Kenny Wesley probably isn't a name you're familiar with, unless you're a die-hard “So You Think You Can Dance” fan. However, with his debut album The Real Thing, Wesley has immediately established himself as a serious -and seriously fun- artist who's looking to bring funk back.
Welsey influences are undeniable – half the tracks on this album sound like great 70s funk, in the vein of Parliament or the Jacksons, with a heaping helping of current-day synthesizers on top. Wesley shines on these tracks, such as Real Thing and Taffy, with some down-and-dirty fuzz guitar riffs and hot drumming that make head-bobbing a virtual necessity.
A long haired woman approached, a younger neighbor unknown to me, in Krishna pants and beaded tunic. As we passed on the sidewalk she paused and handed me a sprig of rosemary, actually pulling it from her hair. "Fresh from the garden" she said and walked away. It's rare to encounter hippies anymore but we still spot each other, even if there's a generation in-between.
With influences ranging from Blondie to Sonic Youth, Sons of Hippies don't try too hard to live up to their name. It's largely a good thing but those looking for a champion to resuscitate the legacy of Steppenwolf's "The Monster" will have to wait a little longer. The band, out of Sarasota, was conceived by Jonas Canales and Katherine Kelly who are, indeed, hippie offspring. No word on the pedigree of bassist Joe Crespo.
Their debut album, Warriors of the Light produced by Pro-Pain guitarist Tom Klimchuck, was called 'dreamily melodic but complexly synthesized music'. The album received the critic’s choice award from Tampa's Creative Loafing for “Best Modern-Sounding Record”… perhaps oxymoronic for a band that sometimes emits Beatles covers between their originals. But SOH is no nostalgia trip, the record absolutely sounds modern with a vibe made richer by both retro and introspection. Teach your children well. I suggest listening while laying on one’s back in Golden Gate park.
Kelly's evocative pipes elevate the material and, in songs like Omni, she shines with the kind of silver young Grace Slick once possessed. At times she and Canales practically conjur The Sugarcubes, like a tense duet from different rooms.
Their second album, A-Morph, is a bit more indie pop-rock, and asserts a new level of social awareness. In support of the album, the band took to the Eastern festival circuit with emotionally intense performances. They also did a live gig on Tampa radio station WMNF.
A standout cut for me is Man or Moon, an almost perfect rock tutorial. The band moves effortlessly between classic, post-punk and tribal with suitably abstract lyrics striving for profound notions just out of reach.
Free Mp3 download "Will We Live Again" courtesy of Sons of Hippies.