Raya Brass Band Pumps Up the Noise and the Fun

This Train is Now
* * * ½

The metro New York-based Raya Brass Band is more Balkan than Brooklyn—sort of what you’d get if you merged a hora with a village riot. This high-energy quintet is built around instruments designed to pump up the noise: saxophone, tuba, trumpet, accordion, and drums. Tunes like “Locks and Latches” aim to get your body limber and your feet moving and even when the pace slows, as in “For Mia,” the tempo remains jumpy in the way that a carousel horse elevates and descends. Dance tempos dominate. "Bump" opens with thumping drums, segues to a muscular brass blast, then settles into its namesake staccato rhythm, one with playful echoes of drum and tuba. The Balkan-flavored "Shapkarevo Kasapsko Oro" conjures mental images of a frenzied village fest in which locals take turns trying to one-up each other in the dance spotlight. A personal favorite is the aptly named "Riff Cloud," in which melodic hooks are tossed about to see what can be made of them. This band throws a bit of everything at you: some Balkan jazz, some Dixieland, hints of punk, and on the title track some melody lines that sound like a mariachi band at one moment and faintly North African the next.

The Raya Brass Band will appear at the Flywheel in Easthampton on May 21 at 7:30 and at Thunder Road in Somerville on May 22.

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