OBDBI PRESS

“This disc convinces me that the greatest African dance band on the planet this year hails from Chicago.” -Norman Weinstein, The BEAT vol 26 no 3


“Best World Music Group, 2008" -Chicago Reader’s Best of 2008


“One of ten must-sees at the Pitchfork festival: a blend of Chicago and West Africa, with the dancefloor as common ground.” -Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune 20 July 2008


“Pitchfork Festival - Sunday’s Best: Many fashionable rock bands count themselves fascinated by the polyrhythms of classic West African pop, but scant few have the chops to pull it off convincingly. This Chicago band doesn’t try to tame this beautiful music with Western ornaments but instead offers up respect through authentic interpretations and originals. A dance band for the thinking man.” -Matt Lurie, TimeOut Chicago, 17 July 2008


“No band in Chicago can play West African dance music like the Occidental Brothers.” -Tony Sarabia, Radio M, Chicago Public Radio 17 July 2008


“A horn section that sent the pre-dominantly indie-rock crowd back to the drawing board” -Venus Zine 28 July 2008


“The band blends Central and West African dance beats with elements of jazz and underground rock, creating a vibrant musical cocktail for dancers in the July sun.” -Drew Fortune, Chicago Social July 2008


“There have been a lot of bad highlife, rumba and African salsa revival bands, particularly synth-based ones in the mid-80s, but the Occidental Brothers pull it off. The guitar work is spot on and they lay on some subtle effects to get that 1960s recording feel to the music as well.” —Matt Yanchyshyn, Benn Loxo du Taccu, 24 March 2007


“You could easily believe the tracks on this very sharp cd were recorded in Kinshasa or Accra years ago rather than quite recently in Chicago…OBDBI offer up simply stunning instrumentals recalling the golden ages of rumba, highlife and other African styles” —T. Orr, World Music Central, 12 May 2007


“When not teaching African guitar at Old Town School of Folk Music (hands down, coolest job ever), Braddock tears things up in local groups, like the Stravinsky-transcribing Butchershop Quartet, or indie-rockers the Ancient Greeks. This ambiguously-titled project promises excellent guitar playing and, if we’re lucky, some nods to King Sunny Ade”—Matt Lurie, Time Out Chicago, 17 March 2005



The popularity of African pop music from the 60s and 70s has been on the upswing of late: recent collections like Ghana Soundz, Lagos Chop Up, and Lagos All Routes have enjoyed critical acclaim, and earlier this year Alula Records launched its "Analog Africa" series, which has reissued classic albums from Zimbabwean artists like the Green Arrows and the Hallelujah Chicken Run Band. The music's mostly forgotten in Africa, where there isn't much of a crate-digging culture. But here, the Old Town School of Folk Music has offered classes in African guitar styles, and the locals in the Occidental Brothers Dance Band International bring many of these rare African grooves to life onstage. Nathaniel Braddock, who plays guitar in the Ancient Greeks and the Butchershop Quartet, is the leader of the instrumental combo, and he's taught that class at the Old Town School. But his bright tone and stuttering leads on tunes such as Thomas Mapfumo's jubilant chimurenga "Nyarai" and Franco Luambo Makiadi's "Bomboko Awuti Na New York" dispel any fears that he's taking an academic approach to this material. Alto saxophonist Greg Ward, who's best known for holding down Wednesday nights at the Velvet Lounge, shows a similar love for (and grasp of) the idiom, striking a beseechingly lyrical stance on Orchestra Africa Jazz's "Mokozi Ya Mboko." Kyle Hernandez's booming upright bass and a trio of percussionists rounded out the band when they recorded at Electrical Audio in January; since then they've added Ghanaian trumpeter Kofi Cromwell. -Bill Meyer, Chicago Reader, 20 April 2006


“Chicago's resident guitar wizard Nathaniel Braddock leads his South African-inspired quartet as they bustle through live renditions of African jazz and dance tunes from the '60s.. The avant-pop group's repertoire includes Congolese rumbas, South Africa marabis, and eminently danceable instrumental versions of classic Afro-pop.” -Flavorpill 79