BEST NEW INDIE: VULFPECK - "3 ON E" FEAT. ANTWAUN STANLEY
Vulfpeck's "3 On E" is a deliciously slippery slice of meta-funk!
Songs that come right out and tell you what they're doing are a tricky business. It runs the risk of becoming an "Electric Slide" or that Randy Newman cameo from Family Guy, where he creepily narrates everything that's happening like some singer/songwriter of Death.
But, hey, let's face it. Some music doesn't need to be complicated. It just needs to do what it does and do it well. Which, in the case of "3 On E" is just to get down and groove around the low string on a guitar or bass.
“3 ON E" - VULFPECK
"Just hit your lowest guitar string and hit it on the beat," guest vocalist Antwaun Stanley croons in a silken falsetto, describing the throbbing lowdown bassline of the chorus, while stacked funky wah guitars slice and dice the breakbeat in every possible sub-division of the beat. Given the title and the narration, we're given a hint right off the bat that "3 on E" isn't the most harmonically complicated thing in the universe. For the most part, it seems like a bass player, 2 guitar players, and a keyboardist jamming in and around the Key of E, in a style similar to the modal jazz of Miles Davis' funky electric period.
"But doesn't that get boring,", you might be wondering? Well, let's not forget that Miles Davis' Bitches Brew was able to coax out hours of some of the most inspired jazz ever laid to tape without changing chords or keys. Instead, it's just musicians finding their groove and laying into it for hours on end, like some Detroit car engine motoring to heaven.
That's exactly what's going on with "3 on E." Funk music is, by and large, dance music, let us not forget, music to make a room greasy with sweat. What more could you want or need? The bassline is the sinew that holds the single together, with Joe Dart's low-down throb and lightning fills proving beyond a doubt you could listen to musicians of Vulfpeck's calibre jam around one chord for the remainder of your life and die with a smile on your face, especially when paired with the immaculate syncopation of Theo Katzman's drums.
"3 on E," - and Vulfpeck's music in general - shows that music doesn't need to be overly complicated to be great. Sometimes it just needs to make you smile and sway and get the heck down. Vulfpeck are doing the good work, helping us all to stay happy and calm, sayeth We Are: The Guard.
J. Simpson occupies the intersection between criticism, creativity, and academia. Based out of Portland, Or., he is the author of Forestpunk, an online journal/brand studying the traces of horror, supernatural, and the occult through music, fashion and culture. He plays in the dreamfolk band Meta-Pinnacle with his partner Lily H. Valentine, with whom he also co-founded Bitstar Productions, a visual arts collective focused on elevating Pop Culture to High Art.