ARTHUR KAY – EP Review: “Arthur Kay”

Arthur Kay

Arthur Kay is a renaissance man of sorts. The hard-working and versatile Norwegian musician has been a prominent figure in the Oslo music scene for the past decade. In addition to being frontman for galactic jazz-pop band Dr Kay and his Interstellar Tone Scientists, Kay has worked or collaborated with indie rock band The Switch, Norwegian rapper Ivan Ave, and neo-psychedelic pop-rock band Orions Belte, among others. Becoming a veritable whiz kid on synths and keyboards while still a young child, Kay had mastered Ray Manzarek’s iconic “Light My Fire” organ solo by the age of eight.

Now Kay has recorded his first solo effort, a self-titled EP Arthur Kay that’s scheduled for release on October 11 via Jansen Records. In advance of the EP release, he’s unveiled the first single “Holiday Pay“. The upbeat song is a celebration of the Norwegian institutional policy of employers being required by law to pay a certain percentage of last year’s wages as holiday pay during the Summer months. Like the title would suggest, the song has a bouncy dance beat that evokes a blissful summer day at the beach. Kay artfully employs a mix of sunny keyboard synths, an irresistible dance groove, and touches of jazz and funk to create a breezy track that just makes you feel good. Kay’s smooth vocals are pleasing as he sings about the joys of having nothing pressing on his schedule: “The rush of sweat pants, and lazy mornings every Sunday. Of waking up too early Monday, knowing where I’ll be the entire day. Holiday day, holiday pay, that’s the life that I chose, OK.”

Kay has produced two versions of the song, a 6:13 minute-long ‘single version’ featuring some terrific instrumental runs that would have made it a great disco song back in the late 70s or early 80s, and a shorter 3:42 minute-long radio edit.

The EP will feature four other tracks, the first of which is “Say It Out Loud“, an exuberant jazz-infused tune with an infectious strutting beat. If this song doesn’t get you moving, nothing will! Kay’s jazzy synths and intricate keyboard work are sublime, and quite impressive. It’s no wonder he’s in such demand by other artists wanting him to play music for their songs. The lyrics speak to his adoration for his love and how, even though he’s hurt her in the past, she’s the one that sustains him: “You are my power. You are my one. You are all the things I love under the sun.”

Next up is “Higher Ground“, a languid, ethereal track with hazy atmospherics and glittery synths that make for an enchanting listen. The bittersweet lyrics lyrics speak to coming to terms with the fact that the only way to survive is to completely avoid the one you want but cannot have: “A higher ground is all there is, and all that’s left for me to do. This blankly stare at empty space, and concentrate on simply just not calling you. Take a stand, as a peaceful man, and make my way from A to B./I’ll keep on falling. I’ll keep on getting through. And all I have to do is stay away from you. That’s everything that’s left of what was me and you.

On “My Love is an Only Child“, Kay seems to channel James Blake, with stunning piano work, delicate synths and soft, layered vocals. With a sense of sad resignation, Kay croons the poignant lyrics that seem to touch on the fragile nature of his love: “My love is an only child. No he can’t come play outside. Won’t go running around with scissors. That’s the point that you’ve been missing.” It’s a really captivating track.

Standing on Shoulders” starts off with a beautiful piano-driven melody as Kay sings about growing up with childhood fantasies and dreams of being a hero, going on adventures and saving the world: “I was mad with desire, stoking a fire, singing my songs of a savior far away. The savior was older and wiser than me. He held all the answers and sway. His feelings could be what he’d like them to be, but never did he run away. ” Suddenly, the music transitions to a lively Latin-infused beat, with exuberant synths and percussion added to the mix. Kay acknowledges that his childhood dreams were made possible by being able to stand on the shoulders of others who were there to support and nurture him: “Well, that savior was me, but now age 33, I have the hopes of my youth now following me. / I’m beginning to see that my savior was also just standing on shoulders and reaching for dreams that were living inside an adventure that’s made just for people like me.

