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Trad.Attack! - Make Your Move


by Kevin Wierzbicki

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This album is very cool in more ways than one. What the three piece Estonian band (Sandra Varbana on vocals and Estonian bagpipes, Jalmar Varbana on 12-string guitar and vocals, Tonu Tubli on drums and trombone) has done is take traditional Estonian folk music and rock it up pretty good. So besides bringing their unique take on these songs to a world that's never heard them in any form, they are turning on Estonian youth to a part of their heritage that they probably cared little about until now, now that it's hip. And hip these songs definitely are! "Pass-Pass" gurgles along to a fast synth beat as Sandra chant-sings in Estonian, words that sound like she's urging listeners to the dance floor that the song is crafted for. But keep in mind these are reimagined folk songs; the club burner is actually about cooking and stirring a pot (lyric translations are found in the CD booklet.) The thing is that these songs are so intriguing that non-Estonian speakers need not worry about the words. Jalmar sings the slightly-ominous "Vanamees," a cut set to a marching beat with a background chant and Middle Eastern-sounding instrumentation that would be just right for going into a trance. "Tehke Ruumi!" on the other hand is very much of this world; the bright pop number, a warning to young women not to fall into a "woman's work" trap, has a closing line that translates to "dance through the sheep barns." And boy is the dance groove of "Miks Te Ei Laula?" a blast as Sandra breaks out the Estonian bagpipes to beef up the circa 1921 song about a singing contest at a wedding. So it goes throughout the album's 11 cuts; delightful surprise after delightful surprise. Put this one on at your next party and watch your guests go crazy.
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