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taking a listen

by Ryan Snyder

reviews of local & state music CDs

MUDCAT Freedom Creek

The problem with the blues these days is that too many of its practitioners take themselves and their trade a little too seriously sometimes. Contemporary blues often lacks the permissiveness to just have a little fun from time to time out of concern for upsetting convention. Atlanta bluesman Danny “Mudcat” Dudek (www.mudcatblues.com) doesn’t share that concern, however.

It’s clear by his eighth studio album, Freedom Creek, that having a good time with his craft takes first priority.

While his lyrical sensibilities are a bit more puckish than one might expect from the blues, his appreciation of nuance and innuendo lend genuine creativity to his artful yet unrefined sound. On Freedom Creek, Mudcat seamlessly blends the sound of ragtag corner busking with subtle, mildly tawdry wit on songs like the phallically inspired “Big Bamboo” and the Cajun roustabout “Red Light.” Mudcat’s a masterful storyteller as well, allowing listeners to draw their own naughty conclusions and making them feel guilty for doing it on “Peter Pumpkin.” His arrangement is rather refreshing as well, dotting his soulful promenades with bits of Dixieland piano and trombone. Freedom Creek might not please the traditionalists looking for technical advancement, but it’s perfectly okay to have a good time with Mudcat.

75/100

dam_funk.jpgDAM-FUNK Toeachizown

On it’s most cerebral level, Dam-Funk’s sprawling, two-disc post-Worrellian reinvention Toeachizown capitalizes on the visceral sounds of Jheri Curlstained bedroom funk of the ’80s. Heavy on synth, light on lyrical context and all business, former New Jack Swing-era keyboardist Dam-Funk latches onto a sexy mood and clobbers you into submission with it. It’s 140 minutes of instrumental backrubs and champagne-laden bubble baths that recall the softer side of the G-Funk era. On a more basic level, it also sounds like a lot of the same thing over and over again. Without a detailed memory of an era stereotyped by talkboxes and meandering synths, it’d be easy to believe that this album could literally have been pared down to 60 minutes and the same criticism would have been applicable. Fortunately for those who’ve relegated those sounds to a forgotten partition in their memory, Dam-Funk is studied in that area. There’s a layer of superficial nostalgia, but that’s quickly washed away by waves of Moog and subsonic bass that explores everything from the cosmic groove of ’70s Sun Ra (“LAtrifying”) to Troutman-esque post-disco (“Mirrors”). Toeachizown can be a bit tedious due to its sheer expanse, this is the album to have for anyone who gets geeky at the thought of slow, cerebral funk in its days before it was commandeered by hip-hop culture.

78/100

Dam-Funk will perform at Artistika Night Club on Monday, March 15.

For a chance to have your band’s CD reviewed, mail it to: YES! Weekly, 5500 Adams Farm Lane, Suite 204, Greensboro, NC 27407. ATTN: Ryan Snyder.

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