Grupo Montéz de Durango

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A curious title that may lead some to confuse this with a live album, which it isn't. Instead the disc contains primarily remixes of previously released tracks. The energy level is pretty consistent throughout. There is really no programming, no ebb and flow, (and hardly any key changes) so it's best to listen in chunks. The first track captures the essence of what the Grupo Montez de Durango and duranguense are all about. It's a blistering version of "Camino a Tepehuanes" -- a Durango love letter/travelogue cramming in the names of as many cities as possible with samples of laughing schoolkids and cows interjected every now and then. It's poignant and funny all at once, and fully deserves its hit status. Where else can you hear the lyric "Ah, what a nice region!" delivered with the skittering feel of a train about to derail. Some (even most?) of the other tracks here got radio play as well, but mostly this album is a case study of that intangible quality that makes a hit a hit. All the other songs are equally fast and well-executed, but seem to miss that "certain something," that complication of emotions. Or maybe it's just that the uniformity of the material becomes monotonous after awhile. If you think about guys in guayabera shirts and Stetsons shaking their butts to frantically paced polka music while playing synthesizers and sampling keyboards, that helps. But it only sustains you for so long in a collection of this sort.

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