Traband

Hyjé!

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Third time's a charm! Traband's first album lacked a bit of originality, its second ditched world music in favor of a harder ska-rock sound. For Hyjé! ("Gee up!"), Jarda Svoboda managed to integrate in his songwriting the Eastern European traditions of earlier days, and the more personal side of the band. The result is even more infectious than before, and now with a new drummer, better production and a new label (this one is on Indies, the previous two had been released by Black Point), Traband might as well be ready to take over the world. The ska element found on the previous album has carried over, but is now part of a wide palette of stylistic sources that range from Greek dance tunes to Irish reels, oompahs, Moravian party songs, and even a little bit of Gershwin. But the biggest surprise about this album is the sound, fat and engulfing: Robert Skarda's tuba has never been this mean before and newcomer Vaclav Pohl's floor tom is a force to reckon with. The music has gained assurance and personality, which empower it with a new kind of immediacy. From the fast-paced, high-octane fun of "Katarína!" and "Kdyz si Bájecnou Zenskou Vezme Idiot" ("When a Splendid Woman Marries an Idiot") to the dark, cavernous depths of "Zlodej & Dezertér" ("A Thief and a Deserter"), each song offers strong melodies, unusual arrangements and great entertainment value, whether you understand the Czech lyrics or not (and for those who don't, the booklet includes English translations). But the highlights are found in the mid-tempo numbers "Marie!" and "Cernej Pasazér" -- the mariachi-like chorus of the latter will surely remain a staple in Traband's discography. In the end, Hyjé! is all great fun, proving that Traband has evolved into the Czech Republic's best trad rock group of the 2000s. This enhanced CD also includes the professional video for the single "Cernej Pasazér" and a short amateur video of the group performing the tune "Sedm Statecnych Trpasliku" (from their first CD) unplugged, surrounded by an enthusiastic audience. Clearly one of the best trad rock albums of 2004.

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