Menahan Street Band - The Exciting Sounds Of Menahan Street Band LP
Label : Daptone Records
The new year has already seen a flurry of album titles with throwback vibes (Introducing… and For the first time, to name a few), and Thomas Brenneck’s Menahan Street Band brings another with The Exciting Sounds of. No doubt the title fits the bill for what’s inside the wrapper. Brenneck is a 20-year veteran composer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist, primarily in the soul, R&B, and funk realm. Perhaps best known for his association with Daptone Records and its various sub-labels and house bands, Brenneck’s Menahan Street Band was the vehicle behind sorely missed soul shouter, Charles Bradley. They also periodically backed the late Sharon Jones and some of Menahan’s earlier tracks have been sampled by the likes of JAY-Z and Kid Cudi.
The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band makes for a cohesive listen, even though a scan of the song titles (“Cabin Fever,” “Snow Day,” “The Starchaser”) makes it look like it may be a mixed bag of sample ready sounds. Not only does that not hold true, but the song’s titles rarely convey their contents, “The Starchaser” being an exception, as the downdraft of funk guitar and descending organ chords are strafed by the horn section in hot pursuit. “Cabin Fever” also has a spaced-out feel, so perhaps the cabin is of an X-Wing fighter and not a shack out in the woods. There are some under two-minute snippets that don’t add much to proceedings here, but the more involved tracks are where The Exciting Sounds of shines brightest. “The Starfighter” holds course as the best example, but the syncopated rhythms of “Snow Day” evolve to a flurry of activity shot through with sunshine towards the end. “The Duke” also serves as a showcase of the band’s talent, with some splashy single-handed organ runs thrown in for good measure. Most touching though is the minor key closing track that soothingly celebrates Bradley’s front-man contribution to the band and their various labels. I was fortunate to catch one of Bradley’s last shows, no doubt backed by many of these musicians, and their “missing man formation” of a closer in “There Was a Man” is a deeply touching one.