Get Thy Bearings is available from Royal Potato Music
Sometimes I seek out the music to feature here on Incognito HQ. Other times, the music just comes to me. This album by Robert Walter’s 20th Congress landed in my inbox yesterday…just in time for Funk Friday.
This album had me grooving immediately with the lead track “Hunk.” This song reminds me a lot of The Mighty Imperials, mostly because of the funky organ. The sound of the organ in this song almost makes you feel like you should be rollerskating. And if you like funky organ sounds, you’ll love the second song “Little Business.” This song not only has some great organ sounds, but also a wicked saxophone part. As you get toward the end of this song, just try to listen to all the stuff that is going on. Trust me, there is a lot and even if you’re listening to it on Surround Sound, you won’t be able to pick up all the stuff that’s going on the first time you listen.
In fact, there is a lot going on in all of these songs. Just listen to “Foxhunting.” Between the horns, drums, guitar, and bass, you’ll feel immersed in the sound. More to the point, you’ll realize this album contains songs that weren’t just thrown together. Like good barbecue, it takes some time to develop these songs.
If you’re looking for something you can sing along to, you’ll have to keep looking. However, if you like instrumental funk (especially on a Friday, heading into the weekend) that gets you grooving, you’ll want to check out the latest album Get Thy Bearings (Royal Potato Music, 2013).
All right, loyal reader, this is a Funk Friday and a Flashback Friday all in one. I’ll admit it. I was busy publishing the new issue of Incognito and didn’t take the time to look for a new band for Funk Friday. (This is where your recommendations can come in real handy. Use the forum. That’s why it’s there.)
Now, when you think about funk acts, your mind probably goes first toward artists like Parliament and Funkadelic. And rightly so. But Johnny Guitar Watson was certainly no slouch in the world of funk. And if you ask me, his music doesn’t get nearly the attention it should. And just listen to this 12-minute version of “A Real Mother for Ya.” It has everything you could want in a funk song: a wicked bass line (and solo – Shazam!), some awesome horns, an upbeat melody, and a whole lot of sweat and energy. If this is your introduction to Johnny Guitar Watson, you’re welcome. If you were already familiar with this dude’s funky grooves, then sit back and enjoy this on a Funk Friday.
Funk? Soul? However you classify it, it’s good stuff.
OK, so you could make the argument that Marta Ren and The Groovelvets is more soul than funk, but I say she’s close enough that I don’t mind featuring her on a Funk Friday. And why would I mind? Just listen to this woman’s voice. Anytime I can feature a woman that sings like this, I’ll do it.
Now, all arguments aside, this is a groovy 45 from the good folks at Record Kicks. Not that I’m surprised. Record Kicks puts out a lot of great stuff. The A-side “2 Kinds of Men” is brimming with great stuff. That bass line ought to get your backside moving. If the horns don’t evoke some kind of response, you probably should check for a pulse. Then there is the instrumental break toward the end of the song that has a definite Daptone sound. The only words I have for that is to sit back and enjoy.
The B-side might be called “Summer’s Gone (Didn’t Swim)”, but it is a great summer song. It’s bright and cheerful and just begs to be played out the windows of your car on a summer afternoon. Or by a pool. Or at the beach. Frankly, I can’t really think of a setting where this song would be a poor choice.
Johnny Sketch + pitcher of Hurricanes = a good start to the weekend
I don’t know about you, loyal reader, but I think there is nothing quite like New Orleans funk to get you grooving on a Friday as you head into the weekend. And so, that is exactly what I sought out for this particular edition of Funk Friday.
“Axia” is the first song I heard from Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes and it is exactly what I’d expect from a New Orleans funk band. It has a super-groovy bass line, horns (just listen to that saxophone), and a pretty wicked guitar solo.
Now, allow me to ask you something. What could be better than a New Orleans funk song about football? Yes, I know it’s only June, but this is probably when we miss football the most. The Super Bowl was in February and the new season doesn’t start until September. Not only that, but we’re right around the corner from that time of year where we’re stuck with baseball, golf, and NASCAR. No, it doesn’t matter if you’re not a Saints fan. “Ya Herd Me?” will have you singing along.
