As the United States' demographic changes so goes our cultural baseline. In the 1970’s rock was dominated by southern California vibes and Southern swamp boogie. There was one band, Santana, which signaled a new avenue featuring Latin influences. Taking up that route soon after was Los Lobos. Later, Ozomatli took up the Hispanic rock banner adding elements of hip-hop and rap to the mix. Carrying on the tradition but adding their own Texas jam signature that the trio refers to as “Texican” is the Brothers Garza, aka, Los Lonely Boys.
Rockpango, the brothers’ 4th album, breaks no new ground but does emphasize the amazing musicianship of the band. The trio began as street musicians, relying on covers of Beatles and Santana songs but one can easily hear the influences of other artist throughout the release, namely Stevie Ray Vaughan and Jimi Hendrix. The album opens with “American Idle,” a song that could have come from the Los Lobos songbook, especially the lyrical content which deals with economic strife. The album’s single, “Fly Away,” is a poppy love song in the vein of their first big hit “Heaven.” “Love In My Veins” is a standard lust-driven saucy number that features organ and lots of Latin rhythms. “16 Monkeys” owes its inspiration to Stevie Ray Vaughn’s guitar licks, Billy Preston’s keyboard work, and offers Beck-inspired spoken vocals. The lyrics are silly but the music will keep you on your feet. You can’t miss Vaughan’s guitar influence on the title track on which Henry Garza seems to be channeling his fellow Texan. The Tosca Strings offer a nice change of pace on the love ballad “Smile.
Most of the songs on Rockpango are contemplations on relationships, love and family. If you’re looking for deep lyrical content, this isn’t the album for you. There are a few songs that are pretty embarrassing in this department, particularly the dopey rap/pop of “Porn Star” – “She’s screaming appeal/She’s walking in sexy heels/her body’s banging/Dressed like a holster.” Quick, somebody call an editor! But the point of listening to Los Lonely Boys is the music. You’d be hard pressed to find a better electric guitar player than Henry who furiously burns up the frets. Ringo lives up to his name in a most un-Beatle-esque manner, seamlessly moving from Latin rhythms to high energy rock. JoJo’s steady bass lines anchor the band’s sound. The brothers’ harmonies are tight in a way only siblings can be; as a rock trio, I can’t think of any one else who delivers the goods this tightly and effectively.