Very Be Careful, "Escape Room"

55 Billboard Rating

Colombian music has recently spawned a new wave of electro-folkloric fusion. But on "Escape Room," Los Angeles band Very Be Careful stays true to country's musical roots. Colombian-American Ricardo Guzman (who founded the group with his bassist brother Arturo) voices the everyman on this set of country drinking songs that are purposefully delivered in traditional vallenato and cumbia styles. Guzman's woozy lament on the opening "La Furgoneta" accelerates into a more rousing wail by the second track "La Abeja." But the acoustic dance groove of Guzman's accordion, the Latin percussion and bass never reach anything near euphoric-and what for some will be a seductively steady beat, others will undoubtedly find merely monotonous. Without digital mash-ups, or the celebratory anthems through which pop star Carlos Vives brought vallenato to the masses with in the '90s, Very Be Careful achieves an unselfconscious authenticity. The result is music that's better-suited to a corner bar than your iPod. --Judy Cantor-Navas