Posts Tagged ‘Funk’

Bananagun – “People Talk Too Much”

Aussies Bananagun smear the groove-streaked dance sound of West African and Brazilian funk with a dust-caked approach pulled from the camps of turntablism and reissue retrospectives. There’s a finely curated approach to tracks like “People Talk Too Much” feeling like the band have spent more than a few hours in deep-dive YouTube runs that creak into the early hours of the morning, inspiring a new bounty of grooves the next day. The band manages to make their take on the sounds feel lived in, with touches of fuzz, sun-baked choruses, and production that stops just short of 78 crackle. The band’s been littering the speakers with a few singles and now have a proper full length on the way from Anti-Fade and Full Time Hobby. Check the animated video for “People Talk,” a simple, but solid backdrop for the song’s head-nodding simmer and sizzle of horns. Feeling like a Daptone lost single or Soundway bonus cut, this one hits pretty damn hard. The record is out June 26th.

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Traffik Island

Even when the first couple of tracks from Sweat Kollecta’s Peanut Butter Traffik Jam came filtering out, it seemed like a fever dream timeshift, not to mention a headscratcher for fans of the band’s past output. Zak Olsen’s (ORB, Hierophants, The Frowning Clouds) solo psych dugout always took a different tack than his collaborative endeavors, which ranged from Sabbath fuzz to post-punk. Under the Traffik Island signature he’d largely stuck to the psych-pop formula – laconic strums, wisps of folk, and tape-hiss veneers gave most of his works the feeling of a lost private press reel stuffed in storage and found by rabid collectors on a lucky afternoon. From his split with Sleepyhead through last year’s Flightless debut proper, Nature Strip, the formula seemed set… or at least locked within the same cloud of strange smoke. So, when the follow-up arrived and shucked the whole framework, I was intrigued to say the least.

Zak keeps the psych, and maybe a bit of the pop, but puts the folk away for the moment. At least in any conventional sense he has. The record adopts an electronic haze and a crate digger’s ear for dusty grooves, propulsive beats, and lush atmospheres. Much in the mode of something out of the Peanut Butter Wolf, DJ Shadow, or Egon bag, the record repurposes the ideals of Library recordings from the ‘60s and ‘70s and knocks funk, Krautrock, and lounge into a candy-colored vision that swirls with light and sound. While the format might feel like a throwback in more than one way – to both the ‘70s inspirations and the late ‘90s methods of hot-gluing them together – the record is a complete journey that works so well that it, again seems like a private press found in a dorm room dig, just update the time frame about 30 years or so. The best part is that the record works together like a soundtrack to an unseen film – I’d imagine somewhere there’s an animator that needs to get on this. Bright colors only need apply.



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Bananagun – “Out of Reach”

Another psych-funk swimmer from Melbourne’s Bananagun lands today and its soaked in soul and a mid-70s pastiche that feels tip-of-the-tongue familiar. The band’s got a knack for smelting the past into something that’s reverent to their influences but still manages to whip up a few new feelings. The song’s pinned to a tin-tap popcorn beat that’s part blue-eyed soul and part South American polyrhythm shake. Throw in some funk scratch guitar and sun-faded vocals and this is starting to melt the recent bout of snow that’s laced the US shores. The band apparently see themselves as “merging the proto-garage rhythmic fury of The Monks with the tropicália grooves of Os Mutantes” and that’s not too far off the mark here. The single is out in February from UK outpost Full Time Hobby and Anti-Fade.


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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Zealous Child (ft Dorothea Paas)”

If you missed out on the entrancing last LP from Canadian psychedelic soul-funk unit Badge Époque Ensemble, its time to go back and course correct, but don’t let that stop you from moving forward as well. The band’s issuing a follow-up EP on December 6th and it continues their journey down narcotized rabbit holes slathered with slinking grooves and splashed with Parliament guitar flash and sultry flute. Opener “Zealous Child” acts as a sequel of sorts to their song “Undressed In Solitude,” the sole vocal track on their previous LP. This time they recruit Toronto singer Dorothea Paas on vocals and she gives the track an air of Broadcast with a heavier edge. The song winds through a dream-like headspace before exploding into its turbulent second half.

