The New Mastersounds have long been one of my favorite bands recorded and live. The pandemic put both of those on hold for nearly three years – the last time I saw them was exactly three years ago at Terminal West in Atlanta. NMS from Leeds, England, have been around for more than 20 years and are a leader in retro funk. Over the years, they’ve evolved from being largely an instrumental group with the four core players melding perfectly together to inclusive of more vocals, especially on The Deplar Effect and the previous album Shake It. Both feature Lamar Williams Jr. a fantastic vocalist who appears on 7 of the 13 tracks here.
The Deplar Effect was recorded at Floki Studios in the valley of Eleven Experiences’ Deplar Farm in Troll Peninsula, Iceland. Color Red, Eddie Roberts’ label, partnered with Eleven Music to release the album as their inaugural release and the session was the first one to take place at the brand new studio. Here’s how they describe the album full circle.
My twist on the title is the Doppler effect, a scientific principle that explains how changes in frequency of a sound wave are produced by a moving source with respect to a listener. For me it symbolizes the change in the sound of NMS over time and distance – and it produces a new, auditory delight of an album. Here’s my track-by-track coverage.
Watchu Want is a very aptly named opener – what long-time fans want is that rock solid, ingrained NMS boogaloo and soul-jazz sound. This one, as an opener serves as their traditional homage to The Meters. It kicks of with a kick of the drum and some of Eddie Roberts’ hot guitar licks to establish the main theme. Pete Shand’s on bass and Simon Allen on drums form one of the best funk rhythm sections around. Joe Tatton takes the first swirling solo on Hammod C3 and it’s creamy smooth. The track is a classic NMS album intro.
Gonna Get In My Way is a Lamar Williams Jr. vocal showcase as he cruises along seamlessly with the band. Joe Tatton takes a swirling turn on the C3 midway before Lamar comes back on track. The band rolls out with the head up to the close.
Hot Tub is the only tune with horns (Sheter Pand’s on trumpet and trombone) and it’s winner with a bouncy melody. The instrumental separation is so clean as to highlight each player’s skills. The horns carry the main melody but each player has some accenting fills that make the tune a very interesting listen in multiple levels.
Let Me In From The Cold is, ironically, a scorcher with Lamar’s blazing vocals. It’s about breaking through to a girlfriend who’s iced him out. It starts with some funky bass and fuzzed guitar from Pete and Eddie – then it’s off to the races with the catchy lyrics. Joe again has a monster B3 solo midway and he crushes it. The outro is a Lamar – Joe cruise. It’s a nice intermezzo for the rest of the album.
Highlining highlights Pete Shand’s groovy bass line starting with the intro. This is some hard driven funk reminiscent of tunes like Harlem River Drive from Bobbi Humphrey. The pulsating melody with some Lamar’s sultry vocals accompanied by some background lyric pop-ins is definitely gonna get the live shows dancing.
Organism is an organ plus guitar dominant tune with some damn funky rhythms as well. Joe has yet another excellent solo with Pete and Simon in lockstep as always. Eddie takes over with some pinpoint guitar with his 1965 Gibson 330 talking the main melody. This tune will fit in well with all the classic NMS catalog.
Meet You In The Sunshine is a downtempo favorite of mine. It has a classic Southern rock and bluesy feel. The band cruises along with the lyrics and breaks as Lamar continues with the refrain. The lyrics tell the narrators sojourn and laments through life. Joe takes a New Orleans-style piano solo with a little for most of the second half and it’s a beauty.
High On The Mountain is gentler Lamar vehicle cruising with some rolling soft support from the band. It accelerates with the background chorus and drops down to a Joe solo and kicks back full steam with the full vocal crew. It’s a feel good soulful old school tune.
Could’ve Been So Good feels a little like something from the Ramsey Lewis catalog with Joe riding up front and then Eddie riffing further on with them combining to jam up to the close.
Hey, It’s All Right is another downtempo tune which is so well-suited for Lamar’s vocals. Eddie’s plucky picking accentuates the beginning with some rattling percussion and continues throughout. This is by far the longest tune on the album, clocking at just over 10 minutes. Eddie takes an extended funk solo midway with Pete’s booming bass and Simon’s heavy pocket punching it out. Joe’s up next on percolating piano and organ, Eddie and Joe trade off a bit and the band glides along with some deep acid jazz grooves. Super fun to hear the band comment about the “hippity, hoppity” nature of the tune on the outro.
Northern Lights is a chill instrumental showcasing Eddie’s guitar work but with Joe paralleling him on most of the melody. One of the beauties of NMS tunes like this is the counterpoint playing of each member. Joe has a gorgeous piano in the second half segueing to Pete bouncing with Simon bouncing out to the end.
Georgie Famous is a heater and obvious homage Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames famous for the “Yeh, Yeh” song. It definitely has that 60s feel. Super fuzzed guitar breaks and Pete and Simon’s perfect rhythm drive this one along. Joe absolutely rips his solo organ section and he’s all over that keyboard. Wow!
Before is a smooth ballad with Lamar’s vow to change past behavior in the lyrics. It’s got a little dreamlike feel of some 70s soul. Joe’s piano comes through brisk and bright before the transition to organ. The production values are high as ever with each member in sync to the mood of the song.
Purchase on BandCamp 🡇
Stream on Spotify 🡇
- Eddie Roberts – Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Tambourine, Congas, Wood Block, Shaker
- Joe Tatton – Electric Organ, Fender Rhodes, Acoustic Piano
- Pete Shand – Bass
- Simon Allen – Drums, Bongos
- Lamar Williams Jr. – Vocals, Background Vocals
- Wade Koeman – Handclaps
- Gene McAward – Handclaps
- Patrick Rowley – Handclaps
- Matt Walker – Handclaps
- Chad Pike – Cowbell
- Sasha Crooks – Vibra-Slap