Local Licks

This week, we review Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, Ken Ekool, Bat Makumba, and Doctor Sparkles.

Stuart Rosh & the Geniuses, Fundamental. Charming tales about decaffeinated coffee, golf course foibles, five-dollar shoes, picking up chicks at the library, and more — all set to peppy, horn-laden cabaret grounded in blues and ’40s and ’50s vocal jazz — make Stuart Rosh’s fourth album an unexpected and undeniable treat. Across all twelve tracks, he and his band never lose their groove. (Winged Flight Records)

Ken Ekool, You’re Never Satisfied. Self-proclaimed “hip OG” Ken Ekool wants us to know he’s beyond the slick scheming of his younger contemporaries: I don’t need another booty call/I need a full-time lover, gotta have it all. The Oakland resident’s R&B style is typical but endearing: drum claps, keyboards, funky basslines, earnest vocals. Ekool wrote, performed, and produced. (self-released)

Bat Makumba, Boteco. This San Francisco trio takes Latin fusion back to the edge, reinventing Brazil minute-by-minute and injecting samba with rock and funk experimentalism. Stroll through their songs on Carl Rembe’s fat basslines, tiptoe atop Emilio Benevides’ sparkling percussion, or simply absorb the universal exuberance of Alex Köberle’s Portuguese vocals. (Bat Makumba Records)

Doctor Sparkles, Monkey Swing Monkey Doo. You gotta wonder about an album bookended by “The Golden Age of Swing” and “Flinging Poo at the Zoo.” Doctor Sparkles himself lands somewhere in between, masquerading on the sleeve in a sequined black jacket, oversize red top hat, red eyeliner, and tie-dye T-shirt. This all detracts only slightly from his child-friendly, jungle-themed swing revival. (self-released)

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