Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

La Nueva Rebelion – Me Hicieron Mas Fuerte

From Josh, a norteño band and some words on everyone’s favorite critical topic…


Josh Langhoff: 1) La Nueva Rebelión rocks harder than most rock bands. I apologize for writing that. I intended to broaden the canon and poke a stick into rockist eyes, but instead I ended up using “rock” as a verb. 2) Why do we still do that? Is rock music still central to anything? Why doesn’t anyone say rockers “out-norteño most norteño bands” when they sing about vengeance and hardscrabble origins and that that don’t kill them making them stronger? For that matter, why don’t we say it of Kanye or Kelly? (“Norteño isn’t a verb!” shouts my Mom, but you know what I mean.) The usual suspects — “rockism,” privilege, most music writers not knowing Spanish — can’t explain why my “out-norteño” formulation feels so unlikely. Turning to norteño to make sense of other pop music? Unimaginable! 3) Look, certain segments of the critical population really want Arcade Fire to be a disco band, and I can well imagine some careless strawman critic saying they “out-disco most disco bands.” I can even imagine (I don’t have to imagine!) someone explaining an English-language song as “more K-pop than K-pop.” Disco and K-pop have both “rocked harder than most rock music” on occasion, but they’ve also opened themselves to pillage by other genres. 4) So if rock’s no longer central, if all these different genres are out there grabbing at one another, my question becomes: Why is norteño still so peripheral to the music crit corpus? The answer may be self-sustainability: musically and commercially, norteño bands are doing just fine, thanks, and they don’t need to make concessions to a mystified potential audience. 5) Yet here we have La Nueva Rebelión playing rock music, clearly and without ambiguity. Sure the song’s a waltz. Sure the lead instrument’s an accordion instead of a guitar, but listen to the sloppy virtuosity, the way accordion and bajo sexto don’t quite line up but still keep perfect time; or to those six-bar vocal glissandos over one pounded chord; or, for that matter, to the chord changes, which abandon norteño’s variations on I-IV-V polka patterns in favor of leaning on a flat 7 chord. The newest Rock Hall inductees use flat 7 a bunch. 6) The members of La Nueva Rebelión love to rock so they wrote their own rock song, and if they know how rock works they might also see that it’s a mouldering corpse. But here they are, making the rockist corpse — my corpse — dance with as much unpredictable lightning as I’ve heard this year. They’ve shoved a stick through my eye. It’s making me twitch with pleasure.

Brad Shoup: I’ve compared some norteño tracks to prog before, but I can’t stop until Dave Weigel checks his Google Alerts. “Me Hicieron Mas Fuerte” launches itself from wall to wall on the back of a bajo sexto emitting flames; the band’s crazy adept at scaling up to the stop and jumping into another gear. The lead singer scrambles over the carnage with a series of words ending on the “ehhh” sound: the result is a conflicted self-portrait, a mosiac built by firing a thousand tiles at a wall.

Alfred Soto: Sudden chord change and diving down, down — I’ve never heard accordions do what this Mexican band does with them. Take those and the drumming and the results is a track that the Minutemen could have come up with before lunch in 1984.

Patrick St. Michel: Seems a bit too herky-jerky, like the need to move at a quick pace has resulted in everything feeling a bit jagged. 

Madeleine Lee: Part of the appeal of compound time signatures is their precision when wielded in unity. In “Me Hicieron Mas Fuerte,” it sounds like each member of the band is keeping track of their own time, which when put together is less like math and more like a drawing session where the individual figures, however impressive on their own, become a mass of scribbles when put together.

Anthony Easton: Aside from the amazing spoken word section, with an almost manic energy, the vocals slow down substantially, and the sped-up (in all senses of the word) brass takes over. Keeping up without keeping up is a fantastic trick.

Sonia Yang: Love the tight interplay between the drums, accordion and guitar. Really not a fan of the vocals though. This is definitely a case of “it’s not you, it’s me”; songs of this genre sound better to me if they’re instrumental only. Oddly, I have a hankering for a metal cover.

Thomas Inskeep: Man, this is something else. The crazy double-time signatures make me think of speed metal, as does some of the dissonant bass guitar. Nothing else in the song makes me think of speed metal, but lots of it makes me think of things other than norteño. Also, their accordion player is a fucking badass. 

Rebecca A. Gowns: This song is bonkers in all the best ways.

Reader average: [6] (2 votes)

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3 Responses to “La Nueva Rebelion – Me Hicieron Mas Fuerte”

  1. Ha, I scored this higher than the nominator. Great choice.

  2. Oh good, I’ll consider it returning the favor for “Gente Batallosa.” I’m still debating whether I was too stingy.

  3. Also, Alfred, the opening made me think Minutemen too.