LA JUNTA Al­ways Live! (Feel Good Mu­sic)

Pasatiempo - - Pasa Tempos -

Lo­cal self­pro­claimed “South­west funk-hop” col­lec­tive La Junta is one of those bands that al­ways sounds bet­ter in a live set­ting. Blame it on the en­ergy of the crowd or the unique­ness of the band’s com­pos­ite of jazz, funk, reg­gae, hip-hop, ska, Latin, and blues, but some­thing in the air changes when singer/gui­tarist Ni­cholas Peña hits the stage with that open­ing song. It’s a feel­ing a stu­dio al­bum can’t cap­ture. Recorded at the Santa Fe Brew­ing Com­pany Pub & Grill in late De­cem­ber 2009, Al­ways Live! comes close. Opener “Wade” sends out the R&B/ska vibe with heaps of sax­o­phone riffage and Peña rhyming in con­scious hip-hop mode: “Wade through the game, wade through the shame, wade through the pol­i­tics we can’t see … through the lies we be­lieve.” Al­though the tracks were recorded in front of a live au­di­ence, the CD shouldn’t be mis­taken for a con­cert al­bum. There are fade-outs be­tween all songs, and the song or­der seems to have been al­tered. Mixed at the band’s Feel Good stu­dio and mas­tered by Doug Geist at Santa Fe Cen­ter Stu­dio, the 16-track disk sports a song se­lec­tion that will please La Junta’s diehard lo­cal fans. North­ern New Mex­ico party an­them “Pe­cos” made the cut, as did Peña’s beat-box-tinged ode to Santa Fe. It wouldn’t be La Junta with­out some reg­gae heat, which can be found on the al­bum’s hid­den last track — a jam­min’ cover of Peter Tosh’s “Le­gal­ize It” with a La Junta twist.

— Rob DeWalt

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