I know some people will say this is not punk. Some will say it's jazz. Others hip-hop. The record company describes it as riot-jazz, drum corps punk and post-hype. I've never heard of these genres, so I'll say this is punk-jazz-hip hop-funk-afro music. Now, for the review...
Youngblood Brass Band is a group made up of eight individuals hailing from all over the U.S. (Madison, NY, San Francisco and Chicago). They have three trumpet players, two trombone player, a saxophone player, a sousaphone player and a drummer/DJ who also sings/raps. They've already put out five CDs including an incredible live one (download "Brooklyn"). What sets them apart from most brass bands is their incredible mix of high-energy drumming and almost punk rythmics. The musicians are all very talented and the lyrics are good.
When I first put the CD in my stereo, I was dissapointed. I didn't get the vibe from the band's earlier works. But after a couple of listens, it slowly grew into my favorite record ever made by this seven-legged monster-group.
Highlights include the first song, "March," a brilliant song that has Skogen rapping some great lyrics ("the month of armies. month of stomping men. uniform winter tries to shed while fighting back nostalgia's frozen tears") over a backdrop of rolling drums and some incredible horns that set in for the chorus (Skogen yelling "march! march!"). Next up comes "Nuclear Summer," which includes some great drums and clapping and nice rapping. Following is another highlight, the instrumental "Waiver." Again, great drumming here and very good solos.
"Ake" is another very good, calm instrumental with some very good saxophone work. The album's best song (in my opinion), "Is That a Riot" follows "Ake." It's a brilliant instrumental with some great African/Latino drumming and great solos and a nice chorus (instrumental, of course). "Sell Me More or Like You Just Don't Care" showcases some more great percussions, some great singing by two people ("both hands-both hands-both hands!" sings Skogen while Boman yells "Stooges! Hot 8! Rascals! Soul Rebel! Olympia! Algiers...!") and is a song I can't wait to hear live. And after the spoken words of "Will" comes the closing song "Thanks," a great Latino-tinged, funky instrumental.
All in all, Is That a Riot? may miss the energy of past YBB works, but it's still great. If you want some original music that has a great mix of styles going from jazz to punk, I suggest you get this. Plus, the packaging is great.