Old School Funky Family & Mulvey’s Medicine – The Finsbury – August 19th

It takes something pretty special to get me dancing like a crazed maniac on a Monday night. In fact, I’m hardly known for my weekend strutting and so the sight of me bopping like a bad one early in the working week would have filled the casual bystander of a friend with all sorts of confusion. Fortunately, for me at least, I’m pretty sure that there is no video evidence of my flailing and failing extremities. And besides, it would have looked odder not to be dancing at the Finsbury to the French funk of Old School Funky Family. The whole room was up and at it. It was contagious.

Old School Funky Family are on a short UK tour. You can see that they’ll go down exceptionally well at festivals and it should be of no surprise that the good people of Chai Wallahs have snapped them up for Green Man last weekend and Shambala this. In between, they’re playing shows across the country. Go and see them if you’re going to Shambala or living in Bristol. They will not disappoint. 

In any other town, you’d pay good money to see musicianship of this quality. London continues to confound and delight in equal measure. I realise there’s a ton of competition out there every night but quite how this can be put on as a free show is anybody’s guess. “You’d be happy paying £15 for that”, says a punter, slightly gobsmacked by what he’s just witnessed. And he’s quite right as well.

There’s eight of them crammed onto the Finsbury stage. Brass heavy and brass led, it’s instrumental funk with more than a sprinkling of jazz. They’re from deep in the South of France – and it’s perhaps appropriate, given the nationality, that bass duties are not taken by a guitar but by a French horn. Between each song, one of the troupe takes a microphone and introduces what’s coming next.

At different times in the set, each member of the band gets to delight with an extended solo, to show off their musical pedigree with a spotlight slot. Other members of the band give way sometimes leaving the stage to signal what’s about to occur. In the hands of lesser musicians, such interludes might become little more than elongated wank-fests. But these guys are so talented that it’s always astonishing to watch. The clarinet player particularly impresses in his solo. It begins all seedy, backstreet nightclub (slow and languid) and ends with fireworks (explosive and illuminating). 

Whilst the core of this is jazz-funk, Old School Funky Family can also mix it up. They play a cover but mostly it’s their original compositions. They draw on their proximity to North Africa to charm snakes in one piece and take us on a tour of EDM styles in another. My short attention span never once wanes whilst my legs move; the dynamics on stage providing just enough to maintain interest.

Support act for the night, Mulvey’s Medicine, could learn from this. Indeed, I’m sure they are for many of their seven-strong number are lapping Old School Funky Family up dancing in the front row. Mulvey’s Medicine also indulge in instrumental jazz-funk and do so with fine musicianship. To move on to the next level, I’d politely suggest that they now need to give some thought to their stagecraft. They jam well – and it’s by no means boring to watch – but what might their gimmick be that can set them apart? 

The night (and probably the week) belongs to Old School Funky Family. This was no typical Monday.

Pilgrim Speakeasy – Plan D

You think we’ve got it cold here in the U.K.? Admittedly, scraping your car windscreen every morning with makeshift defrosting gadgets such as an unwanted CD case (it’s not for us to be organised) is a slightly uncomfortable frustration but surely it’s nothing when compared to the perishing cold faced every day by today’s featured act. 

Pilgrim Speakeasy first came on my radar a couple of years ago when I exchanged a couple of E-mails with mainman, Roger Roge. They’d not long released a new record, ‘Lo-Fi Love At The Park Cafe’, and I was drawn to the psychedelic funk within. Flitting between lounge jazz, freakish soul, worldly riffs and fuzzed-out rock, it touched some buttons and I was keen to find out more. 

(Click on page 2 to discover more)

Xenia Rubinos – Lonely Lover

“Mami just feel like she needs to breathe today, today, Give a little space cause I’m going insane and I just need to breathe today.”

Sometimes, you hear a record that’s so inventive, creative and all sorts of eclectic that there’s no doubt in your head that you’ll feature it on your blog. 

This is the experience I had when I first clicked on this soundcloud link to listen to this new track from Xenia Rubinos, ‘Lonely Lover’.

 

 It defies convention; it’s both exceptionally simplistic and yet ridiculously complex. It veers towards a claustrophobic eerie but ultimately cannot fail to eek out a smile from the listener. This is a hotchpotch that draws upon the very best of jazz, hip hop, R&B and funk from the past, stirring all of those years of greatness and influence into a big pot and then allowing some thoroughly modern fumes to exit and excite. 

Yep – I’m quite keen on this one.

Xenia Rubinos is a new name to me. A quick bit of digging shows that ‘Lonely Lover’ is the first to be taken from her forthcoming album, Black Terry Cat. The album notes from that record indicate that “Black Terry Cat  is a rhythm, it’s a funky flow you can’t quite put your finger on, it’s a magic swagger, it’s leaving super late but somehow making it right on time.”

If the rest of the album delivers like this lead single does, it’s got the potential to be up there as an album of my year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Delaire – Don’t Move

I’ve left my headphones at work. This is an inconvenience seeing as I’m not now back in the office until Friday. I’ve got a few days of train travel coming up. I really should get a cheap pair for emergencies such as this. 

I had it all worked out when I saw the E-mail hit my inbox today telling me about Delaire’s new single, Don’t Move. Here was a track of shimmering disco funk from the London based songstress. After a day holed up in the office, I planned to do the exact opposite of the instruction in the song title. I’d get home, cook myself some soup and then plug in my headphones for a bit of a silent boogie around the coffee table. I wouldn’t want to disturb my neighbours on a Monday night. 

Delaire’s not an entirely new name to me. In the latter months of 2015, I’d found myself quite taken by her first single, Belief. If I’d have been blogging more back then, I might well have featured the fine, tear down the cheek, atmospheric video that accompanied that tune. You can see from that where the comparisons to the likes of Jessie Ware and London Grammar derive from. 

So, I’ve had to listen to the new single, Don’t Move, through the slightly tinny output of my I-pad. It’s by no means a disaster and I’m still getting the urge to shuffle on my sofa. Any song that begins with the lines  “Jealousy is not for me, I know you’ve seen her more. Her blonde hair, her underwear, I know you’ve seen before” is setting itself up to be a winner in my book.     

Of course, I might have misheard that lyric given my inconvenience. 

As ‘Don’t Move’ progresses, the opening verse of Chic-like funk gives way to a burst of Donna Summeresque disco pop. An imaginary Tina Charles very nearly takes me by the hand and says “Fuck it, you don’t need your headphones to dance around the coffee table to this one Sean”. But Tina’s too polite to swear in such a way. 

And so I remain on my sofa, generally appreciative of Delaire but slightly annoyed that I have no headphones and very aware that I need to put this right. 

 

 

 

 

Public Service Broadcasting – Gagarin

In 2013, Public Service Broadcasting were perhaps the band that I saw play live more than any other. I was new to gig reviewing when I caught them at Leicester’s Musician but I was relatively happy with the finished article I prepared for eGigs (here). I was so impressed with them that particular night that I saw them a couple of nights later in Northampton.

As Spring passed and Summer arrived, we seemed to follow each other around the festival circuit. From Beat-Herder to Deershed, here was an act that were pretty compelling to watch. Technical difficulties aside, you knew what you were going to get with PSB. As enjoyable as it was, after a Summer spent over-dosing on their live set, you couldn’t help but wonder if this might be a one trick pony. Where might they take this next?

I needn’t have worried. It appears that J.Willgoose, Esq. and Wrigglesworth are more astute than to let their careers fizzle out by not developing their offer.

Public Service Broadcasting have just released the video for the first single from their upcoming second album, The Race For Space. They’ve added chunks of brass and layers of string to their more trademark sound. This tune, Gagarin, wouldn’t be out of place on a Daft Punk album. PSB are ramping up the funk rocket and having a spacesuit disco.

“We wanted to surprise people, and show that there is a depth and breadth to our musical interests and influences that goes far beyond our first album”, says Willgoose about this release. I think they’ve succeeded.

The video makes for pretty entertaining viewing as well. Those familiar with the largely static Willgoose, presenting an image somewhere between Dr. Who and a teacher of Geography, as he stands behind instruments issuing pre-recorded statements had better think again; for, in this video we get movement (lots of it), dancing that mightn’t be out of place on ‘Strictly’ and a triumphant, joyful exuberance that feels perfectly in keeping for “the hero who blazed the trail to the stars.”

I would embed it directly here but I can’t find it on Youtube yet so here’s the link to NPR where the video launched.