It's been four years since the pride of East L.A. issued a new studio album. But early next month, Los Lobos will release Tin Can Trust, and a preliminary spin suggests it will be another jewel in the now-iconic band's nearly 40-year-old crown. The only change in the band's lineup in all that time was the addition, about a decade in, of saxophonist/keyboardist Steve Berlin to the quartet of Louis Pérez, David Hidalgo, Cesar Rosas, and Conrad Lozano. That extraordinary ensemble has created an indelible, signature blend of rock 'n' roll, Mexican traditional music, blues, and associated roots unmatched since the days of the Band. Tin Can's title track is a moody, simmering, blues-lashed meditation on trying to survive hard times, slowly blossoming into an epic, guitar-fueled burner. Dark, hovering shadows, in fact, are repeatedly turned into powerful statements throughout the album, from the opening "I'll Burn It Down," a blues-rocker with guest vocals from Susan Tedeschi, to the exquisite anguish of "All My Bridges Burning," co-written by Rosas and Robert Hunter. There's also a rollicking cover of the Grateful Dead's "West L.A. Freeway," an effervescent cumbia ("Yo Canto"), and an accordion-driven norteño ("Mujer Ingrata"), both written by Rosas. As always, every track is packed with cunning details and subtle experimentation, from stray Memphis licks to jazzy interludes by Hidalgo's guitar to flashes of psychedelia. Chester Bay, a local quartet that mixes up rock, blues, pop, and reggae, opens Wednesday. On Thursday the honor goes to Moreland & Arbuckle, a Kansas trio that plays gritty, hard Delta and country blues (mostly originals). Flood, their major-label debut, issued by Telarc last winter, is terrific.
Wednesdays, Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. Starts: July 14. Continues through July 15, 2010