Tempo No Tempo defies easy labels on songs from Oakland trio's new album

This is one of those cases where the usual attempts at colorful labels just don’t work. Oakland trio Tempo No Tempo has been called “reggaeton punk” and “tribal new wave,” both of which are reductive descriptions that bear little resemblance to the sound of the band’s music.

It’s more precise to say the former foursome — guitarist Tyler McCauley has taken over lead vocals, with harmonies from drummer Alex Kaiser and bass and keyboards from Jason Wexler — plays lean songs with a hard, steely edge, courtesy of caustic guitars and terse, jittery rhythms.

That makes for a powerful combination on a pair of songs from Tempo No Tempo’s new album, “Waking Heat,” which the band self-releases Oct. 20, just before a pair of shows in New York as part of the CMJ Music Marathon: Oct. 21 at the Cake Shop as part of a Terrorbird PR day party, and Oct. 22 at a showcase to be announced.

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