If there's one impression about Shawn Thwaites that jumps out at first glance, it's a willingness to jokingly twist expectations. The Trinidadian-American's music is billed as "modern jazz intertwining hip-hop, funk and calypso"a blending just as offbeat as his choice of steel drums for main instrumentand his Rebel Quartet actually turns out to have six members. The band shows the same defiant and carefree attitude throughout their debut New Life, making for a listen as zesty and colorful as its eye-popping cover.
Okay, it's not completely carefree when the brief introductory rap of "Westcoastin'" is followed by a weighty phone-call interlude early on, but those spots aside, Thwaites and the band just bring the good times and let the music speak for itself. The hip-hop element is otherwise relegated to a light smattering of electronic beats in a couple spots. The majority of New Life shows the group kicking through lively cabana grooves and trading off solos with glee. The leader's delightfully vibrant steel-drum work makes for a cheery tropical vibe while the horn players in particular wail their heads off.
Thwaites' interests cover all those things mentioned above as well as gentle balladry, slinky R&B and Cajun swing. Never mind any expectations of genre (or anything else for that matter). In any mode, these rebels' spirited positivity offers a romping good time to keep the drinks flowing and the room hopping.
Black Fist; Westcoastin'; Dirty Truth; First Born; Hood Suite; Rt. 50; Europa; Out of
the Rain; Interlude; Jordyn.
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