On a weekend in August of 2015, I discovered Maggot Brain. I may have been 44 years late, but I’m just now realizing the depth and power that Funkadelic were capable of.
I’ve been on a funk kick, spurred on by the incredible new Dam-Funk album, and stumbled up on the evocative cover of Maggot Brain, with a woman’s head planted in the dirt, face frozen mid-scream.
It’s deeply unnerving, an iconic image that immediately sears into the memory. It fits the music completely.
Dam-Funk has finally returned, and he’s taken funk right out of the atmosphere and into the deep reaches of space.
I can’t handle how consistently great the new triple-LP, 90 minute album is. Invite The Light is already one of my favorite pieces of music in years. I just keep repeating it, trying to grasp how it’s possible that one artist combined so many things I love about music into a singular sound. It’s overwhelming in the best way possible.
I want to write more about this once the album arrives next week, but I just had to shout my excitement right now, and hopefully tip some people off to the full album stream going on at NPR right now.
I know I just wrote about Stereolab, but I’m in the middle of a binge. Indulge me?
I just listened to my brand new vinyl edition of their 1997 masterpiece, Dots and Loops. It reminded me that, of all the jazzy sprawl and monastic focus of the album, this dreamy pop song lingered in my mind the clearest.
I’ve been really feeling Stereolab lately. Their incredibly unique mixture of old fashioned jazzy pop, electronics, and the motorik pulse of krautrock was the reason they were one of the first bands to ever be called post-rock.
If you’ve never heard them, you’re in for a real treat. This is the 18 minute epic centerpiece of their second album, 1993’s Transient Random-Noise Bursts With Announcements.
Thundercat dons some samurai armor in this exquisitely weird clip for the instant classic funk tune Them Changes.
This song is on the brief but brilliant The Beyond / Where The Giants Roam, a mini-album that manages to nearly render the man’s prior music obsolete. In a mere 16 minutes he manages to fuse his latent Isley Brothers and Parliament influences into the sharpest iteration of his unique space funk sound yet. The above song is the most pure pop moment of Thundercat’s career but the remainder of the set veers into more progressive, fluidly jazzy territory.
You can pick up the album Since I like making things convenient, I’ve got the full mini-album streaming below, courtesy of Spotify.
You need to hear this fantastic live band cover of Flying Lotus‘ brilliant collaboration with Kendrick Lamar, the incredible Never Catch Me.
The band is absolutely on point; every player nails his or her part, from the pair of alto saxophonists to the trio of backup singers. Special mention should go to the drummer and keyboardist for really adding that swing. While the rapper is no Kendrick (and no one else is), he pours his heart into the rapid-fire delivery of the song, nailing the cadence and approaching the breathless energy of the original.
Thanks to a tweet earlier today, the whole world gets to enjoy this sublime take on an instant classic song from last year’s incredible You’re Dead. I feel like I haven’t heard a cover version this good in years. These guys show a ton of potential, and I’ll be following their moves in the future.
Watch this right now. Just do it. You don’t need to thank me.
If you want to see an artist at the peak of his powers absolutely nailing the zeitgeist, click play.
Kendrick Lamar dropped To Pimp A Butterfly just a couple months ago, and it’s already one of my favorite albums of all time.
The brazen mixture of politically, socially, and psychologically aware lyrics with an incredibly nuanced and evolved delivery; the dark and deeply funky production, shot through with an entire jazz band’s worth of all-star live players; the live-wire theatricality of the entire endeavor… all of these parts coalesce as Lamar’s ambition and talent meet in in the stratosphere.
It’s both incredibly audacious and earnest to a fault. The album feels embarrassingly personal at times, the rapper spilling his demons in a drunken crying jag. At the same time, everything’s wrapped in a sense of universal struggle, the intrinsic knowledge that we’re all in this together. There’s no wonder that it’s proven as divisive as it is beloved.