Celebrating their 20th anniversary as modern day rulers of old school funk, the seven-piece Brooklyn-based juggernaut Lettuce dropped their third studio album FLY (2012) - a decidedly raging slab of relentless groove, hyper-charged syncopation and psychedelicized soul anthems. Having blown up stages from coast to coast, Lettuce entered the recording studio with a fresh batch of road-tested material and a revitalized sound honed razor sharp by a year spent on the road. FLY draws on a range of styles that can be traced from the early ’60s through the early ’80s, incorporating plenty of modern hip-hop sensibilities—heavy bass, kick and snare—along the way. The album’s one cover song, an all-instrumental version of War’s “Slippin’ into Darkness”, is a reminder of the genre’s vintage origins but from there on up, the track progression emphasizes the band’s ability to steer funk in a new directio! n.
Look no further than FLY's title track, though, for what sets these guys apart. The laid-back vamp, recorded all-analog to two-inch tape, gets full Jamaican studio treatment, dubbed out with vintage reverb and delay. Meanwhile, tracks like “Madison Square” and “Ziggowatt” sound like futuristic cuts from the Stax back catalog. “Bowler” may be the best evidence of where this supercharged group is headed, with a tasty, stick-in-your-ear melody that continues through the track and begs to be ripped open onstage. Having evolved and refocused since 2008’s Rage! without ever dropping the beat, Lettuce takes audiences to the cosmos with FLY in the trunk and a high-octane tour on the horizon. Don’t miss Lettuce February 20 at The Newport!