The Exciting Sounds of Menahan Street Band “MSB”, is an apt title for this, the third studio album from the group. MSB is somewhat of a house band for Daptone Records sublabel Dunham Records, having been the main support for the late, great Charles Bradley, the flying eagle. MSB was founded by Thomas Brenneck (guitar) and Homer Steinweiss (drums). MSB released their first album, Make the Road By Walking in 2008 and their second The Crossing in 2012 so this one’s been nearly 10 years in the making. Part of the explanation for the gap is that Brenneck is also a current and founding member of the wonderful Budos Band as well. I was eagerly looking forward to this album since the pre-release announcement and it even surpasses my expectations. Check out my coverage track-by-track
Brooklyn’s reigning kings of instrumental soul deliver their first full-length album since 2012 – a groove-heavy, cinematic masterpiece that ebbs and flows in lush swells of Morriconian grandeur.
Midnight Morning kicks off with a drum and synth dream sequence to set the tone before the horns jump off with a notable melody. The mix is really well done with synth mostly left, guitar right and horns center. Dave Guy has a short trumpet solo midway before the horns take the lead back to an eerie synth close.
Rainy Day Lady is a slow roller and feels like a an old soul tune. Mike Deller, another Budos Band member plays some haunting keys here and offsets the horns nicely. Nick Movshon also chips in with some deep bass work (mostly left channel).
The Starchaser – starts like a hella spy theme and settles into a cool rhythm between deller and Steinweiss on drums and percussion. This one is definitely a favorite and has a dark Ennio Morricone (leading composer of spaghetti westerns) feel that the Budos Band also often captures. The break again has organ-percussion groove and Dave Guy takes a soaring solo right before the end.
Silkworm has Deller start with some heavy organ and Movshon hammers on bass. The horns play a fanfare blast signaling their entry. Silkworm is definitely a Deller and rhythm section showcase with the horns really punctuating the whole effort. MSB is really terrific at putting new twists on retro themes and this is a prime example.
Cabin Fever‘s synth opening and melody brings a 70s feel to it and the Brenneck’s strumming has a near Middle East feel. Cabin Fever rides on two main themes, with the synth and rhythm section grooving and the horn section moving. There’s a little fade towards the end before Deller closes out with space signals.
Rising Dawn starts with rain and thunderstorm effects behind a keys melody and the horns follow layering on top. The storm sounds continue in all the quiet parts and the clarity of each instrument shines here. Brenneck has a plays some hot guitarlicks midway and the end fades again with the piano-guitar-rainfall sounds.
Glovebox Pistol is appropriately named as it immediately conveys the sound of a standoff with some ominous horns taking over. It definitely has that gunslinger feel with a bell tolling right at the end.
Queens Highway – Brenneck starts this one with some nice hollow guitar and the horns provide a backdrop. This one largely features Brenneck on guitar with percussion as it’s a short tune at under two minutes.
Snow Day has a lazy day feel right from the start, calling back Corrine Bailey Rae’s Your Love is Mine with The New Mastersounds. The horns and Deller dominate this tune and the keys hold up well in balance. Horns again are dead center along with the keys at center-right in the mix.
Parlor Trick begins with some kick drum accompanied by downtempo, Indian-sounding horns sounding a little bit Indian. It’s a nice slow roll at only a minute and a half.
The Duke has a swirling organ opening and when the horns enter I can’t help but hear the original Charlie’s Angels television theme. Of course, its not that, but much more. Deller on the organ breaks with the horns coming hard definitely sounds like a retro tune though. There’s a nice Steinweiss-Movshon drum and bass bridge and the main melody closes to with a fade out.
Stepping Through Shadow is like a dream sequence with some low end bass, slow tempo drums and a a swee trumpet lead from Guy. The chanting chorus definitely signals Morricone-esque vibes.
Devil’s Respite has an old soul feeling but with some nice fuzzy guitar from Brenneck. Deller’s segues to between sections is a nice touch. The horn line is commanding and builds to a guitar bridge toward the end.
There Was A Man is an homage to Charles Bradley and really has a beautiful traditional soul feel. The horns play tenderly and you can definitely sense a vocal aspect to the tune. The horn head is wonderful, Each part of the band fires on all cylinders on this one. It’s a fitting end to this terrific collection of songs.
⬇ Buy Here ⬇
- Thomas Brenneck – Bass, Guitar, Mini Moog, Organ, Percussion, Piano
- Mike Deller – Farfisa Organ
- Daniel Foder – Bass
- Dave Guy – Guitar, Tambourine, Trumpet
- Bosco Mann – Bass
- Leon Michels – Organ, Percussion, Sax (Tenor)
- Nick Movshon – Bass, Drums
- Brian Profilio – Drums
- Elizabeth Pupo-Walker – Congas
- Ray Mason – Trombone
- Neal Sugarman – Executive Producer
Credits souce: AllMusic.com