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Street Signs

4.7 out of 5 stars 62 customer reviews

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Audio CD, June 22, 2004
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

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Genre: Popular Music
Media Format: Compact Disk
Rating:
Release Date: 22-JUN-2004

Amazon.com

You generally don't have to listen too hard to hear what's on the mind of Los Angeles music collective Ozomatli. The multi-faceted band is rarely subtle in its politics or its incorporation of countless Latin traditions as well as modern rock, jazz, pop and hip-hop. But on the band's third album, Street Signs, the addition of the Prague Symphony and the distinct influence of Arab and North African music certainly qualify as ambitious curve balls. Announcing its intentions from the get-go, album-opener "Believe" starts with a Rai-style vocal melody before finishing with a gritty rap as Bollywood-style strings provide a sweeping backdrop throughout. Never lingering in one place for long, the band quickly goes from there into some of the catchiest Latin Rock this side of Santana's "Smooth" on such gems as "Love And Hope" and "(Who Discovered) America?" before tearing off in other directions. These fearless hip-hop bambinos truly go their own way, saying what they want, playing what they want. --Tad Hendrickson
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (June 22, 2004)
  • Original Release Date: June 22, 2004
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Concord Records
  • ASIN: B00025EU0E
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (62 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #112,767 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
I discovered Ozomatli through an interview I read with actor John Cusack, who is a big fan of the band. He was laying some heavy praise on them, and described their music as a "cultural block party". I can't think of a better description myself.

Ozomatli's sound is like the musical manifestion of racial and cultural unity. They combine so many different musical styles, and do so with amazingly effortless style. Despite the extreme diversity, the music is never cluttered or offputting. Everything fits together perfectly, and the music is always fun, upbeat, and exciting. It's like a perfect symbol of different races and creeds living together in harmony. And, their positive lyrical messages on that very subject help to perpetuate that image.

Musically, there is more going on here than I could possibly put into words. The band uses an extensive arsenal of instruments, including strings, horns, tribal percussion, and jazzy piano. A song can go from salsa, to hip hop, to tribal, to jazz, all in the blink of an eye. "Believe", the opening track, gets everything started in this fashion immediately. Starting with a fiery Latin melody, adorned with strings, it soon moves into a smooth rap part to humble any modern rapper that's popular today. "Love & Hope" and "Who Discovered America?" are a bit more straight-forward pop, with a bit of a Los Lonely Boys feel. The title track and "Saturday Night" are more rap-oriented, with jazzy undertones. "Who's to Blame?" is an intense tribal beat driven track, with amazing vitriolic rap vocals (he barely takes a breath throughout the whole song).

As the album goes, the Spanish influence begins to shine through more. The album features lyrics both in English and Spanish, mostly in Spanish in the latter half.
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Format: Audio CD
I have listened to Ozomatli rather sporadically over the past few years. I was impressed with what I heard, but I guess I never really paid attention to them enough to pick up any of their albums. At any rate, I came across this album, Street Signs, that they released last year, so I decided to check it out.

I have to say that picking this album up was a wise decision. For those that don't know, Ozomatli is a multiracial band, and while I don't know any of the members by name yet, each member successfully brings something to the table. There are elements of rap, salsa, rock, and Tejano (among other styles) to be found on here, and they all blend together well to make a good mix.

While it's hard to pick a favorite song on here, "Believe" and the title track definitely spring to mind. And the party joint "Saturday Night" actually comes off very well. Basically, you can call Ozomatli hip-hop, progressive rock, or whatever you want, but all you really need to do is start paying attention to some street signs.

Anthony Rupert
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Format: Audio CD
I'm a world music (and rock and jazz and modernist classical) fan who has never really been much into Latin music. I happened to overhear a few brief snatches of Ozomatli on, of all places, NPR. I was intrigued by the way they flavored some of their Latin tunes with Arab influences, intrigued enough to buy Street Signs. It is one of those very few albums which is clearly worth the price, well worth it.

The album is incredible! Every song is in a different style (from hip-hop to quaint old fashioned Latina ballads to funk to salsa to rap to ranchero and even some very good jazz piano), yet each is exactly what it should be -- and everything seems to be played with great intensity and pleasure. It's an album that gets under your skin; the tunes keep playing in my head (but not in that annoying way that overly sweet pop tunes can). And these guys are musically ambitious, never afraid to push the envelope and bring together very different musical traditions in a way that really works, and is really exciting.

Ozomatli has opened up a whole new world of music for me. I guess I'll have to try out their earlier albums now.
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Format: Audio CD
The latest CD from Ozomatli is truly, truly superb. I have, of course, seen them live, and the band is justly legendary for their concert performances. Of their CDs, I thought that their first was incredible (it's been a staple listening pleasure of mine for years and hasn't grown the least bit stale), but I was soooooooo let down by 'Embrace the Chaos' (why? I can't explain, exactly, but it just didn't seem as vibrant as their debut...I'm willing to give it another chance, though) that I awaited 'Street Signs' with some trepidation. But MAN OH MAN, has 'Street Signs' brought me back to the fold!
This CD is nothing but a study in excellence. Outstanding musicianship, wild (and wide) world influences (check the Arabic flava of 'Believe' and the strings on 'Love and Hope'...My girlfriend even thought that when 'Believe' kicked in, that I had put on a Rachid Taha CD)...And the band brings the FUNK. That 'Saturday Night' is the single ain't no surprise, but what did surprise me was the DC, Trouble Funk go-go sound the band kicks out. Overall, I'd be hard pressed to pick a favorite track on this CD, and the production is absolutely top-notch.
Pick up 'Street Signs' without delay. In our culture, where political art is too often met with indifference, Ozomatli are more than up to the task of mixing it up and making music and action matter again. Plus, it's a PARTY, and who doesn't love that?
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