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Arts & Culture

CD of the Month: Menahan Street Band - "The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band"

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Dunham/Daptone

The names in the liner notes in the latest from Brooklyn, NY’s Menahan Street Band may not jump out at you at first, but if you’ve been following the modern luminaries of soul, funk, and afrobeat over the past two decades, you’ve definitely heard them play. The members of this NYC instrumental supergroup share a wealth of credits, from backing greats like Sharon Jones (as The Dap-Kings) and Charles Bradley, to filling the rosters of Antibalas, The Budos Band, and The Roots, to studio contributions with Amy Winehouse, Dan Auerbach, Bruno Mars, and Mark Ronson, to name a few. A crew with this kind of CV sets a certain expectation, and on The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band, their latest album in nearly a decade, they deliver, with vibe-heavy tunes for anything from dancing to head-nodding contemplation.

The fourteen-track new album zips through moods with an efficient “get in and get out” approach – only a handful of cuts top the 3-minute-plus mark. Their pedigrees in moving feet and shaking hips shine on uptempo numbers like “The Duke” and “Starchaser,” while their proven sample-ready grooves stretch out on “Devil’s Respite” and “Parlor Trick,” the dusty drums and tight basslines just itching to be made into loops. Everybody on the album is bringing their A-game to the table, but I’d like to give special recognition to the horn section, who brilliantly carry the melodic core of the album. Trying not to get some of their soaring lines stuck in your head is a task best left unfulfilled.

The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band is a welcome and excellent return from this Brooklyn quintet, and WYSO is proud to name it our March 2021 CD of the Month. You can receive a copy of this album, and support your local public radio station, with a donation of $84. Make a contribution to WYSO today and support your home for music discovery, public service journalism and so much more.