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Music Review: Galactic – Ya-Ka-May

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My first exposure to Galactic was their 2007 album From The Corner to the Block. It featured collaborations with alternative hip hop artists like Chali 2na from Jurassic 5 and Ohmega Watts. I thought that this was indicative of their sound. So, when I heard they had a new album in Ya-Ka-May I was a bit disappointed. There some hip hop influences, but I was expecting more. Luckily, after several listens I was able to take the album for what it was and give it a fair shake.

Galactic is a funk and jazz jam band from New Orleans. Their latest release, Ya-Ka-May has been heralded as an album that encompasses all of the disparate sounds of post-Katrina New Orleans. The album is packed with the city's best musicians both young and old.

There's a nice variety in the sounds and most tracks are brief. They're enjoyable and don't overstay their welcome. "Boe Money" is the first stand out track. It's a head nod-inducing, horn driven track that would move anyone with a pulse. "Double It" is probably my favorite track. It's a hip hop dance track with some serious swagger. "Heart of Steel" is funky R&B track with some strong female vocals, guitar, and bluesy harmonica.

"Katey vs. Nobby" has a grimy beat, lightning fast drums, and rapping from Bounce hip hop artists Katey Red and Sissy Nobby. "Cineramascope" and "You Don't Know" continue the theme of great brass driven upbeat instrumentals. You can really hear their jam band sound on tracks like these. "Dark Water" ups the funk meter even more and adds contrasting strings and other sounds. Lastly, "Liquor Pang" is a slower track with a big cinematic sound.

Ya-Ka-May isn't really my style, but I was able to appreciate the album's top notch musicianship and soul. It successfully melds a wide range of sounds into a cohesive album. Overall, it's a welcomed experience with the commercialization and blandness of mainstream music these days.

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