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CD REVIEW: 40 Watt Hype- Strong Feet on the Concrete
By Jon Stewart - 07/18/2006 - 04:50 PM EDT

Artist: 40 Watt Hype
Album: Strong Feet on the Concrete
CD Review: A guy goes into a bar. There are 10 music stands with manuscript-sized sheet music placed haphazardly on each behind two electric guitars, with a bass guitar placed alongside a set of drums. No, this isn’t the beginning of a long “drunk” joke. This setting was furnished for a Steely Dan tribute band that I unexpectedly came upon about 10 years ago. The sheet music was being supplied for the horn section, an underappreciated element of Fagan and Becker’s compositions. The result was a concert that offered everything you would want for 2 hours of musical escape.

This vision overpowered me as I listened to 40 Watt Hype’s April 2006 creation “Strong Feet on the Concrete”. Grammy-winning producer Art Hodge (co-produced by Aaron Wall, one of the primary songwriters) has crafted an ambitious gem of an album that covers hip-hop, R & B, Latin and Jazz. The talent shows through everywhere; the sense of inspiration witnessed in the horn section is a review in itself.

All 15 songs (one track is a series of 2 minute business meetings) utilize top notch horn arrangements that are made to complement each song and are the creation of Adan Infante, trombone player for the band. Take my favorite, “On & On”. Lyrically, it touches the hardest edges of your soul with its civilized expression of a love being left behind. Just a decent little rhythm, but it is the correct one. The horns phase in and out when you need that perfect emotional underpinning. Listen carefully; you can understand the passion that songwriters command in a good love song. Overall, a beautiful, mature way to express dealing with life and its disappointments.

Latin-flavored pop is the main ingredient in two of the songs; “Muevete” and “La Sombra”. Each is very different but handled masterfully by the band, kept engaging by the use of big horns.

I enjoyed each song on the CD and the switch from hip-hop to R & B to Jazz to Latin was sufficiently smooth to make me save it for a road trip. Of course, I haven't taken it out of my player yet. Grade B+.

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