Sunday, February 9, 2014

Week 5

Fun Machine by Lake Street Dive

Ready to 'Dive' into some Fun Machine?! ('Twas too easy).

So if I had to describe my favorite discovery of 2014 in a few words I'd say "jazzy soul with a sprinklin' of pop." Lake Street Dive (henceforth referred to as such since LSD isn't exactly a great abbreviation...) is a quartet out of Boston made up of New England Conservatory students. They've been playing together for almost a decade, but only recently, thanks to some YouTube press, have been getting some serious exposure. 

Minneapolis native and trumpeter Mike Olson assembled the fantastic four in 2005. The rest of the group consists of Nashvillean lead singer Rachael Price, Iowan upright bassist Bridget Kearney, and fresh-from-Philly drummer Mike Calabrese. The group's supa-fresh sound has come from years of dive-bar experience (hence the name). The upright gives the whole group a very jazzy, lo-fi sound while the trumpet goes from background horn to improviser to harmonizer effortlessly. Calaprese has a great feel that sounds like it belongs on a '60s soul record and I don't know what to say about Rachael Price's voice. Ella Fitzgerald and Lana Del Ray and Norah Jones combined would probably come close to describe her sound. I should also mention that the entire group sings on most tracks and they are spot on in their harmonies. 

With regards to this album, I stumbled onto it after their well-known cover of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back" came on my iTunes radio Snarky Puppy channel. "I Want You Back" is one of my favorite songs ever and this is by far the best cover I've ever heard. The YouTube video below helped put the group on the map, channeling almost 1.5 million views in a few months.

The rest of the six-track EP is made up of four more covers (more on these in a second) and an original track entitled "Clear a Space." The original song would be plenty to get me hooked in this bands sound. From the funky harmonic-ridden upright line to the '70s funk-inspired trumpet backgrounds to the three part harmonies, this song is a great example of what this group is about. THis is good music that is equally rich in sound as it is in content. If you played this song on a vinyl album for me, I'd find it pretty hard to believe that this group 1. hasn't reached stardom, and 2. isn't decades older than they are. 

The remaining covers are of Hall & Oates "Rich Girl," McCartney and Wings' "Let Me Roll It," "This Magic Moment" made famous by the Drifters and a funkified cover of George Michael's "Faith."

"Rich Girl" sounds very similar to the original with some fresh nuances here and there (many thanks to the trumpet), and a lot less mustache. "Let Me Roll It" was a tune I'd never heard before that has traded in the Brit-rock electric guitars from the original for some tasty new licks courtesy of Olson and Kearney. "This Magic Moment" maintains it's throwback sound with a very cool latin-inspired drum groove and soulful male harmonies presumably from Olson and Calaprese. The George Michael tune has received the New Orleans treatment, trading in it's '80s electro-pop sound for a funky second-line feel that almost bobs your head for you.

Even though this is only the group's EP (second full-length album is slated to release later this month), I can (and have) listened to all six songs over and over. This is a group to look out for, and, thanks to their 'don't-need-a-studio-to-sound-good' talent, would be worth seeing live. I hope you guys enjoy this one as much as I do.

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