Los Lobos will return with Native Sons on July 30th via New West Records. The 13-song set was produced by Los Lobos in East Los Angeles and finds the band mapping their musical DNA as a kaleidoscopic selection of tribute songs from their homeland, ultimately creating a crucial snapshot of L.A.’s musical heritage. Having formed in 1973 and gotten their start playing spirited renditions of Mexican folk music at parties and in restaurants, Los Lobos are no strangers to reinterpretation (and if you’ve ever been to one of their legendary live shows, you already know that). These brothers have always held a deep appreciation for diverse music, and they love pulling out old gems and making them shine like new.
For all the trailblazing musical acts who’ve emerged from Los Angeles, very few embody the city’s wildly eclectic spirit more wholeheartedly than Los Lobos. Over the last five decades, the East L.A.-bred band has made an indelible mark on music history by exploring an enormous diversity of genres—rock-and-roll and R&B, surf music and soul, mariachi and música norteña, punk rock and country—and building a boldly unpredictable sound all their own.
In a nod to their neighborhood, Native Sons opens with the wide-eyed frenzy of “Love Special Delivery” by Thee Midniters, an East L.A. garage band and one of the first Chicano rock groups to ever score a major hit in the U.S. From there, it features favorites and deep cuts by other Los Angeles luminaries such as the Beach Boys, WAR, Buffalo Springfield, Jackson Browne, and more. In a particularly meaningful moment for the band, Native Sons includes a fiery cover of “Flat Top Joint” by the Blasters, the seminal L.A. roots-rock band who helped pave the way for their signing to Slash Records in the early ’80s (and whom counted Steve Berlin as a member before his joining Los Lobos). The album’s title track is its sole original song, a loving homage to Los Angeles that sounds right at home amid so many classic tracks.
Today, Variety has premiered “Love Special Delivery” by Thee Midniters as well as “Sail On, Sailor” by the Beach Boys. Of “Love Special Delivery,” Los Lobos’ David Hidalgo says “We grew up on Thee Midniters and felt like they were representing us, so their music means a lot.” “Sail On, Sailor,” an early-70s track originally sung by longtime Los Lobos friend Blondie Chaplin, was one that Los Lobos’ Steve Berlin says “seemed like it would be easy, but once we broke the eggshell it revealed itself to be a lot more complex,” adding “The genius of so many of these records is all the layers that meld together in a way that isn’t very obvious at first.” Hear “Love Special Delivery” and “Sail On, Sailor” HERE.
As with all of their catalogue, Native Sons reveals Los Lobos’ ability to merge genres and styles with both sophistication and playful spontaneity, an element that’s perfectly reflected in the album’s unbridled joy. “I played it for a friend and his first response was that it’s a party record—which sounds right to me,” says Hidalgo. Beyond that undeniably feel-good quality, Native Sons essentially serves as a love letter to Los Angeles and the endless possibilities to be found when all boundaries are shattered. “I couldn’t say there’s a common thread for all these artists, but in a way that’s exactly what makes L.A. great,” says Berlin. “You’ve got R&B and punk rock and rock-and-roll and folk, and somehow it exists together in this one weird city that we all call home.”
Los Lobos have also announced their initial 2021 & 2022 tour dates in support of Native Sons, launching May 27th in Santa Cruz, CA. But first, the band will celebrate Cinco de Mayo this evening with a special live-streamed performance from the studio, featuring a post-show Q&A with the band. Tickets can be purchased via Mandolin HERE. See all Los Lobos tour dates, including appearances with The Mavericks, Steve Earle & The Dukes, and the Tedeschi Trucks Band below.
Quickly finding their footing in L.A.’s punk/college-rock scene, Los Lobos began sharing bills with bands like Public Image Ltd. and the Circle Jerks. After making their major-label debut with 1984’s critically lauded How Will the Wolf Survive?, they went on to achieve such triumphs as contributing a smash-hit cover of Ritchie Valens’s signature song “La Bamba” to the 1987 biopic of the same name, winning three Grammy Awards, collaborating with the likes of Elvis Costello and Ry Cooder, and earning massive worldwide critical acclaim.
Los Lobos’ Native Sons will be available across digital platforms, compact disc, and standard black vinyl. The Double LP vinyl editions will be housed in a gatefold sleeve and will feature three sides of music and a custom etching on its fourth side. A Coke Bottle Clear Vinyl Edition limited to 4,000 copies worldwide will be available at Independent Record Stores while a Brown Vinyl Edition limited to 1,000 copies is available for pre-order NOW via New West Records.
Los Lobos Still Are: David Hidalgo (vocals, guitars) - Louie Pérez, Jr. (vocals, guitars) - Cesar Rosas (vocals, guitars, bass, Hammond B3 organ) - Conrad Lozano (vocals, bass) - Steve Berlin (saxes, midisax, keyboards)