Tag Archives: Los Lobos

Los Lobos: Tin Can Trust

Los Lobos
Tin Can Trust

Proper Records
August 3, 2010

Tin Can Trust is a masterful album from an undeniably great American band, at the peak of its considerable powers.” – Uncut

Listening to a Los Lobos album is a bit like walking down the streets of a neighborhood, with a different kind of music spilling out of every doorway.” PopMatters

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Over the past 35 years, this East L.A. five-piece band has assembled a body of work diverse enough to cripple most bands and to captivate fans worldwide. Along the way, they’ve redefined how a rock band–and rock music–can sound.

Many musical groups are eclectic, but few are both as unpredictable and successful as Los Lobos. The band has notched a number one single, won three Grammys, and sold millions of records. They’ve shared the stage with acts as varied as Dylan, The Clash, and U2–and they’ve received tremendous critical acclaim.

Los Lobos’ own journey started in 1973, when David Hidalgo (vocals, guitar, and pretty much anything with strings), Louie Perez (drums, vocals, guitar), Cesar Rosas (vocals, guitar), and Conrad Lozano (bass, vocals, guitarrn) were still roaming the halls of East L.A.’s Garfield High. After graduation they made their bones playing souped-up Mexican folk music in restaurants and at parties. By the early eighties, however, they’d tapped into L.A.’s burgeoning punk and college rock scenes, landing on bills with bands like the Circle Jerks, Public Image Ltd., and the Blasters, whose saxophonist, Steve Berlin, would eventually leave the group to join Los Lobos, cementing the current line-up.

In 1984, having recently signed with a division of Warner Bros., they brought home a Grammy for Best Mexican-American performance. That year also saw the release of How Will the Wolf Survive? Co-produced by Berlin and T. Bone Burnett, it was a college rock sensation and Los Lobos tied with Bruce Springsteen as Rolling Stone’s Artist of the Year.  How Will the Wolf Survive? remains one of Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.

The band was a hit with the critics, but in 1987 with the release of the Ritchie Valens bio-pic La Bamba, Los Lobos would achieve massive commercial success. Their version of Valens’ signature song climbed to the top of Billboard singles chart, and suddenly five guys who saw themselves as “just another band from East L.A.” were superstars. But instead of staying in safe, commercial waters and risking being type-cast as “that band from the Ritchie Valens movie,” Los Lobos followed the pop-oriented (and double platinum-selling) La Bamba soundtrack with a collection of Mexican folk songs, La Pistola Y El Corazn. Such musical about-faces have defined the band’s creative vitality and kept fans interested in seeing what would come next.

Great artists challenge themselves to make the record they cannot, or should not, make. For Los Lobos, that record was 1992’s Kiko. Produced by Mitchell Froom, it sounds lush, atmospheric, and ethereal–a long way from the dirt-under-the-nails rawness typically associated with rock and blues. Writers called Kiko the band’s masterpiece, and the album dominated the “Best of the Year” lists. Nearly twenty years after their formation, Los Lobos had reached a creative apex.

Amazingly they’ve been able to hold fast to that hard won ground. As Rolling Stone writes, “With the exception of U2, no other band has stayed on top of its game as long as Los Lobos.” In the sixteen years since Kiko, the band has won two more Grammys, released six studio albums, a box-set, a greatest hits package, and a live CD/DVD. Many of their peers have called it quits, but Los Lobos have continued to write and record and tour like a band that’s got 35 more years in them. In 2007, after supporting The Town and The City, they headed out on a semi-acoustic tour, playing traditional Latin American folk songs. After that sixteen-city jaunt, they fired up their amps and joined John Mellencamp on tour.

More recently, Los Lobos and Los Lonely Boys hit the road together on the nationally acclaimed and aptly named “Brotherhood Tour”, while The Town and The City went on to draw four-star reviews in Rolling Stone, Mojo, The Independent and many others.

Los Lobos Goes Disney
(featuring 13 all-time classics from Disney films and theme parks, each given the raw and raucous Los Lobos treatment) was released in Fall 2009 on Disney Sound.

In 2010, Tin Can Trust moves Los Lobos into yet another new dimension. Los Lobos’ unified vision and strong work ethic are evident throughout the self-produced album, but so is something even greater: “an intuitiveness,” says Los Lobos songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Louie Pérez, “that happens only from being in a band for so long.” As Rolling Stone once wrote, “This is what happens when five guys create a magical sound, then stick together for 30 years to see how far it can take them.”

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