Rock The Sky - Five Alarm Funk
It's been four albums now since Five Alarm Funk began goofing on Elvis, James Brown and George Clinton, having way too much fun on stage with their costumes and self-styled choreography. But, something super serious happened along the way that their tribe of revelers may not have consciously noticed. The guys have gotten incredibly tight. We're talkin' grooves you could bounce a toonie off of. Album number 4,'Rock The Sky' is simply one of the finest instrumental funk albums I've heard recently, and that's saying something. Since a generational rediscovery of Fela Kuti's pioneering Afrobeat recordings, 10 or more-piece instrumental groove machines have been popping up in every corner of the world. But, that sandbox is a little constrictive for the free-thinkers in Five Alarm Funk. The new cover art is great by the way, a giant Iron Pegasus rearing up in victory over a post-apocalyptic landscape. The band explains, "As the name implies, and the epic Pegasus on the cover attests, Rock the Sky has the band embracing their rock influences. “Iron Pegasus” is Iron Maiden meeting Tower of Power in an Egyptian bazaar." That kind of imagination can take you a long way. "The album opener, 'Wash Your Face' evokes Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock fighting to the death.” their bio states matter of factly. Rock The Sky is a short, fevered ride through a grab bag of horn-driven influences from straight up funk to Latin, Balkan, and Mediterranean, but the cherry on top of this one is guitar rock, again, as the album title implies. I wish more specific credit was given to which licks are the fretwork of Gabe Boothroyd or Oliver Gibson, but the soloing and sounds are inspirational. Bass god, Neil Towers is one of my new all time favorite pop and slap players. His speed, precision and feel are mind-blowingly humbling. The recording is pristine and energized. The kids are obviously as relaxed and focused in studio as they are on stage. It's that combination of serious chops and just goofing around that will lift Five Alarm Funk ever skyward. Other key tracks include 'Pyramid', 'Pulp' and the closer, 'Monolith'. Just listen to the whole damn thing!