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Soul Rebels Brass Band - Unlock Your Mind (Album Review)

Monday, 12 September 2011 Written by Rob Sleigh
Soul Rebels Brass Band ‘Unlock Your Mind’ (Album Review)

Anyone familiar with the work of Chicago’s Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – who released their eponymous debut album through Damon Albarn’s record label Honest Jon’s in 2009 and even featured on the third Gorillaz album ‘Plastic Beach’ last year – will be pleased to learn of the Soul Rebels Brass Band – New Orleans’s answer to the future of music in the American South.

ImageWhere the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble managed to blend traditional US jazz music with infectious hip-hop beats to perfection, Soul Rebels Brass Band have taken things a step further by bringing yet more influences into the mix. For their latest offering ‘Unlock Your Mind’, Soul Rebels have merged elements of funk, soul, ska and R&B with their own undeniable New Orleans sound to create a delightful new record, which takes brass band music to the next level.

From the outset, on album opener ‘504’, Soul Rebels mix funk, Latin rhythms and chilled grooves in a manner that few could even claim to contend with. The tuba basslines in particular are something to be marvelled at and may well manage to fool even the most informed ear into thinking that its sound is coming from a more commonly-used stringed instrument. The band’s cover of Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’ is an equally impressive effort that borrows an irresistible world fusion sound from groups like Ozomatli to put a highly exotic spin on the ‘80s pop classic.

Undoubtedly the most admirable characteristic of Soul Rebels’ music is the way in which they manage to mix it up with enough different styles in order to keep things interesting enough, so that the listener doesn’t grow completely tired of the sound of brass instruments by the end of the album – a mistake that many other instrumental groups have failed to correct in the past. Also, the choice to not go completely instrumental is a wise one – frequently using soul and blues-style vocals and even rapping to open their music up to as many different audiences as possible.

‘Unlock Your Mind’ is a fantastic new effort from an exciting new act. Well worth paying some attention to.

Stereoboard Rating: 8/10

Soul Rebels Brass Band performing Gnarls Barkley’s ‘Crazy’

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