Ozomatli’s 1998 self-titled debut was a messy mix of funk, Latin-jazz, alternative rap, salsa, and rock. “Messy” is not a criticism: this multi-ethnic, Los Angeles-based group was happily getting its hands dirty throwing genres together. On this year’s Fire Away, the band continues to mix ingredients—though not as many, and, to the detriment of some of the tracks, in a more predictable way. “It’s Only Paper” and “Elysian Persuasion” offer rap-rock clichés; Afro-Cuban polyrhythms are largely absent on “Malagasy Shock,” which features generic ska-rock rhythms instead. But not all of Ozomatli’s latest hybrids are failures. On the best new material, the band comes across as a poppier, more ebullient Los Lobos. “45” blends upbeat Chicano garage rock with yearning old-school soul vocals, and “Gay Vatos in Love” is a bouncy, East L.A. take on Phil Spector pop. Known as master showmen during live performances, hopefully Ozomatli will perform a setlist that emphasizes both its old-school slop and new-school tunefulness.
OZOMATLI PERFORMS AS PART OF THE KENNEDY CENTER’S FIESTA MEXICANA AT 8:40 P.M. ON THE SOUTH PLAZA, 2700 F ST. NW. FREE. (202) 467-4600.