Arthur Kay is a lovely and immensely enjoyable little EP by this talented singer-songwriter and musician. He’s a great lyricist and composer, skilled at crafting songs with thoughtful, introspective lyrics, memorable melodies and beautiful instrumentals.

Connect with Arthur on Facebook
Pre-order Arthur Kay on Bandcamp

XOTIC YEYO – Single Review: “Slide to the Left”

Xotic Yeyo Slide 2

Miami dance-funk band Xotic Yeyo are three zany guys with the coolest name, and they’re bound and determined to get our asses on the dance floor. Serving up the funky psychedelic grooves are Stu Sauce on guitar and lead vocals, Rod Reiter on bass and backing vocals, and Cody Orange on drums. Their fun, upbeat sound is influenced by funk greats like Parliament, Curtis Mayfield, Average White Band, Prince, Gil Scott Heron, Phish, Primus and Jamiroquai, among others.

The guys dropped their debut EP Down 2 Funk in late 2016, and followed up in Spring 2018 with a full-length album Chocolate Decadence, featuring 10 tracks guaranteed to funk you up! (I reviewed both releases, and you can check them out in the links under “Related” at the bottom of this post.) The risqué artwork for their EP and album are a good indication of their playful attitude and approach to their music: don’t take yourself too seriously, let loose, and have a good time. With that philosophy in mind, they now return with funky new single “Slide to the Left“, along with a fun and campy video.

The song is essentially about getting down on the dance floor and having fun. The track opens with electronically altered vocals that lend a spacey psychedelic vibe, then Stu lays down a funky riff that gets us on our feet, turning wobbly in the bridge. He challenges us to get into the groove: “Are you ready to get funky tonight!” Rod and Cody keep a tight rhythm with their funked-up bass and cooler than cool drums. It’s an infectious feel-good track guaranteed to bring a smile to our faces and put our hips in motion!

The song was recorded at City of Progress Studios in North Miami by DJ Spam of the Spam Allstars, and mastered by Eli S. Oyola at Trackset Studios in Winter Haven. Guest musicians include Mpa Melanie on backing vocals and Oski Gonzalez on congas.

The delightful video depicts Stu as a sort of funky pied piper, using his sexy moves to attract people on the street to join him in the latest ‘slide to the left’ galactic dance craze. It was filmed by Dave E. Drones of Dream Kinetics, and stars Stu as Disco Funk Jesus, along with band members Rod Reiter and Cody Orange. Also appearing in the video are band friends Aimee Beah Moore, Kyra Kennaugh, Sarah Worgess, Sharon Dubash, Danielle Livingston, Evan Hoffman, Jose Deveaux, Jessica Bass and Brook Hamilton.

Xotic Yeyo Group Pic

Connect with the band:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music
Purchase on iTunes

ITHACA BOTTOM BOYS – Album Review: “Ithaca Bottom Boys”

Ithaca Bottom Boys album

Being EclecticMusicLover, I love discovering interesting new music, so it was my lucky day when I was contacted by Leo Maniscalco, a member of the band Ithaca Bottom Boys, about reviewing their album. Hailing from the bucolic college town of Ithaca, New York, the five-piece formed seven years ago while still in high school, and ever since have been honing their craft by playing together and writing songs. On September 1st, they dropped their eponymous debut album Ithaca Bottom Boys, and what a delight it is! Their infectious eclectic sound is refreshing, surprising and lots of fun as they weave stories about the travails of life, love, substance abuse and relationship hell.

