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puro Zacatecas sax

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


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


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.

Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 9/26/15”

Who Played It Better: Ariel Camacho or These Dudes?


First, the moment we’ve all been waiting for: a crap recording of Roberto Tapia’s new banda single “No Valoraste.” It’s trad and jubilant. You’re welcome.

But now it’s time for a new, probably never-to-recur NorteñoBlog feature called “Who Played It Better: Ariel Camacho or These Dudes?” Ariel Camacho, you’ll remember, has been a favorite of the blog ever since I heard his excellent El Karma album at the beginning of the year. He played the requinto guitar — tuned higher than normal, prone to virtuoso displays — and led a band, Los Plebes del Rancho, that also included a rhythm guitar and a tuba. Omar Burgos’s tuba managed to function as bass, percussion, and lead instrument all at once. Then in February Camacho died in a car accident at the way-too-young age of 22. Tributes followed, and outpourings of grief, and — this is where our new feature comes in — bitings of his post-Sierreño style.

So I ask you, loyal NorteñoBlog reader: WHO PLAYED IT BETTER?

Continue reading “Who Played It Better: Ariel Camacho or These Dudes?”

¡Nuevo! (starring Banda Cuisillos, Jovanko Ibarra, y más)


nino-albertelli-amor-y-saxo-vinilo-argentino-6294-MLA79618094_3701-OIn the movements known as Puro Zacatecas Sax and Puro Chihuahua Sax, one of the biggest wasted opportunities is the lack of terrible “sax” puns in album titles. Research reveals the Argentinian Nino Albertelli once released an album called Amor y Saxo, but that’s Argentina’s problem. Where is the Saxo Tántrico, the Saxo En La Playa, the Paga Para El Saxo of northern Mexico? Smooth jazz would’ve had this all locked down by now.

fieraFortunately the Mexican bands in question play with more lively energy than they use when bestowing titles, and this week sees new releases from two of ’em. In this corner, La Fiera de Ojinaga (“The Beast of Ojinaga”!) represents Chihuahua with the album Como Una Fiera (Azteca); the first spritely single goes by the same title, and from what I’ve heard, the rest of the album promises much much more. Possible alternate title: Saxy Fiera.

retonosIn the opposite corner, representing Zacatecas with one half-ton of bounciness, is the sextet (saxtet?) Los Retoños del Rio, whose “Por Qué la Engañe” NorteñoBlog has already recommended. It’s totes Intocablish, and frankly better than Intocable’s last couple singles. Their new album is De Buena Escuela (Goma) (alternate title: Saxo Con Mi Profesora), and NorteñoBlog has slacked by not listening to any of its other songs yet, but these bands are nothing if not consistent.

primaveraThe kings of this genre, Conjunto Primavera, have a new compilation out this week, because it is the position of the benevolent Fonovisa corporation that no band can ever be compiled enough. La Historia de los Éxitos (alternate title: El Mejor Saxo Nunca) is part of a series that also includes best-of’s by grupos Bryndis, Yndio, Liberacion, y Los Rehenes y Los Traileros. Get it quick before another one comes out next month!

Moving along to banda, the jokesters in Banda Cuisillos have a fine new-ish single called “Cerveza”, which features several of NorteñoBlog’s favorite elements: two different singers trying to outdo one another in the passion department, brass alternating with guitar, and deplorable sexism. Please accept it as this week’s Pick to Click with my apologies, but also with the understanding that, using the late Ellen Willis’s formula, “Cerveza” still isn’t as deplorably sexist as Cat Stevens’s “Wild World.”

jovankoBanda singer and former La Voz Mexico contestant Jovanko Ibarra is an extremely handsome man who should wear a helmet when he rides his motorcycle in the video for “No Le Hagamos al Cuento.” Look at it this way: when the Smithsonian moves the Hope Diamond, do you think they just toss it like a football to whichever flunky happens to be standing around? No. The Hope Diamond requires layers of padding and precautions and moving techniques that have been honed over decades, to ensure that the Hope Diamond makes it through the moving process unscathed. My point is, Jovanko Ibarra is prettier than the Hope Diamond. His new album No Le Hagamos al Cuento (Prodisc) has his picture on the cover.

agostiniSince we’re speaking of pretty dudes, I’ll turn your attention to Daniel Agostini and his 2003 album Sentimientos Vol. 1 (Magenta), whose album cover depicts him as an angel. Whether the songs bear this out I can’t say, but a cursory listen reveals some charming and very twee electrocumbia. I bring it up because it’s new to streaming services, and also because THE ALBUM COVER DEPICTS HIM AS AN ANGEL.

chavezBanda singer Sandra Chavez “La Comadre” is planning something. Most likely it’s an album or EP release, but the rollout by her label Music Eyes is proceeding in a slow and seemingly haphazard fashion. Earlier today three “singles” hit Youtube, and you can count yourself among the first human people to listen to them. “Sinceramente” is just that; “Me Das Asco” is stately; “Mejor Sin Ti” is heartbroken. None packs the punch of last year’s “Mucha Mujer” and its biker chic video where, I’d just like to point out to my new friend Jovanko, Sandra had the good sense to wear a face-obscuring helmet while riding her bike. Of course, using the late Roger Ebert’s formula, you’d expect that from her.

Finally, three recent albums of corridos:

Los Canelos de Durango sing about El Señor de la Montaña (Pegasus);

Luis Salomon sings about cartel figure Tito Beltran in “Por Encargo de los Viejos (Tito Beltran)” (ICON);

and Los Meros Meros Alteños sing Corridos y Canciones (Hyphy).

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