Tuesday, 23 August 2011

THE STEPKIDS album review


THE STEPKIDS (SELF TITLED ALBUM)

The Stepkids are not what you would call a conventional band/group; instead they are the culmination of many styles and genres and three individuals all of which are pulling in the same direction. No deadwood here. The collective is made up of three singer/songwriters including guitarist Jeff Gitelman, who up to recently was the touring guitarist for Alicia Keys. He is joined by bassist/keyboard player Dan Edinberg and finalised by drummer Tim Walsh whose East Coast jazz and strong R&B chops give the music a strong foundation for the more psychedelic ideas layered on top.

In interviews the band are very clear to point out that each song is a definite group effort with everyone giving 100% all the time to the groove, lyrics and overall mood of each track. The song ‘Shadows on Behalf’ features every member covering what seems like multiple parts as well as vocals. For a home cooking recording listening to the whole piece, on headphones especially, is a wonder to experience.

‘Legend In My Own Mind’ is so Sly Stone you almost get frustrated due to the fact that Sly himself can’t produce such gems any more. A great song/production.

Listening to the album influences from artists such as Sly Stone, Parliament and even Chic (for the rhythm section) make appearances but nothing that leans on anyone else’s work, there is no standing on the shoulders of giants here, more just appreciative nods to their heroes and influences, which in my opinion is the truest form of flattery rather than just simply making a cookie cutter facsimile of an original song. If the Isle of White band, The Bees, had cousins over the pond you might expect they sound like The Stepkids.

'Santos & Ken’ mixes Stevie Wonder with almost Todd Rundgren psychedelia, a standout track on this barely 10 track album (2 songs include ‘Intro’ and ‘Outro’).

Another personal favourite from this collection is the Phillie funk of ‘Cup Half Full’ which mixes sweet vocals with almost jazz/funk chords à la Steely Dan, while keeping things bouncy and grounded thanks to the aforementioned solid drumming and bass.

Just purely for the pedigree of the musicians involved I think The Stepkids will be a definite “one to watch” live act on the circuit.


The Stepkids is released on the 26th September through Stones Throw Records
http://www.myspace.com/thestepkids

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