The resurgence of Santana must make the turn of the century seem like a good time to sign a Latin-tinged rock band, but Vallejo owes its major-label status to Emilio Estefan, who has guided the career of his wife Gloria among others. But Vallejo, led by the three Vallejo brothers and specifically by lead singer and lead guitarist A.J. Vallejo, is more of a hard-rock outfit than a Latin band in the Caribbean sense Estefan has championed previously, despite the occasional Spanish lyric and percussion flourish. Sporting three guitarists, this is a band that plays rock songs with dense, hard arrangements, though still leaving plenty of room for A.J.'s fluid, yet slightly anxious vocals. The lyrics tell a young man's tale of promise ("Into the New"), frustration ("Someway"), camaraderie ("La Familia"), premature nostalgia ("Back in the Day"), and infatuation with death ("Día de Muerto"). A.J.'s earnestness is appealing, even if his outlook is callow by definition. It sounds like Vallejo is quite a live band and that this is, in essence, a live set recreated in the studio; A.J. even ends the last song, "Let It Slide," by saying, "Thank you very much, God bless you all."
Into the New Review
by William Ruhlmann