Los Lobos

Disconnected in New York City

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Los Lobos were together for 33 years before they got around to making a live album, but it didn't take long for them to grow fond of the format; Disconnected in New York City is the fourth concert set the veteran East L.A. band has released since 2005. As the title suggests, Disconnected in New York City was recorded during an acoustic gig at the City Winery in N.Y.C., and shows off the more intimate and easygoing side of the group's musical personality, with the absence of amps taking some of the bite out of David Hidalgo's guitar solos, often the high point of their gigs. (He does get to show off his chops on "Tin Can Trust," and they're as impressive as ever.) That's not to say Los Lobos sound mellow on this date; the group is tight and emphatic at every turn, and Cesar Rosas' vocals and Steve Berlin's sax get a greater chance to shine in these quieter settings. The rhythms are fierce whey get a chance to simmer -- the interplay between percussionists Bugs Gonzalez and Camilo Quinones is inspired -- and rather than lean on their best-known tunes, Los Lobos reach deep into their songbook and pull out some excellent lesser-recognized numbers, including "Little Things," "Tears of God," and "Oh Yeah." (They do deliver "La Bamba" to close the show, but invest the crowd-pleaser with lots of energy, and interpolate "Good Lovin'" to add a soulful spin.) Disconnected in New York City isn't quite as interesting as 2005's Acoustic en Vivo, which gave Los Lobos more room to explore their roots in Mexican folk music, but anyone who thinks this band may have run out of steam after pulling out their acoustic guitars gets schooled with a single listen to Disconnected. Forty years on, Los Lobos are still one of America's best, bravest, and most satisfying bands, and their skills and their their instincts remain razor-sharp, regardless of their stage volume.

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