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Carlos Guitarlos: Hell Can Wait (Nomad), by Peter Hund, Good New Music, January 2006

While some of the songs on his two solo albums undoubtedly are blues, the music of Guitarlos (aka Carlos Daniel Ayala) is unclassifiable – so much of it falls into the rock ’n’ roll, country, boogie-woogie, swing, R&B, Cajun, doo-wop, soul and Tex-Mex domains, as well as the grey areas in between. Like the one-sheet says: “File under roots/Americana/blues.”

His first solo album, 2003’s “Straight From the Heart,” was hailed as comeback of the year. To make a long story short: He went from member of Van Halen-immortalized 1980s L.A. punk-blues group Top Jimmy and the Rhythm Pigs to down-and-out San Francisco street musician before pulling himself up by the seat of his pants and getting his act together.

Needless to say, this guy plays and sings with the conviction of someone who’s, well, been to hell and back. This is cut-the-crap, real-deal stuff — no posing, no corporate-dictated schlock.

Helping Guitarlos out with his sophomore effort (again released on Nomad, a label started by his nephew) are kindred musical spirits David Hidalgo and Gene Taylor, with occasional background vocals from Marcy Levy (who also duets on “I Found Someone”). Returning for production duties is Marc Doten, of Double Naught Spy Car fame.