Tag Archives: review

DC Reviews: La Santa Cecilia ~ Amar y Vivir

81ezh15i8xl-_sy355_Released just in time for their arrival to Texas, La Santa Cecilia’s Amar y Vivir can only be described in a word:  Special. It’s a visual album, with already a few videos of their album performances on YouTube.

It’s traditional, it’s modern, and it’s full of love and life. The LA band’s newest production was recorded live in Mexico City at various plazas and locations around the city. With invited guests, such as Comisario Pantera, Noel Schajris, Mariachi America, Rebel Cats, Caña Dulce Caña Brava, Mon Laferte, and the amazing voice of Eugenia León to sweeten the various tunes, we are given a musical effort that will remain timeless.

Equally timeless is the voice of La Marisoul (Marisol Hernandez) who seems to knock every tune out of the park. While the guest artists provide some beautiful accompaniment, La Marisoul provides the emotional push to ensure a strong delivery of the songs.

The title track, Amar y Vivir, a haunting bolero thanks to some exceptional electric guitar playing, opens the album, while the amazing vals, Odiame, follows, both tunes solidifying the requinto as central to the album. LSC resurrects an old favorite of theirs with a mariachi-powered version of Como Dios Manda. Mar y Cielo is a sweet bolero, while the rockin’ ranchera Mexico Americano is a needed prideful addition.

La Santa Cecilia also managed to send me into a bawling frenzy during this Mother’s Day weekend with a beautiful rendition of Amor Eterno. Needless to say, I really miss Flo.

Volver a Los 17 is a beautiful tune, while Mon Laferte joins in on a wonderful vals, Ingrata. Then, we’re provided quite the treat with Smokey Robinson’s  You Really Got A Hold On Me, which La Marisoul simply owns.

Leña de Pirul is an old standard brought to life again, while Nuestro Juramento is a a beautiful bolero that will get your toes tapping along with lyrics to make us shudder. But it’s the last track, En El Ultimo Trago, which La Marisoul duets with Eugenia Leon, that will get a concert crowd to sing-along.

No doubt, it’s the voice of La Marisoul and the requinto-playing of Pepe Carlos that set this album apart from others in which standards are attempted. With the simple instruments of guitars and requinto, percussion, and upright bass, a foundation is set for an album that treats the songs respectfully and without a need to be showy. La Santa Cecilia is a band of musicians who take their music seriously, and this genre-bending LA band can compete with the best of them.

The new production is available on CD and vinyl. Get yours today!

THE CONCERT at HEIGHTS

La Santa Cecilia came to Texas to perform in the Big 3– SA, Houston, and Dallas–and I was able to check out their show at the Heights Theater. It was the perfect venue for them and a great crowd greeted them on Saturday.

LSC started with their bilingual rendition of The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever, to which they once released a video depicting the travels of the strawberries that end up in our fridges–starting from the fields worked by farm workers. A few LSC favorites into the show, the crowd was told that Hernandez was feeling under the weather, so, she wouldn’t be doing her usual dancing and jumping on the stage which in itself revs up the crowd.

Still, La Marisoul powered through Vengo, I Won’t Cry For You, Sucede and other favorites, only taking a short minute break toward the end of their set. Their show included some of their latest tunes from Amar y Vivir, including the show closer, Mexico Americano, which earned some “Power to the People” fists in the air.

As much as one loves their albums, you can tell how good a band is through their live performances and La Santa Cecilia is just one of those bands. La Marisoul proved that the show must go on and she delivered vocal perfection. Catch them next time they’re in town.

Opening for La Santa Cecilia was San Antonio genre-benders Nicolas Valdez y Los Nahuatlatos. They can go from SKA to conjunto to cumbia and return to all three and more in one set. Valdez was quite impressive on the acordeon as was the horn and rhythm section.

I’m looking forward to the next time I catch both of these bands.

 

Advertisements

DC Reviews: Veronique ~Mi Año Dorado

Originally posted at TejanoNation.net.

veroniqueSome say that the Tejano music genre is in a struggle; others say it’s on an upswing. While our mainstays, like David Lee Garza, Jay Perez, Elida Reina and others keep at it, as fans, we need to seek out new talent for our hungry ears. AMI Records artist Veronique offers the sort of vocal talent that can just as easily join that group of mainstay artists to keep Tejano strong.

A few years after her debut album Encantadora, she has released her sophomore production, Mi Año Dorado, and, I must tell you, it’s an album that is exactly what we fans look for–de todo un poco. The RGV native and graduate of UT-Pan Am delivers on all kinds of tunes, including rancheras, cumbias, boleros, and mariachi-styled numbers.

