Category Archives: Reviews

The Krayolas Release “Piñata Trump” and “El Cucuy”

Just in time for the political convention season, Chicano rock-and-roll group The Krayolas have dropped two tracks for our listening pleasure.  Piñata Trump is a little self-explanatory and fun to dance–or to  break a certain piñata to. El Cucuy is the story of that scariest of characters who has been the basis of our parents threats, or maybe it’s just Trump.

Give these tunes a listen.

Los Texmaniacs Conquer Under The Volcano…Again!

lostexm2While most of my friends were at home watching a dumpster fire (the RNC), I took the night off from forming an ulcer and headed over to Under the Volcano on Bissonnet to catch my favorite Tex-Mex conjunto super group, Los Texmaniacs. Having caught their show at such an intimate locale in February, I figured catching them again would be better than the last time. And it was! This time, I brought the whole familia.

A very diverse crowd came ready for what was truly an Americana music show. Although they can sling that conjunto music like no one’s business, they add some country, Mexican traditional, cumbia rhythms, and some rock-tinged Tex-Mex to the set-list with ease. They blazed through a diverse set of songs for two straight hours–other than a few stops for sip of something cold, or a quick adjustment to an amp.

They kicked off with the haunting Danzon Juarez, which allowed each of the musicians to show off their chops, particularly Bajo Sexto king Max Baca, and his nephew Josh Baca, an already accomplished accordionist at age 24. With an already full dance floor swaying to this tango-esque tune, they moved on to their tried and true Tex-Mex ranchera stylings with a single from their current CD Americano Groove, Como Te Quiero which then transformed into an accordion instrumental polkita.

Then came How Can A Beautiful Woman Be So Ugly, I Wanna Know Your Name, an education lesson on how Tex-Mex conjunto was created, and a personal favorite, Cancion Mixteca. A Huapango/Chotis medley and a medley of Ruben Vela hits “al estilo Valle de Tejas,” and one had the perfect evening. But there was more!

lostexmAfter they closed the show with upcoming single Mexico Americano, the crowd yelled for more:  “Otra! Otra!” Max re-plugged in his Bajo to the amp and the band seared through another hit single, Down in the Barrio, which ended with rockin’ solos from the all the band members, including:  Tio Baca and Nephew Baca, as well as Noel Hernandez-Bass; Daniel Martinez-Drums; and Fernando Martinez-Rhythm Guitar.

With each tune, the Bacas provided their own personal touch–a hot pasadita on the squeezebox, a bit of axemanship on the bajo. I’m looking forward to their next Houston visit.

Los Texmaniacs will be performing at SA’s newest venue, The Squeezebox, on Friday, July 22. Go check them out!

Here’s a live sample from a show at A Prairie Home Companion with Garrison Keiler.

DC Reviews: Intocable ~ Highway

intocablecoverNot releasing an album in three years did not hurt Intocable. Twenty-two years of music has allowed them to amass quite a catalog of hits–hits that make for memorable set lists that always get their sell-out crowds singing along.

Still, one always wonders what else Intocable can accomplish on a new album. They have achieved much in the studio and on the road, but their newest album, Highway, is a project that reminds us of Intocable’s versatility, the excellent songwriters they hang with, and why we always get excited about their “next album” taking too long to be released.

In an interview a few years ago, band leader Ricardo Muñoz stated that he may not be the best vocalist in the business, but his on-stage confidence is bolstered by having some of the best musicians in the business. Highway leaves no doubt about this, especially the bajo sexto creativity of Johnny Lee Rosas. While Rosas recorded the entire album, he recently left to sew his own creativity with a band he founded years ago, Masizzo. Nonetheless, his and Alex Gulmar’s bajo playing on Highway is the best I’ve heard on a a Norteño album.

