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Los Difuntos | Born And Raised In East LA | review | rock | Lollipop
Born And Raised In East L.A. (Nickel and Dime)
By Craig Regala
This is a good one, folks. Strong songs gushing up from the deep well of rock and roll rooted in the Western feel and melancholy that springs both from Okies coming across the country and sinking age old country folk (shot through electric melodicism) into the new land and the Mexican guitar tradition tangling Spanish classicism through native cultures and death's head imagery from shit, as soon as they got here, eh? Yeah, I know, eh? But that's what underlies the thing I hear the most - so I'm kinda limited - spooky rockabilly, The Plugz' Mexican-inflected '70s punk, Black Market/London Calling-era Clash, Joe Strummer's solo stuff, and the California culture (hitting hard with Sublime, Rancid) that surfaced from it. As The Blasters would say, "American Music."
Fuck, California's not only a helluva big state, but a rich one (wealth demands a dusty pickup load of cheap labor to keep it moving) with a brawling culture fighting to make a living for themselves; ie. That's a lotta dog-eat-dog topped off with access to popular culture right in your face. Always. So what's a poor boy to do but play in a rock and roll band? And they do; and do it well, coming from a place that's tough and tough in a way you don't walk out of easily.
The guitar lines have that kinda relaxed, languid feel of '50s "guitar man" instrumentals like "sleepwalk" or relaxed ska, and then BOOM! off they go rockin' out like a swingin' rockabilly band ready to knock over oldsters like me, open for Green Day, or head out on the Warped Tour. Most of their tunes are so cleanly written you could play'm acoustic and make it work, but the energy level is definitely from people who take stuff like Social Distortion and Bad Religion as, well, their "classic rock" to both absorb and reject.
The opener is great; a galloping "Ghost Riders In The Sky" instrumental to kick into a chopped chord melodic punk rocker concerning the ugly fact that, yeah, it seems like lying 'n' treachery works, but the sin of it defines the sinner and ultimately dooms'm to live in that shitty, lying world. From there, they keep going with good stuff, giving the tunes plenty of room to breath within the stripped-down up-from-the-roots style that'll give'm plenty of space to write and play. The title cut hits their zone, (er, East L.A.), like the Dropkicks' "I'm Shipping Off To Boston" does for that world. Check their tip of the hat to Joe Strummer, "Memories," and realize these guys love the Clash's London Calling, and better yet, know where it came from. Spin this with that one, Social Distortion, Rancid, Throw Rag, any random Hellcat label sampler, classic Sun Studio rockabilly, and its Cramped/Misfitted-up gruesome offspring psychobilly.