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June 12, 2024

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Thank You, Uncle Tom (Head Fulla Brains Records)

By: Scott D. Lewis

What is Spanglish? Well, it's a mix of Spanish and English and the perfect way to describe the funky sounds of Caramelize. From the opening track, a shimmering and meaty slice of down-tempo groove with lyrics that distantly pace through a recipe for the perfect flan, sung in Spanish, it's clear that this Brooklyn band is a lot of serious fun. But then, just two tracks down the line, during the super-sensual and moody, English-sung If Only I Had..., this band proves it's not all fun and games and delivers one of the most haunting instantly addictive songs in recent memory. While all three of Caramelize's core members share vocal duties, female harmonies (provided by creatures known only as Sandra and Hillary) are pushed up front to lead the listener down their many paths. Denial could have been stolen from Luscious Jackson or Brassy, full of footloose frolic and puffed-up attitude. More funky confidence and self-name-dropping flows through the slick hip-hop of The Caramel Eyes Song, but upon closer inspection, the track is revealed to be a stab at one Colin L. Powell. A little reggae slips into the Latin-flavored shimmy of Ciana, and the ten tracks come to a gentle end with Los Lobulos (The Language of Lobe), which begins as a touching ode to earlobes and then morphs into a zippy, electro-dance ditty. While it's true that Caramelize are totally all over the map, it's also the case that it's a pretty enjoyable trek.
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