Local trio Trifectafunk celebrate the release of their new self-titled EP (the group's second effort) this Friday at the East End Café. Locals The Rumpke Mountain Boys and Headband also perform. The band follows up that show with an in-store performance at Everybody's Records in Pleasant Ridge at 2 p.m. Saturday.
Though only three tracks long, the new EP is a good sampler of Trifectafunk's overall sound, which brings together some fantastic instrumental performances with light Blues, Funk and Jazz influences. But at its core, Trifectafunk is a progressive Pop band, as the group adds verve to the melodic, piano-based songs of singer/keysman Tristan Eckerson. Eckerson's abilities on the keys are impressive, creating a robust, intense aura. Drummer Elliot Koop and bassist Ben Cochran add to full-bodied drive, crafting a sturdy base and acting as more than just "sidemen" with their intuitive, very musical playing.
Piano-based Pop/Rock has had somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Ben Folds Five showed that guitars weren't a nonnegotiable requirement for all Rock bands in the '90s (Trifectafunk can probably call Folds their closest kindred spirit, though their music is a bit more open-ended and adventurous than Folds'), while more recent acts from Coldplay to The Fray have made the piano a central component of their sound.
The most accessible song on Trifectafunk's EP is opener "Pain and a Dream," a jaunty yet soulful slice of buoyant Pop that is structurally unbounded, slipping into a bombastic bridge two minutes in where Koop gets a little Keith Moon-y with the fills and the energy jumps considerably, cresting with an almost Gospel-like rave-up. The song ends with an organ-laden coda akin to the final minutes of "Layla" (minus, of course, the guitar leads).
If the track "Rat Race" had guitar, it might be a Punk or Speed Metal song, as it explodes right out of the gate at a break-neck pace, though still drenched in Eckerson's waterfall of keys. Speaking of pace, closer "Walking Backwards" is a nice shift, as the band bobs on a funky, spicy groove of which Dr. John would approve. The bluesy shuffle also features Eckerson's best vocal turn — while his voice sounds a little strained on the previous tracks, "Walking Backwards" seems to be the perfect fit for his range and he sounds right at home in the more R&B-ish setting. The EP's only downside comes on the first two tracks — while great songs instrumentally, the melodic thoughts seem incomplete and the hooks just aren't that strong. Still, Trifectafunk are doing something really unique here and as they continue to develop, they'll likely come up with something with more impact and focus within the songs. Trifectafunk is more than likely just a taste of even better things to come. (myspace.com/trifectafunk)
Rumors, Lies and General Misunderstandings
· The Steven Gregory Band makes its debut in the Cincinnati area this week, as the group performs at Arnold's Friday with One Week and the Beau Alquizola Band. Gregory has been playing as a solo acoustic act for the past several years in the area (and beyond: Last year he did a two-week tour of the U.K.). Gregory's 2006 release, Complicated Simple Thing, featured a "full band" sound, so he set about forming a backing group for live shows. Gregory is joined in the band by drummer Kevin Murray, guitarist Casey Lamb and bassist Jeff Conner, who worked with Gregory on both of his CDs. (stevengregoryband.com)
· Folk singer/songwriter Jake Speed will celebrate — what else? — love on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) at Arnold's. Speed is calling the show "Speedy Kind of Love" and the night will feature songs written for his wife. Starting at 7 p.m., the first set will feature just Speed singing about a dozen songs he's written for his wife over the years but never played in his sets. Speed's band The Freddies will join in for a second set, which will include songs like "Love is the Screw" (which Speed wrote for his song-a-week "Speedy Delivery" project last year) and "Queen City Rag," the song playing as the couple walked down the aisle at their wedding. (freddiesmusic.com)
· Also on the Valentine's tip is the "Sweet Love" concert at the Madison Theater in Covington this Monday. The show is a tribute to late Jazz radio legend Oscar Treadwell (the event is being put together by his final radio home, WVXU) and features performances from the Steve Schmidt Trio, Cohesion Jazz Ensemble, The Blue Wisp Big Band and a Jazz combo from the College-Conservatory of Music at UC (proceeds from the show go to CCM Jazz Studies Department and the Jazz Alive program). The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
CONTACT MIKE BREEN: mbreen(at)citybeat.com