Sunday, April 15, 2007

hey Negrita: We Are Catfish and The Buzz Above

Written by Fumo Verde

If you are looking for a fresh take on some old genres, then hey Negrita is the band you've been looking for. Coming out of the UK, they have grasped the sounds of Americana, Southern rock, R&B, and blues, and use those textures to create vivid pictures that drive your imagination on a trip that covers the entire globe. Bold melodies mixed with thoughtful lyrics create songs with meaning and heart. Here is a band that seems to have something for everybody and it all sounds good.

We Are Catfish started with the song “Devil In My Shoes.” Strumming guitars chords open up the tune, as the keyboard pipes out like a Hammond B-3 organ. My feet began tapping immediately and I had to get up from my seat as I be-bopped about my room. A driving drumbeat keeps the rhythm alive and hopping, as the guitar and keyboard lend extra voices to the tale being told. Now this is how to open up and keep'em coming.

On “One Mississippi,” a simple blues melody may be the root but hey Negrita expands on it, bringing it to a different level. The use of slide guitar etches an image of a slow riverboat moving through the old ports of New Orleans back in the late 1930's. This song rolls along like the mighty river itself.

Once back on dry land, the band heads straight to the pub with “Old Britannia.” "So lets drink to dead companions/ hiding in the shadow’s wake/ and when you're on your own/ For it’s one to Old Britannia/ two because you're under/ three when you're on the floor." Now if this isn't the chorus for a good drinking song, I don't know what is. Compare that song to “Beaujolais Villages.” The melody and rhythm are being played ever so gently as are the lyrics being sung, yet the words are sharp and to the point; "Your fruit’s a little bitter/ You come across like Jesus with a gun./ I give you everything/ all I seem to get from you is drunk." One can taste more than just sour grapes in these words.

We Are Catfish has fifteen tracks and like little snowflakes, each song is different from the next in regards to genre. These men are fantastic musicians and the best way to prove that is to listen to another CD of theirs, The Buzz Above, which begins with “Can't Walk Away,” a sweet R&B track that is similar to a rock ballad, but better. The guitars cry out and the keyboard chimes in, yet the lyrics are mellow and relaxed.

I would have to say that my favorite song on this disk is “Abandon Ship.” "Easy now/ wipe the smile from my face./ I've forgotten the touch/ I remember the taste./ And there's the torture/ asleep in my bed/ under the sheets in the back of my head.” With the haunting sound of the keyboards in the back, these words take on a heavier tone, painting a dark picture of the emotions that brought them about. Yet, the band doesn't take you down a desperate road just to leave you in a state of depression.

Like a ray of sunshine breaking through the clouds on a balmy London afternoon, “Charlene” rekindles the fire that ignites the spirit. “The Message” follows and is another song of hope and faith, which brings a tear to the eye and a smile to the face. “Hold Tight” is one of those fighting songs that might get you into trouble if you put away the Jack & Cokes like El Bicho used to do back in the day-- he's got a mean right hook. This song has a Johnny Cash attitude so don't fuck with it.

If you haven't had a chance to hear hey Negrita hit their myspace page or check them out on YouTube. If they ever get a chance to come out to Southern California, I would make these guys a must see. Pick up We Are Catfish and The Buzz Above and you won't be disappointed; these guys have talent, courage, heart, and soul, and they've put it all into a small band of friends they call hey Negrita.

This is Fumo Verde saying stay green and be just.