Grounded on a bedrock of timeless organ-based slow-whiplash grooves, Funknut finds its collective feet on the dance floor on Hit It!. Led by keyboardist/vocalist Tony Gallicchio, the New York quartet is rounded out by Tristan Greene on drums and vocals, Sean McLay on bass and vocals, and Paul McArdle on guitar. The new album, from a group in their third year, is the first with the funktastic four, and shows a keen ability to play it low-key soul style with taut rhythmic angles, and a bass-and-drums engine room which is steady and inventive. Funknut keeps it simple, sure, as this music often requires, but that doesn’t negate its groovy validity.
In the perfect little linear world, the album fluctuates moods and grooves, and starts off with a one-two punch of old school R&B hit singles, offering an edge firmly rooted in the pocket (“Hard to Get” and the languid and loose “Do What You Wanna Do”), a downtempo ride through a darkened street with the right girl in the passenger seat (“Ton of Bricks”), a song which lives up to its cosmic title (“Interstellar Funk Transmission”), but keeps the feet tethered to the dance beat, as does its riff-crunchy follow up (“Emotions”), before sliding down oh so slow and low for a taste of love during the night (“Sugar”) and anytime/anywhere, baby (“Grind It”).
Which makes the spell on the last quartet of numbers that much more engaging and enriching—jazz is pondered and toyed with from a soul music point of view (“Like That”), a rousing bit of straight-up funk is anchored by a killer raw guitar crunch (“Make It Funky”), before the slipstreams of soul and funk cross (“Pay That Rent”), and temporal lines are also joined and twisted together (“Here We Again”), as the band touches down into a patient stroll through a rhythmic jungle, neither venturing too far, nor losing the original beat (“Wind Up”). But no need to nitpick and fuss. In the end, Funknut, a frothy “keep it funky” quartet with an ability to mix it up a bit, with its Tony G organ grooves prominent in the mix, guitar on the periphery, and its tight and solid bass and drums in the fore- and background, got it right here. The future looks…well, funky. Make it so.