Singles by We Coast Records

A few months back I learned of a new record shop located in Burien, just a bit south of Seattle, called Time Tunnel Records. I eventually figured out a reason to get over there, and it’s a pretty cool little shop that’s almost exclusively used material. But they did have a few new selections, most notably six different 7″ singles released in the last year or so by a small Seattle-area label focused on soul, funk, and electro called We Coast Records. I’m always telling people to support local, so I put my money where my mouth is and bought all six, supporting both the local store and the local label.

I wanted to write about all of these in one post, and I finally found the time (and patience, because I hate dealing with 7″ records…) to sit down and spin them all. So here’s a little somethin’-somethin’ about each.

F2D – “Boogaloo” b/w “So Much More” and “Come On” b/w “Funky 45th St.”

F2D stands for “Funky 2 Death,” and this seven-piece is as advertised – funk-hay. “Boogaloo” b/w “So Much More” is the first We Coast release (WC001) and opens strong with a straight-up funky groove number called “Boogaloo,” while the flip side is pure soul with vocals by the lovely Melissa Montalto. The funk track is a party number, while the soul music is for lounging around with that special someone…

The second F2D record (WC006) opens with a great soul/funk blend which reminds me A LOT of Hungarian artist Sarolta Zalatnay, who was making music like this in the 70s and 80s. The flip side, “Funky 45th St.,” is another funktastic instrumental with emphasis on the horns and keyboards. If F2Ds live performances are anything at all like what’s on these two singles, my guess is they’re a hell of a party band.

Victortrey Funklove – “Blue Pill (Summer Pool)” b/w “Blue Pill (Summer Pool) – Instrumental”

We Coast appears to sometimes use WC and sometimes WCR as prefixes for their catalog numbers, as this Victortrey Funklove single is numbered WCR002. Not that it really matters, especially when the funk is this funky. Funklove produces some nicely danceable pop-funk with elements of James Brown, Prince, and Morris Day and The Time, with a little hip-hoppish scat thrown in for good measure. Including an instrumental version as the B side is a nice touch that will certainly appeal to the DJs out there who would like to sample some of Funklove’s funky beats.

Marmalade – “Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” b/w “Funky Place”

“Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” (WC003) is probably my favorite We Coast release. I’m not sure how many people are in Marmalade – I’m not even sure they know. They probably just count heads right before the show starts, because their Bandcamp page indicates 12+ members. “Gotta Get Up (To Get Down)” is some great dance-funk, keepin’ it funky with the horns but groovin’ with a deep rhythm section featuring some killer bass. “Funky Place” is just that, a seriously funky place, with more emphasis on the horns in a more classic funk style. I challenge you to stay in your seat while listening to Marmalade. Personally I don’t think it’s possible.

Tiffany Wilson & The Bricklayers – “Your Love” b/w “Apocalypse Party”

Tiffany Wilson definitely has an Aretha Franklin vibe on her A side “Your Love,” (WC005) but it’s on the B side that she truly shines. “Apocalypse Party” is sultry. It’s sexy. It showcases her vocal range and includes some impressive backing vocals to boot. The guitar and bass is funky, and the horns are like exclamation points placing emphasis on different points of the song. Tiffany Wilson is the female Marvin Gaye on “Apocalypse Party.”

 

Richie Aldente – “Droptop” b/w “Take My Party Serious”

It wasn’t until the last (WCR008) of these We Coast releases that we got to something with a more modern vibe. “Droptop” is sort of electro-funk, reminiscent of a less over-the-top version of Daft Punk. We’ve got vocal modulation here and some electronic music over the more traditional funk beat, and it’s pretty fantastic. The flip side is more of the same, though a little less funk and a little more disco.

 

You can listen to every single one of these songs online for free. Just go to the We Coast website HERE and you can link off to the different band Bandcamp pages to check them out for yourself, as well as order both physical and digital copies. I’ll definitely be checking back to look for more We Coast releases.

Cosmic Funk Band (C.F.B.) – “Take It To The Limit One Last Time” (2014)

“Unauthorized reproduction and use of this record as a frisbee is strictly prohibited but inevitable.”

So sayeth the disclaimer on the reverse of C.F.B.’s 2014 EP Take It To The Limit One Last Time. At least they don’t take themselves too seriously.

Cosmic Funk Band are from Ireland, and are somewhere between eight and eleven members strong depending on the source you look at (and probably the day of the week). They’ve got all the instruments covered, including stuff you’ve never heard of, and even credit a “Groove Adviser” in the liner notes. Their self-claimed influences are funk, soul, and disco, and that fits the sound of Take It To The Limit One Last Time to a T. This six-song EP is everything that was great about AM radio in the 1970s (and yes, there was some greatness on the AM dial), that combo of folk / soul / funk / disco / contemporary. You can hear some James Brown band in the horns, a touch of salsa, a little Jackson 5, a dose of Lionel Richie and Hall & Oates, all in a big band format.

I believe Take It To The Limit One Last Time is all original material, and if you asked me to describe it in just one word, that’s easy: Fun. This is a fun record. It’s a record for a party, or a BBQ, or sitting outside on a beautiful day having a drink or three, or diving in your car with the windows rolled down and the stereo cranked up. Most if the songs sound like their straight from 1975 with the possible exception of “Alone,” which could make it onto any “adult contemporary” type station out there today – it sounds current, like something that Taylor Swift might have recorded (and I mean that as a compliment).

They’ve got a handful of videos up on YouTube, including a cover of “Sexual Healing,” and I recommend you check them out if you’re into light funk / soul. Good stuff.

Sly Dunbar – “Sly-go-ville” (1982)

Percussionist Sly Dunbar is probably one of the best known reggae musicians, having played with just about everyone in the reggae world at one time or another and also alongside mainstream pop and rock artists from Bob Dylan to Herbie Hancock to the Rolling Stones. Paired with long-time collaborator and bassist Robbie Shakespeare, the two are arguably the most famous rhythm section in reggae, a genre driven by rhythm. In short, he’s good.

I’ve picked up a few other Sly & Robbie records over the last few years and never come away disappointed, so when I came across a reasonably priced copy of 1982s Sly-go-ville I figured why not. Turns out this is a sort of hybrid record. Yes, reggae is at the core. But there’s also plenty of funk and soul influence, and even a hint of dub. The opening track, “Slippin’ Into Darkness,” opens with a straight up copy of the riff from “Get Up, Stand Up” before moving off into funky territory that sounded like it belonged in a 1970s blaxploitation movie. Meanwhile on the flip side “If You Want It” is like some kind of weird techno funk with it’s heavily modulated vocal, almost a reggae version of Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do.” The last track, “Unmetered Taxi,” is a pure dub number and a good intro to the genre for newbies.

Sly-go-ville is probably a good pick for the person who claims not to be a reggae fan – there are a lot of other more familiar popular music elements present, but still recognizable reggae rhythms and even dub. Very approachable and enjoyable.