Okay there are some records that you just want to love based on their title, or the group’s name, or the cover. I would venture to say that this one scores high on all three counts.
What the hell is it? Well, it is the cutting-edge of Czech blues-rock dub-rap, with horns, is what the hell it is. Yes, it’s as much a mess as this description makes it seem, but in a good way; a clean, neat album of Czech blues-rock dub-rap with horns would probably suck, and this does not. [Full disclosure: I have become email friends with the head of Indies Records over the last three or four years, and have occasionally given him advice.]
We begin with “Utek,” a stomping thing with slightly filtered vocals, menacing guitars, and chanted vocals that veer from Beastie Boys-lite to Limp Bizkit-strong. The chorus doesn’t exactly explode the way it seems to need to, and I am sure I would get a lot more out of it if I spoke Czech. (Oh why oh why did my grandfather insist on assimilation? It’s such an excellent language!) (Although, to be fair, we’re more beer-drinkin’ Slovak than wine-drinkin’ Czech.) But there is a big huge monster mash at the end, so it’s satisfying enough en fin.
These songs’ backing tracks are pretty diverse: they traffic in 1970s funk (”HD”), Texas-style boogie (”Hledam”), heavy roots reggae (”Makalea”), and grindy Chicago blues (”I Get Ready,” the hardest song here even at its glacial pace). And I love the way the horn section adds heaviness and depth; on “Okna,” everything goes into an Electric Miles Davis section for a while, and all the horns get to play free space-jazz for a while…pretty excellent for a record made in Brno in 2008, no? And one song, “Supermarket,” even starts off like a Bollywood track, with repeated Indian riffs and actualy jaw-harp action.
But on top of it all is rapping, which ranges from relatively tricky to, um, pretty simple I guess is the best way to say it. Someone get these guys a copy of “Follow the Leader,” stat. It might help them to not sound the same on every track. Just an idea. But the voices sound pretty cool in their own way — no one here has too much charisma or too little, it’s all just the right amount.
Sometimes I worry that their whole Blues Band shtick is going to wear thin…then I put on the record again and I am disabused of my temporary worry. There is a fair amount of edge and experiment here, if you actually listen; if you don’t listen, then godspeed to you sir and/or madam.
Label website: here. Videos on MySpace: here. Band website: here. That is all…except for the fact that I just heard the new Gipsy.cz album, Reprezent, and it is better even than this one. Gosh, is this the best year for Czech rap EVER?!?!?!?!?!
This was written by Matt Cibula. Posted on Tuesday, June 10, 2008, at 9:31 pm. Filed under Music.