Lettuce, Jaw Gems
Thu, Jan 12, 2017 8:00 pm
- Min. Price: $22.00, Max Price: $25.00
LettuceFor more than two decades, Lettuce have brought a new vitality to classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop-inspired urgency and mastery of beat. Now, on their fourth studio album Crush, drummer Adam Deitch, guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno, bassist Erick "Jesus" Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpet player Eric Bloom deepen that sound by channeling the sonic freedom and infectious energy of their incendiary live show.
Produced by Lettuce and Co- Produced, recorded/mixed by Joel Hamilton at Brooklyn's Studio G, Crush first came to life on the road, with the band developing new material and testing it out live as they toured. "We've all noticed that our music goes into a lot of different directions onstage, and we wanted to capture that in a way that we never really have before," says Coomes, who names classic psychedelia and '90s hip-hop among Lettuce's key inspirations on Crush. "It's definitely more wide-open in terms style, but it still stays true to the funk."
The follow-up to 2012's Fly, Crush finds Lettuce brilliantly infusing their psychedelic and hip-hop sensibilities into bass-heavy funk. With its spidery guitar work and hypnotic beats, "Phyllis" is a delicately sprawling epic that embodies what Deitch refers to as "a chill-hop vibe that's kind of the flip-side of all that powerful uptempo funk that people might expect from us." On "Get Greasy," Lettuce give a nod to the groove-fueled EDM subgenre known as future funk, building off its highly danceable rhythm with a blissfully loose and horn-laced arrangement. And on "He Made a Woman Out of Me," guest vocalist Alecia Chakour lends her bluesy growl to a scorching take on Bobbie Gentry's 1970 country-soul classic.
Whether paying homage to Led Zeppelin on the fiery and guitar-driven "Silverdome" or delivering a deeply riveting and richly textured hip-hop medley with "Oresteia," Lettuce maneuver through Crush's kaleidoscopic sound with sophisticated ease and powerful synergy. "More so than any of the records we've done before, this album is very much about the improvised grooves and improvised solos," says Krasno. "Instead of going at it like, 'Here's a melody, now here's a guitar solo, here's another melody, here's a sax solo,' everyone's leaning on each other in a way that's completely unspoken. It's all of us moving as one unit and creating this new sound together."
According to Lettuce, that sense of unity and togetherness has much to do with a camaraderie that's only intensified over the lifespan of the band. Formed in 1992, when several band members attended a summer program at Boston's Berklee College of Music as teenagers, Lettuce was founded on a shared love of legendary funk artists like Earth, Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. After returning to Berklee as undergrads in 1994, Lettuce started playing in local clubs and steadily built up a following that soon extended to cities across the country and then throughout the world. Releasing their studio debut Outta Here in 2002 and its follow-up album Rage! in 2009, the band dedicated the coming years to balancing their frequent touring with involvement in a host of other musical endeavors (including Evans and Krasno's role as founding members of acclaimed soul/jazz trio Soulive).
Jaw Gems, an electronic outfit from Portland, Maine, is a collective of young, experimental producers bringing beat-music – traditionally programmed and played on samplers – to a live band setting. The mesmerizing result is a harmonic convergence.
Combine legendary beat-makers like J Dilla and Flying Lotus with indie rock and electronic icons like Deerhunter and Washed Out, then add Radiohead's dreamy ambience and you begin to approach the sound of Jaw Gems.
"Dilla is the common thread for how we all met and began playing together," says keyboardist Hassan Muhammad. "Not many people in Portland knew about him seven years ago, so through various friends we were all pointed out to each other and we were blessed with the opportunity to hold a weekly residency at a bar, playing all the stuff we liked and getting increasingly weird."
Since their start in 2009, the band has been exploring sonic and rhythmic ideas that emphasize interlaced melodies and heavy grooves. First outfitted solely with dueling vintage synthesizers, a drummer, and an electric bassist, Jaw Gems have now incorporated a Roland sp404 and the Juno 106 analog synth, going on to employ the beat- repeating, sample-warping technologies of the present to help create their wall of sound. Armed with new gear, Jaw Gems were able to evolve their beats, trigger intricate samples, and alter sounds in an increasingly advanced way. "You can do so much with these devices, and we all have our own ways of using them," says bassist Andrew Scherzer.
This August, Jaw Gems will release their second album, HEATWEAVER, via STS9's
1320 Records. The 14-tracks create a thickly layered transcendental auditory world – a meticulously crafted collection grounded in a modern electronic aesthetic. HEATWEAVER melds neck-breaking, hip-hop synthesizers and nostalgic atmospheres, while simultaneously touching on elements of psychedelic funk, neo-soul, and punk rock.
Jaw Gems likes to keep their recording process relaxed to allow for creative diversity.
Setting up shop in a makeshift home studio, the band hunkers down and lets their songs come to life. "We like to make a retreat out if it," says drummer DJ Moore, noting that all of the musicians have been involved in other projects. "Making music is how we chill, and the album naturally unfolded once we were all committed to being in the same place together for some time." The title itself came from thinking of the album visually. "We thought about what images the music evoked throughout the whole process, and when someone said "heat weaver," we all felt it embodied our sound," he says.