CARAMELO: URBAN GYPSY FUNK
By Ginger Pennington
When you hear Caramelo's debut album Ride, which gets released on May 29th, you will begin to suspect that there is a rockin' party going on somewhere and you're missing it.
With each listen to this eclectic gypsy band, you will be treated to a kaleidoscope of pleasant sounds, but you will understand that this is the kind of music that demands to be seen live, especially since some band members are not just musicians, but dancers who flip between flamenco and hip-hop.
One of the most standout tracks is the sexy "Peligroso," the beat of which was surely engineered to inspire you to find a dangerous dance partner of your own. The instruments tell a story that begins with emotive violin, and then bursts into a brutal tango beat provided in part by an accordion. Sara Erde's vocals, which are sometimes poppy, sweet and clean on tracks like the early No Doubt sound of "Brooklyn," become a deep-from-the-gut Spanglish on this song—a “don’t mess with me” sound that could only legitimately come from a Brooklyn girl who spent six years in Sevilla, Spain.
Another treat on this record is the song “The Girl is Gone,” which is provided back-to-back in two very different versions. First, there’s the upbeat, funky version, which sounds a bit like Jenny-from-the-Block-era J.Lo backed by horns, Spanish guitar (played by Jed Miley, another American who spent time in Sevilla), authentic flamenco backing vocals, and, later, a crazy electric guitar solo. The second version has more of a soft jazz influence: proof that the same ingredients used in different quantities can produce an entirely different product.
Overall, Ride is an album that, when described using words, may sound too otherworldly for unadventurous types, but as they say, writing about music is like dancing about architecture. Just one listen tells a different story: Caramelo has a little something for everyone.
Read more about the band at Caramelobeat.com, or if you are in New York, head to Drom on June 2 for the CD release party.