Te Contaron Mal

by: Los Sementales de Nuevo León

Being norteño-influenced and actually playing full-fledged norteño are two different things. There are plenty of grupero artists who have a norteño influence, but their work is essentially Latin pop with Mexican overtones -- not norteño in the strict sense. In the case of Los Sementales de Nuevo León, however, there is no question that you are getting hardcore norteño. They have been providing it since the '90s and continue to provide it without apology on 2007's Te Contaron Mal. Admirers of straight-ahead no-nonsense norteño groups such as Los Huracanes del Norte, Los Rieleros del Norte, and Oro Norteño will have no problem getting into this CD; Los Sementales remain faithful to the spirit of traditional norteño whether they are offering polka-powered tunes like "Amarga Derota," "El Caballo de Espadas," "Licencia Para Matar," and "Maestra en el Amor" or getting into a waltz groove on "Las Riendas las Tomo Yo" and "Mi Martirio." Los Sementales' lyrics address the time-honored themes of regional Mexican music -- love and loss, betrayal, romantic disillusionment, heartbreak -- and lead singer Efraín Rubio always delivers them convincingly. This 35-minute disc doesn't pretend to be innovative, but what Los Sementales de Nuevo León lack in originality, they make up for in terms of feeling, enthusiasm, and consistency. While no one who has listened to a lot of Mexican music will accuse Te Contaron Mal of reinventing the wheel, it is a solid, if brief, effort that will appeal to those who like their norteño undiluted. ~ Alex Henderson

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