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
Garrett Bethmann is a graduate of University of Mary Washington with a degree in English. An eight-year resident of Lake Tahoe, he now lives in Denver, Colorado.

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