Kicking off with a smooth Tejano cumbia, Te Entrego Mi Corazon, she leaves no doubt about how enjoyable the album will be. El Mas Grande de Mis Errores is one of those female empowerment tunes, acknowledging the mistake that a certain man is in one nice little tell-off–all in a rancherita to which one can zapatear. As real as that song is, La Pulga, another boot-stomping rancherita about having a date at a flea market, is as real as it gets. The more Norteña Su Mujer is just as danceable, with Veronique offering up some vocal range throughout the tune.

Cumbias are also the order of the day including a modern-styled Regresa A Mi, but it is Primer Amor which takes folks back to the sock-hop days with a 50s-esque intro and do-wop style. Fantasia, though, brings it back to the modern style and Vinyl Viernes takes us on a more tropical trip that includes some heavy percussion. Not lost, though, is Veronique’s full-voiced delivery.

Vete de Aqui and Blanco y Negro provide some acordeon-heavy boleros that show off Veronique’s range and abilities. But it’s the album-closer that will definitely be a fan favorite at live shows as the Mariachi-styled Sobrevivire will cause some mujer-led, grito-filled sing-a-longs.

Veronique Medrano’s career is definitely on the upswing as she has opened for major acts all over the state of Texas. Nominated for the Tejano Music Awards “Best New Female Artist” category, she is definitely being noticed. Down in El Magico Valle, she is also a co-host with Mando San Roman on Puro Tejano TV. And she’s about to embark on a Texas tour, which begins in Baytown on August 13. So, keep an eye out for her upcoming events on her website.

Thanks to John Henry Medina from Tejano Nation for putting Veronique on my radar. One can download Mi Año Dorado at CDBaby or buy the CD at Veronique’s website.

 

 

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: 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 Reviews: Intocable ~ XX ~ 20 Aniversario

I intocableremember it was 1995 at one of the big Tejano clubs in San Antonio. I took a night off from studying and made the trek from San Marcos to check out a young band that was gaining popularity. I had become an instant fan of Intocable when they released Fuego Eterno. Now, I got my chance to see them live and, man, did they tear the place up. It was like a rock show–lights, smoke, and yes, music.

Lead vocalist Ricky Muñoz gave the band his own voice and acordeón stylings and his band had their own sound. Norteño, yet with hard-driving drumming by Rene Martinez, tough bass lines, and a rock-tinged bajo sexto by Johnny Lee Rosas, it surely wasn’t your parents Ramon Ayala or norteño music. It shouldn’t be a surprise that a twenty year career has earned them millions of albums sold, sold out tours, seven Latin Grammys, and two Gringo Grammys, among other awards.

Twenty years later, the formula hasn’t changed, but they have pushed the envelope, whether through crossover anthems or through back-to-roots albums, or pop-flavored ballads. Twenty years later, they still sell-out huge venues in Mexico and the US–even taking their music to Colombia and Central America, and even The Greek in LA. And twenty years later, Intocable has given us the gift of a live album to celebrate their 20th anniversary.

Seldom do live albums take us from day 1 to today, but XX does. Starting with hits like Vete Ya, Parece Que No, and Coqueta, and on through Nos Falto Hablar and Culpable Fui, Intocable takes us through a career filled with memories and music–for the band and the listeners. Twenty live hits and an hour later it feels like one has gone through a powerful set.

The guys even add one de pilón; a cumbia titled Cajita de Carton.

Musically, the band is as tight as ever, even adding a second bajo sexto years ago to strengthen the sound. Listening to the old hits played by today’s Intocable standards is a treat that all will enjoy.

Anyway, it’s a must buy for the collection.

2015 will be a huge year for Intocable as they hit the road all over the country, but a few tour stops caught my eye:  2/13- Minneapolis; 2/27 – South Bend, IN; 2/28 – Detroit; March 1 – Queens, NY; March 21 – Bolivia. Hope the guys say hello to Evo Morales for me.

Intocable is:  Ricardo Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Johnny Lee Rosas, Juan Hernandez, and guest bajo, Alejandro Gulmar.

Track List:

1. Vete Ya
2. Parece Que No
3. Coqueta
4. Y Todo Para Que?
5. Llevame Contigo
6. Eres Mi Droga
7. Donde Estas?
8. Amor Maldito
9. Fuerte No Soy
10. Estas Que Te Pelas
11. Ensename A Olvidar
12. Suena
13. Eso Duele
14. Aire
15. Alguien Te Va A Hacer Llorar
16. Por Ella
17. Tu Adios No Mata
18. Robarte Un Beso
19. Nos Falto Hablar
20. Culpable Fui (Culpable Soy)
21. Cajita De Carton

DC Reviews: Gary Hobbs ~ Live From New West

Still riding high after over 30 years on the road, Tejano crooner Gary Hobbs, offers his fans a live album recorded at Dallas’ New West Night Club.

