Pitchfork (Website) - "The Ethiopian 11-piece band's sophomore effort is a big, brave roar of an album, reaching and surpassing the heights of their excellent 2012 self-titled debut."
Personnel: Bruck Tesfaye (vocals); Brendon Wood (guitar); Käthe Hostetter (violin); Jonah Rapino (electric violin); Marie Abe (accordion); Danny Mekonnen (tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); Gabriel Birnbaum (tenor saxophone); Danilo Henriquez (trumpet, percussion); Stephanie Baird (trombone); Arik Grier (sousaphone); P.J. Goodwin (electric bass); Adam Clark (drums).
Audio Mixers: Seth Manchester; Keith Souza.
Recording information: Langano Studio; Machines With Magnets.
Like NOMO before them, Debo Band are an American group heavily inspired by vintage African music (namely Ethiopian pop) who aren't averse to incorporating other influences into their sound. The group's ranks include members of experimental ensemble Devil Music, accordionist Marié Abe of Japonize Elephants, and violin player Kaethe Hostetter of the like-minded Qwanqwa. The group have played shows with Gogol Bordello (whose bassist Thomas Gobena produced the group's debut album), and there's certainly a Balkan brass band influence to their horn arrangements. Their songs are energetic and exciting, with plenty of funky wah-wah guitar licks and occasional aggressive tempos echoing some of the musicians' punk roots. The accordion lends a bit of zydeco flavor to a few moments, while other tracks have more of a spy movie swing to them. The group excel at filling the audio canvas with inventive flourishes and effects. The album's first half leans toward celebratory tunes, while the second gets a bit more epic and ambitious, particularly on the eight-minute duet "Oromo," which goes through more aggressive sections as well as more heartbroken passages. "Yalanchi" features a very slight reggae-ish guitar lick along with polyrhythmic hand claps. Final track "Eyew Demamu" is probably the least traditional-sounding composition, with more of a tense indie rock atmosphere, building up to a swarming conclusion. The entire album is vibrant and alive, and it constantly surprises the listener. ~ Paul Simpson