It's hard to believe that the second full-length release from the Hot 8 Brass Band wasn't recorded at a live gig, as the energy level is consistently high throughout The Life & Times Of... . Similar to the Lil' Rascals Brass Band and the Rebirth Brass Band, the potent mix of brass bands, funk, and hip-hop has made their reputation solid, not only around their New Orleans home base, but throughout the world. The band also received exposure with an appearance in Spike Lee's documentary When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, and on HBO's Treme. While some lyrical content portrays the darker side of the band's existence -- three members have been killed; the devastation of Hurricane Katrina -- the music itself is 100-percent second-line. The album kicks off with "Steamin Blues," a mixture of the traditional brass band sound with a modern twist. On the remaining cuts, that formula is slightly reversed. The titles tell their story "New Orleans (After the City)," "Can't Hide from the Truth," "War Time," and a reworking of the Rebirth Brass Band's "Let Me Do My Thing," previously released on Rebirth's 2001 disc Hot Venom. Another notable twist is their choice of two cover versions: Basement Jaxx's "Bingo Bango," and the Specials' "Ghost Town." In the context of brass band music, these are not songs that would immediately come to mind as complementing that style. But in the hands of the Hot 8, not only do they make it work, it coheres entirely throughout the disc. The Life & Times Of... is a solid and recommended release.
AllMusic Review by Al Campbell