If you’ve spent any time around the jam scene, you must know Lettuce. The band features legends of the music world such as two members of the funk trio Soulive – the incredible guitarist Eric Krasno and their ultra-talented keys player Alan Evans. This seven-piece funk band got its start ages ago at the Berkeley School of Music, and has been coming out with new material every few years.
The album cover shows some African animals with tubas in place of their heads. It’s apropos, as the horns dominate the sound of this album from front to back. With Benny Bloom on trumpet and Ryan Zoidis on sax, the horn section punctuates every song thoroughly, setting the tone for a very danceable, upbeat set of jams.
The album starts with a bang. The opening track “The Force” is just ferocious. The horns are loud, the drum hits are heavy, and the groove is deep. The thematic melody lines sing out like this is a theme song of some great 70’s crime drama.
I love third track, “Chief”. It’s another up-tempo rager, again with heavy use of horns. The drums just jam out from start to finish, and there’s awesome synth and guitar solos to boot. I can see this one playing behind some “Ocean’s Eleven” type casino-heist movie scene. High action, lots of fun, and extra swagger. This is probably my favorite track on here.
They get all trance-like on “Phyllis”. Opening up with delayed guitars, strange echoing sounds and Hendrix-like space noises, it eventually opens up into a pretty groovy rhythm. By the time the horns kick in, we’re in movie mode again. The compositions just create so much drama and such heavy dynamics that I can’t help but see a plotline.
There are no ballads on this one. It is a non-stop funk train from start to finish. They provide intermission from the instrumentals with “Sounds Like a Party”. Featuring Nigel Hall on vocals, it’s another upbeat dance number with high energy and that 70’s funk feel. Also “He Made a Woman Out of Me” features guest Alecia Chakour with a gritty, bluesy singing performance.
Bassist Erick Coomes said that 90’s hip-hop had a key influence on the album. The straight ahead, hard hitting drums from Adam Deitch certainly tie the whole thing together with a very consistent feel. High energy is the name of this game, and it is outright bombastic.
I love having “Crush” on in the background, because it just gets my energy level up and it doesn’t stop. I can see cranking this in the car on the way to a big show, or putting in a good workout at the gym with these tunes as the driving force. You don’t need caffeine if you put this album on – you just need to get down with the funk. Check it out.
Tom Matthew, Two Ton Music