For full disclosure, I held off on writing about today’s band for a few months because I was waiting for a full copy of their album. I don’t like writing about bands when I have a limited amount of material at my hands, so I was waiting in hope that one day it might show up. Even so, I always knew that I was going to write about this band even if I never did receive their full album because their music is just so damn good and it needs to be spread as far and wide as possible.
What band am I talking about? Taína Asili y La Banda Rebelde, a group of musicians that are based in Albany, New York but that originates from a wide variety of cultural backgrounds. The stunningly exotic lead singer, both in appearance and in voice, is the Puerto Rican Taína Asili who sings soulful, upbeat songs of rebellion. She is backed by her Banda Rebelde (Rebel Band), which consists of Sicilian guitarist Gaetano Vaccaro, Greek drummer Kiki Vassilakis, Brazilian bassist Sean Muniz, Ghanan percussionist Saeed Abbas, and the multi-cultural backup vocalist Alicia Ortiz.
These musicians blend a huge variety of styles together in their debut album War Cry that is hard to pigeonhole. Throughout the album, you get a little taste of the Caribbean soul, African beats, traditional Latin American style guitars mixed with reggae grooves, and even some hip hop aggression thrown in to boot at times.
Take War Cry‘s title track for example. It starts off with flamenco style guitars and quickly adds in African influenced percussion and Asili’s passionate wailing. In a way, this track reminds me of Paul Simon’s famous album Graceland with its upbeat joyfulness and modern pop sounds blending seamlessly with traditional world music.
Then two minutes away from the end of the song, Asili switches to a spoken word style of delivery. This is where obvious hip hop elements start blending in with the song as she makes fervent declarations in English like, “We have been given the power of the word, and we will use it!” and the bass starts thumping more noticeably. This might seem like an odd transition in concept, but like Paul Simon’s experimentalism with world music, it works incredibly well and makes complete sense when you actually hear it. In fact, it makes too much sense. You wonder why you don’t hear it more often in American music.
One thing I will say about Taína Asili y La Banda Rebelde, even though their music may be laid back at times, it still always manages to be upbeat. “Verdade Verdade Vencerá” for example, is for the most part very mellow and relaxing, but it still manages to get soul stirring in excitement. I think it’s all that Caribbean flavor. My family’s from Martinique, so I know all about that stuff. A little bit of my grandmother’s Martinican peppers will make even the blandest dish burst forth with enticing, spicy zest. It’s the same thing with a hot, Caribbean beat.
So this is the part where I summarize all the reasons you should go check out the artist and the album I’ve been talking about. Well, let me just end by saying that since I didn’t get to enjoy my usual perk of getting a free album, I will instead go out and buy a copy of War Cry by Taína Asili y La Banda Rebelde since it is so awesome and I am so thoroughly impressed by the band. And even though a free album would be nice, I would feel even better about monetarily supporting such a talented, unique, and interesting group of musicians in addition to spreading the word about them.
Purchase War Cry by Taína Asili y La Banda Rebelde on Nimbit, iTunes, or Amazon!
TaÃna Asili y La Banda Rebelde – Its in Our Hands
TaÃna Asili y La Banda Rebelde – War Cry
TaÃna Asili y La Banda Rebelde – Love
TaÃna Asili y La Banda Rebelde – Verdade Vencerá