Pharrell Williams, Bruno Mars, and the like have made a living off of bringing funk back into the mainstream. Their version of funk however, is not the same funk that your parents grew up on. It’s backed by heavy production, glamorous pop hooks, and a clear virtuoso standing ahead of the semi-artificial jazz. It isn’t to say that modern pop-funk is detestable – those stars are uniting families and friends of all ages, shapes, and sizes. But the newly spotlighted genre brings up a nostalgic question: where’s the humble, jazzy funk that the world used to know and love?
Enter Vulfpeck, a Los Angeles-based revolving door of friends putting old-school jazz back into modern funk with their third studio album Mr Finish Line. Their one-take, lively zest garners similar feelings to natural group talents like Sly & The Family Stone or The Isley Brothers. Miscellaneous soul-singing features provide their own unique flavor to Mr Finish Line‘s respective tracks, while the core Vulfpeck group follows a classically jazzy hierarchy with no particular member asserting themselves as “the lead.” The confusing inclusion of some conceptually outlying tracks like “Tee Time” and “Captain Hook” put a damper on the overarching groovy vibe, but Vulfpeck’s remaining all-for-one, camaraderie-centric track list radiates unfiltered, casual congeniality that your whole family can rally around.
Favorite Tracks: Running Away, Grandma, Baby I Don’t Know Oh Oh, Birds of a Feather We Rock Together, Hero Town