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Album Review

Finally! After three years, four different editions of their self-titled debut, a couple of live outings, a handful of singles, and the radio smash hit "Heaven," San Angelo, TX, wunderkinds Los Lonely Boys drop Sacred, their second studio album. The Garza brothers — Henry (guitar), JoJo (bass), and Ringo (drums) — up the ante on this slab; it's a big production number that includes additional keyboards, horns, and extra percussion muscle. Does it take away from the immediacy of their debut? Nope. This is not the ill-fated sophomore slump. Sacred is, for the most part, an uptempo, rollicking, streetwise Texas rock record with many surprises. The Garza brothers' lyric writing is still developing, but the tightknit arrangements, popping grooves, and focused musicianship more than balance. The album's first single is "Diamonds," and true to corporate rock standards, it's an utterly catchy, infectious little track, but it's far from the best thing here. Henry's blistering guitar offers a beautiful hook for the trio to sing off of; it's a simple, hooky midtempo love ballad, played on stun, with two organs (played by Reese Wynans and Mike Finnegan) and producer John Porter lending a second guitar. All mixed up, it creates a big swirling danceable pop noise that will be instantly memorable to anyone who encounters it. That said, there are other cuts here that reveal the depths of the bandmembers' musical knowledge and ideas that they are capable of pulling off. Take "Roses" as an example. Henry's Jimi Hendrix-cum-Stevie Ray Vaughan-cum-Albert Collins guitar style flat out creates a groove for the trio to sing from — its melody is sophisticated, entrancing, and layered through with B-3 fills. Ringo's polyrhythmic drum style and Carl Perazza's hand drums, the shimmering acoustic guitars, and the guitar solo make this the best driving track of 2006 so far.

The deeper Latin flavor of this record enters on "Oye Mamacita." Henry's ear-popping funk riff is complemented by the organ and a large rhythm section laying down the floor. It's a loose, orgiastic stinger where riffs, vocals, hooks, and rhythms collide and then slip into place, stacking on top of one another. The wah-wah guitar solo in this cut is to die for, and truth be told, it's these guys who are creating a new mainstream Tex-Mex-driven Latin rock & roll that even gringos can cut a rug to. "Texican Style" (which is the best description of the music Los Lonely Boys play) features the button accordion of Michael Guerra right alongside Henry's guitar. The Texas Horns contribute to a couple of cuts, including the anthemic opener, "My Way" (no, not that one), and "Outlaws," which also showcases Willie Nelson and Los Lonely Boys' father, Enrique Garza, Sr., on vocals. The latter cut puts Henry front and center with his wah-wahed, "Voodoo Chile"-esque opening. Here is the one-two stomp of Texas outlaw country music updated for the 21st century. The Texas Horns play a funky, gritty mariachi style introducing Enrique's swaggering verse, which introduces Nelson. One might mistakenly perceive this as a nod to novelty, but it kicks ass. Period. The set closes with "Living My Life," a slippery, beautifully constructed Tex-Mex son in English. The three-part harmony is impeccable; the passion in the tune is balanced by its Sonoran desert feel. It's tempting to single out Henry for his fluid, intuitive, and imaginative guitar playing, but that would be a mistake, as his brothers' rhythm section is simply one of the best in the business. They add imagination, grit, and tough grooves to everything they touch. Add the fact that they co-write their songs — and they all sing — and you have a unit that is an entire thing unto itself. Sacred is an exciting, even wonderful second step for one of the truly unique bands on the scene.

Customer Reviews

Good Stuff-Just A Little More Tame

This is what happens when Big Corporate sticks their fingers in the pie...this is a good set, just milder and laid back. There's no Onda on here...and more emphasis is on Everly-style harmonies than Henry's flying guitars. (That's a shame.) Maybe they were just on a mellow groove for the most part, but Oye Mamacita and Diamonds make it worth it. LLB have a remarkable chemistry with Willie Nelson, and it shows in Outlaws. This is a great drinkin' and chillin' on the front porch CD. Here's an analogy for you - the first CD was like the hot sex you had with your lover those first few times; this one's the happy marriage where still waters run deep, but the substance of love endures. LLB are one of the FEW quality bands out there. They're writing their own stuff, which is more than most can say. This CD is worth your money and time~download it and go chill on your porch with a tall cool one.

I’m Still Texican to the Bone

Two summers ago, the Los Lonely Boys invaded the radio with the extremely catchy Heaven. The south of the border rock with harmonies was a refreshing diversion from all the rap and overproduced pop that still litters the radio landscape today and even won the Boys a Grammy that year. But the song, as catch as it was, did have the trappings of a one hit wonder though the band is back trying to avoid that dreaded label. The new album Sacred starts right where they left off with their mix of their Texas upbringing and Mexican heritage all brought together with a pop appeal. The album’s first song, My Way, has almost a cabaret sound. Roses on the other hand has a disco feel it as if Chic had grown up in Texas. Later on the album, Texican Style has a sixties vibe to it. All these different blend nicely with the already established TexMex sound the band has cultivated. But the problem with the album though, is they don’t stray to far from the style making it repetitive at times. Songs like Diamonds sound as if they sat down and tried to create another Heaven. It also sounds like their cameo on Santana’s last album rubbed off because before looking at the musicians on the album, I though a few of the tracks featured the legendary guitarist. The imitations don’t start there as the first time I heard the opening riff to the closing track, Living My Life, I though they were redoing Stone Temple Pilots Creep. The Boys do branch out a little lyrically with the quasi-political One More Day stating, “Even the blind man sees what’s wrong with the world today” then stresses that that all we need is one more day to make a change. The standout track Outlaws features two of the Boys biggest influences, Willie Nelson and the guy who taught the Boys everything they know, their own father Enrique Garza Sr. The two add their own verse reminiscing on old Texas when the outlaws could also be the heroes. The two mentors light a spark under their protégés as there is an intensity that is sometimes missing on other tracks. Maybe on the next outing, they should make the trio into a five piece.

Another great album

The quality of music that these guys play is amazing. totally recommend!

Biography

Formed: 2000 in San Angelo, TX

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Hailing from San Angelo, Texas, Los Lonely Boys are a sibling trio whose music draws equally from rock, blues, Tex-Mex, conjunto, and tejano. Such a combination is shaped by the band's three brothers: guitarist Henry Garza, bassist JoJo Garza, and drummer Ringo Garza, Jr. The siblings' father, Ringo Garza, Sr., was a member of another sibling band, the Falcones, who played conjunto music around Texas during the '70s and '80s. After that group broke up, Garza went solo, backed by his three sons even...
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Sacred, Los Lonely Boys
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