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Regulo Caro

En Vivo Chicago: Ulices Chaidez, Regulo Caro, Lenin Ramirez

caro and band

Norteño music is sufficient unto itself.

As a gringo who loves talking about this music, I often find myself comparing norteño to other U.S. genres — especially our chart pop, with which it shares predilections for dancing, drinking, and lovey dovey ballads. Other writers have pointed out the music’s similarites to country (hats, horses, drinking, instrumentation) or rap (attitude, marginalized artists, drinking, trapping-as-metaphor), but all such comparisons ultimately fall short, because norteño doesn’t need ’em. At Chicago’s Aragon Ballroom last Saturday, this self-sufficiency once again became clear. A packed house of four or five thousand people sang along with entire songs by Ulices Chaidez y Sus Plebes, Regulo Caro, Lenin Ramirez, and (I assume) the headliner Gerardo Ortiz, each of whom presented a unique modern take on an unapologetically Mexican tradition.

(About that last parenthetical… before we get too far I should admit that I left before Ortiz took the stage. Reader, you have to understand some things. It was after midnight, I work early Sunday mornings, I live more than an hour outside the city, the snow had started falling, and I am 40. Also know that you cannot shame me more than I have shamed myself.)

The crowd, ninety percent of whom were younger than me and had better hair, screamed when each act shouted out their families’ states of origin: “¡Arriba Jalisco! ¡Arriba Zacatecas!” Fans pulled out their cell phones to record the hits, devoting gigabytes of cloud storage to Chaidez’s “Te Regalo” and Caro’s “En Estos Dias.” I was grateful not to be the worst dressed person there. With my black Nikes (the nicest article of clothing I own, now salt stained and sticky), leather jacket, paisley shirt, and dark jeans, I was somewhere in the middle of the pack: well below the stylish vaqueros and vaqueras in their spotless hats and glistening belts, but not super conspicuous.

chaidez cellphones

Billed as a “Baile de Valentine’s Day,” the bands and between-set DJs leaned heavily on dance tunes and love songs, but maybe they always do. The Aragon has limited VIP seating — the VIPs stood impassively above the rest of us, resembling the stony-faced onlookers at the Eyes Wide Shut orgy — so most of the crowd simply stood and danced on the main floor. The place filled up during an opening set by a tight accordion quintet whose name neither I nor my neighbors caught. When they finished playing and I turned around, thousands of people had materialized to fill the hall, and it was clear that any attempt to exit would require detailed planning. As the crowd packed in tighter and tighter, brief shoving matches became more frequent and the elbows of oblivious dancing couples became more annoying. (I was also grateful not to be the only dorky dude fixed to one spot, bobbing his head.) Like a shark through the sea of people strode an intrepid five-foot-tall vendedora, holding bouquets of light-up roses above her head. I didn’t see anyone buy them, but she kept trying.

chaidez and burgos

Ulices Chaidez didn’t help her cause by tossing real roses from the stage. The Blog has been in the tank for Chaidez since his first single, and while I was disappointed with the high ballad quotient of his 2017 album El Elegido (on DEL Records — maybe with the exception of the opening grupo, all these guys are on DEL), in concert he was spectacular.
Continue reading “En Vivo Chicago: Ulices Chaidez, Regulo Caro, Lenin Ramirez”

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¡Perros y gatos! ¡Viviendo juntos! (Desfile de Éxitos 5/6/17)

calibre 50

NorteñoBlog’s Pick to Click comes this week from Calibre 50, but it is not the quartet’s smash Top 10 ballad “Siempre Te Voy a Querer,” which does not solve Calibre’s perennial ballad problem — namely, that most of their ballads sound thin and flimsy and threaten to grind to a halt with every bar. Nor is it their #13 airplay hit/Michelob jingle “Las Ultras,” which, since first spotting it on the Mexican charts a couple weeks ago, has admittedly grown on me like so much cheap beer and/or beachfront dressage.

No, you should instead direct your attention to Calibre’s cover of “Volveré a Amar” by the 10-years-late banda singer Valentín Elizalde. The song itself is swanky midtempo heartache with backbeat and doo-wop tuba, a 2004 template for later earworms like Roberto Tapia’s “Mirando al Cielo.” (Or at least, it’s one of the templates: El Coyote beat Elizalde to this particular sound back in the ’90s.) Covering the tune, Eden Muñoz does his best Elizalde impression and sings low in his range, a wise choice — he’s as effortlessly charming as beachfront dressage. When the accordion quartet takes over for the banda during the chorus, the transition is seamless and full, so hats off to whoever recorded and mixed this thing. It’s at #39 airplay and you can find it on Fonovisa’s terrific collection of Elizalde covers, Tributo a Valentín Elizalde, previously covered here.

