Los Lobos: This Time

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Los Lobos

Album: This Time
Label: Hollywood
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Los Lobos

Album: This Time
Label: Hollywood

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The L.A. band Los Lobos formed just as the City Of Angels' vibrant post-punk scene began to attract national attention. But it would be a while before America truly paid attention to Los Lobos: While the group's blend of traditional Mexican music and no-frills rock 'n' roll found it more at home performing with such like-minded roots-rockers as The Blasters or even X, it was adventurous enough to have once landed an opening slot for Public Image Ltd. After many years of cultdom, Los Lobos lucked into a hit with its 1987 rendition of Ritchie Valens' "La Bamba," but rather than coast along in rock 'n' roll revivalist mode, the band initiated a fruitful relationship with producers Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake that still finds the quintet heading in truly wild directions. Live, Los Lobos has increasingly leaned toward open-ended near-Dead jams, but in the studio, it's something else entirely. Kiko, Colossal Head, and now This Time are all gleefully eclectic, soulful, surprising albums that pair impeccable musicianship with the kaleidoscopic textures initiated by Froom and Blake. But, as if to throw off thrill-seekers, This Time opens with the slow-burning and sedate title track, a statement of somberness that makes later acid-rock workouts like "Viking" seem pretty jarring. But one thing the group's many side projects have proven is that Los Lobos can't be pigeonholed. "Oh, Yeah" recalls the percussive, experimental bent of Latin Playboys, while "Cumbia Raza" and "Corazon" reflect the traditional nature of Los Super Seven. Yet such blues-infused tracks as "Turn Around," "High Places," and "Runaway With You" are clearly aligned with the psychedelic pop-blues sound Los Lobos has perfected. While This Time, the band's first album for Hollywood Records, may not be the revolutionary statement Kiko was—or even a rough-edged gem like Head—its pleasures are many. Los Lobos' first release may have been modestly titled Just Another Band From East L.A., but 25 years since the group formed, This Time demonstrates yet again that it cannot be dismissed so easily.

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