Vulfpeck – Thrill Of The Arts [10.09.2015]


When I introduce one of my friends to Vulfpeck, I tell them that if they want to fully comprehend the music, they should listen to Stuff.  Stuff was essentially piano-driven, danceable funk; a ’70s project of pianist Richard Tee. Propelled by a tightly wound rhythm section, Stuff was said to exude kinetic musical energy that had been missing since the departure of mid-century Harlem Swing Bands. Stuff proved itself to be a collaboration of the best session musicians in the biz, and soon was sought after to record with the likes of Aretha, John Lennon, and Joe Cocker.

On Thrill of the Arts, Vulfpeck’s first full-length LP, primary composers Jack Stratton and Woody Goss diversify the Stuff model and supplement with Joe Dart’s turbocharged bass, which prominently features in lines and fills. The first track, “Welcome to Vulf Records”, draws heavily from Richard Tee’s sound, leading off with a characteristically bright piano, but quickly veers in a more compositionally sophisticated direction. Intricately crafted with concise movements and Zappa-esque vibraphone fills, this short track is a surge of Richard Tee meets the Mothers of Invention. The piece comes to a close with a slowed-down version of Outro, recorded once again with punchy saxophone by Joey Dosik (pronounced Dah-sik), and finishes with the Vulf Records coda; a reward for the loyal fan.

Rather than waiting for a modern-day Aretha to invite them into the studio, Vulf is bringing in their own rotating cast of vocalists. Theo Katzman sings on Back Pocket with co-author Christine Hucal, as well as on Christmas in L.A. (this marks its third Vulf release in some form). Both of these are essentially Stratton-ized pop songs. Straying from piano-driven funk, “Back Pocket” is more stripped down, focused on vocals and sustained by Joe Dart and the percussion. And as a pop song, it could equally turn out soulless or grooving; the rhythm section makes or breaks it. In many ways, Dart’s bass and Mark Dover’s closing clarinet trio are what makes “Back Pocket” work for me.

This album also includes a long-awaited repeat performance by soul/gospel singer Antwaun Stanley, whose melodic flexibility and range are unmatched. Finally they give him a straight funk track. Funky Duck, a title reminiscent of Rufus Thomas, bears a combination of low-down dirty funk and smooth vocals that reminds me of Stevie’s “Do Yourself A Favor“.  While Antwaun does not have the opportunity to croon in the way he has on past Vulf releases, his fills and scatting during the song’s hook demonstrate a virtuosic combination of vocal strength, smoothness, and range. Get him in the band full time.

Another strong track is “Game Winner”, a Joey Dosik tune that is masterfully re-recorded with Charles Jones’ earnest gospel vocals (and Fender Rhodes). Jones’ major claim to fame is that he has performed with neo-soul star Raphael Saadiq. “Game Winner” also features Dosik on piano and background vocals, as well as Motown guitarist David T. Walker (played guitar on the Jacksons’ “ABC”). This one could go big. To quote Freshest Clams’ founder Jacob Diskin, “This is baby-making music.”

My favorite track on the album is “Conscious Club”. It sounds to me like Nile Rodgers and Richard Tee teamed up to turn “Square Biz” into a gospel exercise tape. This upbeat disco-like tune features conga drumming by Richie Rodriguez, who performed with Tito Puente and was a former instructor of band member Theo Katzman. This is also a standout track for Joe Dart. An “instrumental” version, this song will be getting lyrics in a future release.

Thrill of the Arts is the most advanced and musically diverse of Vulfpeck’s releases thus far. They dabble in soul, gospel, rhythm and blues, classical, jazz, funk, disco. In their debut LP, Vulfpeck affirms their role as the amuse bouche of eclectic piano-driven funk. These songs have all the technicality and innovation of a jazz fusion performance, packaged into concise, easily digestible tracks that leave you wanting more. Every song ends so abruptly, pregnant with the extended jam that you can almost anticipate. Catch it on their next tour.

-J Skoff


Additional Tracks:

The fourth track is a minimalist remake of Rango from their first EP, featuring biting slide guitar by Blake Mills, and perhaps a vocoder at the climax of his solo. “Walkies” is a short burst of classic Vulf funk, a more compact Speedwalker with barking dogs.  “Smile Meditation” is a low-key groove with Tyler Duncan on whistle. It sounds like someone in the band was on a smooth jazz kick, maybe spent a little too much time on 107.3 The Wave.

The album closes with Mushy Krongold’s ode to guided meditation and flatulence. This is not the same side of Mushy we have seen in the past, promoting Shabbos (his way) and blowing the shofar at Beth Am’s alternative children’s service. Perhaps Mushy is toning down the religiosity for his first Vulfpeck crossover.


Thee Oh Sees – Mutilator Defeated At Last


Imagine if the attitude of a 90’s Grunge band made sweet love to the energy of Muse, and then had an affair with Radiohead’s spaciness. That holy child would be named Thee Oh Sees.

In May 2015 they released their most recent album, and 14th to date, Mutilator Defeated At Last. Going through a track-by-track review of this album would serve no purpose because how often can you possibly read “this song is really cool”?

