes, Los Tucanes, y más)

cuisillos

Pura Rienda SueltaIt 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. The Zacatecan-I-think quintet Luis Ruiz y la Embarcacion de la Musica Norteña has just released their second album Pura Rienda Suelta (Goma) (alternate title: Cuidado Con La Bestia Saxy), and on first listen it stands out from the puro sax pack. Por ejemplo, accordion and sax hang out on a repetitive minor-chord riff in their single “Me Enamoré” (sequel title: “Tuvimos Saxo”). In a subgenre that’s almost oppressively chipper, minor chords count for plenty. But even on chipper tunes like Regulo Caro’s oft-covered “La Buchona” (alternate title: “Labios Saxys”), Ruiz’s clarion voice sells the songs. He’s got a way of making the most heartfelt pleas sound tossed-off. Thumbs up indeed, Sr. Ruiz.

los plebesImprobably (and not at all saxily), Los Plebes Del Rancho de Ariel Camacho are climbing closer to the Hot Latin top 10 with their single “DEL Negociante,” written by their DEL Records labelmates Revolver Cannabis. Like “Me Enamoré,” “DEL” boasts a memorable minor-key riff. Unlike “Me Enamoré,” it features the teenaged José Manuel Lopez Castro pinch hitting for previous lead singer Ariel Camacho, who died a year ago, and he’s singing a song about their label boss, Angel Del Villar. This is both crass and wonderful. After Jimi Hendrix died, imagine his rhythm section renamed themselves “Experience Hendrix,” hired the fresh-faced Neil Young as a frontman, and scored a hit with “Lonely at the Top (Reprise),” written by Randy Newman in honor of Reprise Records boss Frank Sinatra. And then they recorded a whole album! While we’ll never know the results of that particular thought experiment, we can hear Recuerden Mi Estilo (DEL), which sounds pretty good. Lopez Castro lacks the immediate charisma of his predecessor, but tubist Omar Burgos has more than enough to share. Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Los Plebes, Los Tucanes, y más)”

¡Nuevo! (starring Maquinaria Norteña, Los Horóscopos, y más)

puro sax maquinaria

maquinaria nortenaIt 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. This week the máquinas de saxo in La Maquinaria Norteña drop their eighth (I think) album, Ya Dime Adiós (Azteca/Fonovisa) (alternate title: Break Up Saxo), from whence comes their top 10 airplay hit “Para Qué Amarte.” Maquinaria hail from both Chihuahua AND Zacatecas, doubling their potential fan base, and they’re solid and reliable polkaderos with a really good logo. On first listen, though, this album isn’t saxing it up for me like the next one:

dimeloThe puro Zacatecans in La Inquietud Norteña venture into minor key territory for the title single to their latest album, Dimelo (AGLive) (alt title: Vamos a Hablar Sobre el Saxo). Singer Hugo Avellaneda wails high and clear, sax and accordion skate across the song with as little apparent effort as spinning Olympians, and whoever’s playing the polka bass gets his R&B licks in. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Maquinaria Norteña, Los Horóscopos, y más)”

Desfile de Éxitos 9/26/15

roberto tapia

ROBERTO TAPIA GRAPPLES WITH FEELINGS, FENG SHUI ON BEACH:

If you’ve hung around NorteñoBlog for very long, you’ll know that when I fall for a Roberto Tapia banda single, I fall hard. So it is with his new tune “No Valoraste” — the waltz beat is stiffer than his previous “Me Enamoré” and “Mirando Al Cielo,” but the high-climbing melody sounds great in his upper range. Along with Friday’s brand new video, and having heard it on the radio a couple times last week, “No Valoraste” shoots into Pick to Click status. And by all means watch that video: it’s like Ingmar Bergman shot a novela on the beach using the castoff furniture from Return to Oz. See Tapia and his ex-mujer stalk one another in symbolically opposing color schemes, as they seek cold comfort from an absent God and/or Princess Ozma.

Tapia’s at #4 on the airplay chart, so the streams racked up by this new video should propel him onto the big Hot Latin chart next week.

ADRIEL FAVELA WALKS THE BOOTY BEAT:
Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 9/26/15”

Yo Quiero Tu Saxo

salvajes video

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. This week’s roundup is all Chihuahua (“Saxo Con Mi Chihuahua”? nononono), but stay tuned, as Zacatecas continues to prolifically birth more sax bands than any of us can handle.

bravos de ojinagaLos Bravos de Ojinaga have just released their 10th album, A Más No Poder (Azteca) (alternate title: Saxo Toda La Noche), and it’s everything you like about the puro Chihuahua sax: accordion and sax lines intertwining around the singer, spritely dance grooves, and yearning harmonies. It’s also everything you dislike: namely, it gets kind of samey after a while and it never peaks. This is music for house parties and cleaning up after them. (Saxy norteño albums really make me step up my sweeping and mopping game.) The video for Los Bravos’ romantic single “Comprendelo” features a cuckolded cowboy and Jesus on an accordion.

salvajesSpeaking of el saxo y la salvación (there’s your album title!), Los Salvajes de Chihuahua recently released album number 11, Soltaron la Rienda (Goma). In an unusual case of puro Chihuahua sax distinctions being cost-effective, “Algo de Ti” is a better lead single than “Comprendelo” because it throws in some additional beats and minor chords where you don’t expect them. A cursory listen to Soltaron makes me think Los Salvajes pay more attention to their pop hooks than Los Bravos do, and Edgar Estrada sings with an appealing rasp. Pick to Click!

I feel like we’re giving short shrift to the rival puro sax style of Zacatecas. I know this comes as a huge disappointment. Whatever. The puro Houston fishermen Los Pescadores del Rio Conchos have a new single out, “Fui Un Mal Amor” (Azteca), in which they harmonize and lament. El Rio Concho, as you know, is a Rio Grande tributary that flows through Chihuahua and contains 12 endemic species of fish. It’s also the title of a Richard Boone Western film from 1964. If I knew more about movies, I might be able to tell you how sussing out the distinctions in puro sax songs is like doing the same with Westerns, where type scenes manage viewer expectations and little moments can make all the difference. Forthcoming thinkpiece/album title: Mal Saxo Es Mejor Que No Saxo.

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