Brooklyn-based collective Menahan Street Band hit the scene with their first release Make the Road by Walking on Daptone subsidiary Dunham records in 2008. It’s eponymous single made waves as it was sampled by Jay-Z (RocBoys) but the album was an amazing collection of afrobeat,funk and ethio-jazz compositions that had a unique flavor. Composed of members from supergroups Budos Band, Antibalas, El Michaels Affairs and the Dap-Kings, the band is led by Thomas Brenneck who produced, wrote, and played a plethora of instruments on their excellent followup The Crossing. MSB had established a sound and was the type of record everyone would feel and ask about when it was playing. The group not only avoided the dreaded sophmore curse, they’ve managed to expand on their style and created what I considered to be the best record of 2012.
First of all, The Crossing is all killer no filler (a look at the 45 singles they released should give you an idea) but rare is the record where the first 3 songs represent your ‘favorite’ track, and it’s that hard to make the call because they are all infectious in their own way. From the eery ukelele picking on the title track to the massive horns, ripping organ and reverb on Keep Coming Back always bring the rawness in their instrumentals while setting a mood and delivering harmonic intircacies and melodic progression on every track. The album starts off in familiar territory with the usual eery yet explosive approach to the compositions. However, Seven in the Wind, represents the moment where the album shifts gears and enters uncharted territories.
Clearly, MSB have already covered blues riffs with the production of Charles Bradley’s album but this song is much darker and brings in an almost country feel which transports you to a deserted baren lanscape filled with tumbleweeds. It would make the cut in any spaghetti western and I am glad the band took the time to fully flesh it out and provide amazing intro/outro buildups for us to mix with. Indeed, cinematic is an apt description for Menahan Street Band’s sound and their consistency so far has been scary, let alone the fact that i have neevr played one of their tracks and not have someone ask me who they we’re (most recently @24HOV#7) This album will appeal to any music lover and is the perfect LP (as the cover indicates) for facing a harrowing winter. I can’t recommend the band highly enough and its music like this that gives me hope and keeps me excited about the current musical scene. This is the definition of a future classic and 3 records in sky is the limit for the stellar discography the group is achieveing so far.