Road Movie

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Road Movie marks a big change of direction for Czech Republic's Traband, even though lineup and instrumentation remain basically the same. On Kolotoc, the group's first effort released in 2000, accordion, banjo, trumpet, tuba, and drums were used to perform festive pub songs inspired by Klezmer and Slavic traditions with a hint of rock and funk. On this second opus, tradition took a hike. Instead the group focuses on brass-heavy ska-rock and street funk -- and it works out great. This new direction gives their music a slightly more personal twist. OK, it did lose some of its "Czech identity" in the process, but this more mainstream format would be a pain only if it yielded ordinary music. "Cerny Kafe" ("black coffee") and "Mela Jsen Já Pejska" ("I've had a doggie") are irresistible numbers, inviting to dance and singalong to despite the language barrier. Fans of the lighter ska from the Stomp label (Kingpins, New York Ska Jazz Ensemble) will appreciate Traband. Other highlights include "Road Movie" (with the wah-wah guitar putting every cliché where it belongs) and "Holubi/Skodná" ("pigeons/vermins"). The use of a tuba instead of an electric bass, euphonium instead of trombone, and banjo in place of a guitar, still give the music a fanfare flavor that is surprising at first, but 45 minutes later, their brand of rock makes so much sense you'll wonder how you used to go through the day without it.

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