Category Archives: Reviews

La Santa Cecilia’s Quierto Verte Feliz is Unleashed

Grammy-winning La Santa Cecilia has been slowly releasing singles from their now unleashed album for a while. And those tunes have definitely kept us happy, with cumbias like Ella Me Enamoro, Estrellita, and the Lila Downs-assisted title track. And although they’ve thrown in a couple of sweet and heavy ballads, this is definitely a cumbia album.

Another big hit will be the huanpanguito collabed with salsero Luis Enrique, Solo En Mis Sueños. That dude still has an amazing voice and complements LSC’s La Marisoul quite well.

Like many of us, La Santa Cecilia has gone through the pandemic as well as they could, and like many of us, they have been quite creative. For the band, though, it was the personal tragedies of a few of the members losing parents over the last couple of years that helped them create Siempre Estoy Pensando En Ti. The ballad, with beautiful vocals, string arrangements, and a soulful guitar solo really brings the message home of missing a loved a one.

Always sending a variety of messages, LSC gives us the powerful, Hierba Mala, which serves as a reminder to avoid the bad seeds out there that grow into hierba (weeds) in our lives, thus affecting, well, everything. The song shifts from cumbia to strings and back to cumbia with ease. On the other side of that feeling is the haunting slow cumbia, Cumbia de la Soledad, which sends a message of wanting one who left.

The ballad, Luz, has painful lyrics and soaring guitar and requinto, but it is the emotional output of La Marisoul that brings out ones emotions, as well. Sort of like she did with her rendition of Amor Eterno on previous album.

La Santa Cecilia’s eight-track album is fire! As I told them yesterday in a chat, it’s on heavy rotation in my car while driving Houston traffic. To find out that its band members (Marisoul, Pepe, Alex, and Oso) wrote and arranged the entire album is no surprise as not only do they create good music, but they reproduce it live to perfection. And they will be in a town or city near you soon.

You can purchase it on various online venues, and it is available on YouTube and Spotify, too. Get it. You will not be disappointed.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

Time to load up that playlist, again. There are some new singles that will soon be inching up the charts in the Tejano genre. Here are a few.

Jay Perez – Para Volvernos Amar – This tune is a soon-to-be Joe Revelez penned classic. Perez’s soaring vocals, particularly during the chorus, are exceptional. His musicians provide a fat bass line and a classic sound that Perez has stuck with throughout his solo career. Give it a listen. The R&B harmonies are amazing, too.

Chente Barrera – Senorita Cantinera – As previously posted, Chente recently released an homenaje to the legendary Primo, Roberto Pulido y Los Clasicos. All those Pulido classics some of enjoyed on our sister’s 8-track player are on this release. And Senorita Cantinera is still a classic as Chente powers through through highs, much like Pulido did in the 70s.

La Fiebre – Cuidala – I had previously added this one to the playlist, but now, it has an on official video from Freddie Records. With it’s tough horns, melodic acordeon, and that sweet rhythm guitar, it’s a tune worthy of a Latin Grammy nom. And the whole album was nominated. Check out the vid.

Tacho’s Sabado Playlist

I just added some great tunes to my playlist for all those drives around Houston. Add them to yours for your listening pleasure.

Chente Barrera – Amor Ingrato – Chente just released a tribute album dedicated to the legendary Roberto Pulido. The special thing about it is that Chente and his band Taconazo stayed true to Pulido’s Clasicos sound. The acordeon, the saxes, and the higher octave vocals are just mind-blowing. Of course, I’ve always been a fan of Barrera’s. Amor Ingrato is one of Pulido’s hits from the late 80s and Barrera sings it with the legend himself.

Little Joe y La Familia – Hernandez Brothers – Little Joe dropped a pretty good album of redone classics featuring himself and his brothers Rocky and Gilbert. Especially in the studio, La Familia is a precision-based horn band and they do not disappoint. For this playlist, I’ll post this tune featuring Rocky and Gilbert, Ingratos Ojos Mios. Recorded long ago by Little Joe, Johnny y La Familia, this is one of my faves on the album, as well as Pajarillo Barranqueño, with Rocky on lead vocals.

Latin Grammy Tejano Noms Are Out

On page 19 of 36 of the press release, one will find the nominees for Best Tejano Album for 22nd Annual Latin Grammys. Some of the nominees I have heard of, others not so much. I had to test out the music to see if they fit the definition of Tejano. Here are the noms:

El Plan – Pa’ La Pista y Pal Pisto. El Plan appears to be a Monterrey-based band which gives its own sabor to la music Tejana. In fact, Monterrey loves Tejano and brings the best bands to perform at some of their major clubs. A sample of El Plan’s abilities include a medley collab with Bobby Pulido of hits La Rosa and Flecha Envenenanda. Good job.

