Sones of Mexico – Trio Aguilillas

Artist: Trio Aguilillas

Year: 1950

Genre: Son jaracho

Put-it-on-a-Playlist: “El Cascabel: Sones of Veracruz”

Grade: A-

This delightful mariachi tape is only six songs and 19-minutes long, which means even a staunch musical conservative could grow to appreciate this.  I’m unaware of any background on this group, and even the genre escapes me (I’d rather not conform to ethnocentrism by listing this off as mere “exotica”).  Yet these traditional melodies are pleasing to the ear no matter what you might want to call it.

The Three, er, Aguilillas are Mexican all the way — Los Lonely Boys, even Santana, appear tame in comparison.  This is the music of dusty villas — dusty because the recordings are lo-fi; villas because the Aguilillas are gauchos rather than cowboys.  This is real country & western, with nary a drum kit or (thankfully) castanet/maraca combo in sight.

The vocals, well, you can rent them at your local Coyote Café.  The Trio Aguilillas have good harmonies, granted, but that is not why I like this album.  It’s all about the music, which isn’t the loud or stereotypical “La Cucaracha” shit that can also be rented at Coyote Café.  The instrumentation is far more economical than your cliché mariachi fare, with acoustic guitar, out-of-tune mandolin (I think) and scratchy violin providing a solid, cultural base that would make Pancho Villa proud.

The bouncy “Sones de Veracruz” is something you could jarabe to, while the ecstatic violin solo that runs throughout the tune is almost ruido de rock.  It always feels good — I like to think I’m doing the Lord’s work — to stumble upon a foreign export such as this.  While I probably won’t revisit it all that much now that I’ve discovered it, it’s always good to know there’s an authentic document mid-century Mexico in my back pocket.

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