Ay, caramba!
June 11, 2008 5:00 PM   Subscribe

I've been developing a taste for Mexican/border music.

I'm familiar with stuff like the Texas Tornados, Flaco Jimenez, Freddy Fender and a few other acts who have crossed over to rock or country success. I've also read Elijah Wald's book Narcocorrido which talks about the genre. I also know from my time working at a music database company that there are a bewildering array of artists and subgenres involved here.

I should stress that I'm not looking for 'world music' type stuff here. I'm looking for what you'd hear on a bar jukebox in border country. Give me some artists to hunt down. Extra points for narcocorridos.
posted by jonmc to Media & Arts (20 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Los Tigres Del Norte are huuuuuuuuuuge.

Note that the song form you're probably enjoying the most is basically just called "corrido". "Narcocorridos" are more specifically songs of that form with drug trafficking as the subject matter.

From the Narcocorrido wikipedia article: Among the most popular groups that performed such songs were Los Huracanes del Norte, Los Inquietos Del Norte, Los Morros Del Norte, Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Los Amos De Nuevo Leon, Los Cuates De Sinaloa, El Potro de Sinaloa, Los Originales de San Juan, Grupo Exterminador, Tigrillo Palma, Beto Quintanilla, Los Gatos de Sinaloa, Los Canelos de Durango, and Los Razos de Sacramento y Reynaldo. For some of these groups, the narcocorrido was only one of many song styles utilized; others specialized in narcocorridos almost exclusively.
posted by LionIndex at 5:19 PM on June 11, 2008

Further explanation, just to be extremely pedantic: note that most of the bands listed in the wiki article have "del norte" or something similar in their names. It's probably pretty obvious, but that means "of/from the North" in Spanish, meaning that the bands note in their names that they're from the border region, where most drug trafficking takes place, running drugs through Tijuana or other border towns with the Arellano Felix cartel (and others, now that they've been taken down). Sinaloa is a state on the mainland part of Mexico, just south of Sonora (just south of Arizona), that's home to a large port on the Gulf of California (Topolobampo/Los Mochis). A significant raliway runs from that port into the Sierra Tarahumara to the east in the state of Chihuahua, where a significant amount of drugs (pot, mostly) are produced.
posted by LionIndex at 5:28 PM on June 11, 2008

To enable your quest, it's also known as 'Conjunto.' There was a great PBS documentary about it a while back -- link here.
posted by mudpuppie at 5:35 PM on June 11, 2008

Singing corridos, though, would appear to be a high-risk job category! A lot of the folks you want to listen to, jonmc, may well be dead already. Fortunately, recordings, like diamonds, are forever.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:39 PM on June 11, 2008

Please do us all a favor and music blog the daylights out of this project of yours.
posted by caddis at 5:41 PM on June 11, 2008

And hey, jonmc, check out this YouTube clip. After the introduction (a capsule explanation of some drug gang goings-on south of the border) there's a tune (great singer!) about loyalty to the Los Zetas gang, with handy English translation. "...united like family, we are the force with degrees in suicide!"
posted by flapjax at midnite at 5:52 PM on June 11, 2008

In addition to looking for corridos, look at the genres of norteño and banda. That's the raunchy music you'll hear on a good jukebox -- groups like Los Tucanes de Tijuana, Tigres del Norte, Coyote y su Banda, etc. (Here's a great song by Coyote y su banda; and here's one by los Tucanes with the narco connection you seem to be looking for; and lots of the Tigres songs have that narco thing going on -- example; another.). And if you like norteño and banda, see if you like Mexican cumbia -- it has the same accordian-heavy sound, but a different mix of instruments and a different beat. Try Celso Piña first, and if you like his music work from there. Here's a youtube video of one of his songs that I really like. Lots of northern Mexico cumbia has that same narco/bad-boy/violence/sex/grittiness that the good narcocorridos have.

If you are willing to look a little further south, great artists like Paquita de la Barrio and Vicente "Chente" Fernandez laid foundations that you can hear in some of the groups I linked above.

