Since I began writing for FATEA I've had the ultimate pleasure of access to a vast range of musical styles. Nothing, and I mean nothing, can compare to the colourful reinvention of soundscapes in Tropical Gypsy by Molotov Jukebox. When the album "came across my desk" the artwork leapt off the cover, with it's symmetrical and rainbow-fruit juiciness. I was salivating. Under normal circumstances I'd do some research too just to get a feel for what to expect, but with my ears oozing with anticipation, I decided to crack on with the band's second studio album.
So I did end up researching the band a little anyway and found out that Molotov Jukebox are fronted by their very own Game of Thrones Wildling, Natalia Tena. That's Osha for fans of the season. At first I thought this was just a cool piece of trivia, but as it turns out Tena's Spanish heritage plays a major part in the band's sound. Another weird piece of info about Tena is that she went to school down the road from me, but I doubt that's had much influence on the musical direction of Molotov Jukebox to be honest! What I can say though is that their Latinate sound has been dubbed 'Gyp-step' by their fans. Let's find out why…
Molotov Jukebox are a six-piece band lead by Tena and her smokey vocal/accordion combo. The colourful flourish comes in the form of a 'gypsy violin', lairy Latin trumpet and a hard-driving rhythm section to add backbone. Tropical Gypsy sets out it's nonconformist tone from the off with a rolling street-party drum beat, leading into a flurry of the most upbeat brass I've ever heard. "You do what you like hun, because your smile is sunny side up" is the opening line. How beautiful is that? If someone said that to me I think all my troubles would melt away in an instant. The lyrics are similarly whimsical throughout, keeping things upbeat and chirpy.
There is such a mix of styles here, that's why I think the album artwork is a great metaphor for the content of albums. A tool for musicians to use properly and in this case molotov Jukebox have done just that. Tropical Gypsy is a mad mix of styles that oddly work together with real clout. I can hear indie, reggae, swing, ska and samba - plus the influence of classical music adorned with various ethno-Spanish twists What else would you expect from an album with birds, big cats, flowers and Russian nesting dolls splashed onto the canvas?
Personal favourite tracks from the album are hard to pick, as I'm a big fan of it from start to finish; especially in a saturated musical market that is becoming harder to stand out from. The opener, 'Pineapple Girl' is a winner every day because of it's fun atmosphere that had me smiling al the way through. For anyone who played 'Super Mario Sunshine' on GameCube back in the day, this song is a musical incarnation of that game. 'Too Late' is a great example of how Tropical Gypsy seems to explode from nowhere. One minute you're listening to suave and subtle strumming, but in the next a blistering trumpet/accordion solo erupts and blows out your eardrums; all the while the rhythm kings are holding down a beat to make your whole body itch!
Molotov Jukebox are touring to support the launch of Tropical Gypsy and it would be a crying shame to not see them. In fact I can't see them until later in the year so I'll have a little grizzle to myself right now. Tropical Gypsy has a very special an utterly unique vibe to it. One of the most exciting and inspiring albums I've listened to in years. Molotov Jukebox have dared to cross melodic boundaries, the result making you feel like a Romany gypsy stranded in the Caribbean. Buy this album and go and see them live before they explode in a juicy cloud of pineapple chunks!
|The Blazing Zoos: Chocks Away||Kate Doubleday: Flutter|
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