Although the run-up to the album’s release came with online releases of some of the tunes over the course of a few weeks, the band had been riding on a powerful single penned by Louie Padilla, Tu Ausencia. In another interview, Muñoz stated that the tune was a strong reminder of the loss of his father a few years ago. Having lost my Mom 6 months ago, I must say that as I sing along  to it, I usually get a lump in my throat. Released with an excellent video, the next single and video was a lighter one with Quiereme (Amame), a cumbia.

Highway is definitely a journey of experiences and of emotions. It’s also one of Intocable’s darker recordings, perhaps a journey of their own experiences as a band and as individuals. From love to love hurting to love lost, the band seems to describe just about anything that any given individual has gone through. Tunes like Te Perdono, a ranchera, reveal the pain of love lost by setting standards by which one forgives–and they’re not easy standards:  “Te perdono si un dia traes a Dios hasta mi puerta; cuando vea que a tus ojos salen lagrimas de sangre…” One even feels the sadness of the acordeon.

Equally haunting is the ballad, En La Obscuridad, about moving forward after losing on love, but what remains are the thoughts that cloud one forever. That much is noticeable in the song’s extended musical ending with the haunting back-and-forth of the acordeon and what can only be described as mind-noise in the background.

Intocable also hits on an important social issue, the missing and murdered women of Juarez. Wilfran Castillo’s Dia 730 tells the story of a 17 year-old girl with dreams of becoming famous lured by a man offering opportunities of success only to go missing and probably murdered. This cause has been around for years and the lack of response (few arrests and convictions) continues to instill fear in Juarez. Thankfully, Intocable adds to this discussion, including the pain families go through and the ineffectiveness of law enforcement. It’s a powerful and descriptive tune.

The band also reminds me that they grew up in the same rock era as I did, and Un Dia Sin Ti and Duele El Amor, both rancheras, have tinges of rock guitar and drumming (by Rene Martinez) that effectively set up the songs. The signature Intocable cumbias are also evident, with Cuando Me Vi En Tus Ojos and Sueño de Amor providing some danceable treats.

Intocable also invites a guest lead vocalist, Beto Zapata, on Cuestion de Tiempo, which he delivers quite well. The album is well-rounded out with Cuidare, Usted Me Encanta, and Quiza No Sea Tarde, making this a musically diverse album.

Intocable is:  Ricky Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Felix Salinas, Alex Gulmar, Juan Hernandez, and familiar new entrant, Danny Sanchez.

You can find the new album on various online outlets, but also exclusively for sale at Wal-Mart. Kudos to Ricky and the crew on a great production. They keep proving that independently produced records are the best ones out there.

DC Reviews: Jay Perez ~ Un Amigo Tendras

jaypTejano crooner Jay Perez is back with his long-awaited release, Un Amigo Tendras. After riding the radio waves with the title track, a smooth sax-driven cumbia, we get to enjoy the other 11 tunes. That’s right–12 tunes on this Freddie Records release. Produced by Mario Ortiz, this new production really hits the spot.

Perez seems to be going for a more laid-back vibe on this release as one notices a different feel to the introductory ranchera, Cuentale De Mi. No, Perez hasn’t abandoned the formula he uses to produce music, but this CD seems to offer up a smoother R&B feel; especially on his rancheras. He Venido A Decirte is an acordeon- and bajo-fueled ranchera that is sure to be a favorite. Quiero Amarte, though, is that standard ranchera with which Perez has earned his reputation. Hasta El Fin Del Tiempo and El Adios Es Asi are both beautiful tunes, especially the latter with its slow acordeon intro. Perez also offers a re-make of a previous hit, Me Sigo Acordando, but with a mellow feel

Perez still has a knack for those smooth, R&B-laced cumbias and No Se Me Olvidan will rank as one of his best. Of course, Perez is also known for his powerful ballads and La Ultima Vez proves to be a beautiful anthem to love lost, along with Ya No Puedo Verte. Perez also returns to his country roots with You Shouldn’t Kiss Me Like This.

