We’ve admired before the vitality of Marco Flores‘s dance moves and his voice, a gallo-rific crow that cuts through anything in its path. (Don’t confuse him with the Marco Flores who sort of sounds like Seal.) This week with his #1 Banda Jerez, Flores releases Soy El Bueno (Remex) in the U.S. Through 10 songs, the band’s energy never lapses. Three of the album’s songs have already charted in either Mexico or El Norte: “Soy Un Desmadre,” a duet with Banda Tierra Sagrada, also appears on their latest album; the title song won’t leave my head; and Espinoza Paz’s “El Pajarito” comes in versions both “sin censura” and, presumably, censura. Flores and Banda Jerez have been around since 2005 or so; in a Billboard from that time, Leila Cobo wrote:
With songs that bear such names as “La Cabrona” (think of a word that rhymes with witch), the 13-man troupe from Jerez, Mexico, seeks to preserve the sound of traditional banda music, yet tell it like it is.
“Our lyrics are about what’s happening and about what people talk about every day,” bandleader Marco Antonio Flores Sanchez says. “It’s what you hear in the streets. That’s the language people speak, which unfortunately, isn’t what you hear on the radio.”
Not at all. Given its naughty title, “La Cabrona” was an underground hit with limited airplay, both here and in Mexico.
Now, the band’s new single, “Billete Verde,” from the July 19 album by the same name, is also set to cause a stir of a different kind.
The track, whose title is a direct reference to dollars (“The Green Bill” is the translation), talks about those who leave Mexico for work, leaving families behind.
“And while they’re over there working, their wives are here getting all dolled up and going out,” Flores says wryly.
The story, Flores says, is one played and replayed every day in his neck of the woods. And that, he adds, is what Banda Jérez is all about. The group, which has several members still in their teens, wanted to return to the essence of banda, distancing itself from the more pop-leaning sound that several groups have now adopted.
One such pop-leaning group is Arrolladora, whose members play instruments built entirely of rose petals. One of their singers went rogue in 2008, and this week, Germán Montero releases Regresa (Sony), featuring the single “La Historia de un Ranchero.” Montero sounds like an old-school ranchera guy, even if he dresses like he gets all his mustangs from Ford. Maybe that’s why he broke with his more genteel colleagues.
Saul “El Jaguar” Alarcón’s Mi Estilo de Vida (Fonovisa) has already spawned one hit, “El Estilo Mafia,” featuring the nomenclaturally gifted La Bandononona Clave Nueva de Max Peraza. The next single is a ballad, “Que Te Quede Claro,” with the requisite backbeat built out of horns. El Jaguar has one of the better logos in the biz (see above).
For their 20th aniversario, Intocable goes double live (!!!) with XX (Fonovisa). THIS is now the highest profile regional Mexican release of 2015 so far, simply because most hardcore music fans know that a band called Intocable exists. Like, it comes up on the first screen of Spotify new releases. Doesn’t look like it contains their shoulda-crossed-over smash “Te Amo (Para Siempre),” but it did occasion Cobo to interview the band’s founder, Ricky Muñoz, which in turn led to this useful bit of taxonomy:
Cobo: Tejano music, as you’ve pointed out, was huge not only in Texas but all over the country at the time. But you weren’t playing Tejano, were you?
Muñoz: Tejano music was a bunch of keyboards. We were a band from Texas playing accordion music. Our first records were labeled “Tejano,” but our music is more traditional Mexicano.
Traditional Mexicanos Grupo Exterminador return with the ominously titled Es Tiempo de Exterminador (Independent). But these guys have lighter hearts than their name and scowls let on; imagine the Raid bottle with a smiley-skull logo. In a 2011 Spin magazine, Chuck Eddy wrote:
When the tempos pick up, this norteño novelty act is a hoot: Exterminador’s hookiest hits apparently concern a deer (“El Venao”) and a shark (“El Tiburon”), and the former’s video demonstrated an antler dance to match. There’s also an interpretation of “Wiggle It,” 2 in a Room’s 1990 hip-house hit, complete with hamboning accordions and call-andresponse kids.
We’ll see whether Tiempo produces anything so entertaining, but the video for romantic ballad “Como Una Bala” is set at a lovely waterfront locale and everyone seems in good spirits, even (especially?) when they’re rejecting the singer’s advances.
In cumbia releases that may or may not be compilations, we have Gerardo Morán’s El Más Querido (Meta/ Music Service). OK, Morán is from Ecuador, as is D’Franklin Band, in whose videos he appears. But what is cumbia if not a spirited rebuff to international boundaries? Both those D’Franklin Band songs appear on Querido without apparent “featuring” credits, so I am officially Confused, but listening to them has also renewed my zeal for life. Go figure.
Banda La Mentira – 20 Cumbias… Reventon Lagunero (Discos Cristal)
Luis y Julian – 16 Exitos De… Vol. 1-3 (Discos Roble)
Javier Solís – He Sabido Que Te Amaba (RHI)
Grupo Miramar – Fundadores de un Estilo Unico (Music Art Productions Inc.)
And the vault scrapers at AJR Discos/Select-O-Hits have released a whole bunch of hits compilations for some nth-tier acts, including Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon and Chayito Valdéz.
Espinoza Paz goes mariachi and (I’m guessing) muy censura with “Perdí La Pose” (Anval/Don Corazound). His writing career may be solid, but the solo career seems adrift.
Adrift is one thing, ramshackle is something else. I could listen to Alfredo Rios El Komander play his loosey goose corridos all day, and “Detras Del Miedo” (Twiins) won’t break the streak.
Possibly from an upcoming album, Calibre 50’s “Aunque Ahora Estes Con El” (Disa) returns them to the wilderness of thin and uninspiring ballads.
And finally, two indie bands with saxophones are competent but not much else:
Pokar – “Sí Me Tenias” (?)
Conjunto Conste – “Como Le Digo” (??)