Spook & the Guay

Mi Tierra

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Spook & the Guay fall into the Euro-mix camp, but their debut album could just as easily fit into the international ska school. Mi Tierra is oriented around a varied assortment of Jamaican rhythms -- heavy on the ska with roots, ragamuffin, and dub touches -- topped by prominent horn melodies and frequent jolts of rock guitar. The lyrics come in roughly equal doses of French, Spanish, and Jamaican dancehall patois English and the themes call to party hearty and romantic with street-level social criticism. "Anti Racist Soldiers" hits hard behind roaring guitar and the fury factor rises higher on "Gringos," an attack on wide-ranging U.S. cultural imperialism that acknowledges some positive points while pointing out hypocrisies. "Sit Upon the Riddim" brings an electronic raggamuffin sound and "Bario Chupa-Plata," which seems to be about cruising a sex district, melds vibrant ska and rock. Mi Tierra has its weak moments -- "La Maleta" sounds like mediocre Madness -- but it's an impressive debut marked by skillful, organic transitions to other styles that Spook & the Guay selectively add to their Jamaican rhythm base.

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