SILK RHODES – ” Barely New “

Posted: November 22, 2014 in WE LOVE
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The music Silk Rhodes make, it has been said, is very much in the style of early-‘70s soul. “It is recommended for fans of Sly and the Family Stone, the Delfonics and Al Green”, according to their PR, Well, it would be if they were trying to do it within one song, but what Silk Rhodes do is use each track as an opportunity to explore a different musical area: doo wop-inflected soul a la the Manhattans on This Painted World, Philly proto-disco on Personal Use, Riot-era Sly on Realtime, and so on. But actually, on occasions, they do manage to merge seemingly disparate influences: Hold Me Down, from their excellent self-titled debut album, the singing starts and it goes all woozy like a Sly Stone slowie – “ballad” has the wrong romantic connotations.

That singing is key, and might be make-or-break for some: the by turns nasal and falsetto vocals of Sasha Winn have a snarky quality that lend a distance, implying Silk Rhodes’ relationship with soul and funk is more cerebral than emotional. Or critical: are they wryly commenting on soul and funk’s seductive properties, The duo’s background – their name apparently “references the Deep Web drug market” and they are occasional live members of psych-pop outfits Run DMT and Salvia Plath (there’s a tab on one of their tongues in the video to the track Pains)
The music is mightily impressive. Pains, like many of the tracks, moves at a leisurely pace “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart” a gorgeous melody. Group 1987 lasts less than two minutes but could go on for hours, and despite the title is a superb nod to the Chi-Lites et al. They do veer out of their early-‘70s comfort zone: Face 2 Face, all handclaps and disco bassline, recalls Prince circa I Wanna Be Your Lover while the System has the mogadon machine beat of Dennis Edwards’ Don’t Look Any Further from 1982. Lyrically, they use soul music tropes throughout to make their point. Either way, it’s a great album, and another triumph for Stones Throw.

 

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