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Ozomatli | Street Signs
a ryan j mack review

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It's summer, it's hot tonight, and I want a mojito.

Why? Because it's tall and refreshing, and after a hard day kicking back with one washes a little bit of the worry away, giving you a chance to enjoy the scenery from a porch - any porch.

It is fitting LA's Ozomatli to release their new CD, Street Signs, in time for this glorious wave of heat and motion. It underscores and enhances a night like this one.

The cd plays like a walk down the street of a city in some American melting pot ideal. The score swings loosely from influence to influence, not reproducing as much as welding together a framework of cultural girding that underpins a contemporary facing. Lyrics rap and slide out in multiple languages- - political and social and sometimes just plain fun banners and graffiti on the structural base. It is, of course, almost totally unique.

The first single, Saturday Night, is already a radio and soundtrack hit, poised for further success in commercials if the group would want. But the CD opens with touches of Rai-style dance-tastic Believe, followed by a Latin flavored Love and Hope. They take full advantage of the backup provided by the Prague Sympohony, exploring a range from Bollywood to jazz to North African to Arabic. Some songs are often politically heavy-handed and rhythmically repetitive-notably Who's To Blame and Santiago, respectively. But Dona Isabelle comes in - a soft, surprising piano piece that retains the overall urban feel, like a breath of wind sliding between tall buildings across hot pavement, and the whole thing ends lightly with Cuando Canto, a sunset on the steel and glass.

Pop it in one of the days when you're not quite sure what you want and indulge. It defies classification - which might just be what they're going for.

Buy it


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