Scat-Free Funk

THE GROOVE SYNDICATE
(SELF-TITLED 4-TRACK DEMO)

The Groove Syndicate, a multi-ethnic, multicity group of blaring horns, scratchy guitars and an ever-bobbing bass, add some funk to OC's punk-and-junk scene with this self-titled release. Sounding a bit like Kool & the Gang during their "Hollywood Swingin'" days, this demo seamlessly captures the fun-kay performances the band offer almost every weekend at Hennessey's in Laguna Beach—probably because three of the four tracks were recorded there during a recent gig. After an almost-divine opening cut ("The Garden," which could easily be sung en masse at a tent revival hosted by the Reverend Al Green), the next three songs are culled from Groove Syndicate's continuous experiment in proving that funk can exist without the scatological fun of Parliament or the scowls of James Brown. With lyrics about the mundane and miraculous of love and life and tighter-than-Bootsy-Collins musicianship, they're brimming with positive energy. But what sets the band apart from other local outfits are the pipes of lead singer Natalie Martin, who brings to mind not funk but old-timey jazz singers with her insecure-yet-assertive voice. Even when expressing uncertainty about the future ("Wonder if I'll see you there/Wonder if I'll make it there myself" on "The Garden"), her intonations reassure you that no matter what happens, everything's gonna be all right—as long as you remember to shake your ass.

Info: (949) 722-8863; www.thegroovesyndicate.com.

—Gustavo Arellano

OC and Long Beach bands and musicians! Mail your CDs and tapes (along with your vital contact info, plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only,OC Weekly, P.O. Box 10788, Costa Mesa, CA 92627-0247.

 
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