If the great, undersung psychedelic sojourn that is Lodge 49 survives to a third season (and I damn well hope it does) someone better give Tom Patterson BÉE’s number, as they fit the bill as much as The Soundcarriers or Beautify Junkyards have in the past. Both of those stand as apt comparisons’ to the Ensemble’s space-scraping psychedelic journey – seeking to siphon the past and funnel it to an alternate future that’s resplendent and lush. I recommend getting on board.



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Ben Cook of Young Guv on Robbie M – “Let’s Groove”

When Ben Cook’s not holding down time in Fucked Up he’s genre mining as Young Guv. The solo project began around ’08 knocking through lo-fi garage and eventually winding through power pop and home recorded funk. I’ve always had a soft spot for Cook’s power pop prowess, the bulk of which came to a head on 2015’s Ripe For Love release for Slumberland. He’s returned to some of the same impulses this year with a new record for Run For Cover. Ben took a little time to riffle through his stacks for a record that’s been lost to to time and this one’s looks like it’s had a bit of impact on Cook’s funk sojourn on for Night School last year. Check his dive into Robbie M below.

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Badge Époque Ensemble

Like fellow Canadian jazz-bent psych troupe The Cosmic Range, Badge Époque Ensemble also dovetails into the Venn diagram sweet-spot that snags members from the backup band for U.S. Girls — the engine that drove her electric last tour. Instead of delving into the quaalude-jazz quadrant that the Range does, however, Badge Époque Ensemble are seeking higher ground with respect to the psychedelic fringe of funk and the lysergic lilt of soul. The band’s stacked with talent, and taking the lead here from Maximillian “Slim Twig” Turnbull. He and the ensemble attempt to embrace the acid-funk backbeat that blew through Headless Heroes of the Apocalypse, meld that with the detritus Stevie left littered through the ‘70s, and melt it down in a mold made in the image of Alain Goraguer.

In fact the last one hits especially hard, while there are grooves — tons of grooves, in fact — the album swims through an abstract narrative that feels right at home with Goraguer’s masterpiece La Planete Sauvage. Their eponymous platter is swung through with flutes, hollowed-tree organ ambience, and the stomach-punch crunch of fuzz hungry guitars. When they light into the almost eleven-minute centerpiece “Undressed in Solitude,” everything within earshot melts to sweet creamery coolness — even the molecules in the air seem to move just a touch slower until the song finally evaporates on a cloud of steam.

As a genre exercise this would make a great anonymous entry to the library music archives of the ‘70s slotting alongside admitted influences like Daniela Casa, Alessandro Alessandroni, and Piero Umiliani. For the casual traveler, this might be a bit too heady, but for the funk freak already scratching through the psychedelic tributaries jutting out of the Library canon’s core, this is a perfect fit. Late nite vibes abound here. Dim the lights, light a candle, and let the polyester polyrhythms pour over you.

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Badge Époque Ensemble – “Undressed In Solitude”

Centering around the works of Maximillian “Twig” Turnbull (formerly Slim Twig), Alia O’Brien (Blood Ceremony) and a host of live players who’ve been backing U.S. Girls on the road over the past year, Canadian collective Badge Époque Ensemble creates a heady mix of jazz, psych, tropicalia and prog. The last U.S. Girl album was noted for its expansive sound and blistering live show, much of which is owed to the players here. Along with Twig, the band stretches out hitting the sweet spot of ‘70s soul-jazz under the sway of pharmaceuticals. On lead single “Undressed In Solitude” the band adds the vocals of James Baley to give the affair a midnight aura. The track stretches past the eleven-minute mark and fully embraces the boundless visions of Isaac Hayes’ unrestrained late ’60 / early ‘70s run. You just know this one is going to kill on stage. The record is out June 7th on Telephone Explosion.




