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Album Review: The Black City’s Wake Up. The Funk

This funk album doesn’t hit quite right, but it still a decent listen.

Kevin Ashley

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Today, I am reviewing The Black City’s funk album, Wake Up. The Funk. Now, when one hears the words “funk music”, where do you imagine it comes from? If you thought America, you would be wrong in this case.

They come from Turin, Italy, which was a big surprise to me. My knowledge of specifically international funk acts is extremely limited (the only band I know of in the genre area is Kano), so this will be very interesting. I hope it’s going to be electro-funk like Total Contrast.

First up is the title track, “Wake Up. The Funk”. Normally, I expect title tracks to be near the middle of the album, but this one was in the beginning. It’s very short, under the three-minute mark, and is 100 percent pure funk. Bass slaps, janky guitar, bobbing rhythm, old-school vocals. Good track, if slightly repetitive.

The second track, “Stone Free”, is squarely in the 70’s funk arena. There’s a dub vibe going on with the vocals and some of the background production, but is generally traditional. There’s a long sample around halfway through in Spanish, which the vocalist continues. I don’t speak Spanish, so I have no idea what they are saying. Good track.

“Hour of the Beasties” features some hip-hop influence in the vocals, and a mild breakbeat in the background. This feels like a filler track to me, I just don’t find it very interesting.

“Cage” is a hip-hop garage rock hybrid, which is a strange combo. It works though, giving the song a smoke-hazed vibe. Still, I’ve never been a fan of hip-hop, but it’s a lot better than most of the hip-hop I’ve heard.

“Be Quiet” brings back the funk, but again with the hip-hop influence. It’s pretty much just limited to the vocals, so it balances out in the end.

“Original Sound” opens with the sound of bass guitar, and some heavy psychedelic guitar accents. This is a dub track through and through, with some strange vocal work at parts. I liked this more than the previous three.

In “Shadow Wake”, the garage rock sound is back, but this time it’s mixed up with some light jazz and slap bass. This one is as good as “Stone Free”.

“Goosebumps” is a solid funk and light rock track. I like the funky guitar, but beyond that the track doesn’t really rise above the “good” level to something special.

This album was more diverse in sound than I originally thought it was going to be. The first two tracks gave the impression it was going to be a pure funk album, but I was not expecting the hip-hop or psychedelic rock influence. I liked the inclusion of the rock, but as I’m not a hip-hop fan, my feelings were a little conflicted. Overall decent album, but it didn’t blow my mind.

If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.

Kevin is a graduate from Central Washington University, where he was awarded a Bachelors degree in Professional and Creative Writing. He currently lives in Silverdale, Washington, where he explores new food and drink, goes to concerts, and works on personal projects.

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