Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

La Arrolladora Banda El Limón – El Ruido De Tus Zapatos

Now featuring a NSFW singer. Go on, dare you not to look.


Josh Langhoff: If there’s one lesson I’ve learned from La Arrolladora and their singer Jorge Medina, it’s “don’t take pictures of your penis.” (Or do, depending on your publicity strategies — it doesn?t seem to have hurt them any.) If there’s a second lesson, it’s “sometimes sure things actually exist,” particularly now that the Latin pop charts are saturated with banda ballads, themselves saturated with pop chord changes and brass lines as warm and swollen as Jorge Medina’s pillow. Arrolladora has charted at least twice a year since ’07, with most of those also reaching the overall Hot Latin top 10. (They are also easily confused with rival sister band La Original Banda el Limón, whose recent album of boleros de amor is a real drag.) “Zapatos” songwriter Espinoza Paz has written hits for most of the genre’s big names, inspiring the Disa label to release the compilation Amigos de Espinoza Paz in his honor. If there’s a mainstream Sound of Now, these guys are basically it, and they sometimes manage great work, like their previous joint effort “Cabecita Dura,” whose chorus demanded that Medina sing 120 syllables without pause or apparent breath. They can also produce work of great tedium. I’ll be nice to this one, a less evil rewrite of Bob McDill’s “The Door Is Always Open,” since focusing on Medina’s inflections and the careful horn arrangement can lead to a heightened state of awareness, not unlike lying awake in the dark listening for footfalls on the floor.

Iain Mew: The first horns are promising, but as soon as the gasping vocals come in it turns into one long drag. It doesn’t help that the instruments all seem to be struggling through treacle from that point on.

Brad Shoup: This is a subtle bit of work. The clarinets and tuba keep shifting the plates: pushing a groove to the fore, trailing off in pensiveness. There’s no major motif like in “Cabecita Dura,” just a bunch of counterpoint to the singer, too tender for his confessions. He’s mirrored briefly by a Lite FM trumpet solo, but I wonder how a tuba would apologize.

Patrick St. Michel: Relaxing but a touch too tired for me.

Rebecca A. Gowns: Great “come back to me” ballad, with a wonderful hook of an idea: I’ll only happy when I hear the sound of your shoes again. It’s rare for a song to evoke the sense memory of a sound in the lyrics without it being mirrored in the music, let alone a synecdoche of a person; usually it’s “your face,” “your eyes,” or sometimes, “the sound of your voice.” But in this song, the only description that we get of his love is so ephemeral — “the sound of your shoes” — that it creates an even stronger sense of distance, of him lying alone at night, listening to the stillness of his room, and wishing she would come in. (It’s a bit of a cheeky, lustful idea, too, that you may not remember exactly what she looks like, but you’ll always remember the exact cadence of her clicking high heels.)

Jonathan Bogart: Las Varias Bandas Limones have never been at the top of my private banda sinaloense rankings — they’re not as sweet-and-sour, or as extravagantly soulful, or as dedicated to exploring the edges of their sonic spectrum, as many of their peers — which is probably exactly why they’ve been so consistently popular over the last several years. “El Ruido de Tus Zapatos” (tr. “the sound of your shoes [walking away]”) is another solid piece of work, with little to distinguish it from the many other solid pieces of work they’ve turned in over the years. Even the vivid image of the title is less an organizing idea and more a scrap of poetry thrown in to show they know how this Quality Songwriting game is supposed to be played.

Edward Okulicz: Jorge Medina’s sentimental singing is lovely and his longing is believable enough but treacle is treacle, and dressing it up so tastefully doesn’t solve the problem, or detract from the effect if you’re that way inclined. If anything, the sugary brass ratchets the sentimentality up to cloying levels.

Reader average: [7.5] (2 votes)

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