Ram Herrera – Back on Track. Ram Herrera’s newest project has had quite a few singles, including Te Traicione and Tu Eres. Also included is a remake of his David Lee Garza-era hit, Especialmente Para Ti. It’s a pretty good album that keeps one on their toes. Produced under an indy label, Ram stays committed to an ever-evolving style that put him on the map in the 80s.

La Fiebre – Historico. Based at Freddie Records, the Pride of Pasadena, TX, La Fiebre, is one of the 90s hey-day Tejano hair bands that can still rock a joint. Seriously, some of their tunes can put a rock band to shame with their tough sound. Historico is a well-produced album that experiments with different sounds–rock, Tejano, conjunto, cumbia–all with a big horn-based sound. Two hit singles include Cuidala and Mendigo.

Solido – Incomparable. I would have expected Solido to be in the Regional Mexican category because of their accordian-based music. But, whatever. They are here and they have a strong sound that is reproduced live quite well. Hits on this album include Todavia No Sabe and Si Fuera Facil. The album is produced under the Good I Record label, owned by the good folks at Grupo Intocable.

Vilax – Un Beso Es Suficiente. Now, Vilax I had never heard of, but with a combo of keyboard, bajo sexto, and acordeon, as well as a female vocalist, they may have gotten into the genre under the radar. The title track is a standard cumbia, but a recent ranchera single, a collab of a tune of music’s past, with Alicia Sifuentes, Cosas Del Amor, has a Norteño sound and not even close to Tejano. But I don’t work at the Latin Grammys, and the debate about what constitutes Tejano has a mind of its own.

Click on the links for the songs on youtube.

At this point, I’m rooting for La Fiebre and Ram, with El Plan as honorable mention for a good effort by a Monterrey-based band attempting Tejano-stylings. La Fiebre’s is a full-fledged and professional production that seems to have pulled out all the stops in the studio. Ram Herrera’s is a truly Tejano production that gives one that vibe one feels dancing vueltas at a local ballroom where Tejano music has its roots.

For true Tejano fans, the debates will continue. Perhaps the Grammy folks need to listen before they kill the genre.

We shall see how the academy votes.

Tacho’s Playlist Sabado

Time for some new music to add to the playlist. Enjoy!

La Santa Cecilia – Estrellita – LSC dropped a new tune and video, Estrellita. The video for this cumbia was filmed in Oaxaca and will get one dancing and toe-tapping. Check it out.

Lucky Joe – Me Caiste Del Cielo – From his album, Norteño y Poderoso, filled with classic tunes del pasado, Lucky Joe drops this video of this Cornelio Reyna jewel.

Avizo f/ MarQuell – Te Quiero Te Quiero – Avizo’s latest album, Marching On, highlights the talents of various vocalists. On this Jose Alfredo Jimenez tune, it’s MarQuell’s turn. Of course, we remember him as Mark Ledesma, the former lead vocalist of David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, and now one of the frontpersons of LaDezz. I love what they did with this tune–the horns are amazing.

Tacho’s Playlist Saturday

It’s time for another edition of Tacho’s Playlist Saturday where I highlight some of the newest stuff that has appeared on my radar recently. The music can be Tejano, Onda Chicana, Norteno, Americana, or just about anything that I happen to like. So, here is what I like this week:

Demmi Garcia – Con Tu Amor (f/ David Lee Garza)- Demmi Garcia is an accomplished young vocalist who is showing up on various radars. This ranchera is danceable, no doubt, but her vocals are impressive. That shouldn’t be too surprising because of her family music background, as well as achieving a good foundation with her studies at Berklee College of Music. Anyway, watch out for this sensation, who also appeared on Avizo’s newest album with Aventura De Mi Vida. So, you get a two-fer from Demmi.

David Farias – Por Que Quiero Enamorarme De Ti – The legendary David Farias, founding member of Los Hermanos Farias and Tropa F, continues earning airplay from his first solo album with Freddie Records. He dropped this new cumbia a few weeks ago with its Farias legacy sound, yet in tune to today’s music needs.

