The Renaldo the Ensemble is a genre-hopping New York City-based band/performance art group with an extensive fictional backstory. Lead singer Aldo Perez plays the fallen-from-grace Renaldo — he used to be Renaldo the Great, you see, but was stripped of his superlative. Now the love of his life, an operatic backup singer played by Jenny Lee Mitchell who dresses like a French maid, is forever cheating on him. Sung in languages including Spanish, English and Italian, the group’s songs bounce from opera to hip-hop to rock. Some sound like scores to silent movies, while others humorously co-opt bits of other acts’ songs. On “Peacepipe,” a Jimi Hendrix-aping guitar solo is interrupted by the exclamation: “Excuse me while I pan sear this salmon!” This eponymous six-song sampler is just the tip of the Renaldo iceberg, but still a nice intro into their absurd, hilarious little universe. 5 stars.
Musicians are encouraged to bring drums and horns to make noise out of respect, not just for Sterling and Castile's deaths, but for the many black lives that have been unnecessarily taken by police around the country.