Felonious Groove Foundation
By Simon McCormack
If you're in search of soulful funk and R&B in New Mexico, Felonious Groove Foundation is the best game in town.
Take nostalgic, brass and wa-wa pedal-driven grooves and update them with turntables and one of the best local emcees, and you've got a sound that makes danceaholics out of everyone; from funk fanatics to savvy music critics to anemic, skinny nerds.
After spending most of their recent weekends playing shows in Southwestern locales like Phoenix, Tucson, Denver and Telluride, FGF is returning to Albuquerque on Saturday, August 20, for their CD release party at the Launchpad. The show will feature special guests, who contributed to the new Paper Tiger LP, including Jeff Romaniuk of Simple and Orlandis Dawson and Emily Williams from the Buddha Betties.
Vocalist Todd Lovato (aka Skinnyfat) says Paper Tiger is FGF's most adventurous album, sending the band careening from traditional funk songs to doo-wop, salsa, bluegrass and reggae. "My favorite part about the new album," Lovato says, "is how these weird, diverse genres fit together into one work."
Lovato spent hundreds of hours with fellow bandmate Cali Soberanes, overdubbing and multitracking Paper Tiger to make it the band's most refined and talent-laden album to date. "The production process really forced us to examine our songwriting and playing, which made us more mature as a band," Lovato says.
Maturity doesn't begin to describe the polished sound of Paper Tiger. The increased production pays dividends for every aspect of FGF's sound. In particular, the vocals and record scratching are much stronger on the new record than on previous FGF releases. Lovato's voice is layered and thick, and on some tracks you can hear a little Anthony Kiedis in his reverberating vocals. Although scratching isn't overly prevalent on the album, FGF makes sure that when turntables are in the mix, they don't sound vague or dropped in.
The band adds some nice touches like slide-guitar and even banjo on one song. Not exactly what you would expect from a band that has previously been content, for the most part, to stick with straight funk. But FGF isn't about to leave its previously traditional sound behind. There are at least three tracks that make it clear the band can still funk things up in a more conventional fashion.
As good as the album is, nothing beats a live FGF show for raw energy and crowd-pleasing tunes. As Lovato explains, "our main goal [in making music] is to please our fans and make them get out and dance." While you're at the show, make sure you dance your way over to the CD counter and pick up a copy of Paper Tiger.
Felonious Groove Foundation plays the Launchpad on Saturday, August 20, with special guests Mystic Vision, One Foundation and La Junta. Admission is $5 for the 21-and-over event.
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Sloan Armitage • acoustic, singer-