Sergent Garcia

Un Poquito Quema'o

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Sergent Garcia and his Locos del Barrio don't really fall in this camp, but they follow a pattern common to modern-day roots revivalists: they take the styles they love, jump the energy level a couple of notches, and rough 'em up a little around the edges. For this band based in France, that translates to an unlikely pairing of Cuban music dominated by up-tempo salsa and throbbing Jamaican raggamuffin on their lively debut album. Unlike many Euro-mix bands, Sergent Garcia doesn't throw elements of the two sounds into the same song that much. Only the Cuban flute floating over the Jamaican groove of "Medicine Man" and the organic shift from Latin trumpet to ragga rhythm on "Que Viene el Mani" fully live up to the salsamuffin tag they've adopted. "Camino de la Vida" is a side trip to U.S. soul and funk influences with a female rapper, and hip-hop is at the forefront of "Afro-Cuban Orishas Underground," a spare platform for the relocated Cuban rap group Orishas. But the Cuban-flavored percussion section shows that it's the prime focus on rambunctious salsa songs ("Jumpi," "Hoy Me Voy"), broken up by the occasional detour to scruffy raggamuffin ("Acabar Mal") or slower roots tunes ("Amor Pa'mi," "Que Palique"). It's party music first -- "Oye Mi Bomba" is the one strictly political song -- but the enthusiastic verve of the playing makes Sergent Garcia's party a very inviting proposition.

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