Monday, February 24, 2020

Listened to lately - Félix Rabin, and Jimi Get Your Funk On

It’s EP time at Blues Enthused today, with a couple of compact but bijou – and very different – new recordings.

Félix Rabin – Pogboy

It’s a funny old game.  A couple of years back Laurence Jones made an album that suggested his producer/manager was intent on treating him like a square guitar-wrangling peg who needed to be hammered into a round soul-pop hole.  Meanwhile when I listen to Ben Poole I often get the impression he’s puzzling away at finding a kind of glossy rock to
Félix Rabin - and a short neck SG?
Pic by Chiara Ceccaioni
suit his capabilities.  But now along comes this French whippersnapper Félix Rabin, knocking out an EP with a similar kind of pop-rock sound, but which seems to fit him like a second skin.
Rabin is billed as a blues-rocker, but he pretty much eschews the blues on this outing. Opening track ‘Walk’ may be a bit proto-proggy, with its effects-laden, synthy descending riff, but it’s not representative of what follows.  With his light, clear, and melodious voice Rabin sings confidently on the mellower, yearning style of ‘Moving On’, while also essaying some patient and fluid guitar lines, and a brief, clear-toned outro.
His modus operandi also encompassed some fuzzy, stuttering riffing on the modern-sounding ‘Say (You Won’t Leave Me)’, and some squelchy guitar lines on ‘Angels’, both perhaps reflecting his appetite for the Pog effects pedal that gives the EP its title.  But ‘Angels’ is also catchy and perhaps a little oddball, wedding his breathy vocal to some Hendrix-twiddly licks in the manner of John Mayer’s version of ‘Bold As Love’.  And Mayer-esque is certainly a term that springs to mind for the standout penultimate track, the cheerily titled ‘Death’.  It’s sparse and muted, with Rabin’s playing a model of restraint, focusing on long, sustained notes - and not merely as a preface to some frenzied scrabbling - while a plaintive trumpet passage underlines the mood.
Pogboy is an impressive introduction from Félix Rabin.  It may not be entirely my style, but it is stylish.

Félix Rabin is touring Europe as support to Samantha Fish from February 28.

Jimi Get Your Funk On – Thought

I will happily admit that jazz-funk isn’t really my cup of cappuccino.  But as Frank Zappa once observed, “The mind is like a parachute.  It won’t work unless it’s open.”  And speaking of Mr Z, I suspect that this new 9-piece Scottish combo may be rather more familiar with his work than I am.  Not that they’re really “out there”, maaan, but there is a certain quirkiness abroad at times on this debut EP.
Jimi Get Your Funk On - shoulda brought your shades, guys
On the bouncing, crisply delivered ‘2 AND 4’, for example, there are slithering horns over choppy guitar heralding while Honza Kourimsky rattles out a humorous lyric and some cod dialogue about a muso’s drink-addled attempts to join a bar jam session, with some neat slap bass from Ben Watt coming to the fore late on.  And on the last of the four tracks, ‘Not In The Mood’, the horns start, then stop, then start, then stop – and so on, like a series of combination punches from a snappy boxer.  There’s then a brief hint of AWB as things progress, as a prelude to a cool semi-rapped vocal leading up to an impatient chorus of “Not playing Miller ‘cause I’m not in the mood”.  Geddit?  And repeat, sorta, till they break out an effects-treated trumpet solo (I think) from Harry Marshall and some squealing sax from Gavin Mungersdorf, then drop down into a tripping rhythm from drummer David Burns before a discordant horn glissando leads the way to a brisk conclusion.
Opening track ‘Liberation’ is all insistent horn riffing over a twitchy rhythm and some twiddly wah-wah guitar, allied to an alternately easy-going then staccato vocal about a guy getting the dunt from his girlfriend for playing guitar all day, with Mellissa Jay Ross’s backing vocals providing additional colouring.  A dreamy bridge features some smouldering sax which then, complemented by Ross’s voice, climbs into a ‘Great Gig In The Sky’-like soaring passage.
‘Thought’ is a more romantic offering, a languid opening seasoned with some popping guitar licks and Kourimsky’s smooth vocal supplemented coo-ingly by Ross. The horns ease in alongside some glockenspiel-like keys from Ross Little, before a piercing guitar solo, all adding up to a pleasing change of pace.
As I said at the top, this kind of funky fusion thang ain’t really my thing.  But these fresh-faced youngsters certainly seem to know what they’re doing, and do it with a bit of flair.

Check out the Jimi Get Your Funk On website for more info.

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