Pistolera’s driving force, Sandra Velasquez, steers into classic territory with this release, a concept album linking the desert (of SoCal, and of the mind) to the city (New York City, in this case). The music rewards album-style continuous, sequential listening, revealing Velasquez’s acutely contemporary sensibility through consistent songwriting in a range of genres, from Tejano and rumba to ballads and electronica. Standouts include the anti-racist funk number “Escucha,” “Todo Se Cae,” a guitar rock anthem about the recent economic crisis, and “Floating,” a gorgeous English-language ballad. El Desierto y la Ciudad, which drops July 12 and has been featured as a “First Listen” on NPR, is already one of the top new records of 2011. Catch Pistolera play Zoey’s Café in Ventura (185 E. Santa Clara St.) on Wednesday, July 20, at 8 p.m. Call 652-1137 or visit zoeyscafe.com for info.