Comprising the Ithaca Bottom Boys are Tenor Caso (drums, vocals, aux percussion, acoustic guitar), Tristan Ross (guitar, vocals, aux percussion, piano ), Leo Maniscalco (guitar), Joe Hayward (banjo, vocals) and Abel Bradshaw (bass). In introducing his band, Leo had this to say about their music:  “Its difficult for me to describe our sound in a concise way, and no one song fully gives a representation of it, but here’s a go: we have four singers and songwriters, do a lot of vocal harmonies, and the songs are very dynamic with many changing parts and moods. They are also highly textural, featuring five musicians (two guitars, banjo, bass, and drums) each with unique yet congruous playing styles. It’s kind of folk and country meets rock and punk meets funk and soul, with splashes of other things thrown in, like hip-hop, jazz, psych, and prog.”

After listening to the album, I’d say his description pretty well nails it, and I love their eclectic music. I always try to include a few lyrics in my reviews, but the Ithaca Bottom Boys’ lyrics are so colorful and hilarious that I’ll be quoting them a lot.

Ithaca Bottom Boys 2

The album kicks off with “Blues in a Bottle,” a bluesy Rockabilly romp that sets a light-hearted tone and plants a big smile on my face, even though the lyrics address the guy’s messed-up woman who’s into some bad shit: “Blues in a bottle, blues in a bottle. Where do you think you’re at pretty mama. You went and kicked my dog, and now you drown my cat.Goin’ to silly-putty, goin’ to silly-putty. Sorry I can’t take you pretty mama. I don’t abide no woman, who goes round sniffin’ glue.” The song immediately segues into “Gasoline n’ Kerosene,” a very catchy tune with very morbid lyrics about how he killed the woman who double-crossed him, burned down her house, and was hung for his crime: “When I went to that house you said that you’d be, you took one look into my eyes, and you began to flee. And I said gasoline n’ kerosene you owe me money for. You bad ol’ broad you shot me down, and now you’ll be no more. / Well… Just before that lever did let my gallows swing, I saw my aged mother a weepin’ after me. And I said gasoline n’ kerosene I can’t believe my sin, My soul shall burn as you have done and never…Will I see your sweet face again.”

Winter Biking” sees the singer riding his bike into town on icy roads, taking a spill, and wishing he’d listened to his momma about taking the bus instead – all metaphors for the risks we take in life. “Thirty bellow but I’m still sweatin’. The devil only knows what I am gettin’ into. Well up a hill down a hill the struggles that I’ve been through. The thing about life is the road always continues.” The guys’ vocal harmonies on this track are especially wonderful. The guys change gears (pun intended) to an R&B vibe with the delightfully soulful love song “Baby.” The opening bass riff that continues throughout the track reminds me a bit of The Temptations’ classic “My Girl.”

One of my favorite tracks is “Hail to Dale,” which humorously takes on the perils of heavy drinking with a rowdy mix of music styles ranging from blues to bluegrass to funk. The lyrics are both funny and poignant: “Well… if I don’t dale a beer tonight, I might as well start a rowdy bar fight. Cause I hate myself and I hate my life. Pain and pleasure’s the same to me, and that all started when I was three, ’cause my daddy switched the bottle.

Continuing with the theme of substance abuse, the guys veer off into psychedelic madness on the marvelously trippy “Salvia Apple.” The zany track sounds like what we’d expect from the bastard children of Frank Zappa and Dr. Demento, with all sorts of melodic change-ups, quirky instrumentals and crazed vocals. The lyrics are hilarious yet deeply poetic, as if from a fractured Shakespearean comedy: “Salvia apple and a bottle of jack. All I’ve had to eat or drink and that is a fact. Don’t care if I go hungry I’m just lookin’ to get smacked. Pass out in the jungle by the railroad tracks./ I’m a derelict, no one cares if I’m recked or sober. Grown colder, shouldered at the might of a globe wide society. So deprived of life yet so maniacally living. My state be so squalor I take whatever I’m given.”

