Tin Can Trust
First Appeared in The Music Box, November 2010, Volume 17, #11
Written by John Metzger
Wed November 3, 2010, 06:30 AM CDT
Like most bands that have been around for decades, Los Lobos is beyond the point of its career during which the outfit actively is seeking new influences to incorporate into its work. Arguably, Los Lobosí maturation occurred in 1992 when all of the pieces in its sonic tapestry were melded together within the experimental gem Kiko. Ever since, the group has been busy refining its approach, rather than expanding its reach. At times, Los Lobos has seemed uncertain about the best way to proceed (Colossal Head, The Ride). At other moments, the collective has taken comfort either by being itself (Good Morning Aztlan) or by relaying messages about life in the 21st Century (This Time) and the immigrant experience (The Town and the City).
With The Town and the City, Los Lobos seemed as if it was ready to escape from the constraints it had placed upon itself. The outing was, after all, the most experimental effort that the group had issued in years. With its latest album Tin Can Trust, however, Los Lobos has fallen back upon the basic format it established with Good Morning Aztlan. Although this isnít inherently a bad place to be, it might be disappointing for some of the groupís more adventurous fans.
Tin Can Trust contains neither an overarching narrative nor an attempt by Los Lobos to emphasize a particular aspect of its music. Consequently, at first glance, the outing feels somewhat disjointed, like a jumble of sounds and styles that serve no higher purpose other than to exist. With time, however, the tracks begin to fold together to form a unified statement. As it turns out, Tin Can Trust contains a sequence of loosely knit songs about struggle and determination in the face of difficult times, while its arrangements demonstrate the bandís DIY ethic as well as its astounding versatility.
While crafting Tin Can Trust, Los Lobos retreated to the place of its birth, taking up residence in a hole-in-the-wall recording studio on the eastern side of Los Angeles. Although the outfit has never really lost touch with its roots, the environment in which it chose to work undoubtedly influenced how the project came together. There is a gritty, shambolic quality to the music on Tin Can Trust. This isnít a result of sloppy performances, but rather it emanates from the prevailing mood of shadowy, urban darkness that is captured by Los Lobosí scrappy, garage-rock approach.
The characters that roam through the songs on Tin Can Trust are down on their luck and fighting to survive. For them, nothing is easy, and not surprisingly, there is a general sense of weariness that hangs over the affair as they try to escape from the gloom and doom of their everyday existence. Slowly, though, guitars poke through the fog, consuming Burn It Down and igniting the spiritual quest of the Santana-esque All My Bridges Are Burning. Both Yo Canto and Mujer Ingrata are spirited cultural excursions, while the blues-based contours of the Grateful Deadís West L.A. Fadeaway are wrapped around a driving, R&B-fueled rhythm.
There is no doubt that Tin Can Trust isnít as immediately gripping as some of Los Lobosí other efforts. For all of the dust and dirt that the outfit sprinkled across the affair, Tin Can Trustís raw, earthy constructs are bathed in an array of subtle, textural colors. With time and patience, the collection inevitably is proven to be another superb addition to Los Lobosí estimable canon. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Tin Can Trust is available from
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
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