Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Los Lobos - Still Kickin' After All These Years

When a band has been around for as long as Los Lobos has been around, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense to ask whether their new album is good or not. You’ve got to figure that if a band has been around that long, their albums are going to be pretty good (OK, I’ll grant you that the Rolling Stones have tested that theory on a number of occasions, but you know what I mean).

“Tin Can Trust” – which really isn’t new, having been released last August – demonstrates perfectly why the band has lasted as long as it has. It may not be in the class of “Kiko” or “How Will the Wolf Survive,” but both of those albums were among the best of their particular decade, so that’s hardly an insult. What can be said is that the album is the perfect illustration of everything that is great about Los Lobos – strong songs, strong singing, interesting stories, a good variety, and all of it feeling quintessentially American.

The first song on the album, “Burn it Down,” is so good that I have no qualms about saying that it’s one of their best. And what is truly great about it is that it strips the band down to its essence. The song begins with a guitar lick, just a little ominous and just this side of being dangerous. Then, one of the biggest bass guitar sounds (or is that a guitarron?) you’ve ever heard jumps out of the speakers and right into your brain. And then, the familiar voice of David Hidalgo, and before you know it you’re smack dab in the middle of a classic Hidalgo/Perez-penned Los Lobos tune.

There isn’t a bad song on the album, but the opener Is my favorite. Coming in second would be “All My Bridges Burning,” which was written by Cesar Rosas with Robert Hunter, best known for his collaborations with Jerry Garcia. The band also does a nice turn on the Garcia/Hunter tune “West L.A. Fadeaway,” which definitely has a nice Dead-type vibe to it.

At this late date, it’s not likely that Los Lobos is going to sneak up on anyone. People have made up their mind whether they like the band or not, and probably end up buying every new release. Well, for the uninitiated, “Tin Can Trust” would be a good place to start.

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