Flip That Record Jhonny” is a rousing Bluegrass/Rockabilly mostly instrumental tune that makes you want to kick up your heels. The guitar work and vocal harmonies are really terrific. And speaking of Dr. Demento, the guys get downright scandalous on “Demented Family.” The highly provocative lyrics seem to poke fun of a certain demographic, calling out incest and religious fanaticism: “Well my family tree’s got lotsa knots, and I get a lot o’tention from the cops, Cause incest on the ranch is plain to see. Pappy loved his sister and that made my daddy. And my daddy loved his sister too and that made little ol’ me. Well I never had no sister so I just loved my niece. I lessend my genealogy by stickin’ my D in her crease.” Oh my! They turn mellow as they sing the virtues of toking up on “Reefer Makes Everything Better,” a funny ditty with an early Lovin’ Spoonful vibe.

Perhaps the wildest track is “Summer Beavers,” the title being a play on the leading lyrics “Some are beavers, some are people…and most don’t really understand.” This long track is a real tour de force, with a mix of genres that go from blues to punk to country to funk to rap – sometimes all in the same stanza, kinda like The Red Hot Chili Peppers have done on some of their songs. The guys go crazy with bizarre lyrics that sound like being on an acid trip: “Rippin’ and a skippin’ like a minnow in the river. Susquehanna wit’ yo mama, catchin’ tuna on a canoe. Hock at me I’ll lock you in a rock up in Chautauqua. Yo hablo con Jorgito, necesito mucha agua. Pappy’s down the road in a jalopy popin’ poppy seeds, cruisin’ past the stoppers, coppers crackin’ down on acid droppers. Baller all are things, some are beavers. Tall like cedars, small like skeevers. We be eaters, feeders, bleeders, breeders, breathers, and beasts like golden retrievers, whaddap? ha-ha-ha.”

The guys seem to channel The Red Hot Chili Peppers again on the languid “No Regrets,” with jangly guitars, funky bass and vocals that sound a bit like Anthony Kiedis. They then abruptly change things up again on “Surfer NY,” an exuberant tune with awesome surf-rock guitars and a frantic punk beat. The explicit lyrics speak for themselves: “Surfin’ New York, yes I’m surfin’ New York. Havin’ sex on the rocky beaches. I’ve got lotsa rocks in my breeches. No I don’t know how they got in the laundry. No I’m not doin’ the nasty momma. No mama no mama no mama no. No those aren’t crack rocks don’t be silly. That’s just some crusty jizz from my willy. No mama no I’m not abusin’ myself. No mama no don’t kick me outa the house.” It’s an insanely wild trip from start to finish!

I must say that Ithaca Bottom Boys is unquestionably one of the most unusual and enjoyable albums I’ve had the pleasure of reviewing, and I love this crazy band! If you like unique, eclectic and unorthodox music, then this album should be in your collection!

Connect with the Ithaca Bottom Boys:  Facebook / Instagram
Stream their music on Spotify / Soundcloud / Apple Music
Purchase on Bandcamp / iTunes

BARBUDO – Single Review: “Secret Admirer”

I recently stumbled upon yet another terrific British band (there are so many!) named Barbudo, and it took me only a few minutes of listening to their music to become a fan. Consisting of brothers Ben and Harry Stanworth and Elliot Salter, they fuse elements of old-school funk, soul, psych rock and smooth R&B to create an infectious and incredibly pleasing sound they call ‘Nu-eyed funk’. But whatever one calls it, I hear influences from The Isley Brothers, Rufus, Steely Dan, Average White Band and Style Council, and how could you possible go wrong with that lineup?

Barbudo Performing

Following up on their exceptional 2017 EP Pleasures, Barbudo has just dropped a sparkling new single “Secret Admirer,” and it was instant love for me. The band have managed to craft an uplifting, intoxicating track that’s at once both cool and hot – sort of like sipping an icy Margarita at a tropical beach bar. The coolness comes from a breezy mix of smooth vocal harmonies, chiming synths, chill bass lines, and shimmering grooves on the clavinet, while the summery Latin dance beat and funky guitar riffs provide ample steam.

