Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Album Review: Toubab Krewe - Stylo

Toubab Krewe
**** out of *****

The term 'world-music' always sounds lazy and lame, but when a band combines Appalachian folk with West African rhythms and present it in a jamband "any thing goes" dynamic, that term fits. 

Toubab Krewe are back with Stylo. The album comes after a 8 year recording break since their 2010 release TK2. The band has even been on hiatus from the road for the last two years where they make their living as their fluid music is intended to move in and out of the dancing crowd. 

Even with the long break, the bands style has not deviated much at all from their first offering back in 2005; light funky grooves, layers of percussion, easy hip-hop influenced beats, cutting guitar lines and bright break downs. Back then the group called it "Afro-Cowboy-Ninja-Surf-Music" and while elements still ring true they have evolved into a more polished/cohesive outfit. One noticeable change for Stylo is in the production, in the past their was more separation between players but now their sounds blend into an audio driven maafe.

The band, (Drew Heller - electric guitar and soku, Justin Perkins - kora, kamelengoni, and electric guitar, Justin Kimmel - electric bass Luke Quaranta - percussion Terrence Houston - drums) gets right back in their familiar groove with the lighthearted first single "That Damn Squash". Long time fans will immediately feel back at home, but newbies are easily welcomed also. 

Both the heavily thumping "Lafia" and "Night Shade" increase the percussive pressure adding heavy beats to the mix, "Lafia" in particular increases the head bopping aggression levels with metal guitar power, while the title track really shines. "Stylo" manages to merge deep bass with lightly distorted surf guitar culminating into a languid offering with a Caribbean tilt to it; super cool cruise music. 

"Saba Menyia" is one of the more experimental tracks as it almost two offerings in one as the beginning plays close to free jazz with everyone soloing before shifting gears into deliberate slow down and trip out the groove. While not the most successful track here, it shows the band pushing itself. "Salut" is more in the bands wheelhouse as the killer guitar riff sets the tone before all of the players increase the tempo to a frenzied celebratory state. 

There is very little that misses the mark on Stylo and while their's may be a sound new to listeners, it is instantly enjoyable. For a band who has been away for the game for a bit Toubab Krewe's newest feels like they never left and that is outstanding for the ears.
We like this band and are happy they are still at it. We reviewed their first record for Glide back in 2005 and caught them when they came to NYC back in early 2006.

Support the band, buy the record, stream it and peep some video below:

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