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.
As legend has it, it was the point at which Pittsburgh’s Chux Beta stopped trying to pander to potential audiences that they not only found their sound, but their true fan-base. Born of the 90s alternative/grunge scene, this early influence remains apparent, especially in the vocals which at times suggest Perry Farrell, the melodic artistry of Matthew Sweet, and the harmonic tendencies of Cracker. These influences remain tastefully subtle on their latest release, Heartbroken Underground, a solid, if not fully satisfactory follow up to 2009’s Now We Rise and We Are Everywhere.
While fans of the first album will no doubt enjoy Heartbroken Underground, little has been made in the way of creative progress. While the opening cut may proclaim that the “day of reckoning is here,” one can’t help but feel that the status quo has been carefully maintained. Still, Chux Beta has produced a strong musical offering, boasting several catchy, radio-friendly tracks, including Fooled Me Twice and Different Kind of Crazy.