Album review: New Mastersounds, ‘Made for Pleasure’

Pete Shard and Pete Roberts of the New Mastersounds during a January show in the Crystal Bay Casino. Photo by Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onsage

Pete Shard and Pete Roberts of the New Mastersounds during a January show in the Crystal Bay Casino.
Photo by Tim Parsons / Tahoe Onsage

In a lot of people’s lives, really indulging oneself in a pleasure is something not done very often, if at all. People get trapped in the thick of responsibilities and obligations that begin to define their lives. But it is important to free oneself from the constraints of everyday life and take the time to pursue what makes us feel truly happy and satisfied. That indulgence, that enjoyment, is what the New Mastersounds’ latest, “Made For Pleasure,” is all about.

The Leeds, UK, unit has been one of the foremost R&B and funk bands touring the world for the past decade. Its hard-touring ethos and rich, potent grooves have brought crowds to the dance floor to relish in the funk.

Made for Pleasure coverThe core members of guitarist Eddie Roberts, drummer Simon Allen, bassist Pete Shand and organist Joe Tatton have developed an intuitive language, as they have toured and recorded together since 1999. While each has a unique style and substance to his playing that is celebrated, the band locks in real smooth when playing together, as shown in sizzling opening track “Made For Pleasure.”

But what makes this album thrive is that the band really seems dialed-in, grooving on each other’s playing and, even more deliciously with other musicians. The band welcomed and actively collaborated in the sessions with soul singer Charly Lowry, exceptional percussionist/vibraphonist Mike Dillon and the North Cali-based West Coast Horns, featuring tenor saxophonist Joe Cohen and trumpeter Mike Olmos. The result is an album that feels effortless and cool, the band certainly indulging in its passion and creating a piece of art filled with a myriad of pleasures.

For some, indulgence is surrendering to the elements that be, like floating on a great tide. The band entices you to give yourself to the music in the jazzy “Cigar Time.” Lighter than the title implies, Roberts’ guitar and Tatton’s organ barely skim the water on the pristinely funky tune and ripple lovely lines back and forth. The calm groove is handled with care that gives each note from the band a great deal of color and life.

A similar feeling of musical release experienced on “Cigar Time” can be felt in “Fancy.” In the hands of the New Mastersounds and the West Coast Horns, the Iggy Azalea smash-hit is slowed down and dubbed out in a blissful reggae instrumental that sways back and forth in the evening breeze. The fact the band undertook such a pleasant and spirited reworking of the pop song is telling of the amount of joy that must have gone into making this album.

Where surrender can be a pleasure, taking control of life can have a similar cathartic experience. With the soul siren Lowry at the helm, the band seems to tackle these themes of power and agency on songs like “Enough Is Enough” and “Just Gotta Run.” With a slick wah-wah melody and simmering horn lines, “Enough Is Enough” surges forward with a lean coolness, with Lowry adding fiery passion and agency as she belts out, “This feeling in my soul/ This fire deep inside of me/ One day the world will see/ It can’t get the best of me.” On the latter, Lowry channels the joyfulness of Betty Wright, The Staples Singers and Betty LaVette in a flowery soul number with 1960s charm about dealing with the ins and outs of budding relationships.

From the greasy R&B on “Sitting On My Knees” to the firecracker funk of “High & Wide,” there is something for everyone to find pleasurous on “Made For Pleasure.” It is so thick with different flavors and textures it is best to settle in for the long haul and let the music wash over you by the moment. But it goes even beyond this album. Take the time to find pleasure and indulge in yourself and life will be ever more fruitful. “Made For Pleasure” will certainly make many lives more fruitful.

Related story: New Mastersounds on longest U.S. tour. LINK
Related story: Images of the New Mastersounds at Lake Tahoe. LINK

  • The New Mastersounds
    “Made For Pleasure”
    Release: Oct. 2, 2015
    Label: Royal Potato Family
    Notable Tracks: “Cigar Time,” “Enough Is Enough”
    Purchase: LINK
    Tour Dates
    9/30 – Phoenix, AZ – Crescent Ballroom
    10/1 – San Diego, CA – Winstons
    10/2 – Los Angeles, CA – Teragram Ballroom
    10/3 – San Francisco, CA – Hardly Strictly Bluegrass
    10/4 – Mill Valley, CA – Sweetwater Music Hall
    10/6 – Chico, CA – Lost On Main
    10/7 – Eugene, OR – HiFi Music Hall
    10/8 – Portland, OR – Wonder Ballroom
    10/9 – 10/10 – Seattle, WA – Nectar Lounge
    10/11 – Missoula, MT – Top Hat Lounge
    10/13 – Salt Lake City, UT – The State Room
    10/14 – Boulder, CO – Fox Theatre
    10/15 – Steamboat Springs, CO – Old Town Pub
    10/16 – Albuquerque, NM – El Rey Theater
    10/17 – Chicago, IL – Concord Music Hall
    10/19 – Bloomington, IN – The Bluebird
    10/20 – St. Louis, MO – Old Rock House
    10/21 – Memphis, TN – 1884 Lounge
    10/22 – Rockdale, TX – Art Outside
    10/23 – Dallas, TX – The Loft at Gilley’s
    10/24 – Houston, TX – Warehouse Live Studio
    10/27 – Birmingham, AL – Workplay
    10/28 – Baton Rouge, LA – Varsity Theatre
    10/29 – Jackson, MS – Duling Hall
    10/30 – Hattiesburg, MS – Dollar Box Showroom
    10/31 – Live Oak, FL – Hulaween
    11/1 – Charleston, SC – Charleston Pour House
    11/3 – Wilmington, NC – Brooklyn Arts Center
    11/4 – Charlotte, NC – Neighborhood Theatre
    11/5 – Raleigh, NC – Southland Ballroom
    11/6 – Asheville, NC – Isis
    11/7 – Nashville, TN – War Memorial Auditorium*
    12/31 – New Orleans, LA – Joy Theatre
    1/2 – New York, NY – The Cutting Room
    1/6 – 1/11 – Miami, FL – Jam Cruise
    2/2 – 2/6 – Riviera Maya, Mexico – Panic En La Playa
    * w/ Lettuce

About Garrett Bethmann

Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. He moved to Lake Tahoe in summer 2012.

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