Breakestra, "Hit The Floor", Ubiquity Records
This is probably the best album I've heard all year. Not a single bad track on here, although I might consider reordering some of the tracks. Pretty much straight ahead funk and soul, this L.A. based band is the brainchild of Miles Tackett. The general formula: super-tight band + sweet male soul vocals = delicious goodness.
Breakestra have been around for some time; they released their first 7" single on Stones Throw back in 1999. They followed it up with a live album on Stones Throw in 2001 and an EP in 2002, along with a host of singles.
A jump to Ubiquity Records followed in 2004, with the release of the first single culminating in the album "Hit The Floor." The band is ridiculously tight; largely due to the unsung efforts of Josh Cohen on drums and Mr. Tackett himself on bass. This is most notable on the nearly nine minute long epic, "How Do You Really Feel?" This track has a tendency to wander off into space jam territory, but as the guitarist noodles off, invariably the drummer snaps it right back into a tight little groove.
One track, "Family Rap," features Chali 2na and Soup of Jurassic 5 and Double K of People Under The Stairs. This track feels a lot like a throwback to the straight party era of hip-hop, recalling the Furious Five, Treacherous Three, and more.
In general, though, the sound is much more like James Brown than anything else. In fact, if you didn't know better, you might actually think that these songs were recorded in the 70's and simply remastered. Wolf does an admirable job on the vocals, and the songs (all written by Tackett) provide a lovely structure for both Wolf and the instrumentalists to riff on. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best releases of the year.