Los Lonely Boys: Forgiven

Back after assorted lifestyle problems, the Garza brothers crank a slick slab of '70s hard blues rock and southern boogie. Great news if you're looking for a lifeless imitation of Hendrix, Vaughan and Santana.

Los Lonely Boys


Label: Sony
US Release Date: 2008-07-01
UK Release Date: Available as import

For Los Lonely Boys' first album, the Garza brothers called on outlaw country legend Willie Nelson for extra guitar (and extra credibility). For this one, the third in the Los Lonely Boys canon, they're hauling in John Mayer producer (and ex-Blues Brother) Steve Jordan. Dr. John guests on a couple of tracks, lending the warmth of Hammond B3 to "You Can't See the Light", the chill of Wurlitzer to "The Way I Feel", but sunk so far down in the mix that you can hardly hear him. Even by Grammy-award-winning standards, this is ultra-safe, ultra-commercial pap, blues rock with every bit of scratch and grit vacuumed out.

It's not that the Garzas can't play. Henry Garza, the band's singer and lead guitarist, has certifiable skills. His solos, leaning heavily on the wah wah, are the most interesting part of nearly every song. And yet, even here, they seem wrapped in plastic. Compared to obvious influences like Jimi Hendrix, the fretwork sounds noodle-y and pointless and entirely without fire. And the songs that they are slipped into seem utterly conventional, laid back to the point of somnolence.

There's not even much Latin influence to these songs, a slap of congas here, a tight harmony there, but mostly just endlessly arid exercises in second-hand classic rock. You only have to dig out the old Santana vinyl to realize exactly how white-bread most of these songs are, linked more to the easy listening blues guys (Robert Cray, John Hiatt) than to anything overtly Hispanic. "Heart Won't Tell a Lie", for instance, opens with a gleaming series of blues guitar notes, each one perfectly formed and lit for a close-up, no squeaks, slips or percussive thumps to indicate the effort of playing. The song turns rougher in the chorus, a swaggering, hulking shout-along refrain that feels almost live, and the wah wah solo near the end starts to smoke a little. But it all seems calculated, contained, comfortable. "It's like an imitation of something really good," my husband, a fan of blues, jazz and especially Hendrix, snipes from the other room, and he's got a point.

Los Lonely Boys even dig out the Spencer Davis Band chestnut "I'm a Man" (also covered by, er, Chicago), perhaps the apex of late 1960s Neanderthal rock. If you wish that lo-fi and punk and gender equality had never happened, that we were all still living in some Marshall-amped, 1970s wonderland where groupies knew their place, this is exactly the song to cover.

If you want the two bonus tracks -- the moderately boogie-ing "There's a War Tonight", and the downright embarrassing hip hop Latin "Guero in the Barrio" -- you'll have to shop at Wal-Mart, but I wouldn't bother. It's somehow strangely appropriate that you can only get the full Forgiven experience at America's largest retailer, somewhere among the gun racks and flag pins and cheap plastic crap from China. This record is an approximation of something real and true and traditionally resonant, but it ain't anywhere near the real thing.





Ivy Mix's 'Spirits of Latin America' Evokes the Ancestors

A common thread unites Ivy Mix's engaging Spirits of Latin America; "the chaotic intermixture between indigenous and European traditions" is still an inextricable facet of life for everyone who inhabits the "New World".


Contemporary Urbanity and Blackness in 'New Jack City'

Hood films are a jarring eviction notice for traditional Civil Rights rhetoric and, possibly, leadership -- in other words, "What has the Civil Rights movement done for me lately?"


'How to Handle a Crowd' Goes to the Moderators

Anika Gupta's How to Handle a Crowd casts a long-overdue spotlight on the work that goes into making online communities enjoyable and rewarding.


Regis' New LP Reaffirms His Gift for Grinding Industrial Terror

Regis' music often feels so distorted, so twisted out of shape, even the most human moments feel modular. Voices become indistinguishable from machines on Hidden in This Is the Light That You Miss.


DMA's Go for BritElectroPop on 'The Glow'

Aussie Britpoppers the DMA's enlist Stuart Price to try their hand at electropop on The Glow. It's not their best look.


On Infinity in Miranda July's 'Me and You and Everyone We Know'

In a strange kind of way, Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know is about two competing notions of "forever" in relation to love.


Considering the Legacy of Deerhoof with Greg Saunier

Working in different cities, recording parts as MP3s, and stitching them together, Deerhoof once again show total disregard for the very concept of genre with their latest, Future Teenage Cave Artists.


Joshua Ray Walker Is 'Glad You Made It'

Texas' Joshua Ray Walker creates songs on Glad You Made It that could have been on a rural roadhouse jukebox back in the 1950s. Their quotidian concerns sound as true now as they would have back then.


100 gecs Remix Debut with Help From Fall Out Boy, Charli XCX and More

100 gecs' follow up their debut with a "remix album" stuffed with features, remixes, covers, and a couple of new recordings. But don't worry, it's just as blissfully difficult as their debut.


What 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Taught Me About Unlearning Toxic Masculinity

When I first came out as trans, I desperately wanted acceptance and validation into the "male gender", and espoused negative beliefs toward my femininity. Avatar: The Last Airbender helped me transcend that.


Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi Remake "I Am the Antichrist to You" (premiere + interview)

Nu Deco Ensemble and Kishi Bashi team up for a gorgeous live performance of "I Am the Antichrist to You", which has been given an orchestral renovation.


Rock 'n' Roll with Chinese Characteristics: Nirvana Behind the Great Wall

Like pretty much everywhere else in the pop music universe, China's developing rock scene changed after Nirvana. It's just that China's rockers didn't get the memo in 1991, nor would've known what to do with it, then.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.