East L.A. roots-rockers Los Lobos know better than just about anyone how to knead and fold together unusual musical ingredients. Their early '80s records smuggled Mexican folk songs into punk fortresses, and vice versa.
Their latest, "This Time," extends the experiments with sonic juxtapositions started with 1992's "Kiko" and the "Lavender Moon." Clanky percussion perches atop deep funk grooves ("La Playa" ). Bleating, uplifting horns are slid between South American rhythms ("Cumbia Raza" ). And -- whoa, nice touch -- blues and R&B slink their way toward postmodern pop ("Run Away With You" and the title track). On this CD, Los Lobos won't make you blue with bittersweet songs, as they've done in the past. But they can take an odd-sounding premise, find the place where it opens up into a smart idea, and make it shimmer.