Wednesday, January 18, 2012

No BS Brass on Electric Cowbell Records

The thing I love about Electric Cowbell is that they're wholeheartedly behind a band that names themselves the No BS Brass band and who puts, "Take on Me" on the A-Side. That's right, the Ah-ha cover.

Even then their version doesn't immediately give away where it's headed, there's a damn lot of horns blasting away, which makes sense right? But it's hard to wrap your head around the work and physical instruments in this recording space, I would guess there's at least 8 guys blasting away, mostly in a lower key and then taking over that recognizable lyric with a low burping of tuba? I can't imagine the nightmare of trying to mic all these instruments at once. The range of multiple horns taking on bassline parts, harmonizing the verse, overlapping 'take me on / take on me', building that chorus and synth with marching band precision. It's all done in a real loose, live style, beyond just the joke of reinventing this song, you can hear as much as they care about the arrangement. The breakdown piece of the original ends in the band stepping up to their mics and singing the ba da ba bop bop's a fun, nostalgic song to reference and twist it in a nearly classical way....why not commit this to vinyl?

The B-Side then , "Dr. Willy" (written by Reggie Pace) utilizes those beefy low end bleats of the trombone and tuba section, creating an almost weird kind of experimental shuffle, nearly jazz, but always focused on the cyclic rhythm. A slow, rim shot and muted high hat, makes this feel like a spy theme. Slowly a dead, bottom register note from a single tuba rumbles this low end, it's out of nowhere and and rivals any low rider brown note. An alien note, so awesomely out of place it needs to be played back to really take it in and dial up the lower EQ to test those speakers. It makes me smile every time. I think a lot more kids would take up the tuba if they realized this kind of sound was possible. It would have made band a lot better.
The trumpet/trombone section gets a chance to break out of this structured bassline and groove out, working through all kinds of manic scales. I'm still waiting for that mammoth chasm of a note to come on back through.
Both sides are just serious lung power with a sense of humor, which ought to get No BS Brass some attention in the right ways.

Get this one from Electric Cowbell, still exploding turntable needles after all these years:

No BS! Brass Band is a powerful brass band that embraces the spirit of New Orleans into its original East Coast modern funk. Their danceable arrangements are outstandingly well thought-out and organized, drawing inspiration from funk, jazz, klezmer, calypso, and Led Zeppelin. On Side-A the boys take on a cover of the classic 80′s hit by A-Ha “Take on Me” and the results are a rousing a second line without a parading permit. “Dr. Wily” on on the flip side is an original penned by lead trombonist Reggie Pace-currently on tour with Bon Iver. With a flight-of-the-bumblebee urgency this tune simply shreds and hits you in the face like a brass knuckle brass band sandwich. Comes with cover art and heavy gauge crystal-clear vinyl sleeve.

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