NPR logo First Listen: Pistolera, 'El Desierto Y La Ciudad'

First Listen: Pistolera, 'El Desierto Y La Ciudad'

Pistolera's third album, El Desierto y La Ciudad, comes out July 12. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

Pistolera's third album, El Desierto y La Ciudad, comes out July 12.

Courtesy of the artist

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I don't think I'd ever seen a band achieve such swift, dramatic growth in the direction of its music, while still maintaining all the elements that make it unique, until I heard El Desierto y la Ciudad (The Desert and the City) by Pistolera.

‪On its first two albums, the Brooklyn band had a sound that was pure Mexican throwback. The group performed rancheras, polkas, cumbias and corridos in pretty much the same way I'd always heard them on the radio in my mom's kitchen. But on El Desierto y la Ciudad, out July 12, singer-songwriter Sandra Velasquez makes a big shift from that rustic flavor to a feel that's more modern and introspective.

‪The accordion has always been a big part of the Pistolera sound. On this album, the instrument remains front and center, but it's used in unconventional and even daring ways. It's often employed the way a keyboard would be: laying fat, juicy chords within the mix of electric and acoustic guitars.

That inventive sense of arrangement, combined with great songwriting, elevates El Desierto y la Ciudad above and beyond its traditional source material. The result is a major step forward for a songwriter and a band that deserves wider recognition. With this album, Pistolera just might get it.

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