Warning: Corazón Ranchero is not a regional Mexican CD that you want to hear if you're in the mood for something that is calm, quiet and relaxing; no one will mistake this 2004 release for a collection of Marco Antonio Solis ballads. On Corazón Ranchero, Mexico's Banda Jerez takes banda music to the extreme -- banda doesn't get much more exuberant than Corazón Ranchero, which thrives on insanely fast tempos and reminds listeners just how hyper and frantic the tecno-banda style can be. Mindful of club/dance music and full of hip-hop aggression, Corazón Ranchero exemplifies banda's lunatic fringe -- and at times, Banda Jerez brings to mind the sort of relentless exuberance that young Dominicans are bringing to tecno-merengue in the Dominican Republic. That isn't to say that Corazón Ranchero is aimed at the tropical market; this CD was recorded with the regional Mexican audience in mind, and Banda Jerez' themes are distinctly Mexican. Nonetheless, there are parallels between the way young Dominicans are taking merengue to such an energetic extreme and the way Banda Jerez pours so much rowdy energy into this album -- Corazón Ranchero isn't your grandfather's banda any more than 21st century tecno-merengue is a carbon copy of classic Wilfrido Vargas or Johnny Ventura recordings from back in the day. Occasionally, Banda Jerez slows things down and takes a break from their usual high-speed intensity; Corazón Ranchero detours into softer banda romantica territory on "Mientes" and the achingly vulnerable "No Podré." But those tunes are the exception instead of the rule; 90-percent of the time, Corazón Ranchero is a wild party album -- and the disc's infectious aggression will easily appeal to fans of the modern tecno-banda approach.
Alex Henderson, Rovi