In describing the song, Ben explains We were going for a Latin-infused funk vibe, like a blend of Michael Jackson and Santana.” Harry adds “It’s a playful confession of secretly liking something that is deemed ‘uncool’ by most people. You might not publicly admit to liking it, but beyond judging eyes you see it for what it is. Like listening to Coldplay when you are sad…” Hey now – I love Coldplay and am not ashamed to admit it!

But seriously, “Secret Admirer” has all the right ingredients for the perfect summer song, and I can’t stop hitting replay. Listen for yourselves and you’ll be helplessly moving your hips within seconds.

Connect with BARBUDO: Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music: spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase: iTunes / Bandcamp

THE WINACHI TRIBE – Single Review: “Transition”

The Winachi Tribe – is that an awesome band name or what! – is a six-man outfit based in and around Leeds, UK. Drawing from a ton of legendary influences such as Parliament-Funkadelic, Sly & The Family Stone, Primal Scream, Grandmaster Flash & The Furious Five, Massive Attack, The Stone Roses, Talking Heads, D’angelo, Prince and Daft Punk, their infectious blend of electropop/funk/soul serves up more grooves than a box of vinyl LPs. With tongues firmly planted in their collective cheeks, they refer to their music as “Soul Food Winachi Chicken” – an apt descriptor, as it’s incredibly tasty!

WinachiTribe pic

Formed in 2015, The Winachi Tribe is comprised of Liam Croker (vocals), Antony Egerton (keyboards, programming), Inder Goldfinger (percussion), Mike Bee (lead guitar),  Richard Ritchie (bass) and Sam Tushingham (drums). They’ve collaborated with musicians and producers in both the UK and Southern California, and released several critically acclaimed singles (one of my favorites is “A Room With a Zoo,” for which they also created an imaginative short film directed by Trevor Miller and featuring actor Tommy Flanagan). In April they dropped a fantastic new dance single “Transition,” which I instantly loved at first listen.

I was a huge fan of disco back in the day (I’m old) and quite the dancing fool (I’m still a fool, but I digress…), so it’s natural that I’d love this song. Not that it should be classified as ‘disco,’ but it certainly has a hypnotic EDM beat that grabs you by the hips and doesn’t let go. I defy anyone to sit still to this song for very long. The band employs an abundance of throbbing synths, keyboards, guitars, bass, and percussion to create a lush soundscape overflowing with intoxicating dance grooves. Liam’s beguiling vocals register in the higher range but far below falsetto, and are delightful. Everything about “Transition” is perfectly marvelous, and I love this band!

The lyrics are about not allowing yourself to get stuck in a rut by fearing the unknown, and instead embracing change as learning and growth experiences: “Change don’t bring danger. Change for you is good. It’s a transitional, transitional period. If we seem like strangers, it’s ’cause we’re going through the changes.”

They’ve also recorded a great remix of “Transition” by Daisy O’Dell and featuring The Singularity.

Catch The Winachi Tribe at one of these shows on their Transition UK Tour 2018

MAY 18  –  Stramash, Edinburgh  9 PM
MAY 19  –  Drummonds, Aberdeen  9 PM
MAY 26  –  Bearded Theory’s Spring Gathering, Walton-On-Trent 9 PM
MAY 29  –  Social Bar Doncaster, Doncaster  9 PM
JUN 2  –  Mosborough Music Festival, Don Valley Bowl, Sheffield  8 PM
JUN 9  –  O.L.O.V.O.F. Festival 2018, Cambridge   9 PM
JUN 10  –  Fiddlers Elbow, London
JUL 21  –  Chalfest, Chalford   7 PM
JUL 22  –  Blackthorn Festival, Marple  9 AM
AUG 4  –  Sessions Beer & Gin Festival, Aberdeen  7 PM

Connect with The Winachi Tribe:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music / Soundcloud
Purchase:  iTunes

XOTIC YEYO – Album Review: “Chocolate Decadence”

Chocolate Decadence

Xotic Yeyo is an entertaining band with a cool name, and they’re bound and determined to get our asses on the dance floor with their funky psychedelic rock grooves. The Miami-based threesome consists of Stu Sauce on guitar and lead vocals, Rod Reiter on bass and backing vocals, and Cody Orange on drums. Their upbeat sound is influenced by funk greats like Parliament, Curtis Mayfield, Average White Band, Prince, Gil Scott Heron, Phish, Primus and Jamiroquai, among others.

