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Manic and magic

Bruja on the Corner
Bruja on the Corner
By Mad Juana

Acetate Records: 2008

This review first appeared in Turbula in December 2008.

Originally set for release on the San Diego County indie label Azra Records, and eventually issued by Acetate, the fifth album from New York's Mad Juana is a blend that could perhaps only come from a place like the Big Apple. Equal parts alt rock and East European folk music, klezmer and speed rock, reggae and jazz, mariachi and '60s pop, the music on "Bruja on the Corner" borrows from everything and everyone, then gives it a fresh spin all its own.

A big part of why music with so many disparate influences works as well as it does here is the magnetically charismatic performance of lead singer Karmen Guy. Not possessed of a particularly pure tonality, she sings such crazed music with such energetic abandon that you can't help but like it.

With a buoyant horn section and a stellar rhythm section, Mad Juana's manic approach to music hews a delicate line between anarchy and magic. Fortunately for listeners, it leans toward the magic side more often than not.