music, charts, opinions


Revolver Cannabis

Banda Renovación Gets Bored With Nintendo, Goes Full Tony Montana

la edicion

Back in college we enjoyed an annual orgy of fun and hurt feelings called “Songfest.” Fraternities and sororities would spend weeks preparing brief musical programs of three or four popular favorites. The entire Greek community would then gather in the campus chapel, where each house in turn would perform their musical revues on the steps leading up to the altar, defiling the great Christus Rex statue who peered over our heads. After eyebrows were singed, winners chosen, and false compliments paid, we talked some smack about “giving back to the community” before returning home to play Nintendo and drink. Seek the noblest!

I thought of Songfest while watching the video for “Los Ninis” by Banda Renovación de Culiacán Sinaloa. Renovación is a brass band of young guys, including a dedicated acordeón player, Mike Zapata, who is also an actual student. “Los Ninis” is a popular corrido favorite, sung by both Banda Carnaval and Revolver Cannabis, that takes a neologism for young ne’er-do-wells — “ni estudia ni trabaja” — and transforms the youngsters into rifle-toting killing machines in the service of Ivan Archivaldo Guzmán.

Like any great sociological exposé, this song is full of details. The ninis turn to crime because they’re bored with Nintendo. Some of the ninis wear beards while others are clean-shaven — “the full Tony Montana.” The song itself is happy and poppy and it sounds like a joy to sing, especially the way Renovación do it: with hand motions. Hand motions were the default choreography back in my Songfest days, and the members of Renovación follow a similar impulse. When the singers sing about being fuerte, the trumpet players flex their muscles. Later they turn their horns into guns. When talk turns to cerveza, Zapata pulls his fingers off the buttons long enough to make the universal sign for “drinky drinky.” The message of “Los Ninis” is clear: avoid honest work, get drunk, and kill people for the cartel. Grow a beard if you must. NorteñoBlog, being a teetotaling hairless farm boy, obviously does not endorse any of this, but those tempo and chord changes are making me rethink my ways. Pick to Click!

Continue reading “Banda Renovación Gets Bored With Nintendo, Goes Full Tony Montana”

Odes to Music Executives and Other Criminals

beto tiger

Ladies and gentlemen, our nation is in the grip of a Sierreño fever, and it´s mostly because — on the charts, at least — the dead are walking the earth. Or at least one dead man. For the second week in a row, Billboard‘s Hot Latin top 25 is 20 percent acoustic trio music, the signature Sierreño style of the late Ariel Camacho. His bandmates Los Plebes Del Rancho just released their first album since Sr. Camacho died, and they occupy four of those slots, one of them (the deathless “Hablemos”) with Camacho himself. The fifth trio spot belongs to Los Del Arroyo, backing up pretty boy gangster Adriel Favela. Had Camacho not died a year ago, it’s unlikely that he and his band would be clogging up the chart to this extent. The Arroyos might have still had their hit — after all, “Tomen Nota” is a really good song and Favela’s an established hitmaker — but it’s equally likely that Camacho’s post-mortem singles have whetted listeners’ appetites for rippling guitars and lurching basslines.

virlan garciaBut the old sound of Sierreño is having a moment off the charts, too. NorteñoBlog has already noted the fine new album from Los Migueles “La Voz Original,” who were Sierreño when Sierreño wasn’t cool. Now we’ve got a new tuba trio album from the young guitarist and singer Virlán García. His Y Cambió Mi Suerte (self-released) is a noble attempt to strike while the fever’s hot. (Please do not actually strike feverish people, except with leeches.) García is maybe the millionth person to record an ode to El Chapo Guzmán’s son “Iván Archivaldo,” but to his credit, the song demonstrates what a monster García’s lead guitarist is. This trio tries for different effects than the consistently hypnotic Los Plebes — “El Serio” contains some studied group fills, almost like a pop song arrangement, though the main riff just barely hangs together. In other words, they’re still a little rough, but they’ve got their sites set on bigger things.

pobre o criminalI’m pretty sure all of García’s efforts thus far — two self-released albums, an active Youtube channel — constitute a savvy bid for the attention of DEL Records. After all, DEL’s charismatic CEO Angel Del Villar is known for signing musicians (including Ariel Camacho) based on their Youtube presences. García no doubt reads Triunfo magazine interviews about industry hiring practices, so last year he wrote and recorded Del Villar his very own corrido, guilelessly titled “Angel Del Villar,” as part of the self-released album Pobre o Criminal. If you think this sounds familiar, you’re right. Los Plebes recorded a different ode to Del Villar, “DEL Negociante,” that’s currently sitting at #15 Hot Latin. Short story: “Angel Del Villar” is no “DEL Negociante,” but I’m sure the CEO noticed the effort, and that he appreciated it more than he would a giltter-bombed resumé. Continue reading “Odes to Music Executives and Other Criminals”

¡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)”

Desfile de Éxitos 11/7/15

del negociante

Since Billboard‘s Latin charts tend to turn over slower than car engines during Chicago winters, the scene doesn’t look much different than it did two weeks ago. All titles in the Top 10 remain the same, with more than half of them occupying the exact same positions. The presidential primary campaign chart tenure of King Romeo’s indecent proposal has reached 118 weeks, and there are only six new songs, four on the big chart and two on the Regional Mexican airplay chart. Plus — and this makes NorteñoBlog howl hot tears of pain — both of Pitbull’s songs, “El Taxi” and “Baddest Girl In Town,” have left the Top 25. Beep beep, sir; beep beep.

But! As you know, NorteñoBlog has a bit of a thing for the late Ariel Camacho, whose “Te Metiste” is still sitting pretty at #7 Hot Latin without placing on the Regional Mexican chart, meaning people continue streaming and/or downloading the heck out of it. (Probably streaming.) Other songs in this predicament: Arrolladora’s “Confesión” and Recodos’ “Mi Vicio Más Grande,” both of which boast expensive-looking novela-lite videos.

In what is possibly an elaborate Day of the Dead scheme, there’s more Camacho chart action bubbling debajo. Continue reading “Desfile de Éxitos 11/7/15”

Blog at

Up ↑