The Austin Chronicle

Texas Platters

Reviewed by Thomas Fawcett, September 28, 2007, Music


Homenaje (Freestyle)

The cover of Brownout's debut, Homenaje – Spanish for "homage" – preserves a traditional Mexican shrine with many of the group's inspirations, among them old vinyl LPs, a wrestling action figure, and a bottle of Buchanan's Scotch whisky. The musical output from Grupo Fantasma's funky alter ego also pays tribute. Titles such as "Brown Wind and Fire" and "Chafa Kahn Artistry" are obvious nods to the Austin eightpiece's old-school R&B influence, while a driving cover of Manu Dibango's "African Battle" highlights its Afro and funk sensibilities. The title track echoes the funkiest 1970s material from NYC's Fania label, and the gorgeous "You Already Are" channels Carlos Santana. Melding these influences into an original diasporic sound is the album's triumph. Aside from a couple of goofy song titles ("The Sexican," "Latin Asscape"), there's hardly a nit to pick. Out on England's Freestyle Records, Brownout's percolating homage stands proud among the recent rash of nuevo-soul and funk offerings. (CD release: Saturday, Sept. 29, at the Mohawk.)


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