Los Lobos began making music back when Richard Nixon was still in office. For the historically illiterate, that’s more than 40 years, during which the Los Angeles crew has put forth its distinctive sounds — from slanted Tex-Mex and Folk to straight-up Country and Rock — via more than a dozen studio albums and a variety of EPs, live records and side projects.
The band is still probably best known in the mainstream for its take on Ritchie Valens’ “La Bamba,” from the 1988 biopic of the same name. Which is unfortunate, because it’s the least interesting thing Los Lobos has done.
The group’s core — David Hidalgo, Louis Perez, Cesar Rosas, Conrad Lozano and Steve Berlin, all of whom play multiple instruments — has remained intact since the mid-’70s, resulting in a telepathic musicality perhaps best represented on 1992’s Kiko, an eclectic collection of songs that holds up as one of the best records by anyone in any genre over the last 25 years.
The band’s first album of new material in five years, Gates of Gold, is set for release on Sept. 25. Hidalgo, in many ways Los Lobos’ creative glue, says to expect another varied effort informed by everything from girls to politics.
“I have been writing songs since I was about 14, when I wrote something I can’t even remember about a girl with long hair,” he recently told The Telegraph. “I’m still writing songs like that. But you sometimes write about sadness. It’s part of being a human being. I’m basically optimistic, but we all get beat down sometimes. America has become a much more agitated place. There is more dialogue about racial matters and it is discussed in a more open way than when Los Lobos first started out in the early 1970s, but things are getting worse in ways. More and more people are pulling out guns. But we tend not to be too political in our concerts because people are usually there to have a good time and not to think about politics.”