Johnny Sketch and The Dirty Notes will definitely get you grooving and in the mood for the weekend. It’s also pretty likely that this band will make you want a Hurricane (the drink, not the natural disaster). Actually that seems like a pretty good idea. Turn on Johnny Sketch, pour yourself a Hurricane (hey, no one says you have to limit your Hurricanes only to Mardi Gras), and get your weekend started. Yes, even if it’s only 2:00. It’s been a long week and you deserve it.
The Bamboos: Excellent Aussie funk
For this installment of Funk Friday we take you to Australia for the sounds of The Bamboos. Now, before I even heard a note from this band, I saw this quote “They’ve got IT.” Do you know who that quote was from? Eddie Bo. I don’t know about you, but if Eddie Bo puts his stamp of approval on a funk band, that tells me the band is legit.
And this band certainly is legit. The first song I heard “On the Sly” has the classic theme of wondering who else your partner is seeing. Not that I approve of the behavior itself, but there is always something about a good cheating song. Especially when that cheating song features a wicked bass line, some great horns, and an excellent organ part. Oh, and did I mention the incredibly soulful vocals?
This band also incorporates some hip-hop influence into its tunes, especially in the vocals. “Can’t Help Myself” is a great funk tune with vocals that are rapped more than sung. As a side note, it’s pretty interesting to hear rap vocals with an Australian accent.
This is excellent music not merely to get you through the drudgery of another workday, but also for a house party. You and your guests won’t be able to keep still when you hear this band from Melbourne. If you like real, good-time funk, do yourself a favor and add some tunes by The Bamboos to your collection.
Lethal Thinking-Man’s Funk
If ever there was a match made in heaven, it would have to be Kung Fu and Funk Friday. I mean, think about all those old-school kung fu movies and what kind of music was on the soundtrack? Funk. Ergo, this is the perfect marriage.
Now, before I get to writing about the music, I have to say one thing. It’s not often I take exception with how a band describes itself. It is after all the band’s description. That being said, I do take exception to the Sounds Like section on Kung Fu’s ReverbNation page. Why? Because there is no mention of Frank Zappa. Are you kidding me? That’s one of the first artists that comes to mind when I listen to Kung Fu. Seriously, just listen to “Rattlesnake” and try not to think of “Zombie Woof.”
This is funk music, but it’s not exactly the get sweaty on the dance floor funk that we normally feature here on Incognito HQ. This is thinking-man’s funk. This band can groove like anybody. The organ and bass in “Gung Ho” will definitely get your backside moving. However, the Frank Zappa comparison enters the picture because this band is completely unpredictable. The structure of the songs is definitely not traditional. In fact, if you’re not in the band or a serious student of music, you might have a hard time even figuring out what the structure is. Whether you analyze the song structure or not, this band is seriously funky and will get you groovin’. And isn’t that what Funk Fridays are all about?
Funk…and then some
Yes, I know we already had one dose of funk this week, but I really think you can never have too much funk. Besides, since I first heard this band, I have not been able to get enough of T-Bird and The Breaks.
My introduction to this band came when I was doing a search on Bandcamp for drinking songs. That led me to the song “Somebody Had a Drinking Problem.” Now this song isn’t strictly a funk song. It’s leans more toward R&B and doo-wop, but I’ll say this much. It’s not easy to find a drinking song more catchy than this one. In any case, that led me to explore more of this band.
That further explanation led me to some excellent funk like Never Get out of This Funk Alive. This album features the essentials of funk: horns, bass, and some excellent organ. But that’s not all! No, loyal reader, it also has some great vocals. T Bird’s vocals are a raspy growl that remind me of Dr. John and Jon Spencer. If you want a really good example of the funk this band lays down, check out “Spread the Love.” It’s a pretty easygoing melody, but it has some serious funk. This is one where the vocals really remind me of Dr. John.
