Personnel: Ignacio Perez (banjo); Jesús León (accordion); Joey Calderon (tuba); Adrián Cambero (drums).
With 2014's Senzu-Rah, singer, songwriter, and guitarist extraordinaire Regulo Caro pushed the Mexican Regional genre toward new frontiers. En Estos Dias, its follow-up, was quite literally two years in the making and attempts to go even further. The 16-song date, led by the blockbuster futuristic banda single "Cicatriiices," crisscrosses the norteño landscape with rancheras, bandas, cumbias, romanticos, and of course, corridos. As he did on Senzu-Rah, Caro opens the disc with hard rock drums and a metal guitar vamp to introduce a smoking corrido in "Vox Populi (El Circo)." The track's clattering drums, bumping tuba bassline, and careening accordion surround one of his more infectious melodies. The lilting acoustic guitars and hand percussion that deliver the intro to "Maldito Historia" and adorn its melody wed ranchera and rock-pop balladry in waltz time. The soloing trumpets and saxophones, pulsing rhythmic brass, shimmering cymbals, and layered backing vocals change modes, but the infectious melodic hook never relents. The breakneck syncopation in corrido "Los Hijos del Pelo Chino" is delivered as a killer duet with Gerardo Ortiz. "Sin Explicacion" is a rural cumbia with jazzy accordion, guitar, and drum interludes amid rhythm and key changes. The funky drum kit on the corrido "Gatos vs. Panteras" remains centered as tuba and accordion take turns in the front line; guitars, acoustic and electric, entwine in the backdrop, creating a pulse and painting the atmosphere. The intersection of distinct counter rhythms on "Ley del Destino" ingeniously entwines cumbia and ranchera. A bonus live version of the single is done as a freewheeling norteño dance number to close out the album. Caro's singing is soulful and passionate throughout, and his guitar playing is inventive and flashy without distracting from his songs. Time will tell if En Estos Dias attains the popular success of Senzu-Rah, but its creative quality is easily on par in terms of songwriting and performance. ~ Thom Jurek