PHILADELPHIA, PA (Dec. 01, 2017) — Muscle Tough announces the release of Magical Achievements — their first full-length album — a set of adventurous funk-fusion compositions which lean heavily on dance grooves and bizarre sounds. The December 15 release will be celebrated at Johnny Brenda’s with a two-set performance by Muscle Tough, supported by local pop-dance band MINKA, beginning at 8 p.m. Tickets available here: https://goo.gl/3Bz2aC
Muscle Tough is an instrumental trio featuring Joe Baldacci on drums, Jonathan Colman on bass and Ross Bellenoit on guitar; all of whom are heavily active members of the Philadelphia music community. Baldacci spent a number of years as a member of bands like DRGN KING and Elevator Fight, has produced for Hop Along and Swift Technique, and is also currently the live drummer for Nik Greeley & The Operators. He also played drums on the opening track of Kendrick Lamar’s Untitled Unmastered record. Colman is a regular bassist for Ben Arnold and Sonja Sofya, and has also performed/collaborated with Kate Faust and Flyermile. Bellenoit has spent his years producing records for various local acts (Ben Kessler, Aaron Parnell Brown, Ginger Coyle), is a long-time collaborator of Philly songwriters such as Birdie Busch and Chris Kasper, all while continuing to pursue his solo career (now 7 records deep since 2010) as a singer/songwriter.
As a trio, their modus operandi is “futuristic funk fusion”, trying to combine bizarre sounds with heavy dance grooves. After steadily gigging at local jazz hotspot TIME since they 1st formed in 2014, the band released their first EP, Greasin’ Up The Mediocrity Wheel in the spring of 2016, and a one-off single Trump Dump released on the verge of the 2016 election.
Having recorded Magical Achievements at Turtle Studios in Philadelphia, the band is on the verge of becoming the next jazz/jam mega-group to emerge from the area. Formed in 2014 by Bellenoit, the trio steadily gigged throughout the region and made big impressions. So much so that some jam luminaries such as Jon Fishman (Phish), John Medeski (Medeski, Martin & Wood), Eli Winderman (Dopapod) and the horn section of Snarky Puppy have joined them on various stages throughout the last two years.
After a brief snippet of a spontaneous, live-in-studio jam, the record takes off with a brisk composition entitled “Text Your Dad” where Bellenoit unleashes high-pitched angular riffs over a propulsive rhythm that gains momentum throughout. The band embraces some of their progressive rock influences in the odd-metered “Albino Peacock (Reverse Black Swan)”, written by Baldacci. “Field Trip Balls” initially sounds like a video-game soundtrack where the player keeps losing, until the listener is transported to a sort of “alien robot disco” where the bizarre meets the infectious. Towards the end, “Won’t You Slap Me?” showcases what Colman and Bellenoit call “the switch”, where the two pitch their respective instruments to opposing octaves to sound like each other, so that Colman can unleash some serious improvising, foregoing the much-maligned genre of “bass solos”.