I recently made a trip to Waterloo Records and grabbed the first thing that jumped out at me: Rebirth of New Orleans, by the Rebirth Brass Band. It pretty much blows me away. I discovered them last Mardi Gras, when I was digging through Youtube, looking for music from New Orleans.
They remind me a bit of the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, a group I got to see in Austin a few years ago. It’s a great jazzy mixture of New Orleans second line, funk and hip hop. Great horn playing. It’s also an interesting segue from the last batch of CD purchases I made, featuring Balkan brass band music, much of it created by European Gypsies.
In both cases, you have extremely skilled musicians from cultures that know what it’s like to go through bad times — yet they still know how to enjoy life and spread that joy to others. In short, they have passion.
This isn’t on the latest album, but it’s awesome — The Rebirth Brass Band in the French Quarter, in 2008:
Now check this out:
Kinda different, but kinda the same too, don’t you think?
I mentioned going on a CD run and never got around to saying what I got. I picked up two CDs, one by the French indie rock band Phoenix, the other by Balkan Gypsy brass band Mahala Rai Banda. I am more than happy with both.
Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix
I pride myself on being able to spot talent early. I knew the Decemberists were gonna be a big deal before you did But sometimes I can still be late to the party. I finally got around to buying Amadeus Mozart Phoenix, something I’ve been intending to do for months, since I first heard “Lisztomania” and “1901.” They already gave it a Grammy for Christ’s sake. I’m definitely slipping. Played through it in the record store this afternoon and found it irresistible. Played it again after I got home and ripped it to the laptop and my opinion hasn’t changed. Hell of an album.
I was excited to see Mahala Rai Banda had another album out. I’ve been crazy about their self-titled debut for a couple of years. I got into Balkan Gypsy music thanks to a list of recommendations by Eugene Hütz of the amazing Gypsy Punk band Gogol Bordelllo, and I can’t seem to get enough. The Romanian band Mahala Rai Banda has it all – horns, cymbalom, accordion, singers. They play with such passion and virtuosity, it rocks harder than any actual rock ‘n’ roll I’ve heard.
This is from the first album, but it’ll give you an idea what they’re like: