After an impressive body of work with the Rounder Records label this esoteric polka-infused ska, Tex-Mex and all around pioneering punky, worldbeat band signed to Cleveland International for a one-off, POLKASONIC. And after years of wowing the initiated with their virtuosity and eclecticism, Brave Combo finally received the recognition they deserved when in 1999 this album earned them a Grammy in the polka category. While this album perhaps stresses the polka more than previous efforts, Brave Combo is much more than “just a polka band.” Combining Latino, European and American folk with polka and alternative rock rhythms has garnered them a devout, yet varied fan base. Their electrified polka is best exemplified on “Apples, Peaches, Pumpkin Pie” and “Purple Haze – The Jimi Hendrix Polka,” the latter being yet another example of guitarist Carl Finch’s knack for reworking rock classics to fit their offbeat template. After a lone recording for Rounder in 2000 Brave Combo returned the following year to release a second title for Cleveland International, KICK-ASS POLKAS. Recorded live in Cleveland this recording revisits many of the tried and true Combo tunes of yore like “Hey Baba Reba” and “Flying Saucer.” And in expected fashion they tackle the classics again with a revved up rendition of “Wooden Heart.” The strength of this band is their ability to attract both polka aficionados and those who would never otherwise admit to enjoying this much-maligned form of music. These two releases are an excellent introduction to this Texas-based group and if your preconceived notion of modern day polka is less than lukewarm perhaps Brave Combo can change that.
Review By Dave Sleger