Copyright ©2013 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Kobo Town is a Toronto-based band that plays a hybrid of old-school calypso and ska. Music reviewer Banning Eyre says the band's new CD, "Jumbie in the Jukebox," doesn't so much revive those classic genres as reinvent them for a new time.

BANNING EYRE, BYLINE: Right from the start, Kobo Town's leader, Drew Gonsalves, declares his love for the past, even as his feet are firmly planted in the present.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "KAISO NEWSCAST")

KOBO TOWN: (Singing) If I had the choice, I would choose to live right back when Calypso brought the news. No more reporters, no anchormen, no recorder, no (unintelligible) to point and shoot, no (unintelligible) truth. (Unintelligible).

EYRE: On the CD "Jumbie in the Jukebox," Calypso does deliver the news. Kobo Town's music can drift among classic Caribbean pop styles and even verge on hip-hop, but the singer's perspective remains sharply focused, wry and witty. The song "Postcard Poverty" ribs tourists for whom tropical slums become an exotic backdrop to their fun-in-the-sun adventures.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "POSTCARD POVERTY")

EYRE: For all the laid-back retro sounds on this CD, the lyrics come at you with the relentlessness of pent-up urban rap. The observations can be philosophical or edgy, humorous, but never harsh. The song "Joe the Paranoiac" pokes fun at a man who sits by his radio eagerly waiting for the world to end.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JOE THE PARANOIAC")

EYRE: Gonsalves' Trinidadian roots are clear in his vocal delivery, but he grew up in Canada. And that distance from the music that most inspires him lets Kobo Town pick and choose among West Indian musical styles to create a uniquely personal hybrid.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAITING BY THE SEA")

EYRE: The Jumbie in the CD title is a ghost from Caribbean folklore. By placing a ghost in the West Indian jukebox, Gonsalves and Kobo Town recombine old sounds to conjure a new one. In fact, "Jumbie in the Jukebox" is a seductive invitation to musical time travel, an invitation that's hard to resist.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAITING BY THE SEA")

SIEGEL: Banning Eyre is senior editor at afropop.org. He reviewed "Jumbie in the Jukebox" by Kobo Town.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WAITING BY THE SEA")

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

You're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED.

Copyright © 2013 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.