Review Summary: Shut up and groove already.
I'm not going to start this review with some vague truism about the history of music and the capacity of human intelligence and somehow jump through hoops to connect it back to this album, it just wouldn't be in the spirit of the music. I'm just going to start off and say that this album contains some of the funkiest tunes ever recorded. Strung together by reliably grooving bass lines, spiced up with some paper thin, twangy guitar loops and a sassy horn/keyboard section, all holding up Russ Porter's caramel smooth voice, this album flows like a river into your ears, possessing your body to move to the music against your will. Whether you like it or not, you're going to be tapping your foot and and bobbing your head to this album. Honestly, if you played this at a funeral, everyone would forget why they were sad and start dancing. Hell, even the dead guy would. I mean there's a reason that this album is called Tales From Beyond The Groove
. Yes, the funk levels on this album are enough to raise the dead. Maybe I'll try it on my dead cat.
The opening title track acts as a sort of overture to what the rest of the album holds, starting with a simple yet endearingly sloppily preformed keyboard melody and equally simple drum beat. Over the span of song, layers upon funky layers of new instruments pop up where the song, while keeping the same core melody, evolves into a buffed up groovy beast. It presents itself as an instrumental as this all takes 3 or 4 minutes to develop and fully flourish. Honestly, if this album was entirely instrumental it would still hold up as impressively funky, but it's Porter's wild card vocals that boost this album up to new levels. They act as a buffer, smoothing the edges of the scratchy, lo-fi textures of the music.
The lyrics effortlessly roll off his tongue, mirroring the swagger of the music in every song. The subdued rhythms and curious vocal melodies of "Sunday Driver" match the lyrics as Porter sings "Let's get ourselves lost in the midsummer haze/down the cool country lanes, that meander for days/and maybe I'll take baby for a ride." Contrast this to the more upbeat music of "Another Day In The Life of Mr. Jones" and adventurous narrative lyrics (one of the several tales that this album provides): "It was the 14th day of winter and the clouds were getting dense/I met a girl in a snooker(?) hall who asked me for 10 cents/she said she had to make a phone call to get a hold of her man/When she asked me what I did I said 'as little as I can'" The lyrics continue to chronicle Mr. Jones' unexpected journey, floating on a bouncy guitar and deep, lofty saxophones. Every line in every song flows in to the next one, just as all of the components of the music fit together like a puzzle piece.
Pulling from a variety of genres, from dub to jazz, hip-hop to deep-fried blues, this album delivers all of these in a wonderfully strewn together, groovy mess of an album. Next time you're walking to class, throw on "Limping Song". Next time you're chillin' out on a hammock, sway to the contently melancholy, acoustic styling of this album's closing track. Next time you're straddling the line between semi-coherence and having the full blown spins, ground yourself and snap your fingers to "Moving Closer To The Sofa" and don't be surprised when everyone joins and unites under the power of the groove. Embrace the groove or it will embrace you.