Balkan Beat Box
New York underground scenesters Ori Kaplan and Tamir Muskat have been wreaking musical mayhem for years in bands as diverse as Gogol Bordello and Firewater. But their project Balkan Beat Box may up the ante, straining Eastern European folk music through a dubby, electronica-heavy sensibility. They recorded their 2005 self-titled debut before they'd actually performed live, but crafting a dynamic stage presence wasn't hard for the consummate performers, especially after they added high-energy vocalist/MC Tomer Yosef to the mix: they gained accolades on tours with acts such as Matisyahu and at festival appearances. Their 2007 release, Nu Med, drew on the band's live dynamism, simultaneously looking farther afield for influences and forming a more cohesive sound. Unofficial kings of the burgeoning gypsy punk movement, the band signals an ongoing -- and welcome -- sea-change in ideas about what constitutes hip dance music.