Los Lobos: Good Morning Aztlán

Another Los Lobos album, another four clowns. This is actually really hot shit, though. A high four, nearly 4.5-clown, release. Almost certainly their best since La Pistola Y El Corazón. A few disappointing points, but overall just a rock solid release.

This is a band, a full two-decades past their awesome kind-of debut, that is mastering and re-mastering their skills, fully confident in their abilities in songwriting and performance. Good Morning Aztlán finds the band working more into a Latin+soul kinda thing. Latin percussion is consistently in the background while the keys, guitars, and vocals evince a 70’s soul crooner thing.

The title track is the best song on the album, but other upbeat tracks like “Luz De Mi Vida,” “Malaqué,” and “Maria Christina” challenge for the top spot. The band shines the most when it finds a really good mix between upbeat and laid-back. The worse songs are the ones that are too laid back or too strident, the latter of which is prominent on “Done Gone Blue” and “Get To This.”

Another aspect of Los Lobos’ development that I’ve kind of been tracking is their use of Spanish. Last time I remarked on how they’d simplified their lyrics down to a first-year Spanish student. This time they really get into the language of immigrant kids born here and do a very fluent Spanglish on “Luz De Mi Vida.” Some excerpts:

There could be no fin
Siempre los dos

It was en la mañana
In our rinconcito
Was the time you played me
Sang me your canción

Totally loving this. Like I said, almost 4.5 clowns, and probably would be had I written this on a different day.

Rating:
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– “Hearts Of Stone,” “Luz De Mi Vida,” “Good Morning Aztlán,” “The Word,” “Malaqué,” “Tony Y Maria,” “Maria Christina,” “Round & Round”
– “Done Gone Blue,” “The Big Ranch,” “What In The World”
– “Get To This”
Filed Between: Los Lobos’ Colossal Head and Lovage (Music To Make Love To Your Old Lady By)
Song Notes: After the jump

  1. Done Gone Blue –
  2. Hearts Of Stone –
  3. Luz De Mi Vida –
  4. Good Morning Aztlán –
  5. The Big Ranch – about guns. Is the big ranch the US?
  6. The Word – Like a neo soul thing. then some steve miller stuff (“It’s time time time”.) Lyrics are dumb. have to be in the right mood, but if so, and if I’m paying attention, there’s enough going on that I can find something to enjoy.
  7. Malaqué – Really cool middle part with some experimental sounds.
  8. Tony Y Maria – Springsteen in at least two ways. Sounds like “No Surrender” and a line about the dreams they had is like “The River”: “The dreams that they once had/Well they don’t have them anymore”. Not sure what the line is about the babies or what the last line in the last verse is all about. First verse, starts off awesome, and then doesn’t live up to the promise of it. Still, the strings are really nice and it works well enough to be a full heart.
  9. Get To This –
  10. Maria Christina – one of my faves on the album. Very Latin.
  11. What In The World –
  12. Round & Round – What does this remind me of? Love the big sound here. Gotta figure out what that reminds me of, though.
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