Perez and the band close strong with Tu Fiel Amante, which seems to be the next single on the production. The keys, acordeon, and a more than audible guitar give this ranchera a strong foundation.

Kudos to Freddie Records and to Jay Perez for offering up a classy production for the fan base. Always offering a great live show, there’s no doubt that these tunes will sound strong in a live set. Get your CD today through most online music stores.

 

DC Reviews: Stefani Montiel ~ La Dueña

stefanimontiel15Ever since the 90s, I’ve been a fan of Stefani. From her early hits like Celos and Por Que Soy Mujer, she has built a following and a career founded on a great voice and great music. Always willing to go the extra mile and try something new, she has stayed true to the Tejano genre. No doubt, her newest release, La Dueña, will rank up there among her greatest works.

Produced by Gilbert Velasquez at VMB Music, Stefani Montiel offers up some rancheras, lots of cumbias, and some beautiful ballads. Kicking off with a rockin’ intro, she leads us into Cumbia Fantasia, an acordeon-heavy vallenato styling based on sonic vocals. And if that tune doesn’t get you dancing, Loca Por Quererte will certainly get you on the dance floor; a ranchera in which she is backed up by David Lee Garza and in which Stefani lets loose on some high notes on the way to catchy chorus.

Earning radio play and popular in the DJ scene has been ¿Quien Quiere Shots?, a get-down-and-party cumbia. The ranchera, Mas Que Amigos, is definitely a hit with its harmonies and conjunto vibe. Other cumbia-rockers include Work and Delirio, which will definitely be dance-floor fillers. La Dueña brings us back to conjunto, the title-track being a proclamation of ones ownership of another’s love–it’ll be another favorite.

My personal favorite tune is Que Risa Me Das, which can only be called some sort of rock-ranchera fusion with its awesome acordeon and bajo sexto licks. It’s one of those insult tunes to a guy that deserves it.

Stefani slows it down with a classical-guitar and mariachi-backed ballad, Adios Adios Amor, in which she belts out the beautiful goodbye song. Si Fue Un Juego and Pero Why are a couple of catchy tunes with a cumbia groove. Agua Bendita is a haunting, slow flamenco-ish tune that many will enjoy. The big ending comes with a re-boot of Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, but in a bad-ass cumbia styling.

After listening to all the tunes more than once, I can honestly say that these 13-tracks (plus the intro) make up a full and diverse production for Stefani. There’s no doubt that she and her production team went all-out in creating something special that will be on constant rotation–at least on my MP3!

Get yours today!

 

DC Reviews…Chente Barrera ~ Un Nuevo Amor

Grammy award winner Chente Barrera is back with his newest full-length release. This time, he’s also turned into a music mogul of sorts after partnering with fellow Grammy winner Gilbert Velasquez and Jorge Marroquin to form VMB Music Group, which released Chente’s new album, Un Nuevo Amor.

The album is Chente’s 9th album in his 17 year solo career. Previously, he was the long-time drummer and backing vocalist for Jay Perez. In 2007, Chente won the Grammy for Best Tejano Performance for his album, Sigue El Taconazo.

The title track was released in 2015 as part of a VMB compilation featuring their artist line-up and has enjoyed some time on the charts and continues to be a fan favorite. With a horn-driven lead-up to some amazing lyrics, Chente delivers this ranchera as only he can.

The lead-off tune, No Me Vuelvo Enamorar, gives us an indication of the direction of the album–Totally Tejano. Or, as Chente tells, “It’s time to get up and get down!” The following tune should also be a radio and fan favorite as Chente teams up with Raulito Navaira on Los Dos Amantes.

Chente has never disappointed on cumbias and  Te Extraño Tanto and Mi Vaquerita will leave fans satisfied and toe-tapping.

Backed by the introductory strumming of a guitar, some acordeon and a horn section, Chente gives us a drinkin’ song in Nada Mas Te Digo Adios. Delivered with all the emotions a song like this should have, Chente makes this song his.