Also in the news:

— At #4, Christian Nodal‘s debut single “Adiós Amor” continues to win hearts and Youtube revenue. (Closing in on 128 million views!) Last month we covered it at The Singles Jukebox, where I wrote, Continue reading “¡Perros y gatos! ¡Viviendo juntos! (Desfile de Éxitos 5/6/17)”

Desfile de Éxitos 6/18/16

regulo caro

With a weary sigh of resignation, NorteñoBlog supposes it’s time to discuss “CicatrIIIces.” (That particular alternate spelling is cooler than the official “Cicatrices”; it also beats YouTube’s “Cicatriiices,” which just looks like someone at DEL was pisteando when they typed it.) The song is already Regulo Caro’s biggest U.S. chart hit, up this week to #11 on the Hot Latin chart and #2 on Regional Mexican airplay, where the DJs hit the “CicatrIVces” button more often than they should. That’s the same radio peak as Caro’s previous, superior hit “Soltero Disponible.” Both songs come from the lovelorn imagination of Omar Tarazón, who wrote “CicatrVces” in collaboration with new songwriter Maria Fernanda Diaz. (Here she is dining with Regulo’s cousin Gerardo Ortiz.)

“CicatrVIces” is fine for what it is: a swinging midtempo “don’t kiss me ’cause it’ll hurt” ballad, along the lines of Jake Owen’s “Alone With You.” The brass chart uses colorful and elaborate shifts in a way that fairly screams “POST-TWIINS BANDA.” But “CicatrVIIces” doesn’t spark and pop like the nasty “Soltero.” Its lyric and jaunty swing rhythm are too polite, so the normally badass Caro sounds like he’s licking his wounds rather than showing off his scars. He seems to recognize this — the action-packed “CicatrVIIIces” video shows him and his mujer robbing a diner Pulp Fiction-style, as though to compensate for the song playing overhead. It beats the Chili Peppers’ “Scar Tissue,” but praise doesn’t get any fainter than that.

“CicatrIXces” = NO VALE LA PENA Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 6/18/16”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 4/12/16

horacio palencia

The sometime sociopaths in ¡LOS! BuiTRES! (at #19) couldn’t do it — not even singing a tune by tubthumper de amor Horacio Palencia. Neither could Banda MS, in at #18 with their second slo-mo slow dance on the chart. You might think it inevitable that Banda el Recodo would get the job done, but #4 “Inevitable” isn’t the tune.

Nope: none of this week’s Mexican chart debuts possesses the indescribable and unquantifiable blend of moxy, verve, hooks, indelible vocal timbre and/or inventive instrumental work needed to claim the coveted title of NorteñoBlog Pick to Click.

The Mexican top 20 isn’t a total wasteland. Alfredo Olivas‘s pick from two weeks ago sits atop the chart, and Remmy Valenzuela‘s terrific #3 power ballad just entered the U.S. Hot Latin chart at #49. (Speaking of which, the U.S. charts don’t have any good new songs either. Not even “Cicatriiices,” Regulo Caro‘s bouncy ode to scarred hearts, Pulp Fiction crime sprees, and unusual spelling conventions. Ayiyi.) Readers with paternalistic messiah complexes might want to check out Pepe Aguilar at #17. Readers with drinking problems should stay as far as possible from Banda Tierra Sagrada at #12. Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 4/12/16”

¡Nuevo-ish! (doing DEL Records due diligence)

los amos del terror

fernandez pacasWhen we last met the rambunctious corrido quintet Grupo Fernández last June, NorteñoBlog was praising their Regulo Caro and Ariel Camacho feature “La Fuga Del Dorian,” a real barnburner of a corrido. In fact the charisma of the two stars overshadowed Los Fernández themselves, kind of like Nicki and Weezy guesting on a Tyga song, or Jagger and Hendrix sitting in with a slaphappy but faceless British garage band. The band’s runaway rhythm section regularly achieves that sublime rolling feel you find in many of the best new corrido bands, but it’s hard to buy lead singer Elton Aispuro unless he’s singing high and fast. When they attempt a slow song like Camacho’s “Te Metiste,” rhythm and singer sound like they’re wearing lead boots. Unfortunately their new album Las Pacas (DEL) has too many slow ones — actually, too many songs period. 17! Who do these guys think they are, Revolver Cannabis? But they still know how to burn down the barn — witness this week’s Pick to Click “El Pariente De La O,” featuring the high, Keith Richards-worthy backing vocals of bajo sexto player Juan García:

Continue reading “¡Nuevo-ish! (doing DEL Records due diligence)”

Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK

gerardo birthday

NorteñoBlog doesn’t always Pick to Click, but when I do… sometimes I get it wrong and type “Click to Pick.” This made searching for the previous year’s worth of Picks INTERESANTE.

