Music Reviews: Ojos De Brujo, Reel Big Fish, Jonezetta, Spitalfield, Umbrellas

Every month(ish), we recommend the most seriously awesome albums and tracks we had on repeat.

Ojos De Brujo


Music: Please insert your favorite choice bit of profanity right here: “************!” And don’t forget it, because that will be your reaction to the first thirty seconds of this amazing Spanish fusion album. It’s big-time stuff, combining flamenco, hip-hop, jazz, rock, funk, Latin, and East Asian influences into a unified, unique sound with all the spit and piss and balls of a revolution. Skeptical? Just give a listen to “Feedback,” where the group manages to musically merge beatboxing, tabla bols, and even some of DJ Panko’s scratchy turntablism. Crazy damn gypsies. 

Drumming: Drummer Sergio Ramos and percussionists Xavi Turull and Maxwell Wright find plenty of room to stretch out, even though the tunes are jam-packed with intricate dual-guitar rhythms and, of course, the ever-present clappity-tap of flamenco palmas. Fast-forward to “Piedras Vs. Tanques” for your daily double bass fix. 

The Straight Poop: World music that doesn’t even remotely suck. When exactly did hell freeze over? 

Reel Big Fish

Our Live Album Is Better Than Your Live Album

Music: Real Reel Big Fish fans have already stopped reading, leapt into their cars, and hauled-ass to the nearest CD store because they know how indispensable this disc is. But for those of you who somehow missed the ska explosion of the late ’90s, and the great glory of the Fish, here’s a chance to finally get your cool-card. There’s no better introduction—or retrospective—than this catch of 35 classic songs on two CDs. And coupled with is a 20-tune live DVD, filmed all up-close and sweaty—Oh, yes, there is a Zeus.

Drumming: The newest Fish (as of 2005), Ryland Steen simplifies some of the drum parts for a live setting, like on “She Has a Girlfriend Now,” but—really now—there isn’t a thing to complain about. The guy’s playing is perfect. 

The Straight Poop: A no-brainer, this one. A couple thousand pennies gets you 180 minutes of arm-flailin’, booze-guzzlin’, head-bobbin’ great songs.



Music: These four fellows apparently hail from some “Southern small town,” but don’t worry: You’re not going to hear even a hint of backwoods bango-twangin’ on their debut disc. No, the only thing you have to worry about is their 11 mesmerizing, irresistibly neo new-wave disco pop-punk-vibe songs. Which means what? Alt-radio dominance, of course. And the immediate assimilation of anyone under 17.

Drumming: Mick Parsons gets more jaunt out of a sixteenth-note hi-hat pattern than should be possible from a mere mortal. And even if his fills are a little on the utilitarian side, nothing—but nothing—could keep your feet from stomping along to the energetic beat of “Welcome Home.”

The Straight Poop: The Jonezetta boys joke (I think) about wanting to sell a billion records. But as for Popularity’s actual popularity with the (legal) CD-purchasing masses, I’m guessing somewhere around 2.7 million copies sounds right. And I’m buying the first two. 


Better Than Knowing Where You Are

Music: Let’s be clear. Spitalfield’s pop-laced, toned-down-emo tunes are revolutionary only for those who haven’t heard the last twenty or so years of Western music. But when the formula is this good—loads of excellent harmonies, plenty of up-tempo melodic hooks, and a pleasant-sounding, slightly breathy vocalist who hits all the right notes at just the right time—why bother with originality? Go ahead and say you don’t love “The Only Thing That Matters.” I double-dog dare you.

Drumming: J. D. Romero doesn’t have much room to let loose on any of Better Than’s tightly structured songs, but he does manage to cleverly morph little fills and flourishes into the beat itself, like with the tom groove during the prechorus of “On The Floor” or the tambourine off-beats on “Secrets In Mirrors.” Very flippin’ sweet.

The Straight Poop: Definitely flavor of the month. But you’ll still want to take a taste.



Music: Guitarist and vocalist Scott Windsor is the heart and brains behind this lovely, melancholy affair. His music sounds a bit like Postal Service meets Keane, and his lyrics and voice—soothing, naked, honest—seem to make even up-tempo tunes like “Angel or Demon” and “Again and Again” slow down and have a look around.

Drumming: James McAlister (who drums for indie poster boy Sufjan Stevens as well as the experimental band Ester Drang) is impressively sensitive to mood, as he needs to be, and often uses subtle cymbal work to create texture in a tune. But on more aggressive (always just barely more aggressive) songs like “Crooked,” there’s a hint of something in the 2 and 4 that makes me wonder: He may tread softly here, but he’s probably carrying quite a big stick. 

The Straight Poop: Windsor and crew’s elegant indie sounds will probably never get airtime on any Clear Channel­−affiliated radio stations. And that’s recommendation enough. 

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