New Music Review – The Folkadelics – Not a Folk Album
By Ryan Neeley exclusively for Appalachian Jamwich
photos by Ryan Neeley
It’s all in the name. While this saying does hold true in many circumstances and situations, nothing could be further from the truth when talking about Brooklyn NY based band The Folkadelics; however, the name of their new release, Not a Folk Album, clears things up just a little. The Folkadelics are anything but 100% folk – They are a pleasurable mix of Jimmy Cliff reggae fire, Dylan-esque songwriting, the ska-punk feel of Bradley Noel and Sublime, and Ohio Players funk with a female lead vocalist, beat-boxing, four part harmonies, horns and a wah-wah mandolin, and their 1st full length offering, Not a Folk Album, is a proper introduction to this talented group of musicians.
The Folkadelics are headed up by female vocalist Danny Faraone, a natural on stage with a soulful, Gwen Stefani-esque voice, Sam Miller on vocals, guitar, beatbox, harmonicas and clarinet, Gavin Cummings on vocals, mandolin, and trumpet, Drew Kelly on vocals, bass and trombone, and Tom Barraco on drums, and the new release is packed full of special guests, including drummer Tom Barraco’s father, Rob Barraco, keyboardist for Dark Star Orchestra , percussionist Ian Cummings, a former member of the band, Michael Miller, father of Sam Miller, and Patrick Cummings, Gavins father, who founded Brian Moore Guitars and iGuitar. It was recorded by Sean “Shamus” McCabe, the engineer and producer for Minutes Like Ours, and was produced and mixed by indie producer Steve Wall (Fikus, Matisyahu, Lucius), who apprenticed and now collaborates with engineer John Siket (Moe., Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon, Dave Matthews Band) at Gardentone Studios in Brooklyn, NY.
2012 has been a banner year for the group originally formed in Ithaca, NY, starting with a sold out New York City concert cruise. They were the opening act for Rusted Root, The Werks and The Wailers, and performed at some of the most popular festivals in the country, including Dark Star Jubilee, Strange Creek Campout, Catskill Chill, Finger Lakes Grassroots Music Festival, where they had previously won a 2011 battle of the bands competition. They finished their first major tour with a much anticipated headlining performance at The Brooklyn Bowl.
The album opens with Nice Guy Felon, a song with a ska feeling and reggae backbeat, introducing the listener to the band’s driving beats and urban style set against Faraone’s soothing voice. The first single released off the album, Vinyl Wax follows, a radio-ready tune highlighting dual lead vocals and a catchy hook, with Faraone and Miller seamlessly trading verses throughout. Other highlights on the album include BiPolar Blues, a song with a basic blues beat, which is the only thing basic about it – Blaring horns, beatboxing and amazing harmonies make this a groove-heavy funk favorite on the album; Maintain, an uplifiting song with unique chord progressions and drum fills; and the Johnny Cash hit Folsom Prison Blues, with Rob Baracco on keys. Folsom is the most commerically viable of all the songs on the album, though none of the tracks could be considered sub-par. Faraone’s vocals singing this naturally gritty song are phenomenal, and the rest of the band provide ample harmonies, adding to the fullness of the song. Psycho Babble is an amusing, just-for-fun selection with a Duke Ellington jazz standard chorus – “It don’t mean a thing if you ain’t got that swing”, but the shining star on the album is the finale, Siraj’s Song. With simply a guitar and two part harmonies from Faraone and Miller, the song tells the story of a best friend who became a soldier and was killed on his base under questionable circumstances, with a line of the song repeating “and the government won’t tell us why, no Uncle Sam won’t tell us why.” It’s a powerful, organic singer/songwriter 60’s style protest song that does fit the bill of what you would think of a traditional folk song. “Yeah, that one is all true,” songwriter/guitarist Sam Miller stated in a recent conversation with Appalachian Jamwich, “A good friend of mine was shot in his sleep at a Navy base in Maryland. We never found out what really happened.”
Not a Folk Album is a very easy to listen to offering that appeals to a wide range of audiences and has a certain amount of commercial appeal that will do nothing but help the band gain additional exposure and fans. They are very unique in the style of music they play, with complex “rapped” lyrical arrangements and beatboxing sharing the stage with a soulful songstress and reggae/funk fills. The release is less “jam-heavy” than the group’s live shows, which is understandable considering it is a studio effort, but any true “jamband” fan can appreciate what they bring to the table – Music that leads instead of follows, creating their own sound instead of copycating off someone else’s success and style – The Folkadelics are NOT just another folk band and this release is definitely, without a doubt Not a Folk Album.
FOR A FREE DOWNLOAD OF THE ALBUM WHEN IT COMES OUT ON 12/4/12, FOLLOW THESE DIRECTIONS:
LIKE the Folkadelics on Facebook. (click HERE)
SIGN UP for the bands email list (click HERE)
Go to the bands Facebook page and POST A COMMENT about the album.
Upon completing these steps, you will receive instructions on how to download the ENTIRE album for FREE!