Dumpstaphunk: Dirty Word

A funk super group releases a potent, self-assured album.


Dirty Word

Label: Louisiana Red Inc.
US Release Date: 2013-07-30
UK Release Date: 2013-07-23

The term super group can be misleading. Several musicians can team up, and they may all be famous or successful, the leaders of other groups with impressive credentials. But that doesn’t guarantee super results. And sometimes dubbing something a "super group" buries a band under a pile of unrealistic expectations. The band Dumpstaphunk is close to a super group, but if they are feeling any extra pressure on their new album, they don’t show it. Dirty Word is full of potent, self-assured funk.

D-phunk includes Ivan and Ian Neville, the sons of Aaron and Art Neville respectively. Those two dads had a hand in many of the foundational soul and funk recordings that came out of New Orleans in the '60s and '70s, and their sons are following in this rich tradition. (Ivan has played with a slew of stars, including Keith Richards and Rufus; Ian cut his teeth playing in the Neville Brothers band.) The D-phunk drummer Nikki Glaspie made up for her lack of famous parentage by manning the drums for an up-and-comer by the name of Beyonce. The two bassists, Nick Daniels and Tony Hall, have plenty of high-level experience as well. And, in case the Dumpsta gang were feeling a lack of star power in the studio, they invited guests like Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea, Ani Difanco, and Art Neville himself to contribute to the album.

Dirty Word draws on all the tools of funk and uses them for maximum (super?) power. The organ lurches and shivers, while coils of wah-wah guitar keep tightening until they explode. Plus there’s that extra dose of bass. “Dumpsta” implies something big and weighty—that thing is the beat. There’s no glide and shimmy in this music. The drums strut and swagger with a heavy tread and a lot of crashing cymbals.

Since the men and women in Dumpstaphunk have such strong connections to the sounds of their ancestors, they fill their music with references to previous funk groups. The guitar tones on "Dancin’ To The Truth" channel Sly Stone -- as does the sentiment expressed in the song’s title -- and of course there are passages that sound like the Meters, and a fondness for group-sing that would make George Clinton proud. The band covers Betty Davis’s hard-hitting "If I’m In Luck I Just Might Get Picked Up" from 1973, and Graham Central Station’s "Water" from 1975 (which also brings to mind the old Stax hit "You Don’t Miss Your Water").

So Dumpstaphunk contains talented musicians, and they’re adept at funk -- no surprises there. But the song "They Don’t Care" is different, opening with an introduction that could work for a piece of radio rock, before incorporating some trademark New Orleans percussion as it winds down. And "I Know You Know" plays like another muscular romp before it turns a sudden corner into the album’s sweetest hook. "I know you cheated," sings Ivan Neville, but it’s D-phunk who seem to have cheated and sneaked their way into that chorus. Sometimes, super happens when you look to escape what you and your fans already know.


To be a migrant worker in America is to relearn the basic skills of living. Imagine doing that in your 60s and 70s, when you thought you'd be retired.

Nomadland: Surviving America in the Twenty-First Century

Publisher: W. W. Norton
Author: Jessica Bruder
Publication date: 2017-09

There's been much hand-wringing over the state of the American economy in recent years. After the 2008 financial crisis upended middle-class families, we now live with regular media reports of recovery and growth -- as well as rising inequality and decreased social mobility. We ponder what kind of future we're creating for our children, while generally failing to consider who has already fallen between the gaps.

Keep reading... Show less

Very few of their peers surpass Eurythmics in terms of artistic vision, musicianship, songwriting, and creative audacity. This is the history of the seminal new wave group

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame nominating committee's yearly announcement of the latest batch of potential inductees always generates the same reaction: a combination of sputtering outrage by fans of those deserving artists who've been shunned, and jubilation by fans of those who made the cut. The annual debate over the list of nominees is as inevitable as the announcement itself.

Keep reading... Show less

Barry Lyndon suggests that all violence—wars, duels, boxing, and the like—is nothing more than subterfuge for masculine insecurities and romantic adolescent notions, which in many ways come down to one and the same thing.

2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) crystalizes a rather nocturnal view of heterosexual, white masculinity that pervades much of Stanley Kubrick's films: after slithering from the primordial slime, we jockey for position in ceaseless turf wars over land, money, and women. Those wielding the largest bone/weapon claim the spoils. Despite our self-delusions about transcending our simian stirrings through our advanced technology and knowledge, we remain mired in our ancestral origins of brute force and domination—brilliantly condensed by Kubrick in one of the most famous cuts in cinematic history: a twirling bone ascends into the air only to cut to a graphic match of a space station. Ancient and modern technology collapse into a common denominator of possession, violence, and war.

Keep reading... Show less

This book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Marcelino Truong launched his autobiographical account of growing up in Saigon during the Vietnam War with the acclaimed graphic novel Such a Lovely Little War: Saigon 1961-63, originally published in French in 2012 and in English translation in 2016. That book concluded with his family's permanent relocation to London, England, as the chaos and bloodshed back home intensified.

Now Truong continues the tale with Saigon Calling: London 1963-75 (originally published in French in 2015), which follows the experiences of his family after they seek refuge in Europe. It offers a poignant illustration of what life was like for a family of refugees from the war, and from the perspective of young children (granted, Truong's family were a privileged and upper class set of refugees, well-connected with South Vietnamese and European elites). While relatives and friends struggle to survive amid the bombs and street warfare of Vietnam, the displaced narrator and his siblings find their attention consumed by the latest fashion and music trends in London. The book offers a poignant and jarring reminder not just of the resilience of the human spirit, but also of its ability to seek solace in the materiality of one's present.

Keep reading... Show less

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow shines on her impressive interpretation of Fontella Bass' classic track "Rescue Me".

Canadian soul singer Elise LeGrow pays tribute to the classic Chicago label Chess Records on her new album Playing Chess, which was produced by Steve Greenberg, Mike Mangini, and the legendary Betty Wright. Unlike many covers records, LeGrow and her team of musicians aimed to make new artistic statements with these songs as they stripped down the arrangements to feature leaner and modern interpretations. The clean and unfussy sound allows LeGrow's superb voice to have more room to roam. Meanwhile, these classic tunes take on new life when shown through LeGrow's lens.

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.