This album is a refreshing change of pace for modern Rock music. It has a perfect blend of psychedelic and punk rock (not actually “punk” but still fast and in your face). Upon listening you’ll go back and forth between wanting to get up and jump around to forgetting what planet you’re on.

Mark Cartier, thanks for the tunes. Clam on.


-David GALimidi




James Brown & Luciano Pavarotti “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World”


In 2002 the The Godfather of Soul collaborated with the King of the High C’s to create a stunning performance of the James Brown classic, “It’s a Man’s Man’s Man’s World” (no typo).

It’s a shame that Opera has sort of become a lost art when it’s one of the most beautiful representations of pure emotion in music. Its popularity tends to lie within an older crowd. But if you are going to know any name of the entire genre, it’s Luciano Pavarotti. His voice is so robust, yet also chilling. Recordings of him singing classics such as “Vesti La Giubba” and “Ave Maria” are not hidden amongst the internet (seriously look them up).

James Brown has a voice that makes you levitate. He was called “The Hardest Working Man in Show Business” and rightfully so. The man was a perfectionist, and legend has it that he even fired band members just for making eye contact with him during performances. Because James Brown did not consider himself to be the main focus of the show, the music was. And if you did not see it that way, he wanted nothing to do with you.

Even though these two gentleman were around the same age it’s still a mystery who was more starstruck on this magical evening.

Thank you Sara Hyman for this glorious post. Clam on.

-David Galimidi

Steve Bailey & Victor Wooten – A Chick From Corea



The bass is an instrument that seldom gets the credit it deserves. It’s hard to imagine that someone like Steve Bailey is not a household name. Being able to shred on this instrument is something that people usually only hear stories about. And here Steve Bailey is doing so on a fretless bass for that matter.

Victor Wooten needs no introduction. He has been considered one of the best (if not THE best) of all time on the bass.  Now try to imagine these two jamming with “The Rhythm Devils” (Bill Kreutzmann & Mickey Hart) of The Grateful Dead and see if you can still sleep at night.

-David Galimidi

The Main Squeeze – Sun Is Shining (Bob Marley Cover)



Have you ever wished that you could watch a music video and have complete freedom over which musician you wanted to focus on? Some people do a lot of hearing with their eyes, as it’s easier to distinguish between different instruments when you see them being played. Well, now you can be your own cinematographer with Freshest Clams 360 degree music videos. You can have a full Virtual Reality experience with the help of an affordable Google Cardboard head mount, or if you want to ball out you can use an Oculus Rift. It’s like being in the middle of the studio with the band, as the video moves to wherever you turn your head. Also, coming soon we’ll be posting a link to a desktop video where you can zoom and change the video projection.

We were so excited when one of the clammiest bands around, The Main Squeeze, agreed to be the first band featured here. They are an incredible band from Chicago. I first saw them on a side stage at Bonaroo in 2012. The stage had lounge chairs all around, and me and my friends were planning on watching some relaxing music while laying down and taking a breather. Within half of the first song, everyone was on their feet and raging. Since then, I have seen them around 10 times, and every time is better than the last. If you get the chance to see them live, do not pass it up. The Main Squeeze does an exceptional job at improvising, and each show is truly unique.

This is the first of 6 videos with The Main Squeeze shot in the exquisite IV Labs studio, so check back soon to see 360 videos of their original material, including an unreleased song from their upcoming album Mind Your Head


The Duval Project – Bootsy Call (2013)


“Stanky.” – J.W. Diskin

The Duval Project is an English neo-soul band, based in Bristol, U.K. and modeled to approximate the funk-jazz-soul-groove of modern R&B artists like D’Angelo, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott. The band’s leader and mastermind, Gary Alesbrook, honed his style playing with neo-soul musician Raphael Saadiq, whose influence is present throughout the Duval Project catalog.  The lineup features bassist Richie Blake, drummer Danny Cox, keyboardist Andy Nowak, vocalist Marie Lister, and the versatile Alesbrook alternating between trumpet, flugelhorn, and keyboard.  Recently, the band has been experimenting with hip hop artists and a string section on some tracks.

This song invokes the name of the great Bootsy Collins, who earned credibility as James Brown’s bass player during the seminal Sex Machine-Super Bad period, later becoming an iconic member of George Clinton’s P-Funk ensemble.

Reminiscent of Soulive’s signature sound, “Bootsy Call” is a laid-back, grooving funk track that highlights Alesbrook’s dexterity on both keys and horns.

– JS

Dr. Dre – Compton: A Soundtrack (2015)



In a fit of confusion, my head swung around like a sacrilegious chant had just been uttered. Had my friend really just said the words, “Dr. Dre’s new album” in succession? At first, I passed it off as a jape, a trick; “Good one”, I thought. But then I got angry, “That’s really not something to joke about”.

