Album Review: Orkesta Mendoza – Curandero [Glitterbeat Records; April 2020]

How best to shake off the dust from down Calexico way? Sergio Mendoza has the answer- give your listeners a good time to rival tequila as Mexico’s best export, as on Curandero. What follows is perhaps best described as a more authentic take on the faux-Tex/Mex border radio sound (at least between songs) of Queens Of The Stone Age’s Songs For The Deaf. While it may not sound particularly meticulously thought out, nobody said the party had to be…

A starter of “Paleta” is but the appetiser for the feast that follows, should you feel like heading out for a desert session. More refreshment from the wellspring of the Orkesta follows, “Head Above Water” warming things up nicely before the real treat of “Boogaloo Arizona”. America meets its neighbour on decent enough terms and comes up with a neat melding of rock and roll with more traditionally South American fare- about as far from a cheeky Nando’s as its possible to be! “Are We Better Now?” I should hope so.

Not that there’s much room for introspection- this is unashamedly feel-good. And helped along by the sort of sultry voice you might expect to hear calling from the back room in Amparo Sanchez, a fun & flirty presence across her contributions here. “Early In The Morning” contains absolutely zero warning on the consequences of stepping on anyone’s blue suede shoes should you do so, but nevertheless patron saint Chuck Berry would most likely approve of the results.

As well as music itself being the language underpinning the conversation across tables here- a final reminder of the special sauce applied just to spice it up coming with “El Chumina”, “No Te Esperaba” & “Bora Bora”.

Tuck in, mes amigos!