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FDL Late Nite: Los Lobos

 
This is the only video clip I could get from the new Los Lobos album, The Town and the City, which has become a real favorite of mine for the car of late.  It's a top rated album of the year by a compendium of the critics at Metacritic, and rightly so:  it's an outstanding piece of intelligent roots rock and roll art. 
 
Their promoter had read some of my previous writing about music from and about the Latino community in the United States, and offered to send me the CD.  I'm a Los Lobos fan, but had not been aware of the new album.  This is some of that hefty swag I've gotten from this blogging gig.  Now if only I could bill for my time.
 
Anyway, I accepted the CD and duly disclose that to you here and now.  Then I listened to the album and really liked it:  I find it grows on me with each listen.  Though I write about Latino voices and the right wing campaign against brown people, and even the incarceration of immigrants into American concentration camps, this is not primarily a political album.  (For a new installment in the wingnut war on immigrants, see Latina Lista's latest.  Ask yourself, how many countries accept U. S. dollars?)
 
It has content, from the perspective of the characters given life in some of  the lyrics, who speak of the immigrant experience, and very loosely it seems possible to imagine a kind of song cycle, from one track to the next, of the experience of becoming a regular resident of the U. S. after coming over from Mexico.  The video clip of "The Road to Gila Bend" is one of the early tracks on the album, and though it's not quite my favorite, there's no weak tracks on the album.
 
As you can see from the clip, these musicians are experienced, mature artists, and the album is suffused with tasty, unostentatious guitar licks and tight, sharp percussion.  Though the album, to me, is very much about the music, it includes lyrics like these, from the album's second track, "Hold On," calling to mind the migrant worker experience, or even the meat packing factory worker's experience:
Hold on
Hold on to every breath
and if I make it till the sunrise
just do it all over again
I'm killing myself just to keep alive
Killing myself to survive
Killing myself to survive

While the album really impresses me with its execution of muscianship, it also infects you with its ability to convey character and perspective from a quintessentially human point of view.  There's rocking blues on this album, music with a more moody and meditative feel, a raucous and lively Spanish language track called "Chuco's Cumbia" (my current favorite), and more.  There's love and loss, and through it all, a sense of belonging to or finding one's place in the wider community.  Good stuff.

Anyway, I'm not really going anywhere in particular with this, but I wanted to share my impressions with you, thank Los Lobos for the CD and more importantly their continuing artistry, and also use whatever platform I have to give more exposure to voices from the immigrant Latino experience in the U. S.  This album is in many ways a throwback to the old idea of the concept album, but without the precious excesses or hypersentimentality of many exemplars of that particular genre.  These guys are too smart, too mature as musicians and too much in love with great music for that.  If you want, you can get the album here.

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Pachacutec

Pachacutec

Pachacutec did not, as is commonly believed, die in 1471. To escape the tragic sight of his successors screwing up the Inca Empire he’d built, he fled east into the Amazon rain forest, where he began chewing lots of funky roots to get higher than Hunter Thompson ever dared. Oddly, these roots gave him not only a killer buzz, but also prolonged his life beyond what any other mortal has known, excluding Novakula. Whatever his doubts of the utility of living long enough to see old friends pop up in museums as mummies, or witness the bizarrely compelling spectacle of Katherine Harris, he’s learned a thing or two along the way. For one thing, he’s learned the importance of not letting morons run a country, having watched the Inca Empire suffer many civil wars requiring the eventual ruler to gain support from the priests and the national military. He now works during fleeting sober moments to build a vibrant progressive movement sufficiently strong and sustainable to drive a pointed stake through the heart of American “conservatism” forever. He enjoys a gay marriage, classic jazz and roots for the New York Mets.

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