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.
The 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.
- The New Mastersounds
“Made For Pleasure”
Release: Oct. 2, 2015
Label: Royal Potato Family
Notable Tracks: “Cigar Time,” “Enough Is Enough”
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