ALBUM REVIEW: Robby Hunter Band - Magic City Hippies

"You're never coming back..."

I have to confess that I'm especially honored and excited to be writing this review. You see, I went to high school with Robby. Years later, in early 2007, he got me a job with his dad's company and that was my first exposure to his music. Every Friday after work a handful of us would walk a few blocks over to Sunset Tavern in South Miami to have a few drinks and watch Robby play. Those sets consisted of about half and half original material to cover songs. That early material was very reminiscent of some of his major influences such as John Mayer and Jack Johnson (he also covered a couple of their songs) but you could definitely see that there was something there--he had a great voice, he could play the hell out of his guitar, and he definitely had a great ear for melody and harmony.

"Magic City Hippies," in my opinion, marks a fantastic musical evolution for Robby and his band, blending elements of funk, hip-hop, pop, and soul to find a unique, distinct sound that crystalizes all the excess, the beauty, the passion, and the peace of the Magic City and the hippies that call it home. When it grooves, it grooves hard, as with danceable gems such as the title track that opens the record and the mesmerizing "Bust." Other times it picks the tempo up and comes with some of the catchiest melodies around like the guitar line in the hip-hop tinged "Corazon" or the irresistible melodies of "Hard on Me" and "Fire."

But the thing I was most impressed with on this record was the beautiful, lush arrangements in every song. It's amazing how much the sound has evolved from one guy with an acoustic guitar who then started investing in some fancy pedals to now putting together these great big multi-track studio arrangements with a full band and keyboards and audio samples that are just glorious. And nothing is overdone, either. By no means is this just layers and layers of extraneous wanking. Every layer of every arrangement has a place and a purpose that serves the song and knows where and when to stop.

I'm so proud of Robby. I would listen to this record even if it wasn't made by one of my best friends because it's that good. I could easily see a song like "Hard On Me" being on the radio and I hope it will be one day because if anyone deserves it, it's this guy. This guy who has been busting his ass playing every bar and club that would have him for years and continues to do so because this is what he loves to do. And it shows on "Magic City Hippies." I highly recommend this record whether it be for a dance party or a chilled out smoke sesh. It's a symphony of sexy and a concerto of cool.

★★★★1/2 (out of 5)

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