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 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
Drop Shop

Rating: 8.3/10 ?

May 22, 2008
On Funkadelic's classic cut "Can You Get To That," a chorus of voices croon: "I once had a life/ Or rather life had me/ I was one among many/ Or at least I seemed to be." That line pretty much sums up the history, through the current state, of funk and soul music. At one point in time both genres were thriving, cutting-edge forms that have now mostly stagnated. There is the occasional blip - the Neo-Soul movement (D'Angelo's, Voodoo being the pinnacle), the careers of both Amy Winehouse and Jamie Lidell, and the consistent reverence from hip hop artists and DJs who use classic elements of both genres to create new and interesting sounds. When it comes to actual funk and soul however, true fans oft find themselves waiting for the next set of diminishing returns from Prince or choking down whatever R&B pap is on MTV. Given those decidedly soulless and unfunky conditions, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have low expectations for Drop Shop - the new record by Lockboxx. That said, there is nothing mediocre about this debut - the soul is knee-deep and gravy-thick and the funkÖ well, Lockboxx is so funky your speakers might start stinking up the room.

To say that Lockboxx appreciate funk is an understatement - they fully understand that the foundation of any good funk band is in the rhythm. Drummer Steve Kray casts a wide net with his thunderous style that elicits comparisons to such classic percussionists as Buddy Miles (Band of Gypsys) and Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals). Aside from the traps, Kray also produced the album and seems to have worked hard to maintain the classic elements of funk - wah guitar, keys/organ, and ass shakin' bass. There is even a little vocoder thrown in for fans of the Troutman Brothers and, of course, obligatory song titles like: "Absoludicrous" and "Rollerglow."

Lockboxx's guitar player, Brandon Miles, is a sick bastard. The man has no shame. Miles frequently takes Drop Shop listeners on stratospheric, "Maggot Brain"-esque solos, proving his chops and paying homage to Eddie Hazel, P-Funk and The Isley Brothers. At the same time, Miles can often sound like Bobby Womack - laying back into the groove or throwing some wah pedal out into the mix. Miles' ability to know when to lead and when to back off is crucial to Drop Shop's sound.

Ben Viguerie's keyboards seem to set the mood for the whole album. Viguerie plays eerie swamp atmospherics on one track and burns up another with the classic sound of a Hammond organ. Viguerie's stabs of spaced-out bleeps into the heart of "Absoludicrous" lend the song the kind of futuristic feel that would make Africa Bambaataa jealous. The man's sheer versatility allows Kray and Miles to bend time, space and genre to create a fresh sound from innumerable remnants of their funk and soul idols.

To be honest, the technical musicality of Lockboxx may scare off some less adventurous listeners. Real funk, after all, is not for everyone. Drop Shop's collection of hustlers' grooves and sky high atmospherics force a physical response from the listener - which can be frightening. Suddenly hips start to shake, toes to tap and asses to wiggle. For those listeners willing to take a risk, Drop Shop is the place where fans of Roy Ayers, George Clinton, Al Green and even D'Angelo can come to hear something fresh and funky, sweet and soulful.

Reviewed by Jon Burke
A contributing writer and a Chicago resident who will not be goaded by LASís editor into revealing any more details about his potentially sordid affairs.

See other reviews by Jon Burke



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