Hearing Aide: Garage A Trois ‘Calm Down Cologne’

Chances are high that you haven’t had your usual dose of funk over the last year. The global pandemic has slowed the release schedule of many bands and while we have gotten some great releases over the last few months, it’s nothing compared to past years. That all changes today with Garage A Trois’ newest offering, Calm Down Cologne.

This sensational release from the band’s original lineup of prolific drummer Stanton Moore, master guitarist Charlie Hunter and multi-instrumentalist Skerik marks 22 years since their debut album, MysteryFunk. The band still delivers the same energy and excitement that they first showed over two decades ago.

The new album was recorded in 2019, across the street from Nectar’s Lounge in Seattle where the band was playing a 3-night, sold out run in Skerik’s hometown. Most of this offering is an improvisational documentation of what the trio was able to elicit together in that studio session, save for one pre-composed track. The resulting five songs are a testament to the prowess and musical moxie that each member possesses and is able to showcase as a group.

“No Zone” is the perfect choice to start the album and illustrates how sync’d up the members of GAT are. Guitar and Organ blend seamlessly as Moore’s drumming drives the trio through nine minutes of head-bobbing, in-your-face funk. The aptly named “The Epic” is a spooky and funky carnival ride, as if a funhouse had its own effects-pedal laden jam session with it’s driving funk and electro-cacophony.

The title track is the only non-improvised song on the album, but it’s one that you’ll find yourself listening to on repeat. Skerik’s ability to play horns and organ blend magically with Hunter’s bass as Moore provides hints of New Orleans throughout the short, but sweet ditty.

“In-A-Pro-Pro” is the longest track on the album and is a jam that’ll get you to stand up and dance. This song is nothing short of incredible as each instrument bubbles to the surface to play their perfect part. “In-A-Pro-Pro” is like a good seltzer… effervescent with the perfect amount of flavor. Hunter has the chops and energy of at least two guitar masters as he lays out a flurry of sounds from the guitar and bass that comprise his Hybrid Big6. The album closes with the laid-back fuzzy funk of “Numinous,” a track that is reminiscent of walking off into the sunset. The drums, bass and keys paint a canvas that allows the horns and guitar to really pop in and shine.

It might only be April, but this release will certainly be in the running for Best Album of 2021. Stream on various platforms here, and purchase the LP from Royal Potato Family or on GAT’s Bandcamp, where you can also purchase the digital album as well.

Key Tracks: Calm Down Cologne, The Epic, In-A-Pro-Pro

Charlie HunterfunkGarage A TroisskerikStanton Moore