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Pop : Los Reos Trips as It Grows

With lyrics that sometimes suggested Ray Bradbury crossed with Pedro Almodovar, a melodically and rhythmically ambitious sound and a compelling singer in Gloria Dawson, Los Reos asserted themselves in the last few years as the most musically adventurous band on Los Angeles’ Spanish-language rock scene.

The question at Friday’s show at Club M in Canoga Park was how the band would fare with one of those ingredients changed: Dawson has been replaced by Venezuelan Lila Chacin. While she’s an equally good singer, coming across as a Latina Etta James, she and the band haven’t yet established a spontaneous interplay.

A more worrisome issue was the way the band rearranged some of its best songs, making them less direct. It’s as if they feel compelled to make things more complex for complexity’s sake, and the results were usually inappropriate.

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At least these experiments are a product of an artistic restlessness rare in local Spanish rock. And when Los Reos clicked--as they did on a stunning new version of the hard-driving “100,000 Ants"--it was a reminder that despite their misfires, they remain an essential presence in a scene that desperately needs of their artistry.


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