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Album Review

Like a Tree

Just when you thought the seventies were finally behind you, out steps a band like GrooveAttic to make you believe that maybe they were not an era but a state of mind. These four Canadian dudes grab every note left over from the resurgence of psych, prog and rock of that decade and retreat into a magnified and modernized soul/funk/jazz fusion reminiscent of artists like Earth Wind & Fire, Herbie Hancock, Return To Forever and the cast of thousands that made music on that side of the spectrum. Toss in a side of Steely Dan and season it with a sprinkle of Hall & Oates' Abandoned Luncheonette and you almost have an idea of what groovin' in the attic is.

Their card says “funk/soul/groove”. My guess is that the groove is the short fusion jam the band seems to put in the middle of most of the songs--- jazz piano, mainly, over some of the funkiest and grooviest rhythms this side of the seventies, with the occasional immaculate guitar lead thrown in for good measure. The funk and soul, of course, are obvious, provided by the smooth voice of one Kurt Skjaevestad, who writes songs like he is living those days. These are not recreations, my friends, but original songs written from some deep link to the music of the period. No doubt, cohorts Jordan Peters (guitar), Nicolas Bedard (Bass), and Kevin Warren (drums) share that link, and an exhilarating ride, to boot.

Outstanding tracks? There are ten here. Pick your mood, your preference, your style. Smooth, jazzy, funky. They do it all so well only an idiot would try to pick one over another. I tried listening to tracks. It didn't work. When the chosen track ended, I had to let it go on because I knew the next track would be as good, and the next. The result is that when I listen to these guys, I listen from beginning to end--- and I dig every damn note, every break, every solo. What do clowns say when they don't know anything? I don't know art but I know what I like? Well, I do know music and in this case it doesn't matter what I like. Good is good and GrooveAttic, on Like a Tree, is great. You can quote me.

This is an era of tribute bands, which I suppose is okay. Whatever floats your boat, you know? But these guys are not paying tribute to anything. These guys are writing and playing the music they want to play. There is a huge difference and you hear the difference on every track, at every moment. Listen to the slashing lead guitar on Dedication and tell me it's not inspired. Listen to the harmonies on Cover My Eyes With Your Hands, the jazzy piano break and the female backing vocals on Prove Me Wrong, the electric piano/guitar intro to By Your Side. This is inspiration. To be able to copy music like this is impressive, but to make it live, that is magic. And these guys make it live. I swear to God.

Listening to GrooveAttic brings back so many memories--- bell bottoms, afros, facial hair. It really should not feel this fresh, but it does. I guess it's true what they say about music being timeless. If I walked into a club today and heard these guys I'm sure I would have a flashback, but it wouldn't last. A couple of minutes and I would be sucked into the music and all that would matter would be the here and now. When music is this good, it is all that matters.

Frank O. Gutch Jr.

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