Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Occidental Brothers Dance Band International: Odo Sanbra [Occidental Brothers, 2009]
Led by Nathaniel Braddock, a Michigan history prof's son who mastered highlife guitar to signify his distance from the other kids in his Dow Chemical town, and featuring two members of the Western Diamonds, the biggest Ghanaian highlife band of the '90s, proof that preservationism can be fun. Stopping off for an idiomatic cover of New Order's "Bizarre Love Triangle" (wherein Braddock noticed a sikyi progression) and finishing with the '20s chestnut "Yaa Amponsah" (whereof Braddock tracked down an original 78), it's tuneful like all great highlife is tuneful--with Chicago saxman about town Greg Ward taking the hooky second guitar parts, maybe more. Chicago bassist Joshua Ramos is the anchor-for-hire, Kofi Cromwell sings lovely and blows his own horn, Andrew Bird contributes a violin cameo, and Asamoah Rambo is the rare African who knows his way around a trap set. Like they say so much more often than is true--sweet. A-