With any genre of music, there are different sub-genres and blending of tastes and styles. Within the loose categorization of funk, there are not many that are as classy, clean, yet fun and inventive as The New Mastersounds. Like a veteran athlete who you expect to always play well, the Mastersounds never disappoint in the live arena or on any of their releases. Earlier this month, the group released their tenth studio album, Made for Pleasure.
The album was produced by guitarist Eddie Roberts and was recorded in New Orleans. The band put together a short video on the making of the album that is available on YouTube, here. The title, as explained by Roberts, defines what the band stands for and why they create the music they do. He says, “We make music for our own pleasure and for other people’s pleasure. It’s about sharing energy with an audience, whether it be live or listening at home.”
Diving in, the band gets right to it on the title track which kicks things off. There’s no extended intro or build up; it feels like a page out of their live show where they trim the fat and provide something you can immediately dance to. The bouncing guitar lick provides a solid ground for both drummer, Simon Allen, and keyboardist, Joe Tatton, to jump off and show their chops. As with any classic NMS tune, this is catchy, but rides a simple and compelling groove. It’s like watching a professional athlete and thinking how easy they make things look.
It’s hard to pick out a few songs to talk about on this when the collection is best digested start to finish with all that they offer. That being said, bassist Pete Shand’s work really shines on the soulful “Enough is Enough.” The addition of the rare vocal appearance fits perfectly and something they should explore more of in future releases. Another highlight with a vocal is “Joy,” which is appropriately titled as it sums up the mood the soulful feel-good riffing expressed musically and in the lyrics. The NMS are really good in this sonic arena and this song’s direction in particular stands out above some of their more laid back work.
In terms of The New Mastersounds instrumental bread and butter, it’s hard to say if the band has ever put together a song as great as “Sitting on my Knees.” The songs subtle approach is contrasted with Eddie Robert’s lead work that aggressively attacks the soft-spoken sonic undertones in perfect harmony. The band collectively reaches this swelling peak where you can feel each member pouring their heart and soul through their hands into the notes and rhythm. It’s like they all want to scream, but without a voice, they do so through their instruments. Robert’s bending and attack beautifully exemplifies the struggle and conflict felt within the song.
“Pho Baby” is another instrumental gem that is as silky smooth as they come. The band has a quiet discussion here with their instruments, each speaking at a different pace, yet collectively producing some interesting lines. The climax of the song before it hits its final resting place touches on some amazing chords and tension produced by Robert’s soloing efforts. It’s all comes together effortlessly it seems for this band. It’s easy to picture them jamming on some chord progressions and finding some beautiful melodies like the close of this song.
All and all, the album is just another example of how this band can do little wrong. They are constantly in touch with their roots and influences while blazing forward into the future in parallel. The effortlessness in which they play can be attributed to their chemistry, but you can truly feel the endless love they poured into this release.
Key Tracks: Joy, Sitting on My Knees, Pho Baby