The guys dropped their debut EP Down 2 Funk in November 2016, which I reviewed, and are now back with a full-length album Chocolate Decadence, featuring 10 tracks guaranteed to funk you up! (The three original tracks from Down 2 Funk are included on Chocolate Decadence.) The artwork for both their EP and album are pretty risqué, and a good indication of their playful attitude and approach to their music: don’t take yourself too seriously, let loose, and have a good time.

Xotic Yeyo

That’s immediately evident on the zany opening track “Heyo Yeyo Mr. Snowman.” It’s a humorous take on a Christmas holiday song, with silly lyrics sung by Stu’s grainy vocals, but when the guys lay down some funky grooves, it all works. And it goes without saying that the video would be as crazy as the song, with a Black Santa passing out small gift boxes filled with snow – a precious commodity in South Florida where it never snows. (Interestingly, both ‘yeyo’ and ‘snow’ are slang for cocaine, but I’m sure it’s meant only as a pun in the video.)

One of the things I really like about Xotic Yeyo is how their songs sound like they’re being played live. On many of their tracks, they launch into what seem like mini jam sessions, giving them a spontaneous lo-fi vibe that sounds fresh and never over-produced. Some great examples of this can be found on tracks like “You, Me & the Funk,” with it’s tongue-in-cheek lyrics “A ménage a trois out on this dance floor. / Gonna funk so hard, you’ll never funk no more.”

Another is Disco Zombies,” an infectious earworm with great guitar riffs and jazzy grooves set to a catchy dance beat. Stu sings of the perils of looking for romance on the dance floor: “Fall in love on the dance floor with disco zombies that take control. Fall in love on the dance floor, they bite your neck and they suck your soul.” And one of the best is “Trip the Lights,” a six and a half minute long funk fest. I love Stu’s wobbly distorted guitar riff that continues throughout the song, backed by Rod’s funky bass and Cody’s strutting drums and crashing cymbals.

The guys take a mellower turn on “Love Triangle,” a pleasing track with a laid back R&B/hip hop tempo. Stu’s guitar work is terrific, and nicely complemented by Rod’s smooth bass line and Cody’s cool percussion. Stu’s gentler vocals sound really nice on this track, especially when harmonizing with Rod’s backing vocals.

The guys sing about who they are and what they do on the delightfully funky “Mothership,” which I think should have been the first track on the album. The band’s funky style is in full swing on this track, with Stu’s awesome guitar riffs in perfect rhythmic harmony with Rod’s funked-up bass. Stu’s quirky, rapid-fire vocals inject a playful hip-hop energy that makes this a fantastic tune. The song’s video shows the guys performing the song and cavorting with friends, clearly enjoying what they’re doing and proving they’re all about having fun and wanting their listeners and fans to have fun too.

Catch Xotic Yeyo at one of these upcoming shows:

Apr 19     Dada – Delray Beach, FL 
Apr 27     Kilted Mermaid – Vero Beach, FL
May 17    Orange Blossom Jamboree – Brooksville, FL 
May 18    The Warrior –  Tallahassee, FL

Connect with the band:  Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram
Stream their music:  Spotify / Apple Music
Chocolate Decadence may be purchased through this site:  http://music.jamdiggy.com/music/1353476855/chocolate-decadence-xotic-yeyo

EP Review: “MAXIMUM HIGH”

