Latino Singer José "El Pelón" Ávila Blames New Times for Canceled Show
My biggest letdown of the year took place when former Arizona resident and self-proclaimed "santocorrido" singer José "El Pelón" Ávila got dropped from a local show, then pointed the finger at the New Times for the cancelation.
It wasn't so much that the bald, big man got pissed about missing out on a payday that bummed me out, but that he felt truly slighted by me. (He claims because I mentioned Sheriff Joe Arpaio in an article penned a day before his planned album release party at Phoenix restaurant/music hall La Casa Del Mariachi, the show was canned.)
Before the colossal misunderstanding, I looked forward to getting the whole skinny on not only Ávila,but the strange world he comes from. His story was full of all sorts of interesting elements, ranging from his belief in Santeria to his flashy twist on the popular narcocorridos, or drug ballads, that have enamored so many people over the years. He even claimed to have been kidnapped at one point in time. The puzzling culture of narcocorridos has been a bizarre fascination of mine for some time now, and I had hoped Ávila would be the guy to shed his unique perspective on the subject. Alas, it wasn't meant to be: Ávila deleted me from his Facebook page and doesn't talk to me anymore. -- Anthony Sandoval
Band of Horses, Mirage Rock
Mirage Rock would have you believe that Band of Horses leader Ben Bridwell has successfully merged his dreamy indie folk project with the soft country rock sentiment of America, but don't be fooled -- the casino headliners haven't tacked on a member three decades their junior. Instead, the album is the uninspired, tactless creation of a once focused songwriter.
It's tough for an admitted fan to say. Everything All the Time, the band's 2006 breakout hit featuring "The Funeral," was a heart wrenching, cathartic record. 2010's Cease to Begin followed in the same vein, bringing the world one of the greatest breakup anthems of all time, "No One's Gonna Love You." I even stuck around for Infinite Arms, which was less a blow to the gut than I had grown accustomed to, but still showed off the dreamy sadness Band of Horses was known for, and even threw in some thoroughly enjoyable upbeat ditties like "NW Apt" and "Compliments."
So what happened to Band of Horses over the last five years?
On Mirage Rock they've taken over the sound of Neil Young, America, and John Denver, holding it hostage with noxious lyrics that lack the sentimentality needed for such a simplistic genre. But that's not exactly it. Lyrics have never been the band's strong point, and Mirage Rock solidifies that. It's that the record has the old twang of a tired country star looking to make a buck, releasing a lazy album that banks on legendary status, and lacks the youthful vulnerability that once made Band of Horses one of the most exciting acts in indie music. The band has transitioned into something virtually unrecognizable from past work. Evolution in music is natural. Shape-shifting is not. -- Christina Caldwell