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Los Lobos

The Town and the City

Will the wolves survive? And thrive? Their tenth studio album in a powerful 22-year run finds Los Lobos treading water, albeit with the artful grace of an aquatic ballet. Rather than charm and/or stun, as they've done in their most winning and/or ingenious past moments, they use The Town and the City to lay back into their by-now-organic grooves, eventually, after enough spins, seducing the listener into the desert-heat ambience of their mature MexiCali-roots-meets-prog-rock style. But such seemingly signature songs as "Road to Gila Bend" and "Two Dogs and a Bone" lack the zest and sparkle necessary to leave a mark, while "Free Up" needs to be a bit more wild and free to spark the irresistible sing-n-sway-along allure it strives for. Then again, the way "Little Things" approaches the stately grandeur of the Band -- complete with David Hidalgo channeling the crackling vocal emotionality of Rick Danko -- reminds you how both border-crossing groups remain peerless in the art of creating definitive American rock music.

 
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