By Achy Obejas
Clorofila, a.k.a. Jorge Verdin, is utterly in love with Mexican traditional sounds, crazy about electronica and, most important, urban beats. "Corridos Urbanos," his first fully realized solo offering, actually does honor the honest-to-God Mexican corrido - the umpah-umpah polkas with their big story arcs, heroes and lessons learned.
(The ultimate Tijuana soundtrack, after the jump.)
Just listen to "Llantera" as it pumps and makes the accordions whirl. On "Eso Esperamos," there's a mute chorus of tubas, while overheard and undecipherable voices echo the form's populist roots. Turn up "Arriba el Novio" and it may seem like it's going to just keep circling like a merry-go-round when you realize the trumpets are blasting and the thing's just building and building.
What's so delicious about what Verdin does is how he manages to be straight-up true to the corrido while killing it. The story is still there, but now it's more conceptual, existential, mostly wordless, and probably best heard on the dance floor or in a big ol' monster truck.
Because these are urban corridos, the beats are chunky, then almost Incognito-smooth. It's still nostalgic, like the original corridos, but ironic, too, and so a song like "Babai" (vocalized by Supina Bytol), with its breezy beat, is both perfect coda and total surprise: sexy and lounge-y. The story is not in any one song but in all of them. In other words, this is the soundtrack to life in Tijuana, driving around the ultimate border town.
Recommended tracks: "Llantera," "Arriba el Novio," "Babai"