Trading With the Enemy

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Tuatara's second release, 1998's Trading With the Enemy, shows the band expanding their lineup (a total of 9 members) and focusing their sound even further. The songwriting is far more memorable and stronger this time around -- mixing elements of roots rock and jazz, while an air of improv looms over the proceedings. Such notable members as Peter Buck (R.E.M.), Justin Harwood (Luna), and Barrett Martin (Screaming Trees) are still present, and continue to explore different musical avenues than they have with their main bands. Tuatara creates a pretty original sound throughout (the only other band slightly comparable would maybe be Morphine), shifting through an ever changing variety of moods, from upbeat (the album opener "The Streets of New Delhi") to funky and groovy ("Smuggleros Cove"), and even melancholic ("Angel and the Ass"). Since Tuatara has rapidly grown between their first and second releases, it will be interesting to see where this intriguing, ad-hoc band winds up next.

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