It’s been years since the music listening community had to come to terms with Detox’s scrapping and even longer since rumors of its inception surfaced. What instantly became one of the most anticipated works in the music industry slowly dwindled to a fable poking you in the back of your mind, reminding you of what could have been. In it’s place were released two mediocre singles, I need a Doctor and Kush, that, like most mediocre singles do, garnered much commercial success and a few 100 millions view on YouTube, then quickly lost all notoriety, unable to keep up with the attention span of pop-radio audiences. Though maybe the death of Detox was for the best. Dr. Dre himself admitted the album wasn’t up to his standards stating, “It just wasn’t good.”

“Yeah,” my friend continued, “It’s called Compton: A Soundtrack.” And so that night upon my return home, I immediately rushed to my computer and on to a certain internet community of swashbuckling music marauders.. And there it was. The first link titled Compton by Dr. Dre, with date confirmation just a few pixels to the right, [2015]. Earlier in the evening, my friend further explained that it was announced only a week prior to its release on Dr. Dre’s Apple Music radio show, The Pharmacy. However, by the time the album was in my iTunes library and on my iPod, it was late, and having been living in the halfhearted shadow of I Need a Doctor and Kush for six and a half years, I had little motivation to give the album an immediate listen. I shut my computer and went to sleep.

The next day, on the subway on my way to work, I began my first listen to Compton. What I first heard was a resounding trumpet call, kept intriguing by three precision beats of orchestral drums, and then brought to crescendo by the introduction of a slew of symphonic sounds, greatly resembling the 20th Century Fox theme. This brief moment, unfamiliar to the hydraulics-powered, funk-drunk tones made famous by Dre, and that would become a staple of the 90s/early 2000s hip-hop era, gunned me into a deeply penetrating and hurtfully real description of life in the ghetto and the emotional turmoil and burden faced by Dre during his assent to hip-hop stardom.

The album is introduced by a brief oral history of Compton, an attempt to bring the American dream into fruition by the black community only for it to dissolve into an extension of the L.A. ghetto. Then, the explosive momentum of sounds uniquely unfamiliar to the Dre I was expecting send me billowing down the I-710 highway south from downtown Los Angeles. The sun is high, the smog is thick, and palm trees pass through the rearview. Dre takes exit 10 onto Rosecrans Avenue, bringing me into the heart of Compton and to the front of the mind of a ghetto kid with great ambitions and nowhere to go but dead ends. Dre, along with rappers of lyrical pungency including the likes of Kendrick Lamar, meticulously paints the socio-economic warzone that surrounded the young Dre; a community raised to depend on gang violence and crime for survival.

While life in the ghetto is no new topic for hip-hop artists, (Nas’ Illmatic, Kendrick’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City), there is a raw, inexplicable culture shock felt from Compton that kept me listening to it on loop every day as I went to and from work. Every beat keeps the engine growling, winding me through the turns and alleys of the L.A. ghetto. Where Dre would take his newfound mastery of carefully nuanced and highly progressive production techniques was, with every track, as unpredictable as a life ravaged by police brutality and gang violence.

Each beat is layered with rhythmic and melodic castings of the textures of Compton. Steady percussive grooves under the steal ringing of guitar is the chain line efforts of survival in Compton, the beads of sweat forming on your temple under the beating of an L.A. sun. Battle marches are ominously brushed by punk hummings and elusive drum fills readying you for the distant likelihood of being added to the body count. Trembling trap quavers are supported by deep, rolling piano riffs, raising and letting fall the crowd at a midnight block party like the ebbing of the sea. The impellent funk of a baseline pulsates like your heart with the pistons as you shift into high gear, flying through a city as callused as it made you.

With his lyrics, Dre chronicles the constant, unrelenting grind he lived though to achieve fame–the pressure he faced from his surroundings and affiliates, and the hopeless, drowning sensation felt by so many impoverished youth living in ghettoized areas (climaxing with the chilling account of a man literally drowning). Every song turns a page in the confessions of man unresolved with his career, growing more disconnected with the struggle of living in Compton (“Don’t ever call me fortunate, you don’t know what it cost me/ So anybody complaining about they circumstances lost me, homie”), and grappling with a society that now funds his luxurious lifestyle but still doesn’t respect him as a black man.

But with the sounds of a man washing up on shore, alive and inhaling the breaths of air he thought he never would comes revelation. Out from the troubled psyche of one of hip-hops most prolific characters is a hope of ending the systematic racism that perpetuates the condition of African Americans. Dre calls upon the rap industry to change its obsession with the superficial and focus on bringing passion back to the black community. We even see Dre reconnect with Compton, reconciling with the astronomical odds of his success as a black man living in America. (“Some of us was unbalanced but some us used our talents, shit”)

The album closes with the familiar sound of a trumpet cry; however, this time around channelling the spirit of the Dr. Dre’s African American musical predecessors of the jazz era with a delicate and pneumatic solo that slowly fades into the music of Dre’s now. Thus ends what Dre has announced to be his final album, and undoubtedly the magnum opus of his career. Like 30 years ago, Dre is on the cusp of musical innovation. The production feat of Compton sets a new standard for the rap industry and its complex and thematic lyricism follows closely behind Kendrick Lamar’s masterpiece To Pimp a Butterfly released earlier this year. Basically, follow Eminem’s advice…don’t forget about Dre. Ever.

– Noam Fleischmann