And there are a bunch of groups like Molotov that inflect that border sound with a punk sensibility, if your tastes go that way.
posted by Forktine at 6:06 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

sleepy pete did a very interesting post on Valentin Elizalde a while ago, you might want to check that out.

Something that might help you find very good stuff beyond the usual famous names is searching for Banda (banda music or música de banda, as it is called in Mexico), which is the music that those insane Mexican brass bands play. You'll find from the outrageously honey dripping cheesy stuff to the famous narcocorridos.
posted by micayetoca at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2008

Forgive me for making a comment here which isn't a direct answer to jonmc's original question, but I just wanted to mention something that's occurred to me at various times in the past: a lot of the Mexican brass band music has much in common with German "oom-pah" brass band music, which I guess always struck me as a little bit odd and unexpected.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:28 PM on June 11, 2008

That's not odd at all, FJ@MN, check this out. I own it, it's fun.
posted by jonmc at 6:31 PM on June 11, 2008

An explanation about why the "oom-pah" sound is in Tejano, Norteno (imagine a tilde over the N, please), and Conjunto music, with music samples.

Have you tried Emilio Navaira?

Texas has a huge number of radio stations that play these many genres of music. You might try some of them that offer streaming music over the Internet, to get a real taste for what's out there.
posted by Houstonian at 6:52 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

Hey, jon and Houstonian, thanks!
posted by flapjax at midnite at 7:06 PM on June 11, 2008

El Parche the Jimmy Hendix of accordian, tejano Esteban Jordan.
posted by hortense at 7:10 PM on June 11, 2008

Flapjax, I think this is the amazing thing about Metafilter. I guy from Alabama (according to your links?) living in Japan, can talk with a New Yorker and a Texan about the German and Czech influences of Mexican border music. Something about that is very special.
posted by Houstonian at 7:12 PM on June 11, 2008 [3 favorites]

Just heard the group Quetzal (apparently, "East L.A. fusion rockers") on Studio 360 this past weekend. You can listen to their performance here (scroll down).
posted by GardenGal at 7:19 PM on June 11, 2008

I love this thread!

This may be off base but I'd like to suggest Los Skarnales. They are an insane fun hybrid of Mexican, Texas, rockabilly and ska to name just a few. Very fun stuff. There's some other fun stuff out there along that line of Mexican punk.

I'll second Molotov too. I love that song.

Also: La Tropa F out of San Antonio, Raymundo Chaidez, or maybe Eddie Gonzalez. I wish a knew more names for you. I am spoiled where I live, surrounded by juke boxes of tejano/conjunto/Mexican pop music as well as my neighbor's car stereo on Sunday afternoon. I should pay attention more. Enjoy your journey.
posted by dog food sugar at 8:40 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you want to get into that whole Latin ska thing, you need to check out La Maldita Vecindad, with their biggest hit Pachuco, as well as Inspector, with Amargo Adios, and Panteón Rococó with La Dosis Perfecta and La Carencia. Latin ska is kind of different from normal ska, but I like it a lot, it's uncompromising party music. Enjoy with cold dark(ish) Mexican beer, like Victoria or Indio.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 8:57 PM on June 11, 2008 [2 favorites]

Oh, and I worked on that Molotov video. I like it, but I think their first album is hard to beat. Try Gimme tha power, Chinga tu madre, or Cerdo.

But some of their newer stuff is good too. I especially like Frijolero.
posted by Joakim Ziegler at 11:08 PM on June 11, 2008 [1 favorite]

The best overview CD of a wide range of border music is Smithsonian/Folkways Borderlands: From Conjunto to Chicken Scratch
posted by fourcheesemac at 3:48 AM on June 12, 2008

Personally, I'm more of a Banda Sinaloense fan. You might also want to read Helena Simonett's Banda: Mexican Musical Life Across Borders.
posted by billtron at 7:35 PM on June 12, 2008

« Older It's So Shiny, Now If Only It Worked   |   Font identification Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.