Tuesday, 13 August 2013

Youngblood Brass Band- Pax Volumi

Funk and jazz, hip-hop and punk; these are just some of the places that Youngblood Brass Band have gone to draw inspiration for this latest release.

Pax Volumi, the fourth album from this 10-piece collective from across America. Blending hip-hop rapping with tongue-in-cheek lyrics, jazzy horn lines, punk-y beats and funky bass lines, there really is something to appeal to all audiences about this music.

The album successfully captures the energetic craziness of the live band, and shows off the way the group is influenced by New Orleans Dixieland jazz with the semi-improvised nature of the tracks, and the interaction between the different parts.

Youngblood Brass band really have got some fantastic tracks on this album- the opener and debut single, ’20 Questions’ shows off their Hip-hop stylings to great aplomb. The horn riffs crackle like fire and the lyrics come thick and fast. ‘Wrestlevania’ is a much more jazzy number- instrumental, it shows off the band’s prowess as players. The cover of Chaka Khan’s 80s classic ‘Ain’t Nobody’ is full of life and energy, with some great sections of powerful horns, with a slightly latin beat. ‘The Old Rugged Cross’ takes the feel and sounds of a New Orleans funeral march, slow and sombre, before lifting up into a celebration of life with the segue into ‘His Eye is on the Sparrow.’ The moments where individuals have solos only serves to show how talented the individuals who make up the band are- both tasteful and complicated, these short solos add little bits of individual character to certain tracks, rather than being used as something to have in every song.

Overall, this album crackles with energy, and shows off the talents of the band as a whole; as well as individual musicians. Equal parts jazz, rock, hip-hop and funk, there is something for everyone on this release.


Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Ballard- Pancho Got Soul!

An attempt at soul that seems to have more in common with rock of the 1960s and early punk than strict soul music, Ballard’s 4-track EP (and a bonus demo song), Pancho Got Soul! is a low-tech, guitar-based offering.

Rejecting highly polished production and squeaky clean digitalised sounds, this EP has a raw honesty to it. The crunchy, slightly distorted sound works well for tracks like ‘Race Relations’, which sounds like it is being shouted through a loudhailer. 

However, this dirt does get a bit trying on some of the other tracks, as it doesn’t offer much scope for a variety in sounds. The drums are very low down in the mix- especially as the vocals and guitar are so loud, and sound very loose; at times almost like a child’s toy drum set.

The songs themselves all follow a fairly set pattern, simple structures, no fancy playing, pseudo-socially relevant lyrics, and a few catchy hooks- the chorus in Race Relations is a good example of this- and a humorous take on real-life subject matter. 

Overall, it’s an enjoyable album, and with a slightly tighter production, and a bit more variety in the writing, a next release could be really good.