Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part of our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Each and every Friday we deliver songs by local artists. Today’s selection, featured on the Afternoon Show with Kevin Cole, is “The Gift” by The Whitefield Brothers from the 2010 album Earthology on Now-Again Records.
The Whitefield Brothers are a “raw-soul” outfit that pulls no punches whatsoever. Formed by Poets of Rhythm founding members Jan and Max Whitefield, this German duo pulls together what equates to a steam engine’s worth of auditory power blending classic 70’s sounding African beats with an onslaught of instrumentation from Eastern influenced horns and flutes to steel drums, pianos and organs. While bands like Vampire Weekend use bits and pieces of this sound as building blocks to their popular structure (not dissing –- I’m a fan), The Whitefield Brothers up the ante in a way that concentrates the funk. It’s like do you want your funk beats on the rocks or neat? From The Tin Hat or Bal Mar? The Whitefield Brothers are serving up Tin Hat soul neat. Okay now that we’re on the same page -– let us move on.
Earthology is the hugely anticipated follow-up to Jan and Max’s debut, In the Raw (originally on Soul Fire in 2001, reissued on Now Again in 2009). Often referred to as a “wear-your-heart-on-your-sleeve” modern funk masterpiece In the Raw cemented the attitude and sound of the Brothers Whitefield. Forceful and unapologetic this initial offering is an eclectic combination of traditional modern. Earthology‘s “The Gift (featuring Edan and Mr. Lif)” is a perfect example of this duality -– beginning slowly with the kind of primal (but ominous) jazz sounds that hint at something big just around the bend the song hangs a slow left and ultimately finding a home in fuzzy psychedelic hip-hop with far reaching, signature Whitefield roots.
Currently, there are no plans yet for the Brothers to hit the States, so for now enjoy this “video” for “NTU/Safari Strut”, two songs from Earthology: