Amplified Heat and Los Lonely Boys


SXSW Records

Amplified Heat

On the Hunt (Gonzolandia)

Los Lonely Boys

Rockpango (Playing in Traffic)

Three brothers, two sets: Texas Latinate in triplicate. Amplified Heat's third LP, On the Hunt, shotguns the culmination of the little ol' local trio's decade of dues. Houston natives of Colombian decent, Jim (guitar), Chris (drums), and Gian Ortiz (bass) bleed the amps and drum mics open on an early ZZ Top-like dirt warble, the big rusty riffs of "Give It to Me" rising up from some humid metropolis in tempo-quaking destabilization. Bar rock of the basest kind, its back-molar blues and pool cue-cracking rhythms thump 'til eyes turn red. Blackout. Piston boogie "Lost" bundles 1960s/1970s psych blues into a mescaline capsule, while the abrupt gear jam of "What's It Gonna Be Will Be" shifts into Jim Ortiz's Cream-y leads, cutting through a coagulated pool of water moccasins. A vintage tube-amp solo fuses the song's gumbo of Gulf Coast soul exfoliation, "Louisiana Hobo Blues" then slumming in NOLA on an acoustic bang and twang, Jim's gut-string pluck a six-string and vocal garrote. Successor "Ain't Trying To Deny" snorts a rock & roll rail as produced by two-thirds of another local Latin brand, Omar and AJ Vallejo. "Stop, Drop, and Roll" and "Strong Arm" race neck and neck to the closing title track. Blood sport. In San Angelo, my three sons of a career musico – Henry (Strat), Jojo (bass), and Ringo Garza (red bandana) – triangulate a familiar vocal that went platinum on Sony in 2003, and on fourth studio platter Rockpango, lock down their most honest disc since. Starts slow, with the chunky stutter step of "American Idle" leading into the acoustic-weighted shuffle of "Fly Away," but on the Clapton-esque ease of dance-floor clutch "Road to Nowhere," the harmonies sell it. The stoney funk strut of "16 Monkeys" doesn't hurt either, loosening into the 1960s-embroidered title cut, whose organ-ground Woodstock fries. In the seemingly throwaway Tex-Mex bump and grind of "Baby Girl" resides the heart of Rockpango, low-rider rock as eternal as quitting time, while Henry's steel sway and Austin's Tosca String Quartet on "Change the World" pave the way for Jojo's flawless vocals, a rich wood grain of cantina soul that glides into the guitarist's fiery detailing. "Porn Star" does "Baby Girl" one less, but Rockpango won't take no for an answer. Blood is thicker when blues are brown. (Amplified Heat: Wed., 11pm, B.D. Riley's; Los Lonely Boys: Sat., 12:15am, the Phoenix)

(Amplified Heat) ****

(Los Lonely Boys) ***

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Amplified Heat, Los Lonely Boys

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