San Francisco jam-band New Monsoon’s sophomore effort, Downstream, is full of eclectic, thick textured sounds with flavors including Classic Rock, Bluegrass, Jazz, and Latino music. The style descends from 60’s, Grateful Dead with similarities to Phish and The String Cheese Incident, both leading contemporary bands of the genre.

Downstream relies heavily on instrumentals. The most notable attribute of the CD is the diverse percussion. Three of the band’s seven members are devoted to drums, many of which give the album its Latin and Eastern sounds. The album breaks down with the entrance of the lyrics which are overly optimistic and weak. They are intended to be inspirational but have little solid content other than how beautiful the world looks when you’re high, with lyrics like “Find the backroads where the coast is clear, open up the pouch and smile, they say the west is nice this time of year” from the song Velvet Pouch .

New Monsoon remains unsigned, producing and releasing their two CDs independently, relying on live performances and a strong fan base for support and exposure. As any jam band fan knows, live is always better.

Jessica Sanders can be contacted at j.sanders4