Recent years have brought an explosion of white-boy funk bands; every city with a breathing music scene seems to have at least one. Some of the more potent groups gain a modicum of acclaim, à la Galactic, but most lack the heat to ignite. Such is the case with New Orleans' Brotherhood of Groove, whose disc BOG Style never really catches fire.
Guitarist/bandleader Brandon Tarricone puts his name ahead of the group's moniker, so the credit - good or bad - goes to him. Too bad there isn't more of the good.
Tarricone is an able guitarist who generally fits well with his band. Beyond a few decent solos, however, there aren't a lot of standout moments.
Opener "Uptown" is a gumbo jam that should be more of a party. The track features guest Ivan Neville on organ and clavinet. Oddly, the keys are buried in the mix and Neville gets no solo. If your intent is to make a "real deal New Orleans" album (as Tarricone states in the liner notes) and you have a Neville, any Neville, you'd do well to exploit his talents.
That mistake is not made with Marco Benevento of the très hot Benevento-Russo Duo. Benevento is given several opportunities to shine, and his bold organ work lifts "Wookie World" above most of the material here.
Karl Denson's Tiny Universe guitarist Brian Jordan appears on "Get Up," but is played into a corner by other members of the Brotherhood.
Tarricone's shrewdest move was to bring in longtime James Brown saxman Jeff Watkins as producer. In fact, the horn section gives the most rewarding performances of the recording. While not quite as punchy as JB might want 'em, they're nonetheless pretty damn tight.
The biggest problem with BOG Style is Tarricone's nasal vocals. There's a misperception among nuevo-funksters that if you've got a tight band, you don't need a solid singer. BOG are no exception to this increasingly common rule.
"Green Zombies" sits somewhere between Bobby Pickett's "Monster Mash" and Vincent Price's rap on Michael Jackson's "Thriller." In other words, Tarricone's delivery is stiffer than a corpse.
BOG Style is an underwhelming album, but I imagine that, as is the case with many modern funk acts, the music is more powerful in a live setting. Hear for yourself when BOG plays the Langdon Street Café in Montpelier on Saturday, October 7. The show is a benefit for the Backbeat Fund, which assists Gulf Coast musicians. The following evening, they head to Burlington for a return engagement at Nectar's.