LOS LOBOS GOOD MORNING AZTLÁN (Universal) Rating: NNN Rating: NNN
Ditching their long-time production partners, Mitchell Froom and Tchad Blake, for Stone Roses/Radiohead producer John Leckie, Los Lobos' signal to change directions couldn't be clearer. Good Morning Aztlán is as straight-ahead a Los Lobos record as the group have ever recorded, driven by big, bluesy guitar rock tunes and stripped-down folk songs. Going for simplicity over style is an interesting choice, but one ultimately let down by uncharacteristically lazy songwriting. Much of Good Morning Aztlán sounds like coasting, and the most successful song is the driving Malaqúe, a rootsy Mexican folk tune driven by Brazilian percussion that works in part because it's a throwback to the group's adventurous past experiments.