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First Play: Battle of Santiago, La Migra

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Tahiat Mahboob

In a political climate where deportation and police are topics of frequent discussion in North America, Battle of Santiago’s upcoming third album, La Migra, seems well timed: literally translated, "la migra" means "deportation police." And while the album was named prior to the election south of the border, the emotion behind the sentiment is the same.

"We chose this title last year, simply because all of the band members have had to migrate to Toronto for one reason or another. We often have trouble crossing the border because of our diverse heritage, something we expect to be even more difficult in the coming months," the band said in a press release.

The half-Canadian, half-Cuban band led by Michael Owen (bass and production) has a distinctive sound that’s part Canadian art rock and part Afro-Cuban jazz, twisted through a dub lens. And this third release, recorded in the band’s private studio, remains true to that sound. At first play, the 11-track album can be summed up in two words: energetic and pulsating.

Having the freedom to record in their own studio gave Battle of Santiago's bandmates the chance to experiment. From the seven-minute opening track “Aguanileo” to the feel-good “Pa Bailer” to the drum-based chant of “Barasu-Ayo (Part 1),” the layering of Afro-Cuban notes with jazz, electronic and occasional rhumba rhythms makes for a rich, foot-tapping listen.

"Audiences can expect a party with lots of energy and dancing at our shows,” the band said. “When we play live, there is a lot of improv coupled with tons of live energy that we feed off of, we're so excited for people to experience La Migra."

La Migra will be released April 28 via Made With Pencil Crayons. You can pre-order the album here.

Follow Tahiat Mahboob on Twitter: @tahiatmahboob