Thursday, November 4, 2010
Album Review: Otis Grove: The Runk
Remember crunk? That mix of booming 808 bass, drum machines, sinister samples and screamed, one-syllable chants that gave birth to countless strip club anthems ("Get Low" anyone?) and provided the soundtrack to countless nightclub brawls? Which would account for about 80 percent of Lil Jon and the Eastside Boys' music. Well maybe not 80 percent. But at least 50 percent tops.
Well make way for runk, a mix of funk and rock birthed by Boston trio Otis Grove. Drawing on those genres as well as R&B, jazz and hip hop, the band comes up with some truly unique sounds. Album opener "Monark," with its blistering, distorted riffs and maniacal organ, sounds like Metallica dropping in on a New Orleans church service, while the collision of twin guitar solos and whirling, eerie synthesizers sound like a long lost Red Hot Chili Peppers track.
The laid back guitar licks and bright organs of "Uncle Runky" would feel right at home at a afternoon barbecue. "Waiting," crafts a seductive mix of minimalist licks and sharp drums before surrendering midway to a monstrous groove of floor-shaking bass, fiery, frenetic guitar solos and a wailing wall of organ sound. Brash funk freakout, "Fausto" with its fuzzy distortion, rubber-band bass, is another standout track.
Otis Grove are clearly talented musicians, able to both improvise and snap back into the melody at a moment's notice. Sam Gilman coaxes a endlessly array of sounds out of his organ, electronic piano and mellotron, while guitarist Tyler Drabick and drummer Blake Goedde display enough versatility to keep with Gilman's experimentation. It would be interesting to hear what the band would sound like with words and vocal melodies. But Otis Grove have provided more than enough ways for listeners to get runk.