Mon 5 Oct 2020

“Vibe is a quintessential element in what I’m going for,” says Menahan Street Band co-founder, multi-instrumentalist and producer Thomas Brenneck. “Vibe, mood and emotion.” 

Those three elements are all over The Crossing, the second full-length offering from the Menahan Street Band, and the follow-up to 2008’s oft-sampled Make The Road By Walking. From the opening drum roll of the ominous title track, through the final burst of wah-wah guitar on the closing Ivory and Blue, The Crossing takes you on a cinematic instrumental journey through a nocturnal landscape of moods and emotions, propelled by funky, hip-hop-influenced grooves and dream-like horn and keyboard melodies. Despite The Menahan Street Band’s deep connections to the Brooklyn soul scene — The MSB backed Charles Bradley on his acclaimed 2011 album No Time For Dreaming, and its members have played and recorded with Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, Antibalas, The El Michels Affair and The Budos Band, to name a few — The Crossing isn’t soul music per se… it’s more like “dark night of the soul” music. 

In March 2013, Menahan Street Band played live from Studio 5 on Miss Goldie’s legendary show Boss Action - ‘a perfect match,’ says Elle Young who has a deep affection for the band and who’s very excited to replay this classic session on Headhunters on October 5.   

In May this year, the band came back with an atmospheric slow burner titled Queens Highway. The opening guitar lick, accompanied by percolating bass and a gorgeous flourish of horns provide an ethereal, almost psychedelic bedrock for the groove to build upon. The vocal melody, courtesy of The Gospel Queens, enters like the first warm breeze of spring, immersing the listener in a wash of soulful ecstasy. 

This single, says Elle Young, ‘signals a long-awaited return from the Brooklyn based instrumental soul rhythm section, who are known for their astute and unwavering dedication to analogue 60's soul and funk.’  

The single is a small, albeit enticing sample of their forthcoming album The Exciting Sounds Of. In the meantime, we have their funky Studio 5 Live session to enjoy. 

Tune in to Headhunters on Monday October 5 from 5pm to hear the rebroadcast of Menahan Street Band's Studio 5 Live performance on PBS. 

Studio 5 Live is brought to you by our friends at Mountain Goat.