10 Central American Acts Putting Their Spin on Regional Mexican Music

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Let’s be honest. While regional Mexican music is far from the new beat on the block, the past few years have witnessed a huge mainstream crossover for music born and saddled in Northern Mexico and along both sides of the border. From Bad Bunny and Natanael Cano tolling the bell for the age of corridos tumbados on the “Soy El Diablo” remix to pop blockbusters from the likes of Christian Nodal, Piso 21, and Alizzz on “Pa’ Olvidarme de Ella,” it’s abundantly clear these are no longer your tío’s go-to tearjerkers. Even the unlikely combo of Snoop Dogg and Banda MS on “Que Maldición,” and glitzy team-ups like Ely Quintero, Chiquis Rivera, and Helen Ochoa’s rowdy “Las Destrampadas” have tapped into a new era of viral appeal. Rancho dominance has become such that non-regional artists Ozuna, Farruko, C. Tangana, and Omar Apollo have all leaped at the chance of including a corrido on their respective albums.

To be clear, the term “regional” generally refers to the music’s geographical roots, though it’s an egregiously narrow umbrella term encompassing corridos, norteño, mariachi, banda sinaloense, and so much more. But roots can stretch pretty far, especially when talking about music. Down in Central America, for example, genres more closely associated with Mexican cowboys and desert ranches are getting a change of scenery while keeping the snazzy grupero outfits. The outlaw tales, blaring horns, and devoted audiences are all still there, and though this music has always been popular below Mexico’s southern border, new voices are capturing local nuances and adding their own flavor.

For a peek at this exciting crop of Central American artists, here are 10 acts putting fresh spins on corrido, banda, and more.

La Auténtica Banda LL

Hailing from the town of Lolotique in El Salvador, La Auténtica Banda LL is a classic banda sinaloense outfit complete with 17 musicians and lavish stage shows that have led to tours all over Central America and the US. Their cheeky tagline as “La que mejor suena” (or, the best sounding) has been cemented in the collective consciousness with charming hits like “Malditas Redes” and “Mientes Tan Bien,” bouncing from heartbreak to party anthems at the drop of a cowboy hat.

 

Raúl Raymundo y Su Banda

Hometown pride is integral to corridos, and Raúl Raymundo y Su Banda have it in droves. This year’s autobiographical smash “Soy De Totonicapán” introduced the Guatemalan powerhouse to legions of new fans, while mainstays like “Traicionera” and “Ante un Altar” have kept fans roaring for years.  Raúl Raymundo is undoubtedly one of Guatemala’s biggest banda and corrido stars, even earning a weighty co-sign from Sinaloan legend, El Komander.

Danny Jímenez, El Charro del Pueblo

Capturing all the tequila-soaked drama of classic rancheras, Danny Jímenez a.k.a. El Charro del Pueblo is Nicaragua’s premiere lovelorn divo. Fan favorites “Si Me Dolió” and “Ella Se Fue” are the perfect accompaniment for a shot glass filled with tears, while “En La Cantina” and “No Moriremos de Amor” have given Jímenez the opportunity to collaborate with fellow Nicaraguan luminaries La Adictiva 506 and Sergio Zapata.

Kavvo

Like so many of his peers, Costa Rican rapper and reggaetonero Kavvo was bitten by the corrido tumbado bug and gave the world an incandescent banger in the form of “Solo Basta Una.” Despite it being his sole entry into the tumbado wave, the recent music video for “En El Bar” with Toledo and RVS finds Kavvo wearing a stylish tejana, indicating his corrido flow is far from gone.

Los Jefes de la Sierra Grande

Guatemala’s kings of sierreño music have been an institution for over a decade, led by singer-songwriter Misael Bravo and crafting beautiful epics of dueling guitar, bajo sexto, and groovy bass. The intimate immigrant storytelling of “Guatemala es mi País” is wonderfully contrasted against dance floor staples “Me Pongo Mis Botas” and “Mi Tropieso,” keeping Los Jefes de la Sierra Grande at the top of the local food chain.

Los Halcones

Fresh-faced Honduran mariachi group Los Halcones have brought the tears and dance-offs for years, gaining a loyal following in their hometown of San Pedro Sula that soon became nationwide. From the tormented wails of “Tengo Miedo” to the lighthearted heartbreak of “Porque Te Fuiste” with Mariachi Solitario, Los Halcones have struck a perfect balance of stirring emotion and unchained partying.

Banda R.A.

Nicaragua’s Banda R.A. has cordially invited all of us to the rodeo for a night of freewheeling zapateo and seductive glances from across crowded dance halls. The patriotic joy of “Mi Nicaragua” encapsulates the euphoria of buzzing fiestas patronales while offering a loving glimpse of countryside tradition.

César Durán

A corrido tumbado newcomer out of San Jacinto, El Salvador, César Durán demonstrates all the swagger and charm of a star in the making. The media personality and host of El Podcast de César Durán has cultivated friendships with members of La Auténtica Banda LL and wunderkind producer Lincktendo, which set the stage for his excellent debut “Firme y Tumbado.”

Codigo 502

The blazing accordions of norteño music are alive and well in the desmadre-fuel of Guatemala’s Codigo 502. The rowdy bar fights of “Pa’ Que Me Invitan” meet penny-pinching hustle on “Mis Quetzalitos” for an uproariously fun time on the Chapin dance floor.

Louis Roa

After appearing on the Panamanian celebrity impersonation TV show Yo Me Llamo, Venezuelan singer Louis Roa found local fanfare and a new spotlight on his budding mariachi and rancheras career. Spend some time on his YouTube channel and discover delightful covers of “En Mi Viejo San Juan,” “El Diablo Suelto,” and even the theme to Super Mario Bros.