Cisco Adler


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Cisco Adler didn't get much respect for his work with the rapper Shwayze, and he likely won't get much for his solo debut Aloha either. The sound of Shwayze (the band) was unapologetically poppy and a bit hip-hop sleazy, the grooves had a laid-back '90s feel (think Sugar Ray or Jack Johnson), and Adler's minimalistic arrangements were lighter than air. Now that he's on his own, Adler's retreated from the hip-hop and somehow become even more laid-back and blissfully relaxed, adding in more dubby reggae textures and basically drifting away on a cloud of smoke and sunshine. Though occasional guests like G. Love, reggae icon Don Carlos, and the North Mississippi Allstars show up to help out, this is Adler's show. He wrote all the songs, plays most of the instruments, and produced as well. It sounds like most of the songs were written and recorded either at the end of a long day of doing nothing or first thing in the morning after getting out of bed. Tracks like the lilting reggae ballad "Boom Boom Boom" and the extremely calm and dippy "Waking Up in Paradise" are so sleepy and sweet they are practically wearing pajamas; "Tha Good Life" is a ridiculously happy track that sounds like a travel ad for Irie Airlines; "Try You" ropes in some bluesy guitars and Hammond organ for a tiny dose of pseudo-authenticity that works well. Overall, there's a peaceful feeling that pervades the album, settling in like a pleasant fog that's only occasionally cleared out by an uptempo jam like the bouncy "U and I." There's also one bona fide classic track, fittingly titled "Classic," that sounds like it should be slotted between Sugar Ray's "Fly" and Hanson's "MMM Bop" on a Now collection. Whether this sounds like a treat or a trial depends on where you stand on music that makes absolutely no intellectual demands or has any emotional depth. If you need that stuff, steer clear! If you want to turn off all brain activity and float from one smooth and unprepossessing groove to another, Aloha may be just what the occasional requires.

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