As one of their band members put it, Grupo Fantasma's shows are like recess. The Laredo-by-way-of-Austin mambo-funk, jazz-dancehall, rock-cumbia collective turns you loose and orders you to dance on a playground of south-of-the-border sonic delight. The group's new album, Movimiento Popular, further develops its self-titled debut; the sweetly stinging and hypnotic guitars of Beto Martinez and Adrian Quesada sinuously dance amid the four-piece horn section and the dazzling polyrhythms of as many as five percussionists. This time around, there's a more pronounced hip-hop bent in some places and plenty of guests on hand, including dancehall rapper Ragah El, Tejano legend Ruben "El Gato Negro" Ramos and DJ Baby G. The vibe throughout is simply spellbinding and, what's more, sounds as if it would be even better live. If Bob Wills were a young pup today, this is the kind of music he would make. After all, what did he do but take all the music he found around him -- blues, country, Mexican -- and weave it together? That's what made the Texas Playboys the best dance band in the state back then, and that's what makes Fantasma tops now. If you can't bop to this stuff, Jack, tú estás muerto.
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