04 August 2006

The Soundtrack of Post-Castro Cuba? (CD Review)

Habana Abierta: Boomerang
Calle54 Records
buy CD | hear samples

I'm not sure what to make of my newfound obsession with this album. I don't understand much of the band's language (Spanish), either in their songs or their website. But here's the deal: this album rocks. It manages to be both just-picked fresh and still full of catchy hooks that reel you in.

The title is apt, for the band boomerangs not just geographically, but also between elements as diverse as rock guitar, Latin rhythms, and Beach-Boys-worthy vocal harmonies. I hope to get some lyrics or song notes soon for a better idea what I'm grooving to, but my first few ignorant runs through the album have me favoring the energetic "Boca Abajo," the horn-punctuated funky rocker "Como Soy Cubano," the yodelly and more traditional sounding "El Gato y El Raton," and, well, the other 11 tracks as well.

For reasons I can't fully articulate, this is a shoe-in for one of my favorite albums of 2006. Especially at this time of potentially dramatic change for Cuba, you owe it to yourself to check out this adventurous and irresistable Cuban group (now based in Madrid), whose name translates as "Open Havana."

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Special request from SoundRoots reader Don:
I'm hoping you can help me. I'm trying to track down a song called "Mi Kafi" (my spelling of the title is only guess). I believe I am spelling the title correctly. It is of Caribbean or African origin. It is sung by an older woman with simple, light acoustic accompaniment. I know that part of the lyric is: "Mi kafi, mi kafi. Got to have mi kafi in dee morning." I used to have it on an old vinyl record I bought at a thrift store years ago but it has gone missing. I've tried very hard to find information about the song on the internet, to no avail. Any leads or solid information you can provide would be most helpful.

So, SoundRoots readers, anyone have the answer for Don?
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