Coming from a group of skinny white boys, I'm not sure If I'm supposed to be amused or offended by the cover art of Four Deep's "Bruthas From Another Mutha"; An afro-clad space sista's about to tongue the sweat from a smaller, paler satellite sporting a nervous grin. Come to think about it, it's probably perfectly appropriate. I choose to be amused. Click "Read More" below for Mitch's review.
Band: Four Deep
Title: "Bruthas From Anotha Mutha" (ep)
Band Members: Paul Winterhalter (drums); Marcus Christy (lead vocals, guitar); Brendan Robinson (lead guitar, vocals); Brent Shammami (bass)
Recorded at: The Stellar Cellar, Lincoln Park, MI.
Mastered at: The Tempermill, Ferndale, MI.
"Bruthas From Anotha Mutha" is a five-song sampler of reggae, ska, funk and blues. It begins with what sounds like a parody of funk called, "Get On Up", on which singer/guitarist Marcus Christy bellows in a sinewy, Jagger-esque falsetto, "Ooh, ooh, Gonna getcha' baby / Ooh, ooh, gonna getcha' baby". This band can deliver a groove but choose the path of least resistance when it comes to the hook and lyrics. A awkwardly placed expletive in the chorus prompts a groan and a click on the "advance" button.
Things improve quite a bit on track two, "Wolves in Sheeps Clothing". Here a funky clav spars with a bass & drum groove that'll make your head dance. Christy snarls a bit more in his vocal delivery here which adds some needed character and drama. An uptick in the tempo and a strategically placed cabasa make for a more interesting and dynamic chorus than the previous track.
This ep peaks at track three with the reggae/ska gem entitled, "You Should Be With Me" on which the elements of groove, hook and lyric gel to create a winner. This is the kind of song that would compel me to shed my inhibitions and hit the dance floor - alone or with just a drink for company. Guitarist Brenden Robinson supplements Christy's reggae rhythm with a groovy wah-wah lead, ala-New Bohemians. But the most notable and admirable characteristic of Four Deep's sound is the timely percussive crack of Paul Winterhalter's snare. His drumming is tight, funky, extremely articulate (which must be a dream for smoothy bassist Brent Shammami) and provides the cardinal foundation for this band. Good work here.
An acoustic guitar, Dobro slide and harmonica provide a pleasing and bluesy contrast on "Mr. Dopeman". The song is rich in texture, including some nice incidental percussion, but the hurried tempo and goofy lyrical treatment of the heavy subject matter (heroin addiction) make it seem like a imprudent caricature of human misery. Another conspicuously placed expletive causes a whince and the balance of lyrics just sound like the first thing that came to mind. Next.
Finally, at the bottom of the downward spiral we find "Bumpin'", which mixes reggae and rap with what sounds like a hearty dose of frat-house frolic. This song is probably a lot of fun at the campus pub around 2 am, or perhaps if you need background music for beer-bongin' at home. Indeed, there's an element of fun on every track on this ep which shouldn't be disregarded (except by aging cranks like me who just don't drink like they used to), but the atonal torture of the chorus vocals on "Bumpin'" turns "Bruthas from anotha Mutha" into something more like "Rowdy Fun with the Funky Junky Cracker Band".
Two out of five ain't bad. - Mitch
Track Listing (hear it on CD Baby)
1. Get On Up
2. Wolves In Sheeps Clothing
3. You Should Be With Me
4. Mr. Dopeman