Banda Machos

25 Bandazos de Machos, Vol. 2

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Banda Machos are a 14-piece band, one of the bigger names in the regional Mexican music known as banda, which is played by large ensembles featuring keyboards and multiple horns, and frequently sporting cowboy hats, mustaches, and awesome uniforms. Their sound is vibrant and fun, guaranteed to inspire drinking and dancing. Songs like "La Mas Bonita de Todas," "Ingratos Ojos Mios," and "No Soy Monedita de Oro" are upbeat and high-spirited, the horns blaring out simple yet addictive melodies as the drummer keeps everything moving fast, though they perform ballads from time to time (examples here include "Vivir Sin Ella" and "Esclavo y Amo"). There are a few stylistic left turns here; "Mi Chica Ideal," one of the highlights, is driven by a punchy saxophone-and-trumpet line reminiscent of early-'60s instrumentals like "Tequila" and an almost ska-funk rhythm underpinning the verses. The lyrics are mostly about love, dancing, and partying, avoiding the political and social narratives of the smaller-group, guitar- and accordion-led music known as norteño (with occasional exceptions like "Pacas de a Kilo"). This compilation is half of a matched set, and its title is somewhat misleading: only if you also purchase Vol. 1 (as a panel on the cover advises) do you get a total of 25 songs; Vol. 2 only contains 12 tracks. These discs are low-budget offerings; the CD booklet is just a single panel, with no musicians' credits or even photos of the group anywhere to be found. It's barebones in the extreme, and its track listing is pretty much duplicated on a number of preexisting Banda Machos compilations. That being said, if this is your first experience with their music, or banda in general, the appeal will still come through loud and clear.

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