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Great Albums You May Have Missed: Galactic's Ya-Ka-May (2010)
With an eye still trained on the upcoming 2011 New Orleans Jazzfest, Great Albums You May Have Missed skews new school with the current sound of the Crescent City, captured perfectly on Galactic's 2010 Ya-Ka-May.
Galactic have been a Jazzfest and New Orleans staple ever since they released their first album Cooling Off in 1996. The outfit consistently brings in varying outside talent to help construct their albums and with Ya-Ka-May they have focused solely on their hometown.
This album is as much time capsule as artistic offering. 30 years from now these contributors may not be in the cultural consciences, but this moment in musical time (in a specific city that is constantly evolving) will be well preserved for both historians (librarians?!) and the public to savor.
For those looking for a "Classical New Orleans" record, forget about it. As it warns, "This is not your Father's New Orleans Album" but hopefully that won't put you off. Drummer Stanton Moore and crew have assembled a diverse cast to help them with songs ranging from blistering hip-hop, to smooth electro funk, to get-down-horn-fueled-party jams that can flow all night.
Almost a mix-tape in presentation Galactic invite an array of dynamic local guests from track to track. For example, Allen Toussaint helps out on the bubbling “Bacchus” directly before Bounce “sissy rapping” stars Katey Red and Sissy Nobby do their booty shaking thang on “Katey vs. Nobby.” Just between those two cuts that are sequenced next to each other, you span generations, genres, and cultures while bending genders and followings, showing just how diverse the NOLA music scene currently is.
"Boe Money" gets the brass blasting as The Rebirth Brass Band fires up the proceedings, combining a hip swirling Latin flair with late night get down boogie. The Soul Queen of New Orleans Irma Thomas dominates with her passionate voice on "Heart of Steel" over Galactic's six strings, hand claps and sparse electro-keys.
Trombone Shorty pops up and contributes some funky blowing on “Cineramascope” while Ryan Scully and Josh Cohen from the now defunct Morning 40 Federation add their boozy charm to “Liquor Pang.” Walter “Wolfman” Washington plops a dollop of swampy blues with “Speaks His Mind” and throughout Galactic do what they do best; play sidemen to the great talents that they gathered for their record. They support rather then star on their own production and it works wonders as the true sounds of their city flow through them and their guests.
The title of the album compliments the music contained within gloriously. Ya-Ka-May (or YakaMein) is a New Orleans street soup that is noodle based with a hard boiled egg on top, but like anything that hits this city instantly becomes engulfed with local flavor making each batch unique. One recipe can be found here, but feel free to add your own twist to the dish; every vendor in town seems to do so. Last year I managed to try the vegetarian Ya-Ka-May for the first time and was pleasantly surprised by the spices, richness of the noodles and the combo of veggies (I could have done without that cauliflower though).
Back to the music though, this album is the sound of the present day New Orleans, Galactic continue to spread the good word regarding all types of NOLA sound; the town is in great musical hands. Grab a helping of Ya-Ka-May for some salty southern goodness.
IN THE NYPL CATALOG:
Ya-Ka-May by Galactic
To preview some great tracks from Ya-Ka-May and a "making-of featurette," click the links below:
- The Making of Ya-Ka-May
- "Heart of Steel" Galactic featuring Ira Thomas
- "Double It" Galactic featuring Big Freida
Please Note: online audio tracks are an excellent source for previewing, but are compressed and do not match CD quality audio.