Los Fabulocos


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Everything, right down to the title, about this sophomore offering from Cali-Mex quartet Los Fabulocos is a logical follow-up to the group's 2008 debut. The originals are a little better, the playing is more assured, the singing is a bit more confident, and Kid Ramos' lead guitar -- which was in frustratingly short supply on the previous release -- is hotter if still not as pronounced as you might want or expect. Ex-Blazers frontman accordionist Jesus Cuevas writes the majority of the material and his accordion remains the band's focal point. Even though his vocal phrasing and tone are similar to Los Lobos' David Hidalgo -- and the music can be compared to an early, stripped-down version of that East L.A. band -- this is a potent, often frisky party set that mixes zydeco, Tex-Mex, polka, and blues into a combination that, while not groundbreaking, isn't trying to be anything other than what it is: lots of rootsy fun. Ramos' lone songwriting contribution, "My Brother's Keeper," is one of the set's harder-edged tracks and arguably its best, with the type of scorching Ramos solo that there are just too few of on the rest of the album. A Spanglish cover of Little Richard's "Keep A Knockin'" also tears it up, as does a Chuck Berry meets Doug Sahm-styled rocker, "She Wakes Up Cryin'," a song whose jaunty music belies its melancholy story line of a blue-collar mother wondering about her family's future while her husband has left to find a job and send money back home. Some traditional upbeat Mexican dance selections, propelled by Cuevas' accordion and sung in Spanish, keep the band centered on its Latino roots, with Ramos' guitar taking a subservient role. But the originals -- such as the '50s-style blues of "I Never Thought," with a blistering Ramos performance, and the opening "Everything Will Turn Out Alright," the latter a lovely midtempo ballad sung with low-boil passion by Cuevas and featuring Ramos' sweet slide lines -- show the spontaneous maturity and journeyman craftsmanship displayed throughout this impressive second effort.

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