(Artwork care of Karen Ramsay (www.karenramsay.com), profile photo care of brianlackeyphotography.com)

Monday, June 23, 2014

Recording review - Analog Son, Analog Son (2014)

Old school jazz funk that's tighter than spray-on jeans

Wakka-wakka-wakka: that's the sound of the way-back machine transporting us across the decades, back to the golden era of jazz funk. lf I close my eyes it's like Lucky Peterson, the Average White Band, and the Atlanta Rhythm Section are all in their prime and a new, up-and-coming crew is stepping up to join their ranks. On their self-titled release, Analog Son lays down a solid, horn-heavy funk groove and never let a single hair slip out of place. That tightly polished sound is the band's greatest strength but it's also their Achilles heel. The songs are incredibly danceable and smoothly executed, but I miss that dirty, crazy edge that would take it to the next level. I'm thinking of those spark moments where P-Funk could let the party get out of control, where Herbie Hancock might launch into the unknown, or more recently, where Garaj Mahal would slip into a free -form chaotic interlude. Still, on ''A Trip Around The Son", Analog Son does challenge this critique with a slight counter-argument in the form of a wah-wah driven horn solo that cross-dresses itself as a guitar jam. The solo builds into heavier drive that is led by a circling guitar reclaiming its place before letting the original groove reassert itself. It's a cool party trick that gives a good indication of how much fun this band would likely be in a club setting.

While the playing is top-notch on all of these tunes, vocalist Devon Parker's soulful singing injects a welcome dose of personality on the three non-instrumental tracks. Of these,"Struttin'" is the hottest. The funk is strong, with the intricate mesh of bass nod, horn punches, wah-wah guitar, and organ fills . But Parker's cocky attitude provides the necessary swagger to embody the title. She also creates a call-and-response interplay with the backing vocals.

Of the instrumental pieces, "Swervantes" is my favorite, mostly because the restless mutagenic flow offers up plenty of surprises as different players come to the forefront. The best moment is the spacey, drifting bridge in the middle of the song. I like the contrasting lead guitar styles and the moody organ washes.

I'll be keeping an eye out for Analog son, because I want to compare their stage presence with the precision of their studio sound. I have no doubts that they'll deliver the technical chops, but I'm hoping for a more playful feel that taps into the fun that lies at the heart of funk.

In the meantime, drop by their bandcamp page for a taste a chance to get the album.

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