The Wolf Triumphant

Cesar Rosas and Mondo Tavares

My oldest sister is moving from California to New Jersey. I considered making an encouraging and sympathetic cut-and-paste collage for her, which would feature some key Jersey elements on a fetching neon-pink background. Aside from "the mall" and "BIGGEST HAIR IN WORLD!" the only thing I thought up that was at all worthy was Bruce Springsteen (my favorite band in life, which is in fact from Secaucus, New Jersey, doesn't make the grade because my sister probably isn't into the genius of divorce rock). It all seemed a futile pursuit, though. Bruce is great, New Jersey might even be great—it's not like I've ever been—but both are ultimately poor substitutes for their Californian counterparts—in the Boss' case, the five-headed Hydra, Los Lobos.

Like Springsteen, Los Lobos cast folksy magic spells on an unusually inclusive cross section of American-music fans: nobody doesn't like their shizz. Their large catalogs include music of every mood. Both roots-rock entities famously write about (and somewhat embody) archetypal Everymen and their socio-economic travails. But, like, poetically. And, just as Brucey is a whole lot more than "Dancing in the Dark," Los Lobos is an accomplished and seasoned live band that didn't exactly top out with "La Bamba."

Born in East LA in 1973, Los Lobos have done an impressive job of staying afloat for 30-plus years, a feat they celebrated on a lively 2004 record. This year, the band released two albums, a best-of called Wolf Tracks and a somewhat bleak and moody album of new material, The Town and the City, which will make you cry if you are so inclined. Their sprawling musical countenance includes elements of jazz, country, folk, soul and traditional Mexican music with vocals in Spanish and English. As far as I'm concerned, the dark temper of the new record, which Los Lobos will doubtlessly dig into at their upcoming House of Blues show, is a far more appropriate holiday soundtrack than any collection of Christmas tunes, so gather the family 'round the SUV. Feliz Navidad.

Los Lobos with the Low Rider Band at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-BLUE; Tues., 8 p.m. $32.50-$35. All ages.

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