Legendary San Antone funk crew emerges with DJ Shadow-assembled anthology.
Soon to be topping yours truly's list of archivally minded 2002 releases is this two-disc set of unvarnished, unrestrained, and (for the most part) unreleased funk. Whether or not there was something happening on the musical astral plane this year is hard to say, but it can't be mere coincidence that you also had labels like N.Y.C.'s Soul Fire and Brooklyn's Daptone digging into the funk 'n' soul vaults, as well as serving up like-minded contemporary artists. Shoot, even '70s legends the Jimmy Castor Bunch got a well-timed anthologizing courtesy of RCA's 16 Slabs of Funk. 2002 made for a funky good time, indeed. So what you get here is San Antonio instrumental legend MATSG, whose handful of early-'70s singles has long been coveted (and bootlegged) by funk-soul collectors and DJs. Soul Gen acolyte DJ Shadow made a pilgrimage to Texas to find the faces behind the funk, ultimately rounding up all existing tapes, including a slew of previously unheard material, for this masterpiece (which includes his detailed liner notes). If nothing else, the throbbing, whomp 'n' grind psychedelic sprawl of the title cut is a must-listen. Plenty of raw JB's- styled grooves and Booker T. & the MG's southern-fried hoodoo to go around, as well—roll over George Clinton, and tell James Brown the news. FRED MILLS
Formerly of Sacramento, now residing in the steaming funk jungles of Brooklyn, and made up of refugees from hard punkers the Yah Mo's and "out" rockers !!!, Out Hud will put the "post" into your morning Toasties, like a mainline shot of brown sugar to the cortex. Several critically slobbered-over singles preceded this, the debut full-length, making it one of the year's most highly anticipated indie releases. Now add "highly regarded" and "most rump-shaking" to the r鳵m鮠The group channels everything from a Certain Ratio's punk-funk ("Hair Dude, You're Stepping on My Mystique") and New Order's vintage electro-throb ("My Two Nads") to the classic On-U Sound dub-hop stylee ("Dad, There's a Little Phrase Called Too Much Information") and Can's trance-y prog-jazz Krautrock ("This Bum's Paid"). And yes, before you ask, those are real song titles. In the final estimation, this 38-minute album unfolds effortlessly and seamlessly, layering synth- and cello-strewn soundscapes against insistent percussion manifestos, simultaneously freeing the proverbial ass and mind. Post-rock? Post-punk? Post-puh! We don't need no steenkin' post-crap! Nevermind all the revivalists, here's Out Hud. FRED MILLS
Living Is the Best Revenge
Steel City garage rockers return with killer split covers/originals collection.
Having been a fan of Pittsburgh garage-punk kings the Cynics since their early '80s singles on Dionysus and their long-playing debut Blue Train Station, I found myself running precariously low on soul coal during their '90s hiatus. Then word crept out a year or so ago that they were turning up at garage-punk fests like "Cavestomp" and "Las Vegas Grind," prompting vivid memories of a gig some 15 years ago when I was front and center to witness the gents torch a Carolina pizza-joint-turned-punk-club. I mean, seriously, the stench of charred pepperoni is still in my nostrils! So just like Jack, they're baaacckk, whipping up stellar covers of the Electric Prunes, the Satans and the 13th Floor Elevators—what would a Cynics album be without the band genuflecting before the altars of their sonic mentors?—alongside a slew of primo originals. "Turn Me Loose" is classic high-octane Cynics—overdriven fuzz guitars, distorto-choogle harp, Yardbirds rave-up dynamics, and manic vocal yelps—while the 12-string pop musings of "Last Day" handily revisit the combo's other key motif, jangly folk-rock. Other picks to click include the "Psycho"-edged "The Tone" and the interstellar hard-rock jam "Shine," which sounds like Coltrane crossed with the old Alice Cooper Group. But there ain't a duff track in the bunch—suffice to say, my little Ray-O-Vac heart has been summarily recharged. FRED MILLS