"Good Morning Aztlan"
"Good Morning Aztlan"
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Tuesday June 04, 2002 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 8 inches; 299 words Type of Material: Correction
Song lyrics--In a Sunday Calendar review of the Los Lobos album "Good Morning Aztlan," the translated lyrics, "You are the voice of my son," refer to the Latin American song style known as son, not to the composer's offspring. Additionally, the review misstated the day the band will perform at House of Blues in West Hollywood. It is Friday.
For The Record
Los Angeles Times Sunday June 09, 2002 Home Edition Sunday Calendar Part F Page 2 Calendar Desk 3 inches; 142 words Type of Material: Correction
Song lyrics--In the June 2 Record Rack review of the Los Lobos album "Good Morning Aztlan," the translated lyrics "You are the voice of my son" refer to the Latin American song style son, not to the composer's offspring.
There's a darkness around the edges of Los Lobos' eighth major-label album, a sometimes elusive but always unmistakable presence, in an overtone of David Hidalgo's soulful vocals, or in a discord among the guitars. It even lurks in the record's many bright, upbeat moments. That's what can happen when you're committed to charting the human condition with an unflinching eye.
Los Lobos has never failed in that mission and in "Good Morning Aztlan," the quintet from East Los Angeles comes up against a potentially dispiriting wall of sorrows. When you listen to the lyric of "Luz de Mi Vida"--"Light of my life / You are the voice of my son / You are forever"--it's impossible not to think of the murder of singer-guitarist Cesar Rosas' wife last year and to partake in his grief.
A lover isn't the only loss. There's an immigrant's dreams, nature, and the old ways that comforted and sustained a community in a hostile world. The album's detailed depictions of that life--the banter of ranch workers, the sights and smells of a neighborhood--carry a palpable warmth and affection
As if gearing up to cope with the uncertainty in the air, Los Lobos (which plays Amoeba Music in Hollywood on Tuesday, the day of the album's release, and the House of Blues in West Hollywood on Saturday) shelves the sonic experimentation and studio abstraction of their last few English-language albums and returns to its role as an earthy, live band, one steeped in classic soul and rock signatures ranging from Curtis Mayfield to Santana to the Band.
The five players form an offhandedly virtuosic unit, manipulating massive musical shapes with the exhilarating ease of an orchestra, yet in essence never seeming like anything but a bar band.
This is music armed for battle, gathering all its strength and spirit to resist the drag of a heavy heart.
The Anthropological Mixtape"
"Just cuz civil rights is law doesn't mean that we all abide / Tell me are you free?" Ndegeocello asks in the opening track of her fourth album (in stores Tuesday)--a striking return to her early role of revolutionary soul singer after focusing chiefly on the ups and downs of romantic relationships in her last album, 1999's "Bitter."
The singer-songwriter-bassist even employs the term "revolutionary soul singer" in the album's second track, "Hot Night," whose aggressive R&B/funk tone also recalls her early work, which was a pioneering step in the neo-soul movement that has given us Lauryn Hill and Alicia Keys.
At her best, in fact, Ndegeocello (pronounced N-day-gay-O-chello) is the most political of the '90s crop of neo-soul singers, someone who speaks passionately about politics on various levels--sexual, social, racial and economic.
There is much to admire in these tracks, whether Ndegeocello assumes the role of political orator, questions her own faith (the spiritually charged "Jabril") or takes us into a sensual world of private passions ("Barry Farms" and "Trust"). There is a tension and urgency in these moments that is as gripping as pop music gets.
If Ndegeocello, who will be at the Roxy in West Hollywood on Tuesday and Wednesday, had limited the album to, say, 50 minutes, she would have had her fourth straight four-star collection. But the consistency of the 70-odd minute album is broken by tracks--including the cosmic, new age "Earth" and "Better by the Pound"--that lack the absorbing edge that makes Ndegeocello such a rare and valuable talent.
"The Last Broadcast"
With their 2000 debut, "Lost Souls," Doves ranked among the most accomplished and promising of the new British pop acts, and brothers Jez and Andy Williams and Jimi Goodwin (sharing writing, instrumental and vocal duties) make good on that promise here. "The Last Broadcast" (in stores Tuesday) is as readily appealing as it is unabashedly ambitious, taking broad cues from other British Isles acts that have managed that balance, yet rarely sounding derivative.
Themes of faith and perseverance against the darkness are set in music of grandeur and invention with an artistic scope reminiscent of U2--"Satellites" elevates with a gospel tone somewhere between the Irish band and England's Spiritualized. Other comparisons can be made to Radiohead (with more warmth), Echo & the Bunnymen, and even King Crimson and the Moody Blues in some of the distinctively lush touches ("M62 Song" is actually an adaptation of the early Crimson ballad "Moonchild").
There's majesty in the textural shifts of "Where We're Calling From," and the rueful tone of "Friday's Dust" is given depth and dimension by a captivatingly original orchestration.
The most immediate songs, "Words" and "There Goes the Fear," are pop gems of deceptive directness, the latter pitting its optimistic lyrics, tinkling keyboards and hum-along choruses against an underlying sense that fear never goes.
The group plays L.A.'s Mayan Theatre on Thursday.