Tuesday, January 24, 2012

“Pickin’ Up The Pieces” Of A Funky Debut Album

I’m an avowed fan of retro soul. There are many artists, including Raphael Saadiq, Mayer Hawthorne, Anthony Hamilton, Angie Stone, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and of course, the late Amy Winehouse, who have recorded some excellent music influenced by the sounds of the 60s & 70s. Fitz & The Tantrums are an LA based soul band who fit right into the genre, but take it to new heights. Their 2010 release, Pickin’ Up The Pieces, mixes the sound of the classic Motown & Stax era with a touch of indie pop. It’s a funky, soulful delight from start to finish.

Lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick, who also plays keyboards, formed the group in 2008, shortly after a breakup. He decided to channel the emotions he was feeling into music, so he began writing & gathering the band together. The album was recorded in his living room, giving the record a gritty, homemade feeling. The funky, driving “MoneyGrabber” is probably familiar to music fans, having been featured in several TV shows & movies. But the entire album is filled with gems, like the keyboard driven opener “Breakin' The Chains of Love,” and the excellent title track, with Fitzpatrick & the amazing Noelle Scaggs (who also plays percussion) trading vocals.

In addition to the cool grooves, there really is an eclectic vibe to the music. Some of the songs even drop a little bit of an 80s New Wave sound into the mix. What’s really interesting is that there’s no lead guitar here, with the saxophone at the forefront on many of the arrangements. Aside from Fitzpatrick & Scaggs, the band also features Joseph Karnes on bass, James King on saxophone, flute, trumpet, and harmonica, Jeremy Ruzumna on keyboards and John Wicks on drums & percussion. Chris Seefried, who also co-wrote a couple of the songs with Fitzpatrick, produced the album.

Pickin’ Up The Pieces is a great debut from this excellent band. If you’re a fan of classic soul with a little bit of a modern twist, you can’t go wrong with Fitz & The Tantrums. And if you like their music, you can check out their EP Songs For A Break Up, Vol 1 (2009), which features two songs not included on the album. The group also contributed a cover of the classic “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do)”  to the soundtrack of the 2011 remake of Arthur. 

Here's a link to a performance of "Breakin' The Chains Of Love"

No comments:

Post a Comment