funk Archive

Album Review: STIG — Agreed Upon

Some artists play music that – if one wishes to label it – requires several words to describe. Formed by five students at Boston’s Berklee College of Music, STIG (the band spells its name in all caps) self-identifies as an “all-instrumental progressive jazz funk” band. In a hurry, some might be tempted to label the

Hundred-word Reviews, December 2018

This will almost certainly be my last roundup of new releases – capsule review style – for 2018. Lots of great music came out this year; don’t let anyone tell you differently. As always, each of these albums deserves more coverage than I’m able to give here, and each warrants a spin (at least) by

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 4 / conclusion)

Continued from Part Three… And even though Fantastic Negrito is now a high-profile Grammy-winning performer and recording artist, he still feels and maintains a close connection to that neighborhood. “The people I started my collective label [Blackball Universe] with, they’re all guys I grew up with,” he says. “We did everything – committed crimes and

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 3)

Continued from Part Two… The production on The Last Days of Oakland is “boxy,” and Xavier says that that quality is a deliberate aesthetic choice. “I wanted it to feel like I’m sitting right in someone’s living room,” he says. And I tried to minimize production; I was really going for a sense of urgency,

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 2)

Continued from Part One… A 2014 EP titled Fantastic Negrito debuted Xavier’s new approach. Ostensibly blues, the five-song EP draws from a wider array of influences. Released to enthusiastic critical notices, the EP created a buzz but didn’t break through on a large scale. Undaunted and sure of his musical direction, Xavier created a low-budget

Fantastic Negrito: We Can Turn It Around (Part 1)

(An edited version of this feature appeared in print in Living Blues Magazine.) All photos © Audrey Hermon Kopp Fantastic Negrito is a a lot of things. On the surface, he’s a stage persona, the human means of delivery for songs that chronicle the realities of life. But dig deeper and you’ll find Xavier Dhphrepaulezz,

Fifty-word Reviews for July 2018, Part 1

For years now, I’ve engaged in an occasional series of reviews in which I limit myself to 100 words. The point isn’t at all to give short shrift to these fine releases; instead, it’s to cover albums that would otherwise go unmentioned only for lack of time. Speaking of time, all of these releases are

Liner Notes News

I’ve been extraordinarily busy lately. After devoting a large chunk of 2017 to the writing of my first book, Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to The Dark Side of the Moon, in 2018 I’ve been focusing on writing liner note essays for albums. Here’s a summary of recent and upcoming releases with which I’ve

Album Review: Disaster Relief — s/t

Nominally classified as jazz, the Detroit and Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Disaster Relief occupies a musical space halfway between Leeds and New Orleans. The Leeds connection is the band’s funky like-mindedness to New Mastersounds, reliable purveyors of soulful boogaloo. The Crescent City vibe comes from the group’s deep-groove jazz sensibility. Honking saxophone dialogue atop a rubbery

Album Review: Idiot Grins — State of Health

Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield made some of the most enduring cinematic soul of the 1970s. Not coincidentally, both men created works that lent themselves exceedingly well to juxtaposition with onscreen images; Hayes composed the soundtrack to Shaft; Mayfield did the same for Super Fly. Of course their work transcended soundtrack music, but the connection