CD Review: Los Lobos “Tin Can Trust”

Los Lobos – Tin Can Trust
Shout! Factory Records (August 3, 2010)
review by Adam Perry for the East Bay Express

Since a string of landmark albums dating back to 1984’s How Will the Wolf Survive? and 1992’s memorably mind-melting Kiko, Los Lobos has supplanted the ’60s/’70s versions of Santana as the greatest Latin-American rock band. But not even Santana produced such a consistently long and strong run of quality albums; and, besides, Los Lobos’ new long-play Tin Can Trust further presents the L.A. institution as one of the greatest American bands, period.

One of the most remarkable strengths of Los Lobos over the past thirty-plus years has been its progressive penchant for successfully experimenting with different genres, instruments and production techniques in the studio. Tin Can Trust—a pleasing jaunt through slow, dark psychedelic blues-rock; upbeat cumbia and norteño numbers, and even a rambling instrumental fuzz-guitar rave-up—features wildly different drum sounds on nearly every track, and a profound intensity that’s fluid through even the most drastic changes in tempo and instrumentation.

On the blazing opener, “Burn It Down,” multi-instrumentalist David Hidalgo (with backup vocal help from blues queen Susan Tedeschi) steps into the spotlight he somewhat withdrew from in recent years to appear as a sideman on records by Bob Dylan and Ramblin’ Jack Eliot. As on a genuinely badass cover of the Grateful Dead’s cruel-hearted “West L.A. Fadeaway” included here, Hidalgo is menacingly cool on “Burn It Down,” somehow shredding any sense of cliché from words like “destiny” and “dignity.” “I kicked the dust until my damned eyes hurt…gonna burn it all down,” Hidalgo sings while a simple, driving acoustic guitar and stand-up bass exercise builds into a Sonic Youth-esque distorted-guitar explosion. It’s hard not to be moved by that kind of musical brashness, especially from a bunch of guys in their 50s.

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