T Bird and The Breaks is not a funk band exclusively. The band’s sounds also include soul, and R&B, and hip-hop. That being said, there is enough funk in this band to get you to move your backside and get sweaty…particularly on Never Get out of This Funk Alive.
It’s funny how sometimes music just comes to you. I was looking for someone for our weekly interview when I got a message from the good folks at GED Soul Records sent a message letting me know about a new EP from Sky Hi. Well, it didn’t take me long to figure out that this would be a good band to feature for Funk Friday.
The thing with a good funk (or soul) band is that it doesn’t take me long to get hooked. That is definitely the case with this band. The horns combined with the bass line at the beginning of the first song “Reality Check” had me hooked for sure. Then I got hit with the Booker T-style keyboards in “Numero Uno” and well, I’m not saying I was ready to get a Sky Hi tattoo, but I wouldn’t say I’ve ruled it out either.
“Funk til Dawn” only added to my affinity for this band. The intro sounds like something that would happen if Stevie Wonder wrote a song for a blaxploitation film about a badass undercover cop or private dick.
Sky Hi has a really clean and really funky sound. The horns and bass lines are addictive and the organ helps give it an-old time feel. Just listening to this, you’d probably guess that it was released sometime in the 70s and not earlier this week. The only trouble with this EP is that it’s too short. You get hooked from the beginning and you groove to it, and then before you know it, it’s over. I get that an EP is supposed to whet your appetite and leave you wanting more of the band. Reality Check succeeds in leaving me wanting more of Sky Hi…as soon as I can get it.
Instrumental funk to get you grooving
I came across this band when I went to ReverbNation and searched for funk bands in the UK. That led me to the band’s Facebook page, where it has several live recordings available for your listening pleasure.
Now, it’s no secret that the backbone of any good funk band is the rhythm section. The first song I heard from this band is “Burning Spear” and let me tell you that if you’re looking for excellent rhythms, this is a good example. The interesting thing about this song is that aside from the rhythm section, the primary instrument is the flute. At the end of the song, the horns come in and round out the big sound.
If you really want a good sample of what the horns bring to the band, check out “Got Myself a Good Man.” The horns in this are amazing. Oh and the drum solo isn’t bad either.
If you’re looking for funk you can sing along with, you’ll have to keep looking. Either that or make up your own lyrics. Let’s face it. That would be pretty entertaining. In any case, this band plays legitimate instrumental funk that will get you movin’ and groovin’. Whether it’s for a party you’re hosting, or just for you to dance by yourself in your living room, The Hornets is a good band to get to know.
You know how some funk just kind of slaps you in the face? From the first notes, it grabs you and keeps you moving until the song ends. And then there is some funk that isn’t quite as uptempo but still works a pretty good groove. The first song (“The Funky Word“) I heard from The Black Honkeys falls into the latter category. It will get you moving for sure, but the movement will be more in your hips than in your feet. I think it’s fair to say that this song will get you in the mood to do “the devil’s business” as John Goodman’s character says in Raising Arizona.
The next song (“Let Me into Your Party”) on the band’s ReverbNation is a little more uptempo but not any less dirty. Trust me, I’m not calling this dirty like it’s a bad thing. This tune reminds me a bit of Sly and the Family Stone. ”Foxy Brown” a great soul song. This sounds like what would have happened if Chris Robinson performed guest vocals in a band where Booker T played organ for Curtis Mayfield.
“Goodman” is a real curve ball. After setting you up with some excellent funk and soul, the band comes at you with this song that sounds like old Rolling Stones. No, I’m not kidding. It’s soulful, it’s bluesy. It’s rock n roll, baby! Or more to the point, it’s rock n soul, baby!
To return to how I started this post…some funk gets people to the dance floor and some funk gets people to the bed (or broom closet, or…use your imagination). This is funk that gets people to the bed. And if baby-making funk is wrong, The Black Honkeys don’t wanna be right.