The Mavericks – Por Ti – One of my fave groups released a bonus track for their En Espanol album, which has gained much cross-cultural attention. The Mavs are also touring on this latest album released at the start of the pandemic. A little back story: The original English version titled For You was released on one of Malo’s solo albums before The Mavericks reunited in 2012. I love this version, though, with the powerful horn section and the squeezebox magic of Michael Guerra.

QEPD – Ruben Cubillos

There were some good articles and tributes posted yesterday for Ruben Cubillos, Tejano Music advocate, graphic/visual artist, and performer, who passed away over the weekend. I never got to meet him, but I knew and appreciated his work. We also became FB friends and I partook of some of the intense and productive conversations he would start on the state of the Tejano Music genre.

Regarding articles, check out Tejano Nation and Joey Guerra’s piece in the Chron. My FB friend and Austin PR exec Paul Saldana also had one on FB.

If you’ve ever bought a Selena tee, poster, album, or anything with her logo, you owe it to Ruben Cubillos. Ruben put Tejano music imagery on the map, developing concepts and images for Tejano music album covers when the big record companies were finally investing in the genre in the early 90s. Bands like Mazz, David Lee Garza y Los Musicales, and Selena enjoyed his top-notch and creative concepts, which added much value to their albums.

Along with his professional PR career and his career as a vocalist with the legendary Latin Breed, he was also an advocate. Always willing to offer up some advice to up and coming musicians, he never candy coated it. He was quite honest, especially when it came to how a band should develop their image. Especially during the forced break during the pandemic. But he was also an advocate.

Ruben was one of the leaders of those demanding the HoustonRodeo bring back Tejano music acts after it decided to concentrate on regional Mexican and banda acts. Beyond this, the protests were also about pay parity for Latino acts, equity in distribution of scholarships given from the thousands of dollars made from sold out concerts, and more diversity in rodeo committees. Well, Tejano is still missing from the line-ups, the undocumented are still passed over for scholarship money, even though that’s who attends the banda music concerts, but the message was sent to the rodeo people and Ruben was one of the chief advocates. All the rodeo people did was whine that anyone would complain.

Anyway, Ruben was one of the good ones in an industry that has historically been taken advantage of by corporatism, whether it came from Miami-owned radio stations, LA-based record companies, or corporations who used it to make a buck. When the profits slowed, the genre was cut-off and left to die. But much was learned and the music and culture continues. And Ruben is one of the reasons it continues.

Gracias, Ruben.

New Tunes For Your Playlists

When there is new music I like, whether it’s Tejano, Americana, Rock, or anything, I’ll try to share it on the weekend. A few tunes came out this week that caught my ear. They are already on heavy rotation in my car. Click on the link on the song title to give it a listen. [Figured out how to add the vid, too!]

Intocable – The Zapata-based group released a new tune this week. Jamas Te Soltare is a country-esque danceable ranchera-like tune.

Los Lobos – The boys from LA released an album of covers–an ode to the city of their birth. Native Sons takes us to different places with various tunes made famous by LA bands and musicos. One of my faves is the samba, Los Chucos Suaves, written by Lalo Guerrero. Los Lobos add an original tune, Native Son, written by their own Louis Perez which sums up LA, especially in their video.

La Santa Cecilia (f/ Lila Downs) – That other group from LA offers up a nice cumbia featuring the powerful vocals of La Marisoul and Lila Downs. The accompanying video filmed in Oaxaca offers up some fun, as well as a twist at the end.

Daniel Valdez, David Hidalgo, Eugene Rodriguez – Los Siento Mi Vida is a beautiful trio-style break-up song written by Linda Ronstadt and her father. You might recognized Daniel as Ritchie’s cool uncle on La Bamba (and also co-founder of Teatro Campesino), David from Los Lobos, and Eugene from the band and cultural education nonprofit, Los Cenzontles. Enjoy!

The Newest in Tejano Music

Obviously, if you need the best day-to-day news about Tejano music and culture, you should visit Tejano Nation. But I have my favorites, too, and some of those faves have been releasing new material. Here are a few that hit my radar (and Spotify playlist):

Jay Perez – The Voice is back with an amazing production, El Maestro. Along with that voice is a team of musicians and songwriters who helped put together something to enjoy from start to finish. The first single, Eres, is a Perez-penned tune that keeps that legacy sound we all expect. Cumbias, like Mi Duena and Aun Te Extrano give Perez a whole new dimension, but it is Norteno-lite tunes like Juan Trevino’s Ya Se Fue and Entiendo that will surely expand his audience into Mexico. My fave, though, is the Joe Revelez-composed Para Volvernos Amar, with Jay’s soaring vocals. It’s a must-have!

