Review : Galactic - Ya-Ka-May
PopmattersIn the world of jam bands, Galactic has always proven itself to be a bit of an anomaly. Where other groups seemed content to recycle the same tired blues riffs and neo-psychedelic meanderings, Galactic has always shown a willingness to experiment, to incorporate humor and new musical styles into its cornbread-and-whipped-butter brand of jazzyfunkypop. Where other groups increasingly featured musicians with bloated egos engaging in self-indulgent solo theatrics, the members of Galactic have always proven themselves to be slaves to the groove, never putting individual expression above the integrity of the tune. And where other groups resigned themselves to being mainstays on the frat party circuit, Galactic always seemed to be a band of the people, regularly collaborating with gospel divas and street musicians and playing small blues clubs.
It’s not much of a surprise, then, given Galactic’s freewheeling reputation, to find the band separating itself even further from its jam band peers, altering its sound and style yet again, on its latest release, the enjoyable Ya-Ka-May. As the album title, a reference to an Afro-Orleanian soup-like culinary delicacy, suggests, this release is the most playful and carefree collection of tunes in Galactic’s impressive oeuvre. For the most part, it finds the band building on its previous release, the hip-hop-heavy From the Corner to the Block, with a set of party songs strongly influenced by the bounce rap sound of the band’s New Orleans home....full text
LatimesblogsSince rising out of the same jam-happy acid jazz scene that hatched the Greyboy Allstars and Soulive in the '90s, Galactic has struggled to settle on an identity of late. After early records worked a vintage soul-jazz vibe, the band has since flirted with electronic loops with producer Dan the Automator, and dove into underground hip-hop with the Coup's Boots Riley and others on 2007's ambitious but uneven "From the Corner to the Block."
But now Galactic is back where it started. Always steeped in the second-line pulse of its native New Orleans, Galactic's "Ya-Ka-May" calls on a multitude of Crescent City voices for a funky and original late-night travelogue. The band's skills as a jazz-funk party act excel in rollicking guest spots from Jazz Fest favorites the Rebirth Brass Band, Allen Toussaint and Irma Thomas (whose swampily soulful "Heart of Steel" is a highlight). But it's Galactic's foray into "bounce," New Orleans' nascent hip-hop sound, that really turns heads. ...full text
SpinFor Ya-Ka-May, New Orleans brass-funk combo Galactic recruit a cross section of local luminaries, from the great R&B singer Allen Toussaint to bounce rapper Sissy Nobby, for a dip into the city's dark waters of sin and salvation. Odes to liquor and cocaine (Josh Cohen and Scully's "Liquor Pang") rub against testaments to personal fortitude (Irma Thomas' "Heart of Steel"). Galactic struggle to accompany all these signifying voices, sometimes resorting to hard, strident rhythms that don't really augment the performances. But you never get the sense that they're tourists -- they can blow, sway, and dive as well as any N'awlins marching band....full text
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