Full of hits from the 90s heyday of Tejano music, these remain on his nightly playlist. Hobbs hasn’t lost that golden voice and always has good musicians to back him up.

ghobbsThe CD kicks off with recent hit, Por Ti, and includes some acordeon-heavy tunes, like Tres Rosas and Buscando Un Amor. Gary Hobbs loyalists will never forget Las Miradas, Amame y Besame, Maldito Amor, and Vas A Pagar. Hobbs adds three memorable cumbias with Te Vas A AcordarPor Favor Corazon and Chiquitita, Chiquitita, which have always been fan favorites.

Thrown in from the 80s was one of my personal favorites, Diferentes.

Hobbs has remained a tried and true Tejano music ambassador, always staying true to the genre and taking it across the country. No doubt he’ll keep fighting to keep Tejano music alive and kicking.

This is definitely a collector’s item for loyal Gary Hobbs fans. Personally, I’ve been a fan since the early 80s. I’m willing to admit that at one time, I owned the 45 rpm of Contigo Aprendi when the band was called Brando Mireles and the Hot Sauce Band featuring Gary Hobbs. But that’s for another blog post.

Get yours today! It’s even on iTunes!

 

 

DC Review – The Mavericks at House of Blues

Well I sure did enjoy another energetic, well-performed concert by The Mavericks at House of Blues-Houston. Opening with early hit, Tell Me Why, tossing in hits from throughout their 25-year career, adding some hits from their latest, “In Time,” and as we say in South Texas, adding a few other non-Mavs oldies “de pilon,” The Mavericks once again proved why they are one of the most versatile bands out there.

DSC01230

Raul Malo fronts The Mavericks at HOB

Song after song had a crowd of over 1,500 loyalists dancing, singing along, and shouting their support. And as good as the band is, the crowd seems to energize the band as much as the band energizes the crowd. When it comes to The Mavericks, it really is a people’s band. And that was perhaps the best experience of the evening–the Mavericks fans.

I arrived early and stepped into the HOB restaurant for a beer. The crowd there was mostly loyalists, and a couple of ladies sat with me at my table while I waited to close my tab. Right off the bat, one of the ladies goes into her Mavericks story and how she’d only been a fan for a year or so, but that “In Time” had really helped her through some rough times in her life. Music does soothe the soul, and Mavericks music is probably best for it.

Later on, when I was finally inside the venue, another fan who came in from LaFayette, LA and brought his friends from The Woodlands gave me his Mavericks story. He had been a fan for years and just felt they were the best band in existence, given front man Raul Malo’s unequaled vocals. He had seen them in LaFayette, came to Houston, and looked forward to seeing them at the New Orleans Jazz Festival later this Spring.

Of course, there’s my local friend Jesse who brought his two kids to their first Mavericks concert. From his reports on Facebook, they loved it. I hear they are also big fans of Mavericks squeezebox specialist Michael Guerra. But it just goes to show that the Mavericks attract all ages and backgrounds.

Another friend, Javier and his wife came to enjoy the concert, not realizing the straight 2 1/2 hour concert would have so much music. Javier, though, did recall seeing the Mavs 20 years ago at Billy Bob’s Texas during his TCU days.

And on the way to the elevator after the show, there was a gentleman in a wheelchair just enamored with the band. He had gotten his first glimpse and listen of the Mavericks from their recent PBS special. He was filled with excitement after the show. I expect he’ll be at more concerts in the future.

So, I could go into a long, drawn-out review trying to remember as much of the set-list as possible. (They did play a lot of music!) Eddie is still is the best guitarist out there. Paul still drums like a beast. McFadden still tickles them ivories oh so well. The horn section which includes Max Abrams on the sax still wails. Michael Guerra is still a squeezebox master. Robert is still the funny guy and strummer. Filling that bass line quite well is Jay Weaver. And Raul Malo still mesmerizes the crowd with some amazing vocals.

That said, a good mix of the new and old is what folks in Austin, Fort Worth, Helotes and the rest of the cities in the tour should expect. Go check ’em out! And if you haven’t purchased “In Time,” get it!

 

DC Reviews ~ Intocable – En Peligro De Extincion

Wow!

That was my initial reaction to the intro to the first track, Nos Falto Hablar. With its obvious rock influences throughout the track, its soaring vocals and harmonies, it became obvious that Intocable had come up with something special for their new CD, En Peligro de Extincion (Universal Music).

The rock intros continue in the cumbia, Como Se Fue Ella, with a bold, tough beat offered through serious drum and percussion beats, this track offers some excellent lyrics. The ranchera Decidimos (Bien o Mal) has a smoother intro,  which immediately turns into a “rola bien Intocable” with its own rock influences evident in its hard drumming and pasadas on the bajo sexto.

Continue reading