If you like your pop rock with an exotic flair give Diego’s Umbrella’s crisply produced fourth album, Proper Cowboy a whirl. While the band has drawn lazy comparisons to Gogol Bordello, the San Francisco group is noticeably more commercially bent on Proper Cowboy showcasing easy dance beats, clean vocal choruses and short catchy numbers that wouldn’t be out of place selling hip products to 16-24 year-olds.
The opening “Thrash Mexican Budapest” is the most gypsy-pop the band gets with odd flairs and changes. A west coast, easy going vibe permeates things calling to mind Sublime at their most accessible, with tracks like “Richardson”, “Moneymaker”, “Big Star” and “Six Little Fools”. The group throws in a straight forward take on the eerie Sonny and Cher hit “A Cowboy’s Work Is Never Done” that fits them perfectly and highlights the disk.
“Downtown” is a bubble gum filled upbeat dance party as is “Bullet Proof Shine”, their collaboration with Angelo Moore from Fishbone. The disk closing “Amsterdam Part 2” is completely over the top with its soaring chorus; it wouldn’t be a surprise to hear this track over the closing credits of next year’s hot romantic comedy.
One major downside to digital music is the death of album cover art. Do yourself a favor; if you are planning on picking up Proper Cowboy, do it on vinyl or at least CD to stare at the enchanting art created by Kelsey Brookes. While the music inside is noticeably commercially bent, the artwork is psychedelically awesome with animals, colors and shapes all looking alive.