funk

Stabbed Panda Presents: The 3rd Eyebrow

Stabbed Panda Presents: The 3rd Eyebrow Album Review Si chats with Dave and Mike from Cambridge’s finest jazz-funk-fusion quartet, The 3rd Eyebrow (Of The Wretched Poisson).

Stabbed Panda Presents: The 3rd Eyebrow by Stabbed Panda Presents... on Mixcloud

Review by Jack Gunner.
Nestled in the numerous dermatological advice columns that crop up when you punch "The 3rd Eyebrow" into Google, is a website that, owing to its front page image, could at first be mistaken for a J.Crew advertisement from the 1940’s. However, on closer inspection, the bold, Lenin-esque proclamations of "Jazz. Funk. Fusion." and "Funk is a State of Mind" highlight the philosophy of what may be Cambridgeshire’s brightest up-and-coming funk act.

The quartet consists of David Mitchell Jones, Michael Roca-Terry, Ian Griffith and Tom O’Grady, who formed back in 2010, and have spent the last three years refining and experimenting with their sound, finally releasing their first album, The 3rd Eyebrow of the Wretched Poisson earlier this month. "Wretched Poisson" refers, presumably, to the three-eyed fish that adorns their logo and album cover. There appears to be – according to their bio - some kind of over-riding sea concept to the bands journey, (listen to the full story on the embedded player above)

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Opening number, Eric Spental kicks off the nautical theme with lapping waves and ships horns before laying out a number which exemplifies the bands proclamation of musical dedication. Swirling horns and guitars abound, occasionally folding over to allow perfectly timed bass licks.

The Monkey Strut is probably the highlight of the disc, with war-like opening drums leading up to a mellow, confident, hum-a-long beat - maybe its musical inception at its bluntest, but this bouncy, lively number exquisitely conjures up a mental image of a velvet-tuxedoed gibbon strutting the jungle boulevards. Imagine a simian Miami Vice, if you will. With bananas instead of cocaine. Or scrap my overly literal interpretation, and accept it as a pretty damn good funk track.

Sophistophunk – can be forgiven for its frustrating title, a portmanteau which tries to combine far too many words. It treads the same ground as the last two tracks, but does so in style, with a deep, almost wobbly vibe that, in keeping with the oceanic notes, almost sounds like it was recorded underwater.

The ten-minute interlude, Gentle Mirage, as its name might suggest, provides an oasis of calm amongst the frenzied relentlessness of its fellow tracks. An Egyptian-esque flair runs through the track, twinned with rolling drums and backed up with an almost hypnotic recurring bass line, to create an interlude, that is gentler, but no less impressive than the faster-paced numbers.

Understanding the Lilt – surprisingly not an in-depth seminar on Coca-Cola’s tragically misunderstood tropical soda – but a smooth, gliding number which allows the jazz aspects to flow freely, among a sea of crunches and understated drums. The cohesion of the instrumentalists is evident not just here, but throughout the band’s music, an aspect which is integral to how slick the overall sound is.

Up the Haze finishes off the CD with a steady number with jazz-heavy extended sax interludes and nice fade-outs which builds to a hazy (appropriately enough) middle act, ending on an extended guitar solo and drum blast, leaving the listener with a fresh sense of the technical talent on display.

Finally, the gulls and lapping waves which opened the disc return to usher out the music, and provide an appropriate symmetry to the album.

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Funk is what is promised and funk is delivered, in a début which, in only six tracks, marks the quartet out as a potential future mainstay of jazz-funk. The lack of vocals may put off some casual observers, not to mention the track length – none of these run under five minutes - but in truth these factors allow breathing space for these craftsmen to create their musical murals. Special mention should be made of bassist Dave Mitchell Jones, who stands out especially.

Overall, if fenland funk fusion is what you’re after, The 3rd Eyebrow are definitely one to check out – as débuts go, this is a short but satisfying one, and doubtless makes for a great gig as well.

Here, have some links: The 3rd Eyebrow’s website The 3rd Eyebrow on Facebook The 3rd Eyebrow on SoundCloud

Stabbed Panda Presents: DAFM

DAFM header Today we present to you the good-times funk-rock-psychedelic stylings of DAFM. Si enjoys a beer with vocalist Tom and bassist Sam.

Stabbed Panda Presents: DAFM by Stabbed Panda Presents... on Mixcloud

Review by Wesley Freeman-Smith

The somewhat enigmatically named DAFM, (“what does it mean?” I hear you think ferociously), are hardly billing themselves as a ‘serious’ band. If anyone saw Man of Steel recently, and wondered where it’s sense of humour was, it’s possible these guys stole it. Describing themselves as ‘music to barbecue to’, and with a penchant for beer, (including novelty outfits), these guys seem to present themselves as the antithesis of anything too hip, self-serious, or po-faced. They are the anti-Radiohead, the anti-Joy Division. They’ve never even heard of Wild Beasts, and probably don’t know how to make Macs do that hip triangle symbol either.

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The fairly self-explanatory ‘Promo EP’ fills it’s 4 tracks with the kind of soulful 70’s homage that in anyone else’s meaty hands would feel regressive and neanderthal. In DAFM, the riffs, solos, the harmonica and the cowbell work as a reminder that music can just be fun, and it doesn’t have to be making some statement bigger than itself. Channelling a range of influences from both older and newer acts, (think the kind of music Mike Patton might still be making if he wasn’t so busy pushing boundaries and making zombie noises), it’s almost impossible to feel down while this is playing. When you can sound this energetic on record it’s a hard to imagine them playing to anything but pubs full of sweaty, dancing people. You’d have to be pure killjoy not to appreciate the energy here.

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In terms of songs and musicianship, it’s all fairly solid stuff. Even on first listen, there are enough obvious hooks to trip your brain up head first into the songs. It’s practically overflowing with inventive flamboyance and clever noodling which, true to the press release, boasts a tightness that only comes from playing together for years. ‘Magnify Infinity’ launches with the kind of fast-talking, better-than-a-roomful-synths riffage, driving home a distortion and funk that wouldn’t feel too out of place on a Primus record. ‘Pussyfootin’ is pretty damn soul-funk, again not breaking any new ground but still managing to be tight as hell and insanely competent. Laden with funk bass noodling (and, actually, noodling on all the strings) it’s near impossible to dislike. Contemporaries in the hard rock scene would be people like the Chilli’s, albeit leaning more to the Frusciante side. Despite these American touchstones, there’s something quintessentially English about these songs. It’s a reminder that once upon a time, we had a pop / rock scene that wasn’t afraid to take risks, and music charts that didn’t feel so uniform and homogeneous.

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Just four tracks is a fairly concise musical statement, and I suppose from a critical point of view, if this was to work as an album there’d need to be a little variation. The songs are all excitable and eager, and perfectly built for a live stage. There’s a sense all this came out of jamming, out of playing live, and as a flyer for a show it works perfectly. As to where it’s ultimately going, who knows? And frankly, who cares? It’s doubtful it’s going to knock the latest minimalist or miserablist trend off the top of the alternate rock charts, but that doesn’t mean it bloody well shouldn’t. The argument was recently put to me that if it’s not doing something new, why bother? Well, sometimes when you mine the past, you end up sounding like this; that’s why.

Here, have some links: DAFM’s Press Release & Bio DAFM on Facebook