Khruangbin - Con Todo El Mundo
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Texan trio Khruangbin named themselves after the Thai word for airplane, which couldn't be more appropriate for a band whose influences imply heavy passport usage. Of course, the band are inspired by Thai rock and funk from the '60s and '70s -- sounds most easily available to Western ears via releases like the Thai Beat a Go-Go compilations or anything issued by ZudRangMa Records. The group also draw from the bass pressure of vintage dub reggae, the free-spirited haziness of California psychedelia, and the gritty passion of '70s soul, with hints of Iranian pop, Afrobeat, Spaghetti Western film scores, and countless other styles. While this sounds like it could be an impossibly tall order, or something that requires an encyclopedic knowledge of music just to listen to, the band achieve a remarkably, almost effortlessly cohesive sound, and it goes down much more smoothly than one might expect. The group never have a lead vocalist, but most of the songs on Con Todo el Mundo feature distant, shadowy backup vocals, making them seem like proper songs with the lyrics removed. Instead, Mark Speer's reverb-heavy guitar does most of the talking, playing a more ethereal variation on twangy surf or desert blues riffs. Without breaking a sweat or running away from the general vibe, the group slip in Middle Eastern-sounding percussion, loungey vibraphone, and humorous taunts during the playful "Lady and Man." The organ-kissed "Shades of Man" has a similar deep-but-smooth soul flavor, and ends with a short bit featuring someone asking how to pronounce the band's name. "Evan Finds the Third Room" is a fun, handclap-riddled funk tune with dazzling guitar licks and more playful call-and-response vocals. The album ends with the supremely chilled "Friday Morning," which seems like a slowed-down, half-remembered interpretation of Ice Cube's "It Was a Good Day." The song is so easygoing that you might not even notice how many times the group switches the tempo.