Pistolera's El Desierto y La Ciudad Celebrates NYC and Band's Southwestern Roots

Bandleader and songwriter Sandra Velaquez offers her most personal recording to date.

By , Contributor

M. Sharkey

New York City-based band Pistolera returns with its third album, El Desierto y La Ciudad. Released July 12 on Luchadora, the album came out on CD, but actually plays like an LP with one batch of songs dedicated to the desert (El Desierto) and the other side dedicated to the city (La Ciudad). The band’s previous two albums focused more on the traditional sounds of rancheras, polkas, cumbias, and corridos. While the new one still features accordion and guitar, it is a departure for bandleader and main songwriter Sandra Velaquez, who offers her most biographical effort to date.

The city side details how she fell in love with the city despite the economic disparities which come from people living on top of one another. The way Velaquez (who lives in Brooklyn) sees it, one of the main things that sets New Yorkers apart from the rest of the country is that NYC is a street culture. Being forced to spend hours a day with total strangers underground from all different religious, cultural, economic, and parenting style backgrounds does something to the residents’ psyches. She feels like it gives us a leg up over the rest of the country. We know what and who's out there and, by the same token, it tells us who we are and where we fit in.

The desert side of the album is inspired by her return to the Southwest, where commutes are done via blacktop highways and neighbors could be five miles down the road. This is to say nothing of the fact that being back in the Southwest allowed her to reconnect with her Mexican and Mexican-American roots.

Apparently absence does make the heart grow fonder when it comes to Velaquez. So much so that this album is what it is. The band will be on tour on and off this summer and fall in support of the new album. Go to Pistolera's website for updated tour dates.

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Tad Hendrickson has been a music journalist since 1996. A freelance writer based in Jersey City, New Jersey, he’s covered music of all genres as well as literature, the arts, food and real estate. His work has appeared in such publications as Elle, the London Financial Times, the Newark Star-Ledger,…

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