[ download ]
Sometimes our ears just need a stiff drink to cut through all of the pop-cocktails we hear on a regular basis. In such cases, the Debo Band is a scotch on the rocks. No frills, cherries, or audible umbrellas to make up for sub-par ingredients. Instead, this 11-piece Boston-based group relies on the immense talents of its members to create a symbiotic sound that is rife with nuances and subtleties yet packs enough power to knock you on your ass.
Drawing on the personal Ethiopian-American background of leader Danny Mekonnen, Debo Band’s music is cut from a lush cultural fabric and is steeped in heritage. The single “And Lay” (off their self-titled debut out now on Next Ambiance/Sub Pop) is equal parts hypnotic and frenetic with a splash of dreamy playfulness.
It is a great introduction to the Debo Band’s signature style, which fuses elements of R&B, blues, funk, brass band, and numerous schools of jazz into a sound that is at once familiar but entirely new. It is a sound that isn’t bound by genres or easy comparisons but by the passion and unapologetic talent of its members–a sound that would be equally at home on a Tarantino soundtrack or in a coffee shop in Addis Ababa.
While Debo Band’s music is complex in its foundations, it remains extremely accessible in its execution. Mekonnen’s ability to seamlessly pivot the band’s sound from one direction to the next allows the listener time to digest while holding their attention (as is the case in the change up midway through the track when he steps in with his sax and turns the song on a dime). Some listeners shy away from jazz-inspired music for being too difficult or too pretentious to listen to, however Debo Band transcends such stereotypes, making music that should be grooved to and, at the very least, appreciated.
Click here to listen to Debo Band on Spotify.