In its 30-year headswimmingly remarkable career, Brave Combo has never flinched when it comes to doing things differently. Kikiriki (pronounced kee-kee-reé-kee), the band’s latest release on Dentone Records, is certainly no exception to the group’s always-evolving creative aesthetic. Described by band founder Carl Finch as “an exciting hodgepodge of disparate sounds and moods huddled under the umbrella of polka—a 12-song realm where the Bee Gees, Beethoven, and ‘Boli boli glowa’ all become one,” Kikiriki finds Brave Combo in top form, rattling the cages of convention from the downbeat onward.
Although polka’s infectious enthusiasm underpins the proceedings, Kikiriki takes its cues from other world music as well. The title song whirls Serbian brass band sonorities with a well-known polka beyond the point of recognition, and “Beethoven Song” takes the “glorious 9th” from schottische to oberkrainer techno in just under three minutes. Elsewhere on the disc, “Just Because” swings hard, the haunting “Polish National Anthem” gets caught out in the rain, and a lounge-esque “Apple Blossom Time” brings the house down at a virtual banquet. And that barely scratches the surface—is it a big world after all, and is Brave Combo making it smaller?
Brave Combo is based in the musical mecca of Denton, Texas. Over the years, the band has won two Grammys, been animatedly memorialized on TV’s “The Simpsons,” provided the score for PBS’s “As the Wrench Turns,” and had songs placed in a variety of television series and movie soundtracks. Band personnel is Carl Finch, guitar, keyboards, accordion, vocals; Jeffrey Barnes on a dizzying assortment of woodwinds, harmonica, and vocals; Danny O’Brien, trumpet and vocals; Alan Emert on drums, and Little Jack Melody on electric bass and vocals. Kikiriki is available now.