About seven or so years ago, give or take, I decided I needed to take a deep dive into ‘70s funk. The metal, punk, and stoner rock all took a backseat, as I spent roughly a year devouring any, and all 70’s era funk I could get my hands on. I knew a bit of the standard like James Brown, Sly and the Family Stone, and Funkadelic/Parliament, but I really wanted to explore their catalogs more thoroughly, as well as dig into more of the obscure artists I didn’t know about.
Along the way, I discovered a bunch of contemporary neo-funk/soul bands, that I came to absolutely love, like The Heavy and The New Mastersounds, who are both from the UK. On the American side of things, I discovered a band, who, by now, have found themselves among my favorites of all time, Staten Island, New York’s inimitable The Budos Band. An unrivaled, instrumental blend of doom, funk, and ‘70s afro-soul struck a very specific aural sweet spot with me, and I’ve devoured everything they’ve released, and find myself listening to them a minimum of once a week. Sundays are generally reserved for non-rock music listening, and it’s not uncommon to find myself spinning The Budos Band’s entire discography, including EPs and singles throughout the day.
Needless to say, when I heard The Budos Band were releasing a new EP, Frontier’s Edge, their first new music since leaving their longtime label Daptone Records, and their first release on Diamond West Records, which is run by the band’s guitarist Tom Brenneck and saxophonist Jared Tankel, I immediately slapped down the money to pre-order the vinyl and t-shirt bundle, and waited patiently for them to arrive, and sure as shit, when they did, I wasn’t disappointed in the slightest.
Sonically, Frontier’s Edge picks up where recent releases like 2019s The Budos Band V, and 2020s Long In The Tooth left off, with slight hints of doom-ish guitar riffs to go along with the ‘70s brass blasts and killer percussive displays. All of this is presented in vivid detail over the course of Frontier’s Edge six songs as opener, and title track, showcase their otherworldly ability to weave guitar riffs and their horn section with the unrivaled groove of their rhythm section. The main guitar riff and percussion anchor the song, while their horn section is able to tell the story as they elicit all sorts of tension and emotion.
Frontier’s Edge plays out like a killer, unstoppable, early ‘70’s funk and afro-soul soundtrack…
Devil Doesn’t Dance features all sorts of ups and downs, the percussion being of particular note with plenty of well-placed cowbell hits, to say nothing of the organ blasts, which complement the horns and guitar so effectively. KRITN brings the funk with a truly hip-shaking groove, Mike Deller’s killer organ and some stellar brass playing with Andrew Greene’s trumpet taking center stage in places. Crescent Blade’s interplay between Deller’s organ and Brenneck’s ‘70s-style guitar lures the listener in, just as the horn section blares into the listener’s consciousness, while the percussive groove carries the song along, which allows the horns to expand and Brenneck to unleash some killer, wacka-wacka ‘70s shred. The track moves along at a pleasant, mid-paced tempo, sounding, not surprisingly, like a piece from an early ‘70s soundtrack.
The penultimate Passage To Ashinol features some killer guitar stylings anchored deftly by bassist Daniel Foder, not to mention drummer Brian Profilio acute sense of timing with plenty of funky, well-placed brass and organ stylings. Closer, Curled Steel is yet another clinic in ‘70s instrumental funk, featuring some killer guitar action, and, as per usual, plenty of awesome trumpet and saxophone all anchored by an incomparable rhythm section.
As with any The Budos Band release, Frontier’s Edge plays out like a killer, unstoppable, early ‘70’s funk and afro-soul soundtrack. Their remarkable ability to tell a story with instrumentation, evoking emotions and feelings from a brass blast here and a guitar lead there, coupled with organ flourishes, is really unparalleled in most of the music I’ve encountered, and I’ve encountered a lot. All of this is also backed up by one of the best rhythm sections in the business, and the end results are, as always, stellar.
If one needs a sonic, palette-cleanser from metal, punk, stoner and doom, do yourself a favor and check out The Budos Band, they really are one of the best outfits going today and Frontier’s Edge is the perfect entry point for the uninitiated.
Scribed by: Martin Williams