Intocable’s new album is called Highway, an homage to life on the road and the many twists and turns it takes along the way. Out June 17, it’s a rich, textured album with a degree of musical excellence that puts accordion-based norteño music at a whole different level. It’s not the first time the group, whose members are born and raised in Texas, use the road as a metaphor.
In 2006, their album Crossroads: Cruce de Caminos had the group singing pop and norteño, and the album cover featured Intocable, in their norteño regalia and on horseback in the middle of Times Square.
But Highway, out June 17, is edgier and more guitar-laden with more rock, blues, country and norteño in a way that no other norteño band can be. “Intocable is a mix of ’80s rock, country, a lot of music mixed into Spanish songs,” lead singer/accordionist Ricky Muñoz tells Billboard.
Here’s his breakdown of five essential tracks:
“En la Obscuridad”: “This is the song that started the album and the first one we recorded. It starts with three minutes as a regular song and then it becomes another three, very trippy minutes. After we finished this song, we stopped working on the album because we thought it was very dark. A lot of things happened in the building of the album. We started, recorded ‘En la obscuridad,’ waited three months, started again, my mom gets sick, we put everything on hold. It was a long journey.”
“Cuidaré” (I’ll Cherish): “I love this song. It’s our tribute to George Strait, who always does those mysterious ballads, and in some of them he uses female background vocals. One of the guys in the studio works with a great band called Las Chamanas fronted by Amalia Mondragon. They sing something like a traditional huapango but mixed with crazy stuff. We heard her sing and it was, ‘Man, there it is.’”
“Quiéreme” (Ámame): “You can dance it any way you want. It’s very rock ‘n’ roll, but it’s also very Intocable, which is why we made it the second single.”
“Dia 730”: “It was going to be our second single, but we thought it was too different and people wouldn’t be ready for it unless they heard the full album. But ‘Dia 730’ has to be heard. It talks about the disappeared girls of Juárez. We want to create conscience about what’s happening and work hand in hand with the people that run these movements and have actually lost their daughters and their sisters.
“The song was given to us five years ago by Wilfran Castillo, a Colombian songwriter, but I didn’t know what to do with it. Then last year, we made an arrangement that kind of takes me back to the way Johnny Cash narrated songs, where he was telling you a story. That’s what this song does. … When Johnny Cash narrated songs he was telling you a story. This song is about a little girl who has dreams, who gets a call from someone who wants to take pictures of her and make her a model. And she goes and never comes back. But the mom still has hope.”
“Un Día Sin Ti”: “I wanted to do this as a full norteño song, but every time I would try and sing the first part, it sounded rushed. So, we started it like a dream, like Alice in Wonderland, and then the chorus goes into that norteño beat. And then we go back into the dream in the slower tempo, so I can have time to communicate the lyrics. We liked the song so much, we played with the tempo to get it to work.”