Release Date: 03.30.04
Record label: Virgin
Genre(s): Movies, Film Scores, Musicals, Etc.
More Than "Heaven"
by: andrew casillas
Historically, West Texas hasn't exactly been a hotbed for hip and/or popular music. Occasionally, an artist or two will break out nationally, but these "successes" mainly fall into the country music genre. In fact, aside from the all-too-brief indie supernova that was At The Drive-In, there hasn't been a single rock artist of note to come out of West Texas this century.
All this makes the success of Los Lonely Boys quite the anomaly. After all, it's not everyday that a group of Hispanic brothers from San Angelo make their way onto the pop charts. Moreover, at a time when our musical landscape is becoming more and more lily-white, the social importance of a group like this automatically seems to embellish and overshadow their musical aptitude. Luckily, this self-titled debut's smart, knowing mix of roots rock and blues quickly extinguishes any notion that Los Lonely Boys are just some lucky bar-band - in fact, these guys can really play.
From the gate, the brothers Garza make their intent clear. Indeed, after the first two songs, it become apparent that girls, religion and redemption are the major themes of the LP - but the main star of the show is the outstanding playing layered throughout the record. The opening track, "Senorita", starts off with a simple guitar lick but quickly evolves into a groove even George Clinton would approve of. "Crazy Dreams" and "Dime Mi Amor" are showcases for vocalist/guitarist Henry Garza's instinctive Stevie Ray-esque guitar phrasing, while "Velvet Sky" is saved from cliché by the Tex-Mex influenced rhythm section of Jojo and Ringo Garza.
These disparate elements are brought together perfectly in the single "Heaven" - quite possibly the best single of summer '04. It's lazy groove, reflective lyrics and smooth harmonies blend seamlessly to create what could be the Southwest's answer to "Just My Imagination" - a rock n' soul triumph. Other notables include the Los Lobos-lite "Nobody Else", and the lovely closer "La Contestacion", which could fit easily onto a Café Tacuba album.
However impressive their technical skills may be, Los Lonely Boys leave you a little wanting when it comes to the lyrics. Some verses come off a bit cliché, and at times you feel you've heard some of these lines before ("When I kiss your lips I can't explain/What I feel in my heart for you"). Of course, keep in mind that the words wouldn't be such a problem if the music wasn't so good.
Los Lonely Boys isn't a perfect debut - in fact, they still have a ways to go before they hit their stride - but it's more than promising, and judging by the recent track record of Texas bands, that's more than enough as well. 26-Sep-2004 9:01 PM