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Lord Mouse and The Kalypso Kats | Go Calypsonian

album review by John Powell

Lord Mouse and The Kalypso Kats | Go Calypsonian

What business does a band from Berlin, Germany have playing calypso music? It’s a bizarre set-up, but it’s actually incredible. The 14-piece outfit called Lord Mouse and The Kalypso Kats delivers Go Calypsonian, sung mostly in English and full of humor, insight, catchy sing-a-longs, and saluting old school calypso.

Lord Mouse himself is American, and he fronts ukelele, piano, guitar, timbales, congas, bass, horns, and a vocal sextet. That alone is a set up for wondrous things. The whole album transports you. Words like “decadent,” “Graceful,” and “fun-loving” come to mind.

“Monkey Bop” is a funny, Latin-esque romp. Because there are so many musicians, there are many layers. Mouse sings in clean alto and cartoony baritone. There’s no politics to start off with, or love- just good, clean fun.

The follower, “Edward VIII”, has snappy lyrics, something you might think would be lost on a band so focused on their sheer musician magnitude, but the lyrics throughout are sensible and endearing, no matter how silly. “On the 10th of the summer/ you heard the talk,” Mouse sings, “when he gave the throne to the Duke of York.” Cool syntax. Cool flavor.

“White Boy Calypso” addresses the strange fact that this group chose calypso for their genre. “White boy, why you sing/ songs of the Caribbean?” goes the chorus, and verse one boats, “I sing the blues/ anytime I choose/ I play calypso anytime I please.” Very self-aware, the song touches on something real, talking about how music worldwide is music, no matter where it comes from.

Songs like “Snake Charmer” belong on a movie soundtrack. “Pussycat” brings on a big band sound. If you close your eyes you can picture this group at a club circa 1920s, dressed to impress and melting hearts in the flapper-filled audience.

Highlights include the piano work and the horns, which are tactfully used to accent the rest of the band. The album is mixed well, although some lyrics are lost here and there. Tunes like “Limbo Song” are only meant to please, whereas “Sombrero” sets out to burn genre walls.

Calypso has been gaining footing, perhaps the new revival, (neo-folk has seen its day). What’s the deal? Well, calypso comes with a sense of class, and even when songs are fun, they can touch on important matters. Calypso is rich with metaphor and sarcasm. It’s perfect for the modern generation balancing cynicism with the reinvention of a Good Time.

Let the heralds be Lord Mouse and The Kalypso Kats. If you like to dance, shake, boogie, sing a long, throw parties, or generally enjoy music, you’ll find true love in Lord Mouse and his rag tag team. There’s nothing quite like it out there right now.

Bottom line: Calypso revivalists mix humor and wit with tight compositions and melodies. This is a highly recommended album.

Comments  

 
+1 # howie bledsoe 2013-07-01 06:02
Actually, Edward the 8th is an old calypso from the Caresser, (1930's) and it's "On the 10th of December you heard the talk..."
 

 

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