By definition funk actually means a state of fear or great panic but in a sonic sense that couldn’t be further from the truth. While it’s been appropriated numerous times since its introduction in the late 1960s, it’s still distinguishable by groovy rhythms and soulful harmonies specially designed for movement. Funk has managed to infiltrate most genres these days and now occupies electronic music, hip-hop and even pop. When you get it wrong it’s cheesy-as-hell but when it’s on-point, it’s right in the pocket. Here are 10 new songs that are of the latter breed...
Breakbot - 2GOOD4ME
Breakbot are one of the pioneers of modern electro-funk. Their music is drenched in slick rhythms and groovy guitar licks, tied together with tempo-driving beats. 2GOOD4ME is taken from their second record Still Waters and it’s a minimalist tune that breaks down the elements of funk and pieces them back together in a slow but sultry fashion. Funk has always been refreshing and this sound like a cool glass of water.
Mind Enterprises - Loverboy
You don’t hear a lot of music coming out of Italy but Andrea Tirone, better known as Mind Entreprises, is Italian-born and is making funk with a healthy dosage of Italo-disco. He may live in London now but he still brings the Italian vibes to Loverboy - a smooth-as-hell jam defined by its rumbling bassline and perky synth-work. Also, is there anything more funk than telling someone, “I’m your loverboy”. Billy Ocean would certainly argue not.
Midas Hutch - The High
Midas Hutch is a clever play on the phrase midas touch which is appropriate because The High is pure gold. The High takes a page out of the ‘80s electro-funk manual coated with thick basslines and cheesy synths that burst with colour. This ones brought into 2016 with soulful vocals courtesy of London singer Bluey Robinson who lays down a Craig David-esque vocal that’s super smooth. Hang around for the horns at the end, that’s when shit really goes down.
Remi - For Good (Feat. Sampa The Great)
Funk’s birthplace isn’t exactly Australia but it’s starting to find its way into a fair bit of our hip-hop music and Remi is using it to his full advantage. This tune is the first single off Remi’s forthcoming record Divas & Demons and it features Sampa The Great who you may remember as the girl who twisted and screwed funk and hip-hop on her The Great Mixtape. For Good stomps away with a beat that takes cues from Kendrick Lamar. There are groovy guitars, a swaggering beat and best of all, an injection of reggae that flavours things up a bit.
Koi Child - Touch ‘Em
Koi Child are another Aussie hip-hop act bringing funk to the table but they’re also looking to the improvised jazz world for inspiration. Touch ‘Em from their self-titled, debut album out today blares at you from the get-go with horns that James Brown would’ve been proud of. So much funky music these days is low-key but this is not. It’s explicitly made for moving fusing an impeccable flow with drums from the rock world and horns that’ll blast you into next Tuesday.
Yeo - VCR Play
Like Midas Hutch, Yeo looks to the ‘80s for his electro-funk inspiration and as such there’s a healthy amount of cheese melted on this jam. VCR Play is off his latest album Ganbaru and it brings the funk with a wobbly bassline and guitars that sound like they were ripped straight from a jam-sesh. It’s packed with flavoursome melody and synth-lines that’ll make you feel a little dirty for enjoying so much.
Jameszoo - Flake
Brainfeeder has delivered some of the most wildly innovative jazz and funk of the last decade from Flying Lotus to Kamasi Washington and of course, the current king of bass, Thundercat. Jameszoo’s Flake is one of their most recent excellent drops and it’s flooding with funk influences. The wobbly guitar is the star of the track but the jazz piano that stars in the end is also worth hanging around for. It’s a pretty minimal track but he expertly uses all the right ingredients to make it something strangely danceable.
Anderson .Paak - Am I Wrong?
It’s pretty hard not to make funk music when you have a voice like James Brown. Anderson .Paak is fast emerging as one of the best voice around right now and while his latest album Malibu is full of throwback soul cuts, Am I Wrong? sounds like 2016. It tips its hat to modern beatmakers like Kaytranada but also uses distinct elements of funk like the soul-reaching bassline and the perky horn solo at the end. Paak also comes at the beat with an undeniable vocal confidence.
Nao - Fool To Love
British newcomer Nao’s music sounds futuristic. It’s crisply produced and full of tricky techniques that make it sound innovative and fresh. But most inventers use something as their base and Nao’s base is funk (and bass). Fool To Love is packed full of delectable sounds from the groovy synths to the light harmonising. It’s part Janet Jackson, part 1960s funk masters and part futuristic.
Chiara Hunter - Hammer
You can’t just have any voice if you’re going to call your music funk. It’s got to be supremely soulful with a depth that can compete with explicitly confident instruments. London-based Aussie Chiara Hunter has that voice and she’s serving up futuristic electro-funk full of personality. Hammer is off her Strange Relationships EP and is so danceable that it hurts to sit still and listen. It’s definitely got a modern feel to it but there are also throwback elements to awake the nostalgia inside of you.
- Words by the interns' Sam Murphy for Cool Accidents