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Youngblood Brass Band: Unlearn

The YoungBlood Brass Band bills itself as a hip-hop brass band that represents Madison, Wisc. This sounds like an incredibly bad idea, but Youngblood’s debut record, Unlearn, is actually an amazing record. For one thing, sousaphonist/composer/ leader Nat McIntosh is an immensely talented musician: he lays an unshakable foundation of bass for every track, pens seductive melodies and serendipitous arrangements and even breaks out with a display of awesome solo sousaphone virtuosity on “The Warrior Comes Out to Play.” YoungBlood also features a real MC, named D-Cipher, who flows nicely and rhymes sharply. He is well integrated with the sound; check the band’s devastating crescendo under D’s rhyme on “Pastime Paradise.” And the band itself can do whatever it wants without breaking a sweat: sweet gushy pop on “Something” (with a vocal helpout from Ike Willis), a sepia haze backing Talib Kweli’s incisive yet reflective rhyme on “Ya’ll Stay Up,” bumpin’ Cuban clave on “Da Bomba.” However, the craziest successful experiment on here is “The Trilogy vs. DJ Skooly,” in which the brass mimic the sounds of cutting over McIntosh-reproduced breakbeats to attempt to teach said DJ a lesson. These brassmen will blow your mind.

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