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Various Artists

Thongs in the Key Of Life, Vol. IV

Feb. 7, 2011
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You've probably heard it, but you may not have known what to call it. Singing Milwaukee journalist Jim Hoehn calls it “trop rock,” as in tropical. Hoehn's enthusiasm has yielded his fourth compilation of bands from across the United States with affinity for steel drums, tequila and sunny climes. Hoehn curates the genre's diversity to appealing effect. Some relatively hard and brassy funk, bits of reggae, salsa tango and mariachi mingle with unexpectedly plaintive folk and the hook-laden country rock that predominates. There are enough different iterations of the lyrical theme of escaping the humdrum of the workaday rat race to keep the proceedings from sagging. That's especially the case when ukulele, tuba, steel guitar and accordion show up in the mix. Almost as a matter of course, trop-rock godfather Jimmy Buffett receives a salute on one song as well.


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