No doubt, Chente and his backing musicians are apt at delivering the ranchera style of Tejano music–whether it’s keyboard, acordeón-, or horn-driven. Ya No Te Aguanto, Solo, Si Tu Te Vas, and Apenas Te Conozco are prime examples of such songs. Solo is my personal favorite with its smooth guitar strumming (Gilbert V), acordeón solo, and it’s beautiful lyrics.

Of course, we’re also provided a treat with the classic, Aunque Mal Paguen Ellas, sung by Chente and Genaro Aguilar of Los Aguilares. Of course, Los Aguilares recently celebrated their 56th Anniversary in the music business.

DosCentavos gives a tip of the sombrero to Chente for this great album, as well as for the six tunes he penned. Get your copy this weekend at Club Area 45 where Chente will be featured along with Boni Mauricio and Tejano crooner Ram Herrera. You can also find it online at VMB Music.

DC Review: Ram Herrera ~ Mucho Mas Que Amor

ramherrera-muchomasqueamor1I’ve got to admit:  When I read the announcement that Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and Tejano great Chente Barrera partnered up to form VMB Music Group, I expected them to produce some amazing material, but Ram Herrera’s Mucho Mas Que Amor is one of those productions that has staying power.

What do I mean by staying power? Well, in the case of Ram Herrera, it brings back memories of his ’84 Dancebuster album and some of his 90s hey day productions–tunes that are still popular and make much of the crooner’s repertoire. The Tejano artist who got his start as the frontman for David Lee Garza y Los Musicales and made famous Cuatro Caminos still has the voice decades after hitting it big.

After being on big labels during the 90s hey day, he went through a few indie labels and finally arrived at VBM Music Group. I must say that this new production is among his best–from Track 1 on through to 11.

Kicking off with Eres Mi Todo, a standard ranchera, Herrera sets a foundation for the album–all Tejano. The acordeon-heavy Donde Estara will get one on the dance floor. The first single (and videoDC ) is Dime Si Estoy Loco, with a familiar Ram Herrera cumbia sound and with a pretty awesome guitar break.

With these tunes, the groove for the album is set, and the addition of a ballad (Yo Te Amo), another cumbia (Alejate), a country tune (I Wonder If She’s Still in San Antone), and some pretty powerful rancheras (Los Años being my personal favorite), and Herrera and his musicians knock it out of the park. With the help of some great acordeon and some powerful guitar breaks, Herrera’s latest should be a contender for a Grammy. That said, kudos must go to Grammy winning producer Gilbert Velasquez and VMB.

Yo Te Amo, with its trio style, backed by horns, is a beautiful ballad, while one particular ranchera made famous by Selena Amame Quiereme, was made available to Herrera who makes it his own. Rounding out the tunes are Te Necesito, Angel De Mi Querer, and Porque Dios Mio.

Already in demand, VMB released the album for digital download (I went to CDBaby.com), but it will be available for hard-copy orders on Tuesday, July 14. Get yours today! You will not be disappointed.

DC Reviews: David Lee Garza y Los Musicales ~ 2715

dlgnewDavid Lee Garza y Los Musicales recently released their 27th album in the year 2015, hence, the name of the album. Released on David Lee’s DLG Records, the album introduces new vocalist, Cezar Martinez, to David Lee Garza’s vast fan base.

The album also features guest vocalist and legend, the iron-throated Jessy Serrata. Also featured is Christian/Tejano vocalist Jorge David Marroquin.

Garza is known for launching the solo careers of numerous vocalists, including Ram Herrera, Emilio Navaira, Jay Perez, Marcos Orozco, and others, which is actually something of which he is proud. In an interview last year, Garza stated that he is always in search of a new vocalist, but not necessarily one with the legacy sound that put Los Musicales on the map. And Martinez is a vocalist with his own unique voice and able to deliver the tunes chosen for the album.

