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In the late ‘80s and early ‘90s, amidst the omnipresent big hair of the former decade and the burgeoning alternative sounds of the latter, there was a boom of hybrid bands that masterfully straddled the line with a funky edge. Names like Faith No More, Extreme and pre-Blood Sugar Red Hot Chili Peppers come to mind; some like Extreme eventually being squashed under the weight of grunge and others like the Chilis riding the new alt-rock wave to the promised land.
Though funk rock, funk metal or whatever title may be bestowed upon this unique and infectious mixture is a far cry from its former viability in that transitional period in music, plenty of bands today are still keeping the spirit going and tuning it up to be even more fun and technical than before. One of those is One Time Weekend, a fresh new band out of Connecticut who has quite craftily taken that original groove-laden spirit of 30 years yonder and infused it with a clean, melodic and progressive edge.
Their first album Weekend At The Circus embodies this air-tight balancing act to a tee. The first track, “Dongo Bongo!” (not to be confused with Wango Tango) melds intricate, crashing drum patterns with colorful Chon-Esque riffs and contagious bass. “Cavity” slows things down but kicks up the funk- at least for a minute or so before breaking into a motor-mouthed, banjo-assisted country shuffle not once, not twice, but thrice. It’s not quite Mr. Bungle weird, but it’s close- and pretty intriguing too.
“Omelet”, a rapid, rappin’, slappin’ blast of funk flawlessly resurrects the Uplift Mofo Party Plan flavor of old, throwing in a Rage-like breakdown to boot before giving way to some well-tailored, impressive soloing. “One Time Weekend” is a lengthy-though-catchy tune centered around a typical reggae trot, eventually evolving into an uptick solo section then descending back to its original form. “Soda Pop Jesus” provides a similar one-two punch, coming off at first like funked-up Winery Dogs then throwing Carlos Santana on the track alongside Richie Kotzen with a Latin-tinged interlude.
“Dr. Funk” brings the horns out in force, sounding like an early prototype of “Uptown Funk” that was sampled or at least interpolated by Bruno Mars years after its release. “Deeper Shade Of Blue” is what smooth jazz could be if all the songs in the genre weren’t exactly the same, throwing in an obligatory high dose of funk and an irresistible chorus that could get even the staunchest stick in the mud up on his feet and moving. “Cottage Grove” is a slow groover with a bass backing thick as cement and a vibe so old school you could hear a 22-year old Snoop Dogg flowing over it.
“Heavyweight” returns to the reggae thematics of “One Time Weekend”, much in the vein of “D’yer Mak’er” though a bit bouncier of course. The grand finale, “Gandalf” revisits the proggy guitar work of “Dongo Bongo!” and pulls out all the stops, shifting complex harmonies and tempos damn near every minute and twisting and winding down a diverse sonic path more multi-faceted than the Lord Of The Rings itself. After all these highly technical bends and detours, the track ends quite humorously on an exceptionally poppy outro and at last, fades off into the creative cosmos from whence it came.
Going off of the merit of this first release, One Time Weekend is a stupendously talented outfit that deserves a world of recognition. They can make you groove and make you think- catch your ear and capture your feet at the same time. It would be great to see them churn out some radio-accessible singles in the future without compromising this mind-blowing sound and prowess they have worked so hard to establish, though the overall unpredictability of much of their material is one of many things that graces them with flair and character. In short, One Time Weekend should not be a one time deal. They have shown that many times on this album alone, and there should be many more times to come.
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Matt Derraugh is a musician and freelance writer based out of Winnipeg, Canada. He is a lifelong drummer and avid fan of music in general and seeks to fulfill his passion for the art by writing on it as well as playing it with a series of local bands across various genres.