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Yerba Buena - Island Life Review
by Gary Schwind

Yerba Buena is a band that plays smokin' Afro-Cuban songs. These are energetic songs that make you want to get up and move, even if you don't know the exact steps. The horns, the percussion, the guitar and bass (played by Sebastian Steinberg, formerly of Soul Coughing) are all fantastic. I especially like the blaring horns in songs like "El Burrito."

However, this album is a great example of what can happen when a producer becomes overzealous. There are three tracks that are immediately disposable. These tracks are spoken-word pieces that serve as introduction, interlude, and farewell. They are performed by someone calling himself Aneub Abrey (Yerba Buena spelled backwards) and they really serve no purpose at all.

In addition to those three tracks, there are tracks that seem like blatant attempts to get sweaty twenty-somethings dancing at college bars. You know how that goes. You get a bunch of college students trying to dance to a hit song while doing their best to avoid spilling their drinks. That's exactly what I think of when I hear "Sugar Daddy" (the original and the reprise), "Belly Dancer," and "Bilingual Girl."

I guess I can't really blame Yerba Buena for wanting to reach out to groups that might not ordinarily hear their music. If you're in a band, you want to get your record played anywhere you can. The problem I have with these dance club numbers is that they seem so watered down next to tracks like "La Candela" and "Corazon Bandolero."

Still, Yerba Buena deserves credit for delivering a high-energy CD that is bound to get people moving. They also get points for "Bla Bla Bla," a track that features sound bites from George W. Bush. I would like to see them deliver more of the salsa, rumba and flamenco sounds. I think an album of all Afro-Cuban style songs from this band would be great.

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Yerba Buena - Island Life

Label:Razor & Tie Music

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