Bedouin Soundclash

Street Gospels

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You might expect a band called Bedouin Soundclash to produce music steeped in both dub and the traditions of the Middle East -- something like the music of the Israeli experimentalist Badawi, whose debut album gave this band its name. But instead, Bedouin Soundclash makes pop music with reggae and ska structures; not reggae and ska music exactly, but dry-textured rock & roll built on a foundation of skanking backbeats and rubbery, melodic basslines. On their second album there are guest appearances from Maytones alumnus Vern Buckley and Beastie Boys keyboardist Money Mark, and once again Bad Brains bassist Darryl Jenifer is at the boards, giving their sometimes minimalist groove a little bit of extra weight and density. Highlights include the Violent Femmes-go-to-Kingston acoustic skank of "St. Andrews," the calypso-flavored "Bells of 59," and the unbelievably sweet and hooky "Walls Fall Down." Less essential is the a cappella "Hush." But even that one fits nicely into the varied texture of the album as a whole. If there were any logic at all to the music marketplace, this album would be blaring out of every boombox in North America. Very highly recommended.

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