Los Blancos has been wowing audiences in the blues-addicted city of Syracuse, N.Y., for a couple of years now. Their superb debut recording deserves the attention of roots rock and blues aficionados everywhere.
Los Blancos features the twin guitars of Mexican-born Jose Alvarez and Australian-born Colin Aberdeen. The rhythm section of Steve Wilson (bass) and Paul Roehrig (drums) is a rock-solid one, and Aberdeen's soulful vocals bring to mind Cesar Rosas of Los Lobos, a similar band.
But Alvarez is clearly the star of this group. A young guitarist in the Carlos Santana, Ronnie Earl mold, Alvarez appeared with Earl's band at last year's Saratoga Jazz Fest and left 20,000 of us jazz fans buzzing. I've also seen him perform on numerous occasions with Roosevelt Dean's Spellbinders. This kid just oozes talent and charisma, and I believe it's only a matter of time before he hits it big. For Sale By Owner suggests that bandmates Aberdeen, Wilson and Roehrig could climb the mountaintop alongside him.
Los Blancos' sound is rooted in the blues, but the group also incorporates elements of Latin rock, soul and jazz. For Sale By Owner contains five originals and eight covers. My favorites include "El Ciempies" and "Flynnie's...", two Latin-style instrumentals that show off Alvarez's fervent Santana-like string bending. "Gonna Miss Your Water" is an infectious soul-groover penned by Aberdeen. "Another Man Done Gone" is a ZZ Top-style rocker. "Now I Know" and "Zero Will Power" are two extremely powerful soul ballads that feature Aberdeen's passionate vocals and Alvarez's melodic guitar. Toss in blues covers by Charles Brown, Willie Dixon, Earl King and others, and there's a lot to enjoy on this one.
Ronnie Earl recently called For Sale By Owner, "one of the best CDs I've heard in the last decade." I wouldn't go quite that far, but it's certainly one of the most soulful blues releases I've heard in the last year or so.