The Budos Band
Listening to The Budos Band is almost like picking up a soundtrack from a ’70s blaxploitation film. Wah-wah pedals, organs and horn lines dominate each song, and the production even has the proper vintage sound for that extra bit of authenticity. Late ’60s soul melds into ’70s funk to create such an awesome mix, you’ll be hard-pressed to pinpoint your favorite part.
Self-described as Afro-soul, The Budos Band takes influence from Ethiopian music, adds some jazzy flair and layers funk sensibilities on top to create a sound that has me tapping my toes so much my cats think I’m nuts. (Listening, I also realize I need an afro and curse the day I was born a cracker-ass-cracker with zero soul.)
It’s a wonder The Budos Band manages to coordinate tours at all, given that it has 10 core members and all kinds of guest artists on its albums and in live performances. But that kind of manpower is necessary to play funk music right.
With four studio albums and plenty of B-sides and singles floating around, The Budos Band has gained popularity exponentially, and why not? The band is not only talented, but super-fun.
Singer Eric Johnson’s folk-rock act Fruit Bats toiled in obscurity throughout the mid- to late-’90s, but was so loved by the indie-rock set that its subsequent explosion as one of the bigger smaller-name bands was inevitable. Even my girlfriend—who only likes about four things—is into this band, a pretty good indication the music is alright.
Touring in the early 2000s with rock titans Modest Mouse and New Mexico’s own The Shins added credibility to the band’s reputation. It wasn’t long before Fruit Bats garnered enough attention and support to headline shows of its own. Its first three releases brought mild success, but 2009’s The Ruminant Band on Seattle imprint Sub Pop Records skyrocketed Fruit Bats into the minds and hearts of the masses.
Think Wilco meets folk for this band’s subdued catalog. A singsong nature and subtle measures of folk precision meet for catchy pop gems that operate outside the sometimes drab confines of this increasingly oversaturated genre.
In other words, Fruit Bats stands out in the sea of mediocrity that plagues today’s suddenly cool, way-too-hip-for-its-own-good folk-rock scene. The music industry shovels so much of this shit down our throats that, most of the time, even telling it apart isn’t worth the trouble.
Rest assured, Fruit Bats have labored (with love, no less) for long enough that the members know a thing or two—including how to look like every band in the scene, but still stand out from the crowd.
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