What hasn’t been lost is the legacy sound of Los Musicales. Te Compraron Con Dinero kicks off this ranchera-based album con ganas, but it is the first single, Traigan Mas Botellas, that sounds like something out of an 80s edition album–and that’s a good thing. Las Cosas Que Tiene La Vida, with its smooth latin intro, transitions into another danceable ranchera that will keep boots on the floor.

My favorite tune, thus far, is one I recall hearing on a Guti Ramirez album back in the 90s–La Apasionada. Con Dinero No comes a close second with its harmonies and musical change ups. Se Te Olvido, Secreto de Amor, and Sufre Sin Llorar round out Martinez’s debut, with the latter showing off some chops on the jazz organ.

Jessy Serrata, on his second project with David Lee, delivers on En El Jardin Del Amor. Marroquin joins the production on a beautiful Christian bolero tune, Si No Hablas Con Dios.

While Martinez gives us a strong performance and shows a lot of confidence with highs and lyric delivery, the main ingredient to Los Musicales has always been Los Musicales. They’re among the best musicians in the industry and have never disappointed on a production.

So, it’s about time everyone added another to their Tejano collection, and David Lee Garza’s 2715 needs to be at the top of the shopping list.

DC Review: Alianza Releases Latest Single, Video Today

Alianza releases their newest single, Todo De Mi, along with an accompanying video, today.

alianzaA danceable cumbia, Todo De Mi is not your standard tune. Most will recognize it as a Spanish version of John Legend’s, All of Me, and Alianza more than does the R&B hit justice with its own style and flavor.

The tune starts with a haunting intro on the bajo sexto and an accompanying slow-roll on the snare drum before taking off into its accordion-heavy cumbia rhythms. Jose Robles’ distinctive vocals and the harmonies help set this tune apart from others, especially the soaring voice on the chorus, a tough cumbia beat and some skillful bajo sexto playing.

Of course, there’s also the hot video that goes with the single.

Alianza was established in 2005 by Jose Robles (Accordion, Vocals); Arturo Robles (Drums); and Jose “Wicho” Escobar (percussionist). Rounding out the band are Michael Davila (Bass); and Oscar Calderon (Bajo Sexto). Over the years, Alianza has gained a following beyond Texas, thanks to two appearances on Sabado Gigante, as well as a 3rd place finish in an Univision Radio/Sabado Gigante battle of the bands.

By 2010, they released their first album, Hasta Una Eternidad. Today, Alianza and their fans celebrate the release of their newest single and its video on VEVO and YouTube, but you can purchase the song on iTunes on March 3.  A second single, Cruel, which is a Spanish version of Magic’s Rude, will be released in May.

The album was recorded at Urbana Recording Studios in Houston’s northside. Urbana is the studio and HQ of Tejano and international super group, La Mafia. The first two singles were recorded by Grammy award winning engineer Maria Gaucin, while the remainder of the album was engineered by La Mafia keyboardist/producer, Armando Lichtenberger, Jr., who has recorded top acts, such as Christian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, among others.

The video was directed by Juan Morin of JMPhotography, assisted by Omar Garcia and Servando Garza. The video stars model Rebecca Barrera.

Be on the look-out on iTunes for Alianza’s next big hits and their full-length album during 2015. Don’t forget that video on YouTube! And make sure to follow them on Facebook.


Hoy es el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video del grupo norteño Alianza entitulado Todo De Mi.

Una cumbia bailable, Todo de Mi no es cualquier cancion como es una traduccion del hit de John Legend, All of Me. Alianza le da al sencillo su mejor adaptacion con puro sabor.

La rola empieza con una introduccion de bajo sexto y con un rollo como de tambor militar antes de que empieza la acordeon y la voz. Jose Robles con su voz distinta y las harmonias separan esta cancion de otras que quizas estan en la radio, especialmente la voz creciente en el coro, un ritmo de cumbia con ganas, y el bajo sexto habil.

Pero no nos olvidamos del video calientisimo.

