The Texacan lite rock of Los Lonely Boys' 2004 hit "Heaven" seemed built to last. But then hard times followed: Drummer Ringo Garza and his bassist brother, JoJo, ran into trouble with the law; and two follow-up albums performed poorly. How far is heaven? Pretty far. Their latest is a rudderless band's reach for roots and realism -“ fluid Corona-hoisting blues grind, somber paeans to community in recession-plagued America, tributes to Carlos Santana and Jimi Hendrix.
After the all-out celebration of Keep on Giving: Acoustic Live!, Los Lonely Boys are back with their fourth studio offering and their first offering of new studio material in three years. Rockpango (a made-up Spanish word the band translates as "rock party") was produced by Henry, Ringo, and Jojo Garza, and is the first to appear on their LonelyTone imprint through Playing in Traffic. All of the material here was written by the Garzas, who add the Tosca String Quartet and keyboards where necessary to grow out their sound.
When the Los Lonely Boys burst onto the popular music scene in 2004 – seemingly out of nowhere – with their eponymous debut and its infectious hit single, “Heaven”, they rode that wave straight to a Grammy award and platinum record sales. Since that time, however, the brothers Garza had some legal troubles, and they have released two studio recordings that sold less successfully than that debut. Most recently, bassist JoJo suffered from a vocal chord injury, and their 4th studio platter was temporally put on hold while he underwent surgery.
“We can change the world / If we can change our ways,” sings Henry Garza over purring Hammond organ and Stevie Ray-style Fender Strat in the ham-fisted ballad “Change the World,” the cringe-inducing low-point on Rockpango, Los Lonely Boys’ fourth studio album. Ironically, “change” seems to be the last thing on the minds of the Brothers Garza (Henry: guitar, vocals; Jojo: bass, vocals; and Ringo: drums, vocals). This self-proclaimed “Texican Rock and Rolll” trio still revels in Latin-tinged soul sparked by close-knit harmonies and a dexterous instrumental attack touching equally on Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and, well, Jimmy Buffet.
Let’s cut right to the chase – Rockpango, the first album of original material by Los Lonely Boys in three years — is superb. The brothers Garza – Henry, JoJo and Ringo – have stayed with the urban-tingedTexican rock they showcased in their 2004 self-titled debut album. Yet there’s a playful confidence in this self-produced album that some artists almost never find, certainly not this early in their careers.
Three brothers, two sets: Texas Latinate in triplicate. Amplified Heat's third LP, On the Hunt, shotguns the culmination of the little ol' local trio's decade of dues. Houston natives of Colombian decent, Jim (guitar), Chris (drums), and Gian Ortiz (bass) bleed the amps and drum mics open on an early ZZ Top-like dirt warble, the big rusty riffs of "Give It to Me" rising up from some humid metropolis in tempo-quaking destabilization.