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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Los Lonely Boys, Golden Smog and more

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Sunday, July 16, 2006

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Los Lonely Boys “Sacred” Epic ***

Los Lonely Boys made plenty of friends with their self-titled 2004 debut album, which has sold nearly three million copies and won a Grammy Award for the hit single, “Heaven.” So “Sacred” comes as a confi dent sophomore effort and doesn’t veer too far from the sibling trio’s self-dubbed “Texican” style of blues-based rock ’n’ roll — but it does it just a little bit better. The stars of the show are still the same — the brothers’ rich vocal blend and Henry Garza’s post-Stevie Ray Vaughan guitar work, which provides both a rhythmic anchor and some instrumental virtuosity. Fortunately, Los Lonely Boys push things forward on “Sacred” as well, adding keyboards and horns to the mix and exploring some stylistic terrain that’s different, but not to the point of being unfamiliar. “I Never Met a Woman,” for instance, is a soul ballad that builds into a Latin-fl avored instrumental break, while “One More Day” bears the stamp of Curtis Mayfi eld’s social commentary. Garza’s harmonica on “Home” lends a Stevie Wonderesque flavor to the track, and “Outlaws,” with its wah-wah guitar and horns — not to mention guest vocals by Willie Nelson and the Boys’ father, Enrique Garza Sr. — is one of their heaviest excursions yet. None of those blaze an entirely new path, though, and confirmed fans will delight in the grooving, melodic lights of “Diamonds,” “Orale,” the slinky “Texican Style” and the defi ant “My Way.” Los Lonely Boys are still in their particular brand of “Heaven,” but “Sacred” adds a few new colors to the walls.


Golden Smog “Another Fine Day” Lost Highway ***

It’s always a fine occurrence when this “supergroup” — which features principal members of Wilco, Soul Asylum, the Jayhawks and other bands — unites for a new project. A generous 15 tracks help make up for the eight years between Smog alerts, and this one runs a gamut from fuzzed up rockers (“Corvette,” “Hurricane”) to psychedelic explorations (“Beautiful Mind” and the title track), acoustic meditations (“Long Time Ago,” “Listen Joe,” “I Can”) and Merseybeat pop (“You Make it Easy,” “Frying Pan Eyes”). Proof that one plus one plus ... however many can indeed be greater than the sum of its parts.

New & Noteworthy:

Alien Ant Farm, “Up in the Attic” (New Door/UME): The rowdy California rockers find a new label home for their fourth album.

Rodney Atkins, “If You’re Going Through Hell” (Curb): The Tennessee country singer-songwriter gives fans a bit of heaven after a three-year wait for his sophomore album.

Black Stone Cherry, “Black Stone Cherry” (Roadrunner): The debut outing from the Kentucky quartet that looks just like the “honest to goodness, real rock ’n’ roll” they claim to make.

Boot Camp Clik, “Last Stand” (Duck Down Music): The hip-hop supergroup is back to full strength with the return of Heltah Skeltah and production by Pete Rock, 9th Wonder and others.

Eric Church, “Sinners Like Me” (Capitol): The North Carolina songwriter and ex-jock turns artist with his debut set.

Bruce Cockburn, “Life Short Call Now” (Rounder): The 29th album from the potent Canadian songsmith, featuring guest appearances by Ani DiFranco and Ron Sexsmith.

Eighteen Visions, “Eighteen Visions” (Epic): The California headbangers’ second major-label release follows 2004’s roundly acclaimed “Obsession.”

Enter the Haggis, “Soapbox Heroes” (United For Opportunity): The Toronto group’s multi-genre music blend is much tastier than the Scottish dish that inspired its name.

Gran Bel Fisher, “Full Moon Cigarette” (Hollywood): The debut album by the Ohio-born singer-songwriter, who’s now based in Los Angeles.

Helmet, “Monochrome” (Warcon): The hardcore heroes reunite with producer Wharton Tiers, who handled the group’s fi rst two releases in the early ’90s.

Steve Miller Band, “Fly Like an Eagle: 30th Anniversary Edition” (Capitol): Celebrate the seminal album with three extra tracks and a DVD featuring a live show and interview.

N.O.R.E. y La Familia, “Ya Tu Sabe” (Roc-A-Fella): Capone’s rap partner steps out again with his fi rst solo album in four years.

Particle, “Transformation Live: For the People” (Shout! Factory): The Los Angeles jam band favorites caught live in its favored habitat, on CD and DVD.

John Pizzarelli, “Dear Mr. Sinatra” (Telarc): The latest attack on the Ol’ Blue Eyes songbook comes from this veteran jazz singer and guitarist.

Chip Taylor, “Unglorious Hallelujah ...” (Back Porch): The singer-songwriter (actor Jon Voight’s younger brother) makes up for the six years between albums with a two-CD set featuring “Songs of Love, Pain and Destruction.”

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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