The foursome from England’s Leeds is the syncopated squad fighting on funk’s revivalist frontline, weaving the Meters’ pioneering groove with the flinty, soulful rhythms of Ivan “Boogaloo Joe” Jones and James Brown’s orneriest tempos. The result is a funkified stew of old and new. Tight and melodic, hard-bop tinged, Beastie Boy beats overlap with guitarist Eddie Roberts’ frenzied Melvin Sparks’-styled riffs and Joe Tatton’s drawling Hammond B3, building a locomotive of funk that stomped The Other Side.
There were strong whiffs of Grant Green’s lithe, groovy vibe and George Porter Jr.’s buoyant, lurching basslines in “This Ain’t Work.” Tatton’s uptempo, percussive be-bop keystrokes recalled the best of Jimmy Smith in “Mission Creep,” off the band’s recently released, eighth album “Out On The Faultline.”
Tapping the repetitive lyrics and riffs tool employed by countless New Orleans musicians – patiently assembling layers of swelling funk – the New Mastersounds can easily move a house.
“Usually the hippy groups lock into a sort of sway,” drummer Simon Allen said after a rousing, countrified “I’m A Free Man.” “You guys have got the groove.”
The New Mastersounds certainly is a borrowed sound, drawing if not downright stealing from the masters of soul, funk and jazz, building their own interpretation of America’s greatest contribution to the boogie. And they rep the funk as well as any of their many inspirations.
Roberts, dapper in suit and tie, charged each song with his roots-based licks but aptly steered beyond the tried-and-true. The uptempo, lounge-y “Summercamp” could easily be construed for Euro techhouse, with Roberts’ punchy 4/4 signature upsized by Allen’s off-beat high-hat. The band vamped the trippy in “Flimsy Lewis,” with Roberts’ strumming triplets conjuring the swampiest acid jazz grooves.
The Brit-tweaked funk mingled well with the peppery, hippy fog at the Other Side, where the recent passage of Amendment 64 was hazily heralded Saturday night. When the band paused, the crowd fumbled, tripping on toes and spilling cocktails in the packed-to-the-rafters, sold-out venue. But when Allen’s busy tempo took hold, melding with Peter Shand’s bursting bass, the place fell into a suddenly smooth flow, throbbing with the band in lock-stepped groove. By 2:30 a.m., the place was as busy as it was at midnight, with a sweating, cheering, pie-eyed crowd reluctant to release that rare, shared cohesion.
Jason Blevins is a strange dancer, but that has never stopped him.