Flow Tribe, “Boss” (Independent)

There’s plenty of good reason why Flow Tribe has established itself as one of New Orleans’ go-to party bands. The homegrown sextet—John-Michael Early (harmonica/washboard), Bryan Santos (percussion), K.C. O’Rorke (trumpet), Chad Penot (bass), Mario Palmisano (guitar), Russell Olschner (drums)—has honed its unique polyrhythmic style, with mixes of rock, funk, jazz, jam and Latin, for more than a decade. For its third studio effort, Flow Tribe takes a turn toward a hip-hop/R&B hybrid with the 33-minute Boss. Which makes sense, considering old-school (former) Cash Money DJ Mannie Fresh produced the album, recorded in two sessions by the band in March and September 2016 at the Parlor Studio. Fresh’s smooth flow introduces the album “future leaders and has-beens—this is your life” before welcoming (à la old Juvenile tracks) “the incredible sounds of… Flow Tribe!” The band then takes control, as “Hit ’em with the good vibe” welcomes the spacey-smooth guitar and synth waves of “Sexy Body,” which features the killer keys of PJ Morton (Maroon 5). The song’s come-hither vibe foreshadows the following songs, all about love and all drenched in sex. The lyrical takes on romance, however, run the gamut from the spiteful title-track refrain “She wanna be boss/ She wanna be ruler” to the sweet-hearted devotion tribute in “Diamond.” Marked by a focus on vocal harmonies and city backbeats, familiar Flow Tribe riffs surface on the slick guitar licks at the intro of “I Don’t Want to Be in Love” and the rousing horn play to close the edgy “Blackmail.”