Jaguar Sound


The last twenty years have seen Grupo Fantasma producer/member Adrian Quesada careen through so many broad-spanning retromodern projects — the two-man soul-revivalist Black Pumas, the Sabbath-and-Bomb Squad-homaging thunder-funk outfit Brownout, the Southwestern cinema psych of The Echocentrics — that it feels like his only competition in prolific throwback bricolage is one other guy named Adrian. One of two albums Quesada cut as a headline name in 2022 alongside the pinpoint-perfect brown-eyed-soul seance Boleros Psicodélicos, the COVID-gestated Jaguar Sound had its origins in a hip-hop-influenced series of loops-and-beats sketches that Quesada brought a wide cross-section of musicians in to complete once lockdown lifted. And if the vibe of sampledelia-gone-live is enough of a known quantity these days that it’s not enough to coast on the conceptual thrust of the whole thing, Jaguar Sound transcends it with an evocative vibe-over-genre approach that approximates deep-crate variety without letting the seams show. Think all those instrumentals the Beastie Boys cut as a live band in the ’90s, dial in a bit more Latin-soul specificity, and then expand those horizons outward to the vanishing point. It hits hardest on the rousing “Spirits,” featuring the horn section of Ikebe Shakedown and Antibalas saxophonist Martin Perna, rides off the bounce of ’60s New Orleans, the brass of ’70s Augusta, and the twang of an eternal Austin. But that’s just one mode: the Santana-simmering, regret-nursing downtempo ballad “Fireflies” finds equal measures of sorrow and strength in its crawl-paced ruminations, “Turk’s Cap” distills everything compelling about The Doors into a heat-baked vamp that outdoes half the backing tracks on Strange Days when it comes to garage-goth magnetism, and “DG on the Keys” uses a command David Garza performance on the electric piano as a scaffold to build the ideal theme for a theoretical unrealized Django movie.

Nate Patrin