Seems there’s a bit of a renaissance for brass bands at the moment. Not the colliery sort, instead these genre hopping, New Orleans ensembles, packed full of incredible players that, as well as being able to do things on their instruments that are almost beyond belief, they have this groove that is just infectious. Across here we have a myriad of these bands, Renegade, Bad Ass, Hackney Colliery, but the biggest hitters of them all are Madison Wisconsin’s Youngblood Brass Band, led by drummer/poet/rapper David Henzie-Skogen.
This, their first new album in five years, splits pretty much into two parts. The first half of the record see’s hip-hop to the fore, starting straight from the off with the jittery funk/jazz of single 20 questions, through the more experimental Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, which is brilliantly (but ambitiously modern) arranged and relies heavily on trombone effects, through to the in you face assault of The Plank will nod, and you will go. While Henzie-Skogen is no Mos Def, more Mathers/Durst even, but his rhymes are enjoyable and often skillful, and his delivery shows he has some charisma.
From E la E the band seem to get into full pelt though, and its here where the excitement levels seems to really take off. The latin-y track veers all over the place, and Nat Mackintosh on the Sousaphone really steps into the spotlight from here on in as well, driving the band on with his inventive and straight ahead lines. Overtime is a joy and Wrestlevania twists and turns, almost gypsy like before a brilliant version of Chaka Khan’s Ain’t Nobody, which weaves these complex lines all together to bring together the tune.
The album closer, Third Half, sums up what the band was about. Funky, veering around different styles, brilliantly played, and totally enjoyable.
The album is out on Tru Thoughts now