The Pick to Click began as a shameless ripoff from Charles Pierce’s must-read liberal politics blog at Esquire, as did a couple other, possibly subtler NorteñoBlog tics. (Spot them all! Both! Whatever!) It’s a useful way to highlight the song I enjoy the most in a particular post, so that you the loyal reader don’t have to wade through a pool of Banda MS’s tears to reach the good stuff. Of course, if you enjoy the delectable bouquet wafting from Banda MS’s tears, you can always Click what I don’t Pick, though you’ll run the risk of turning Banda MS happy and then they might run out of Art. Besides current singles, the following list includes some older singles and current album tracks.

Most Picked at three apiece: NorteñoBlog’s probable artists of the year Alfredo Ríos “El Komander” and Marco Flores y #1 Banda Jerez. Banda Cuisillos, Noel Torres, and Chuy Lizárraga each scored two Picks. So did Los Gfez, Pancho Uresti, and Ariel Camacho, though one Pick from each of those three was in a “featured” role. Besides norteño and banda, the list includes cumbias and puro sax stomps, reggaeton and ABBA-schlager, Jenny and the Mexicats and Pitbull, and covers of Johnny Cash and — first up — Shania Twain. Happy Clicking!
Continue reading “Fiesta de Aniversario: THE PICKS TO CLICK”

Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/8/15

marco flores

NorteñoBlog has pretty much made its peace with boring ballads about corazones and the hombres who break/nurse/fondle them, so this week’s Mexican Top 20 comes as a pleasant surprise. Most of the new songs are fast! Or at least midtempo, which often sounds like “fast” around this lot. (When Arrolladora’s devious mujer destroyed their collective soul, she also apparently destroyed their ability to play faster than 60 bpm.) Almost every inch of this new batch is perfect, from the bottom to the top:

At #20, Leandro Ríos, of superfun rhyming exercise “Debajo del Sombrero” fame, is now a no-good cheating bastard. But he’s really tortured about being caught “Entre Ella y Tú,” so that’s gotta count for something, right? Oh wait — HE’S NOT TORTURED AT ALL. As long as you’re content with the amount of Leandro you’re getting, what’s the problem? The jaunty accordion gave him away.

Continue reading “Who’s On the Mexican Radio? 9/8/15”

¡Nuevo! (starring Los Alegres, Los Alcapones, y más)

camacho fernandez

los alegresLast week NorteñoBlog noted that, when Los Cuates de Sinaloa were getting popular about a decade ago, Billboard hailed their guitar-based “musica de la sierra” as one of Mexico’s “new sounds” to keep an eye on. In the same milieu were Los Alegres de la Sierra, another family band who, from the looks of my hasty research, never made the jump to a major label but branched out musically just like Los Cuates did, adding members and instruments. Their self-released 2012 album Lagrimas En La Sierra is chipper accordion quartet stuff, new to streaming services, and I’m partial to “No Podrán.”

los alegres del barrancoSimilarly chipper and altitudinally minded, Los Alegres del Barranco have released a new single, the corrido “El Chino Piloto” (Hyphy). It’s chock full of fatalistic loneliness and helpful radar-evasion tactics, and its repeated eight-bar melody will dig a six-inch barranco through the middle of your skull.
Continue reading “¡Nuevo! (starring Los Alegres, Los Alcapones, y más)”

Who Plays on the New Gerardo Ortiz Album?

The mystery is solved! Allmusic appears to have acquired a physical copy of Hoy Mas Fuerte the same time NorteñoBlog did, and we’ve learned that Ortiz drew his small band from the usual stable of Del Records session pros: Pablo Molina on tuba, Aaron Gonzalez on bass, Lorenzo Fraire Reyes on bajo sexto, and Luis Navarro on drums. But Allmusic did omit some crucial players, notably the guy who most owns the sound of Fuerte: accordionist Marito Aguilar. Fuerte isn’t necessarily VALE LA PENA, but it’s worth hearing at least once for Aguilar, whose fingers are all over the place and constantly coming up with new ideas. He’s played with Ortiz on previous albums; he’s played on good albums by Regulo Caro and Adriel Favela; and he’s been one of the few reasons to pay any attention to Luis Coronel.

If you get excited by fly-on-the-recording-studio-wall videos and scenes of professional musicians overdubbing and “punching in,” you are to be pitied above all others you should totally watch this video of a session for Ortiz’s 2012 album, El Primer Ministro.

NorteñoBlog’s other discovery: “¿Por Qué Terminamos?”, the only Fuerte song I walk around humming, the one that sounds like a Luciano Luna ballad, IS IN FACT a Luciano Luna ballad. (Luciano Luna and Joss Favela, to be exact.)

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