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Saigon Soul Revival | Họa Âm Xưa

East meets West on the Soul-powered Vietnamese retro-rockers' debut (no, really).

WHO ARE THEY? A soul-powered retro-rock combo coming straight outta Vietnam. No, really.

WHAT IS THIS? Their debut full-length, which fuses vintage Western sounds — funky backbeats, bubbling B-3 chords, slinky guitar licks, growling sax and so on — with the moods, melodies and instrumentation of Asian nhạc vàng from the ’60s and ’70s.

WHAT DOES IT SOUND LIKE? The band that should have been playing during that Playmate USO show in Apocalypse Now.

WHAT SHOULD IT BE TITLED?Gon, Daddy, ’ Gon. BTW: The actual title Họa Âm Xưa supposedly means Old Harmonies, which definitely makes sense.

HOW SHOULD I LISTEN TO IT? Well, if you know anybody who speaks Vietnnamese, that would definitely help, since there are virtually no English vocals.

WHAT 10 WORDS SUM IT UP? Old-school, authentic, funky, historical, groovy, sultry, upbeat, joyous, exotic, multicultural.

WHAT ARE THE BEST SONGS? The hip shaking Sầu Đông and the low-impact funk of Hào Hoa — which are apparently two of four classic Vietnamese covers on the disc. Another cut, the ska-flavoured Giây Phút Cuối Tuần, supposedly features a cameo by ’70s star Mai Le Huyen. Of course, this could all be an elaborate hoax and I would be none the wiser.

WHAT WILL MY FRIENDS SAY? ‘I like the music, but for the life of me I can’t make out any of the lyrics.’

HOW OFTEN WILL I LISTEN TO IT? I predict it will be the most popular Vietnamese-language album you own.

IF THIS ALBUM WERE CLOTHES, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Bell bottoms and mini-skirts.

SHOULD I BUY, STREAM OR STEAL IT? Pay a visit before you decide if you want to spend some serious time there.

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