Don't Mess with the Dragon

Ozomatli's impressive résumé includes two Grammys and a Latin Grammy, fairly unusual for a band with an unclassifiable sound that includes Latin, hip-hop, rock, reggaetón, funk, soul, and Arab music. This time out, the band takes an even bigger risk by shortening the jams and adding some studio polish, giving the tunes a friendly, radio-ready aura. The eclectic elements are still in evidence, but they're dropped into catchy, instantly memorable pop tunes. "After Party" is a groovy Smokey Robinson-meets-Santana thang, a fusion of Latin party grooves and Motown melody. "Magnolia Soul" is a funky, horn-driven hip-hop rave-up graced by the sanctified organ fills of Jimmy Calire. An avalanche of percussion, slashing horns, and spacey synthesizer fills accent the thumping reggaetón of "Here We Go." A galloping merengue rhythm gives "La Temperaturo" an irresistible drive, while "When I Close My Eyes" blends its ska-driven frenzy with some tasty new wave rock guitar.

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