One of the things I love about Twitter is discovering great new music and the artists who make it. I continue to be amazed at how much talent there is out there, and a good deal of it is coming from throughout Europe, where rock of all types is alive and well. A new band I recently had the pleasure of discovering when their lead singer contacted me is Maximum High from Athens, Greece. They play an infectiously upbeat style of rock, infused with healthy amounts of soul, funk, punk and blues that give their sound a classic old-school vibe.

maximum-high-band-members

The band consists of Irene Dimopoulou (vocals), Thanos Amorginos (lead guitar and producer), Dimitri Koutsiouris (bass), and Nick Zografos (drums), all seasoned musicians who’ve been a part of the Athens music scene for some time. They recently dropped their debut self-titled EP containing four solid tracks that really showcase their rich sound. The exuberant first track “Long Ago” immediately sets the tone for the EP, with assertive guitar riffs and a strong driving beat. Irene’s smooth, sultry vocals weave through the plucky guitars and vibrating synths, Nick’s cymbals crashing nicely in the background.

The band turns a little bluesy with the standout track “Don’t Let Me Down.” The song starts out with a fine hard rock guitar solo, then settles into an alternating tempo, Irene’s seductive vocals smoldering and soaring along with the intensity of the music. Thanos’ shredded guitar riffs and Dimitri’s bluesy bass provide just the right amount of heft to the song. The guys’ expert musicianship are again strongly evident in the high-energy “Control My Love,” as the guitars are really first-rate and, as always, Irene’s sultry vocals are outstanding. Maximum High gets funky with the delightful “Stay.” The relentlessly catchy dance grooves had me gyrating in my chair as I wrote this!

https://soundcloud.com/maximumhigh

As the band states on their Soundcloud bio, “Maximum High is better listened to on maximum high levels!” I wholeheartedly agree. To learn more about them, check out their website, and show support by following on Twitter and Facebook. Their EP may be purchased on Bandcamp.

EP Review: XOTIC YEYO – “Down 2 Funk”

xotic-yeyo

I’m back in South Florida to shine my spotlight on Xotic Yeyo, a three-piece band that plays a fun and funky style of psychedelic rock. And let’s face it, you just gotta love a band with a name like “Xotic Yeyo.” Formed little more than a year ago (in October 2015), the band consists of Stu Sauce on guitar and lead vocals, Rod Reiter on bass and backing vocals, and Cody Orange on drums. Their upbeat eclectic sound is influenced by funk greats like Parliament, Curtis Mayfield, Average White Band, Prince, Gil Scott Heron, Phish, Primus and Jamiroquai, among others.

The guys dropped their debut EP Down 2 Funk in November, a collection of three infectious tunes guaranteed to funk you up! The artwork on the EP sleeve is a good indication that not only is the band’s sound pretty hot, they also have a playful attitude. The first track “Trip the Lights” is a six and a half minute long funky jam session. I love Stu’s wobbly distorted guitar solo that continues throughout the song, helped along by Rod’s funky bass and Cody’s light percussion that complements, but never overpowers, the track.

Xotic Yeyo lays it all out about who they are and what they do in the delightfully funky gem “Mothership.” The lyrics are so good I have to include a few stanzas:

First time I ever set foot on the Mothership, jamming hard at the bass was the rapid responder – Ring Cody Orange for a drummer. So funky – swear this brotha’s pandemic. Radioactive to the hips and I hope you all catch it. Cause we got that dancing beat that goes on and on and on. Abducted then we’re gone.”

They call me Stu Sauce. Had vision in my verses – some call the blessings a chorus, some call the verses curses. Why people of the planet want to stay or escape, humans feeling alien to their alien race.

So I sought some lifeforms off of the inner-coastal. Like the vice of Miami, we’re called Xotic Yeyo. Taking over your TV, taking over the radio, taking over your airwaves beyond the international. We funk it up intergalactic, and we want the world to know it. Our style is the freshest, and our fresh ain’t ever frozen. The minute that you’re in it and the moment that your dancin.”

