Yerba Buena doesn’t care if you can’t dance. It doesn’t much matter anyway.
Because to hear the Latin collective’s debut album, President Alien, is to heed the call of the dance floor.
Taking a page from the Ozomatli playbook, Yerba Buena go for a kitchen sink aesthetic, combining African-influenced Latin music with hip-hop, soul and Afrobeat. It’s all blended seamlessly and shows just how much all these different musics have in common.
Which is a pussyfooted way of saying hell if I can pick apart which style is which.
But that kind of analysis is rendered moot. Music this rhythmic has only one message: “Shut up and dance.”
From the catchy opening of “Guajira (I Love You 2 Much)” all the way through to the children’s song quote concluding “Solar”, President Alien is relentless.
African rhythms and chanting vocals propel “Wassamatta Baby” and “Bote Bote Va”, while an arsenal of percussion drives the excessively busy “Definition of a Warrior”.
“Fire” layers a strange Middle Eastern section over a drum ‘n’ bass-styled beat, and “La Gringa” serves as a historical lesson on the origin of disco.
If anything, listening to President Alien can get pretty exhausting. Yerba Buena doesn’t have time to slow down.
Band leader and producer Andres Levin has cultivated a playground atmosphere on this album. He’s also gathered some of the most magnetic talents ever collected.
Xiomara Laugart’s smokey vocals are difficult to ignore. And the rhythm section of bassist Sebastian Steinberg, percussionist Pedro Martinez and session drummers Horacio Hernandez and Terreon Gully cram each song with an avalance of beats.
It can’t get any simpler — Yerba Buena’s President Alien is the perfect party record. It can make anyone get up and move.