JoeMc on 11/05/2009 at 12:15AM
Some days, nothing else will do but something funky, something that sends that warm flush from your head down to your feet. There's this great band from Austin, Texas that maybe you haven't heard about yet. They're called Brownout, and a recent track of theirs that popped up on the FMA gave me that special feelin' this week. Check it out: "Olvidalo" from their new record Aguilas and Cobras. See below for more about the band.
Brownout is the alter-ego of Grupo Fantasma, the Latin funk outfit that has come to a lot of people's attention in the past couple of years through its association with Prince. The Purple One made use of the band's stellar horn section when he played Coachella last year. "Real musicians playing real music," sayeth he. Grupo Fantasma's last album, Sonidos Gold, their fourth, was even nominated for a Grammy, as dubious an accolade as that may be in some circles.
Whereas Grupo Fantasma plays a slightly more cumbia and salsa-inflected mix well-suited to its orchestral size (11 members) and its heritage (main songwriter Jose Galeano is the nephew of Chepito from the original incarnation of Santana), Brownout is a sleeker, slightly trimmer band (8 members) that turns up the funk and adds in some psychedelic touches. In "Olvidalo," that takes the form of a burning bit of guitar that cuts through the mix a few minutes in.
Most of Brownout's material is instrumental and you can hear echoes of some of the great soul, funk, and Latin rock acts of the past in their music: Mandrill, Malo, Sly and the Family Stone, and of course, James Brown (Maceo Parker even appeared on the last Grupo Fantasma album). The new album even includes a cool cover of "Tell Her She's Lovely," a Top 40 hit back in 1973 by underrated "brown" rock outfit El Chicano, whose version of "Sugar, Sugar" has often graced the WFMU airwaves.
"Olivdalo" translates to something like "Forget it!" From what I hear, that's something that's not easy to do once you see Brownout live. I missed 'em a couple of weeks ago when they played S.O.B.'s in Manhattan, but hopefully they'll be back in town soon.