The band’s funky style is in full swing on this track, with Stu’s deft guitar riffs in perfect rhythmic harmony with Rod’s funked-up bass. Stu’s quirky, rapid-fire vocals inject a playful hip-hop energy that makes this a hot, compelling tune. The song’s video shows the band performing the song and cavorting with a few friends, clearly enjoying what they’re doing and proving that these guys are all about having fun and wanting their listeners and fans to have fun too.

“Disco Zombies” is a hook-laden funk fest, with great guitar riffs and jazzy grooves set to a catchy dance beat. There’s no way even the biggest wallflower could hear this song and not want to dance!

To learn more about Xotic Yeyo, check out their website. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook, and subscribe to their YouTube channel. Stream their music on Spotify and Soundcloud, and purchase it on their website,  iTunes or other music platforms.

Artist Spotlight – Sherpa

Well, here I am, once again reviewing another band from Europe, a wellspring of so much great music. The latest is Sherpa, a unique indie hip-hop/rock band from Bergen, Norway.  As with many international bands, Sherpa’s sound is a fusion of music influences from multiple cultures and genres: hip hop, indie rock, 70’s Persian, funk and jazz. As the band states, their infectious, high-energy music style is “a conglomeration of music from the seven mountains, hovering in a place between Gorillaz and The Roots.”

I spoke by e-mail with band frontman Babak Ziai, who was born in Tehran, Iran after the 1979 revolution.  He stated that his parents were very liberal and didn’t want to live under the theocratic government, so they emigrated to Norway.  Being an aspiring musician and lover of hip hop, he joined forces with Norwegian guitarist Johannes Vaage to form Sherpa in 2012. They subsequently added two musicians from the Bergen indie rock and jazz music scene – bassist Nils Henrik Sagvåg and drummer Tore Ljøkelsøy – to complete the band lineup.

Ziai explained that they wanted to create music that wasn’t bound by one specific genre, but rather fusing different genres to create an original eclectic sound that is raw and beautiful, using live musical instruments, and anchored in hip hop, indie and jazz.  When I asked Ziai how they chose the name “Sherpa” he explained that “Bergen is surrounded by seven mountains [it’s known as the city of seven mountains] and sherpas go places where the average man does not go. Sherpa literally means ‘man from the East’ and has a mystical esoteric aspect to it.”

Though Sherpa has released only a handful of songs, they’re all awesome. One of their first hits was “Rabbit,” an incredibly catchy tune with funky bass and jazzy hip hop beats, plus a bit of reggae vibe thrown in. Would not have expected such a funky song to come from a Norwegian/Persian band but I love it! Wishing it was longer, I kept hitting replay. It’s the kind of song they could jam with for 15 minutes at a concert.

Their new single “The Mind,” released in May 2016, is a hyperkinetic gem of danceable hip hop that examines the chaos of the mind. “It’s an interaction, a fracture in alignment between cultures like the Pharoahs and the Mayans. A place in our thoughts like Zion. Pure like the crystals in your tears when your cryin’. Gravity is holding you down, but you’re flyin’ and definin’. Chains will bring you back like a lion.  Time is changing like the state of your mind.”

The song opens with a brief funky bass guitar riff, then explodes into crushing hip hop beats, heavy bass and jazzy brass. Ziai raps at a rapid-fire pace and, halfway through, Persian music influences are introduced, creating a rich, complex sound that is quite exhilarating.  The video, filmed in London’s busy Camden Market, has Ziai singing the song while walking through the crowded market, further emphasizing the song’s frenetic intensity.

Another fine new track “Mantra” features exuberant synth-pop interspersed with segments of rapid-fire rapping in the style of the virtual band Gorillaz.

Sherpa is working on new music and plans to release their debut studio album in Spring 2017, and I can’t wait! Support these guys by following on Facebook and Twitter, and listening to their music on Soundcloud.