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The New Mastersounds

Breaks From the Border

(Tallest Man; US: 9 Aug 2011; UK: 8 Aug 2011)

Funk-tastic, funk-alicious, funk-I'm-running-out-of-adjectives

The New Mastersounds are a rip-snortin’ smoke-breathin’ funk monster hailing from England of all places. Over the course of six albums, the band has proven itself to be adept at carrying on the wah-wah pedaling, booty-shaking, bass-on-the-one’ing tradition of the almighty funk groove. Breaks from the Border, recorded in six frenetic days at a studio in Tomillo, Texas, shows the band at the top of its game, with the addition of—wait for it—vocals.


This was a smart move, because let’s face it, even the funkiest of instrumentals pales after repeated listening. This time, the band opts for chanted or shouted vocal contributions from all four members, which adds to the deliciously freewheeling party vibe without descending into, you know, ballad territory or something.  Opener “Take What You Need,” sets the standard for the album as a whole, with its shuffling groove, thumping bass, and guitar accents.  Follow-up track “Run the Gauntlet” increases the tempo and drops the vocals but leaves the other elements intact.  “On the Border” combines a sexy, shuffling rhythm with gurgling organ, while “Freckles” and “Passport” fight it out for the Most Infectious Bassline Award.  At this point you realize you’re barely halfway through the record. Fear not. Apart from the final track “Up In the Air”, which is the only big misstep, the back half of the album is as strong as the opening six tracks, maintaining the energy and musicianship while managing to avoid repetition, even on the seven-minute “Can You Get It?” Next time you’re looking for something upbeat and bouncy, this is the border you should run to.

Rating:

DAVID MAINE is a novelist and essayist. His books include The Preservationist (2004), Fallen (2005), The Book of Samson (2006), Monster, 1959 (2008) and An Age of Madness (2012). He has contributed to The Washington Post, Publishers Weekly, Esquire.com and NPR.com, among other outlets. He is a lifelong music obsessive whose interests range from rock to folk to hip-hop to international to blues. He currently lives in western Massachusetts, where he works in human services. Catch up with his blog, The Party Never Stops, at davidmaine.blogspot.com, or become his buddy on Facebook (or Twitter or Google+ or whatever you prefer) to keep up with reviews and other developments.


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6 Oct 2014
The New Mastersounds are sort of like a hybrid strain of cannabis. The music has an uplifting effect, yet one that’s blended with a relaxed vibe.
14 Sep 2014
Some of these experiments are more successful than others, but it is that basic uptempo, wah-wah inflected, bass-heavy, organ-choogling funk that makes the strongest impression here.
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