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King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard – “Cyboogie”

The silence is broken and the lid is off. King Gizz is back with a new single and, as usual, as shift in sound. This time the band embraces the slick slide of glam and funk into the advent ’80s electronic, feeling every bit like Gary Numan trying on platform shoes with Slade, ELO, and Harald Grosskopf in the same shopping trip. They’re straying far from the face melting guitars, but the rest of the band’s schtick remains in tact – the dystopian vibes, psychedelic bent and penchant for voice overs remains. For the video they play up those vibes with touches of paranoid cinema, with the clip echoing the close-up discomfort of A Clockwork Orange and the shabby glitz of The Running Man. Whether this is a taste of what’s to come of a one-off diversion, only time will tell. The sound feels good on the band and ya gotta hand it to them, they don’t sit still and they don’t stagnate their sound. The single is out Feb 1st.

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Jon Spencer

It seems almost crazy, but this is Jon Spencer’s first solo LP. The man’s been holding down the scuzziest deep end of garage rock for so long its easy to take it for granted that he’ll be there, slinging freaky fuzz riffs for the ages no matter who’s backing him up, though. From Blues Explosion to Pussy Galore to Boss Hog, Jon’s there with the right sleaze for all your needs time and time again and I’ll be damned if he’s not there again. First time I saw the Blues Explosion it was a dropped jaw experience. The band was tight, the riffs were filthy and the whole room was filled with a freaky ectoplasm that spread from listener to listener like an infection of groove. That groove is still on hand and it shows no signs of ebbing even with Spencer all by his lonesome.

To be fair there is no real genre that holds Jon Spencer in check. He’s a funk Dennison and a rock Svengali greased by the gods to make your ass shake and your soul drop three floors below into the sub-basement of hell to roast while the narcotic groove rattles around your insides. He’s a wizard, a shaman, a prophet, a mage conscripted to the highest church of burnt ozone brain fry. There’s no cage that can hold his chemical burn barrage and that’s just the way it should be. Spencer Sings the Hits! proves this over and over, with each blast of taut tension that unfolds over these thirty-three minutes of divine damnation. There’s no better freak conductor than Jon Spencer and don’t you forget it.

True, solo Spencer is pretty close to what the Blues Explosion would be doing on the average Wednesday night in 2018, which is to say shimmy-shakin’ through the soul-glo delirium tremens and hoppin’ the bus to the graveyard shift at the fuzz factory. You know what, though, I’m not looking for huge departures from Spencer. I know what I came for and he’s delivering on the demand. Its a perfect dose of melted medulla machinations and in a year when everything is too much to handle, a little bit of freak shimmy is just what the new world ordered.



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Unusual Sounds

I’m a sucker for a couple of things, compendiums of overlooked music and collections of sleeve art throughout the years. Both come to a delightful crest in Dave Hollander’s book for Anthology Editions, Unusual Sounds. In the book the Texan record collector and filmmaker dips into his vast collection of Library music (one of the largest documented such collections around) to shed some light on what he sees as essential cuts and collections. While its an informative k-hole and a visual delight that’s wrapped up in a book jacket by Robert Beatty, one would assume that a book like this either leads to YouTube overload and keyboard cramps or that it might benefit from some sort of companion album, or ideally three or four.

Seems that Anthology agrees and they’ve rounded up twenty tracks from releases highlighted in the book. The collection spans all the best Library hallmarks, from the gameshow funk of Keith Mansfield to the creamy soul of John Cameron, it’s as much a feast for the ears as the book is for the eyes and mind. The haunted psychedelia twofer from Brainticket founder Joel Vandroogenbroeck is a particularly nice touch as is the creeping synth work of Nagara drummer Klaus Weiss. Library music has always been a genre that requires a studious collector and, in that regard, it’s nice to have Hollander take some of the encyclopedic work off of our plates. For those looking to get into some excellent examples of the film archives, funk collectors and soul savants this is a prime collection of genre gems that aren’t likely on over-dug compilations previously existing. Highly recommended!

The double set is, naturally, also wrapped in a Beatty-designed sleeve that gives it a touch of classic age.



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