April 13, 2010

The Smokin' Hot Smokey Bandits

Nu-jazz, nu-swing, nu-soul, nu-music, call it whatever you want, but whatever Smokey Bandits are pouring I'm drinking.

From the moment the disk kicks off you are transported to some foreign locale, a locale with a suave and sophisticated soundtrack that screams of adventure. And it smacks just enough of places you've been and sounds you've experienced before so that you feel foolishly comfortable, just before it zigs when you think it should zag, and your sonic adventure takes a welcome twist.

The Smokey Bandits are a Greek duo who took two years to produce their debut album, Debut. They were clearly influenced by movies, and movie music, and the influences both visual and aural are all here: Morricone, Tarrantino, Schifrin, Almodovar. The tracks are new, nuveau nu, so much so that they don't seem derivative of Italian soundtracks of yesteryear as much as they bring those up to date and build on their foundations. Take "The Rooster", a tango that is surprisingly both quaint and sultry, but never boring. Or "Subway Hustler", which has an understated swagger with its jazzy horns. Or, the funky arrogance of "Cracker Jack", with first organ and then sax, evoking as they do a bold stroll down a Harlem street. Or, "Angelitos Negros" which demands to be listened to while you drink scotch and smoke cigars on balcony at the mid of night.

This is all swingin' jazz. If you like suave, sophisticated, exotic backing tracks with the ocassional soulful flourishes and lots of jazzy beats and breaks (think Portishead meets Calexico) then you'll dig this release. There's no vocals here, Smokey Bandits let the guitars, the strings, the horns, speak for themselves. It's a soundtrack for movie that only exists in your mind's eye.

Smokey Bandits -- Holidays in the Sun

Smokey Bandits -- Cracker Jack

Smokey Bandits -- A Son's Lament