Home Hear Now Hear This: Two Tracks From Los Lobos’ Native Sons Covers Album

Now Hear This: Two Tracks From Los Lobos’ Native Sons Covers Album

The L.A. rockers pay tribute to fellow California artists on their 17th studio release.


Los Lobos are sticking close to home for their next album. Native Sons, the veteran L.A. band’s 17th studio release, is a covers album featuring songs by a slate of fellow Southern California artists. Read the press release below, and check out two previews, with commentary from the bandmembers. The album will be released on July 30:


THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “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 ’n’ 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.
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 ’n’ roll and folk, and somehow it exists together in this one weird city that we all call home.”

Thee Midniters | Love Special Delivery

An original tune from Thee Midniters, one of the first Chicano bands out of East L.A. to make it big. They blazed the trail with such songs as Whittier Blvd. and The Ballad of César Chávez.

Cesar Rosas: “As a kid I’d catch Thee Midniters at Kennedy Hall on Atlantic and try to see how George (Dominguez) was playing those riffs that I couldn’t figure it out at home. Then about 20 years ago Aaron Ballesteros (Thee Midniters’ drummer) was in my home studio, recording other things. I started this riff, just goofing around, and he fell in. I said, ‘You know what? Why don’t we record it, man?’ He did a count-off and, unaccompanied, laid down the track you hear now. Perfect. First take.”

Conrad Lozano: “In 1967 I played with Aaron in a nine-piece soul band called The Royal Checkmates, and then later in Tierra.”

The Beach Boys | Sail On, Sailor

How could you cover Southern California music without The Beach Boys? Here’s the big hit from their album Holland.

Conrad Lozano:Blondie Chaplin sang the lead on that one. He jammed with us at the Fillmore one time and we did this song. That’s how we learned it. The Beach Boys were one of my all-time favorite bands, ever since I was 13, 14 years old. Sail On, Sailor was a song I just fell in love with.”

Steve Berlin: “Our engineer Chris Sorem did a fantastic job capturing the mystical California vibe of this song — not an easy thing to accomplish. He really helped us hold this record together for a year across all our staggered recording sessions.”

Louie Perez:Bugs Gonzalez was in town for a livestream benefit with us in the studio, and he’s a fantastic singer, so we asked him to sing on this one. We really appreciate everything Bugs did for us, everything he did with the band.”