Over the last couple of years we have the seen the re-emergence of soul music, it's leapt back from the underground, from those small clubs for unabashed fans where you would get about 30 or 40 die hard afficianados. I remember going to the UK club in Exhibition Street years ago when Soul Time DJ Vince Peach used to spin northern soul classics to a small crowd. It seems over the last five years soul music has crossed over to a new generation of music listeners and musicians who are embracing it and creating some great new sounds. Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Charles Bradley, The Dynamites, The Menahan Street Band, The Budos Band and Meyer Hawthorne have kept the soul and funk flame burning.
One of the those groups is Fitz and the Tantrums a band that has married soul with 80's new wave in a sound that is not a pastiche but something that sounds fresh and vibrant. The band hail from L.A not necessarily known historically as soul central, they consist of lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick, vocalist Noelle Scaggs and a rhythm section featuring James King( horns), Joseph Karnes (bass), Jeremy Ruzumna (keys) and John Wicks (drums). Their debut album Pickin up The Pieces immediatley grabbed my ear, I heard the first single Moneygrabber which has a northern soul feel married to something from the 80's new wave band ABC! It has a crisp rhythm, the chorus has that uptempo motown feel with some understated horns. Breaking the Chains has a funky bass line that repeats in between Michael Fitzpatricks vocal lines. Dear Mr President is subtle gospel style protest with a funky back beat, the ballad Tighter shows lead singer Michael Fitzpatrick has a versatile vocal ability, on Rich Girls he presents a laid back funky vocal. The rhythm section have that tightness you would expect from musicians who have played in a few bands and have also played sessions, drummer John Wicks has played with the likes of Bruno Mars and Cee Lo Green to name a few. It would be nice to see on further albums more made of co vocalist Noelle Scaggs. Somewhat more distressing was the fact that they were the opening act for Maroon 5 on their recent U.S tour, hopefully their influence won't be felt on the next album!