Los Lobos: Good Morning Aztlan

Good Morning Aztlan finds Los Lobos dispensing with the atmospherics and experimentation that marked much of their Nineties work and returning to their early bread and butter: roots rock spiked with R&B, soul and folk sounds they absorbed growing up among Mexican immigrants in East L.A. The title track, based on a fuzzy, dirt-simple riff and two-step backbeat, is the most propulsive among half a dozen fast ones, and the slinky rhythms of "Maria Christina" and "Luz de Mi Vida" are beefed up by horns, accordion and Afro-Cuban percussion. Pristine production casts tales of rural restlessness and friendship in full-on Technicolor, and with oblique references to the murder of singer-guitarist Cesar Rosas' wife casting a pall over some of the down-tempo numbers, Aztlan is all we could ask from these twenty-nine-year vets: a record as poignant as it is rollicking, and a welcome return to form.