Hot on the heels of their most recent release, Crush, funk futurists Lettuce return with Mt. Crushmore, a collection of tracks that are easily some of the finest they have produced. Though a majority of the material on their new EP is from the Crush sessions, that speaks more to the amazing quality of that album than it does to the strength of the material here. In fact, with a focus on their spacier and more open and experimental facets, this will quickly become one of the most beloved parts of the band’s already impressive catalog.
Listen to the new EP below, and read on for our take on the new release.
A majestic, time dilated hook from The Shady Horns provides a regal introduction to the amazing space jam on title track “Mt. Crushmore.” The pulsating, stutter start beat from drummer Adam Deitch is all modern, but the lush instrumentation that surrounds it is pure timeless soul and funk. Simultaneously evoking the spirit of badly dubbed martial arts films and the fiercest dance floors, this disc seems a natural source of tunes for future film makers to mine for super fly sound track fodder.
Starting off their EP with what is easily the band’s most pure distillation of their disparate discography is a bold statement about the quality of the material being presented here. On “116th St.”, they show how adept they are at working together. The rhythm section and the melodic side share the duties of driving the musical narrative forward down a slinky, sassy road. A break out solo from Eric “Benny” Bloom sees him skip along the ever speeding melody, neither wanting or needing for a slower pace to shine.
That mix of skill and attitude is reflective of the entirety of the player in the Lettuce squad. After the long running “Lude” returns for installment number five, Lettuce plays a game of follow the leader on “Elephant Walk.” Marrying the guitar and organ while using them to double the bass and drums allows the organ and horns to explode from their respective prisons. The use of drama generates lush waves of warm and enveloping madness that sweeps all the world’s cares away.
“Ransome” shows the band capable of a slightly sinister side in an ominous opening before getting down to the organ driven boogie that is at the heart of the piece. Guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno turn in a series of performances that, when looked at as part of the body of work that also produced the full length Crush album, have to be taken as some of the finest work in the funk field. The spacier solo work contrasts so perfectly with the sped up rhythm strumming on “Ransome” that this should serve as a text book example of how players can compliment each other and still truly speak in their own musical voice.
The penultimate track is also the first single from Mt. Crushmore, “The Love You Left Behind,” and features guest vocalist and frequent collaborator Alecia Chakour in a sultry and stunning display of instant connection. That instant rapport makes her call for embracing the love around you afar more urgent and personal message, a word to the wise from an old and trusted friend. The only negative of the album is realizing that the band most known for their instrumentals could also be producing stellar work like this. Check out the track HERE.
Finally, to close out the album, the “Interlude” we have been getting peeks at for some time now is given a bit over a minute to further worm itself into our collective musical subconscious.
The real take away from Mt. Crushmore is just how much Earth shattering music Lettuce is creating right now. Even though this album just dropped, another trip into the studio would do us all a world of good. They owe it to themselves and fans of music all around the world to see just how far they can go and how down and dirty their funk can get.
Don’t miss Lettuce tonight and tomorrow night at the PlayStation Theater in New York, NY, performing with support from The Floozies and Red Baraat. More information can be found here.