La Fiebre – Speaking of legacy sound, The Pride of Pasadena continues to offer up that rock-tinged Tejano sound with Historico. The trumpets are as strong as ever, backed up by strong bass lines, guitar rhythms and powerful drumming. The first single, Mendigo, written by the legend Freddie Martinez, Sr., gives you that Borracho de Besos feel, while their newest single, Cuidala, takes you back to that No Cure era where the sound really took off. Cumbias like Mira, with its rock guitar and soaring trumpets should definitely become a crowd favorite.

Gary Hobbs, David Marez, Joe Posada – Onda Chicana big band, La 45 (produced by Mike Torres, III and John Ontiveros) back up three vocal legends of la Onda Tejana on this Hector Gutierrez-penned tune, Querida. Each voice has its own quality that, when put together, creates something special. The only question: Where’s the rest of the album and tour? And, yes, Posada provides some excellent sax riffs and solos.

Shelly Lares – What is said to be her final album as she heads into retirement, LMD82 celebrates Lares’ 40 years in La Onda Tejana. Little Miss Dynamite explodes with some horn-driven rancheras and cumbias. Salsipuedes spent most of the pandemic earning airplay, as well as Por Amor. Enamorada, though, seems to be my fave. The album offers up multiple samples of her genre-defying versatility, including a duet with David Marez (Mi Persona Favorita) and a quartet, the mariachi-backed, Nada De Ti, featuring Lares and up and coming female vocalists, Sonja de la Paz, Monica Saldivar, and Demmi Garcia. The newest trio-version of Mil Besos is a treat, too. In conclusion, Don’t Retire Shelly!

All of these are available on all platforms, but give a musician a lift and buy the tunes!

DC Reviews: The Mavericks – En Español

For tried and true fans of The Mavericks, En Español has been a long-awaited work. Since their founding, The Mavericks have offered up some Spanish tunes belted out by their leader, Raul Malo, at their performances. More than a few times, fans have asked them when a Spanish-language album would be released. Well, it’s here and it doesn’t disappoint.

Their live playlist is so diverse that they are considered multi-genre (and Americana) with performances sprinkled with country, tex-mex, cuban, rock, jazz, and other rhythms, which says a lot about their collective musicianship. Whether it’s the dueling guitars of Malo and LA-born guitarist Eddie Perez, the tickled ivories of Jerry Dale McFadden, or the diverse drumming of Paul Deakin, or their sidemen, they can play anything–sometimes, at a moment’s notice.

En Español is an eclectic mix of Latin rhythms and American sounds that only The Mavericks could put together in an honest and sincere fashion. Songs of love and heartbreak abound on this collection, as well as Cuban folk and classic ones from another time.

Classic songs, such as La Sitiera, Sombras, Mujer, and Sabor A Mi are already well-known at their concerts and previous Raul Malo solo works. Yet, they’re given a new and bold flavor that fills ones ears and hearts.

The first single, Poder Vivir, a ska-ish-tinged song backed by the sweet accordion sound of Michael Guerra, has already been making the rounds on radio and various other platforms. In fact, it’s already reached the top of some Tejano music charts, which shows their ability to penetrate markets beyond their usual audience. Recuerdos features that signature Mavericks sound that has fans swaying at their concerts.

Another favorite tune is the danceable (for us Tex-Mex folk)  Julia Iglesias tune, Me Olvide de Vivir, along with the mariachiesque No Vale La Pena, made famous by Juan Gabriel and given quite the squeezebox assist by the legendary Flaco Jimenez and the trumpets of Julio Diaz and Lorenzo Molina. Another cover is a Spanish-version of Englebert Humperdink’s Man Without Love, Cuando Me Enamoro.

But it’s the haunting and heart-wrenching Pensando En Ti, backed by the requinto and the accordion, that will have one thinking about love lost and searching for a drink. Finally, they offer up some Cuban folk music with the Celia Cruz tune, Pinar del Rio, in case you haven’t danced enough.

NPR has a great article on some Mavericks history and the process of making this album, as does TejanoNation. My FB friend Hector Saldaña at the Express-News delves into it, too.

En Español is available on all platforms, but, since bands aren’t touring, drop them a few bucks and buy the album and their merch at their website.

Also, The Mavericks will be performing a live, pay-per-view concert at Nugs.tv on Saturday, August 22, featuring the new material from En Español. As I’ve always said, any Mavs performance is an experience, even from the comfort of your own couch.