Carlos y José

Lo Basico

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Like nearly all other Mexican CDs, there is less than half an hour of music here and it's not a catalog of huge hits, but it is certainly representative of this group, whose perpetual anonymity and facelessness give their music a nearly enigmatic quality. More than half of the pieces are dirge-like waltzes, and even the polkas are subdued compared to the sprightly saxophone and keyboard-enhanced sound of modern norteño and tejano. What you get instead is, like the album title says, the basics: doleful close vocal harmony and gritty reverbed accordion. As is the case with most country music, when it works, it really works. And it works on the majority of these tracks. The stark production evokes the combination of simplicity and uncertainty that the characters inside the corridos of Carlos y José must feel on a daily basis. Maybe most of their audience as well.

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