GB 090CD GB 090CD

Sometimes, things fall together as if they're simply fated to exist. Orkesta Mendoza found that; as soon as the songs began to flow for Curandero, their second album for the Glitterbeat label, the stars seemed to align and everything was composed, recorded, and mastered in just a few short months. In 2018, the band began work on new material, but it didn't quite click. The music crosses and re-crosses that fluid border between Mexico and the United States, mixing rock and pop with ranchera and cumbia alongside snatches of mariachi horns. And hovering over everything is the spirit of '60s boogaloo. Band leader Sergio Mendoza was born in Nogales, Arizona (USA) but grew up across the border in Nogales, Sonora (Mexico). Rock arrived in his life after he moved back to the US, when he was still a young child. Inevitably, the different styles simply blended in his mind and fit together in his life. "Eres Oficial" looks back to the 1950s to evoke the ghost of Buddy Holly in its insistent guitar chords, and the production that puts an emphasis on the drumbeat. A stripped-back sound is apparent in cuts like "Head Above Water" and "Little Space." They bristle with hooks and immediacy and the kind of Latin flavors that would have been perfectly at home on old AM radio. Curandero quickly became an album filled with guests, featuring Joey Burns of Calexico, Chetes from the legendary Mexican rock band Zurdok, and Spanish singer Amparo Sánchez. Curandero has a close, intimate feel, but this wasn't a band playing together in a room; all the musicians came in separately to track their parts. The consistency of sound comes having the touring band drummer and bassist on most of the songs, and from Mendoza's production which makes everything seem organic and bright. The album's sole instrumental, the toe-tapping "Bora Bora," sounds like it was recorded in a dark, smoky club, with the feel of a soulful big band fueled by the retro, percussive power of Mambo. A vintage sensibility even takes Orkesta Mendoza back further -- all the way to the 1940s on the closing track. "Hoodoo Voodoo Queen" is the Andrews Sisters on a fantasy trip south of the border. The harmonies of Moira Smilie, Carrie Rodriguez, and Gaby Moreno sparkle over percussion, pedal steel and glorious, honking sax. Curandero is border music, without borders.