Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Los Lobos: The Town and the City [Hollywood/Mammoth, 2006]
Billed as a song cycle about a Chicano's epic journey from Mexican valley to neon metropolis--something like that--the East L.A. Grammy winners' 10th studio album may suit old fans but won't convert any new ones. Slightly stolid even at their best, these veteran roots-rockers have never been slower--they sound tired, depressed. There's subtlety aplenty in the singing and especially the guitar, for which credit both player David Hidalgo and mixer Tchad Blake. But unless you count the cumbia, not one song rocks out. And apart from the laid-back "Free Up," where the subtlety renders an apparent throwaway seductive with time, not one stands out either.
"Free Up" Choice Cuts