Not releasing an album in three years did not hurt Intocable. Twenty-two years of music has allowed them to amass quite a catalog of hits–hits that make for memorable set lists that always get their sell-out crowds singing along.
Still, one always wonders what else Intocable can accomplish on a new album. They have achieved much in the studio and on the road, but their newest album, Highway, is a project that reminds us of Intocable’s versatility, the excellent songwriters they hang with, and why we always get excited about their “next album” taking too long to be released.
In an interview a few years ago, band leader Ricardo Muñoz stated that he may not be the best vocalist in the business, but his on-stage confidence is bolstered by having some of the best musicians in the business. Highway leaves no doubt about this, especially the bajo sexto creativity of Johnny Lee Rosas. While Rosas recorded the entire album, he recently left to sew his own creativity with a band he founded years ago, Masizzo. Nonetheless, his and Alex Gulmar’s bajo playing on Highway is the best I’ve heard on a a Norteño album.
Although the run-up to the album’s release came with online releases of some of the tunes over the course of a few weeks, the band had been riding on a powerful single penned by Louie Padilla, “Tu Ausencia.” In another interview, Muñoz stated that the tune was a strong reminder of the loss of his father a few years ago. Having lost my mom six months ago, I must say that as I sing along to it, I usually get a lump in my throat. Released with an excellent video, the next single and video was a lighter one with “Quiereme (Amame),” a cumbia.
Highway is definitely a journey of experiences and of emotions. It’s also one of Intocable’s darker recordings, perhaps a journey of their own experiences as a band and as individuals. From love to love hurting to love lost, the band seems to describe just about anything that any given individual has gone through. Tunes like “Te Perdono,” a ranchera, reveal the pain of love lost by setting standards by which one forgives–and they’re not easy standards: “Te perdono si un dia traes a Dios hasta mi puerta; cuando vea que a tus ojos salen lagrimas de sangre…” One even feels the sadness of the acordeon.
Equally haunting is the ballad, “En La Obscuridad,” about moving forward after losing on love, but what remains are the thoughts that cloud one forever. That much is noticeable in the song’s extended musical ending with the haunting back-and-forth of the acordeon and what can only be described as mind-noise in the background.
Intocable also hits on an important social issue, the missing and murdered women of Juarez. Wilfran Castillo’s “Dia 730″ tells the story of a 17 year-old girl with dreams of becoming famous lured by a man offering opportunities of success only to go missing and probably murdered. This cause has been around for years and the lack of response (few arrests and convictions) continues to instill fear in Juarez. Thankfully, Intocable adds to this discussion, including the pain families go through and the ineffectiveness of law enforcement. It’s a powerful and descriptive tune.
The band also reminds me that they grew up in the same rock era as I did, and “Un Dia Sin Ti” and “Duele El Amor,” both rancheras, have tinges of rock guitar and drumming (by Rene Martinez) that effectively set up the songs. The signature Intocable cumbias are also evident, with “Cuando Me Vi En Tus Ojos” and “Sueño de Amor” providing some danceable treats.
Intocable also invites a guest lead vocalist, Beto Zapata, on “Cuestion de Tiempo,” which he delivers quite well. The album is well-rounded out with “Cuidare,” “Usted Me Encanta,” and “Quiza No Sea Tarde,” making this a musically diverse album.
Intocable is: Ricky Muñoz, Rene Martinez, Sergio Serna, Felix Salinas, Alex Gulmar, Juan Hernandez, and familiar new entrant, Danny Sanchez.
You can find the new album on various online outlets, but also exclusively for sale at Wal-Mart. Kudos to Ricky and the crew on a great production. They keep proving that independently produced records are the best ones out there.
*Get a daily Dos of politics, culturas y mas from Stace Medellin at DosCentavos.net.