The Freak Brothers have been entertaining audiences and winning awards with their unique blend of old school R&B, funk, hip-hop and a touch of ska for just about a decade. For all of those years, the one thing missing from their suitcase of tricks has been a CD of original music. Now that it’s finally here, there’s one word – from the first note of “Star God” to the last note of “Get On Out” – that comes to mind. That word is smooth.Taking us back to the days when Earth Wind & Fire, The O’Jays and The Isley Brothers were in their prime, The Freak Brothers’ mixture of outstanding musicianship and spiritual grooves capture the era perfectly, while the addition of modern influences and production update their sound for the 21st century.
The opening track, “Star God,” is a perfect example of this and epitomizes the album as a whole. It starts with an electronic beat and some psychedelic keyboards, then it folds in some horns, a prominent bass line and some “cooler than you” vocals to create a song you’ll be singing in your head for days. It’s just what the doctor ordered.
“The Only One” continues the funky trek, while “Mr. Fantastic” takes it up a notch with its groovy vocals and backing horns. “Still in Love,” with its futuristic funk feel, and “Shut The Door,” complete with a dead-on Snoop Dogg rap, are the album’s best tracks, but depending on your mood, just about any of the songs on Volume 1 could replace those two at any time. The quality of the songs is high, and the musicianship is superior. There’s not anything that feels like filler material. Come to think of it, why would there be? When you’ve waited this long to record a CD, you might as well give it the best you’ve got.
The Freak Brothers hit this one out of the park. Volume 1 is undoubtedly one of the finest CD releases by a Fort Wayne area band in recent memory. Though complex, the songs don’t overwhelm the listener; rather, they flow perfectly from one to the next, keeping you engaged while revealing additional layers upon each listen.
Look up smooth in the dictionary and you probably won’t find a picture of The Freak Brothers beside it – but you should. Highly recommended.
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March 21 • The Clyde