Editors' pick

Sergent Garcia

Latin
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Editorial Review

SERGENT GARCIA
Album review: "Una y Otra Vez"

Reggae's loping rhythm has been adopted by musicians around the world, usually for laid-back styles. The Caribbean cadence also underpins most of Sergent Garcia's "Una y Otra Vez," but the Parisian singer-guitarist's songs rarely chill. Mingling hip-hop, electronica and a wide array of Latin genres, his material ranges from bustling to outright delirious.

Like the stylistically comparable Manu Chao, Garcia is of Spanish and French descent. (He also has Algerian forbears.) But where Chao layers acoustic guitar over electro-reggae shuffles, Garcia is backed by a nine-piece band with a horn section and multiple percussionists. "Una y Otra Vez" ("Time and Time Again") expands the palette further: It's a musical tour of Colombia, with guest appearances by members of La-33, Bomba Estereo and La Mojarra Electrica.

Garcia's approach can be a little goofy. His unfortunate tag for this music is "salsamuffin," and the track "Brujeria" finds him singing "ring-a-ding-ding" like a middling Sinatra imitator. But his lyrics - in Spanish with a smattering of French and English - are sharp, and the multinational beats never fail him. Even slower numbers, such as the Cuban-inspired "Bolero Nuevo," start in the lounge but soon burst onto the dance floor.

--Mark Jenkins, Sept. 2, 2011