Alianza fue establecido el 2005 por Jose Robles, voz y acordeon; Arturo Robles, bateria; y Jose “Wicho” Escobar, percusiones. Ademas Michael Davila, bajo; y Oscar Calderon, bajo sexto forman parte de este grupo. Durante los años Alianza ha ganado fanaticos en todas partes de los estados unidos y Mexico con la ayuda de dos apariencias en el show de Sabado Gigante. Tambien ganaron el tercer premio en una batalla de bandas producidas por Univision Radio y Sabado Gigante.

El 2010 Alianza produjo su primer album Hasta Una Eternidad. Hoy, Alianza y sus fanaticos celebran el lanzamiento del nuevo sencillo y video y ademas podran descargar la cancion el 3 de Marzo por iTunes. El segundo sencillo, Cruel, es una traduccion de Rude por Magic que se enlaza en mayo.

Los sencillos y el nuevo album se grabaron en los estudios Urbana, cual es el estudio y sede del supergrupo La Mafia. Los sencillos fueron grabados por la ganadora del Grammy Maria Gaucin, y el resto del disco fue grabado por el tecladista de La Mafia Armando Lichtenberger, Jr, quien ha trabajado con Cristian Castro, Marc Anthony, Los Palominos, y otros.

El video fue dirigido por Juan Morin, asistido por Omar Garcia y Servando Garza. Modelando en el video fue Rebecca Barrera.

No se olviden de descargar los sencillos y el disco por iTunes. Y no se olviden visitar el Facebook de Alianza.

 

DC Reviews: The Mavericks ~ Mono

monoThe Mavericks are back with their supposedly sophomore album, Mono. Why, supposedly? Well, for a band that’s been around for 25 years, they’re hardly new in this game; if anything, their return to the scene in 2012 and with the release of In Time, they basically took off from where they left off. And Mono shows just how much more creative they can get, and with the full support of their record company, The Valory Music Co.

Why Mono? Some of my fellow Mavericks fans who are non-Latino were running the online translators trying to find out what their tour title meant, Mono Mundo. The vast majority asked, “Monkey World?” Well, Mono isn’t Spanish; if anything, it’s short for monaural; or, monophonic. In other words, not in stereo, or sound reproduced through a single (one) channel. The sound is simpler, more basic, but the music is all Mavericks. It’s a risk few are willing to take, which makes this album much more exciting.

Most impressive is that The Mavericks recorded this album in a week, recorded live, and with few overdubs to sweeten the sound. Still, the various instruments that make up the Mavericks sound are captured beautifully. From the get-g0, the bilingual Latin-tinged All Night Long soars, along with Raul Malo’s vocals. And speaking of voices, the R&B tune, What Am I Supposed To Do, with its beautiful harmonies, has become a fan favorite as the Mavs tested out several of these songs at the end of 2014.

A personal favorite of mine is (Waiting) For the World to End because the lyrics are fantastic. The clash of horns and instruments, though, make it one of the more powerful tunes on the album. As Raul Malo is quite the balladeer, Fascinate Me, gives him quite the workout as he reaches for uncharacteristic highs that few can achieve. The piano and acordeón accompaniment and horns come together awesomely.

The Mavericks, as always, go in different directions while staying true to their sound. Let It Rain is a folksy tune with Michael Guerra’s acordeon clearly audible. The blues tune, The Only Question Is, gives Malo another workout that is very appreciated. The rockin’ Stories We Could Tell and What You Do To Me will keep fans dancing in front of the stage.

As a bonus track, they give us Nitty Gritty, made popular by Doug Sahm.

12 tracks–all awesome. Get yours today! As always is the case with The Mavericks, you get de todo un poco (a little bit of everything). 

The Mavericks are about to embark on their Mono Mundo Tour (that’s One World), taking them across the US and Europe. They hit Houston on April 16, and I’m hoping they give us another 2 hours and 45 minutes of awesome.