Almo Sounds

I feel really, really guilty. I’ve been keeping this brilliant album to myself for months now. This CD has been in heavy rotation in my house for at least three months, and shows no sign of coming out of the CD player anytime soon. Part of the reason I haven’t reviewed it yet is that I have trouble finding the words to tell you exactly how good this record really is. I still don’t feel as though I can do it justice, but I can’t keep this amazing band a secret any longer.

Ozomatli blend elements of rock, hip hop, ska, funk, jazz, salsa, and just about everything else under the sun to create a heady brew that defies any genre. You simply can’t put them into a tidy musical category, all you can say is that they’re geniuses. “Como Ves” starts off the party with a Carnavál flavor. “Cut Chemist Suite” reminds me of Blondie’s “Rapture,” but with much more emphasis on the hip hop. “Cumbia” combines a traditional Latin feel with Klezmer flavor before breaking into a funky hip hop groove on the bridge. “Eva” blends flamenco guitar and castanets with jazzy horns and hip hop breaks. “O Le Le” features brilliant rhymes (“I’m everlasting, never will my head expand/ This publisher is clearing house like I’m Ed McMahon”) over an atmospheric jazz backing and an incredibly smooth bass line. “Chango” is a manic, horn-driven Latin tune, while “Superbowl Sundae” starts off with a very Asian feel before shifting into more of an old-school hip hop groove. This is barely scratching the surface. Over the course of the album’s 12 songs, Ozomatli play elements of just about any style of music you can think of, and play them like they’ve played nothing but that style their whole life.

Simply, this record is like nothing you’ve heard before, at least not together on one record. You’ve heard the phrase “jack of all trades, master of none”? Well, Ozomatli are masters of them all. And this is just their debut album! Thinking about where they’ll go from here has me reeling with excitement! Here’s hoping that Ozomatli blesses us all with a long and fruitful career.

Almo Sounds, 360 N. La Cienega Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90048; http://www.almosounds.com

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