One Under – One Under
self-releasedWith members coming from ekoostik Hookah, The Shantee and The Ark, the band members of One Under sound jubilant to be out of their previous situations and making music together. The lyrics of “Joyful Days Ahead” may reference a blissful romantic getaway, but it also elicits an aura of positivity at a time when it’s not that difficult to wake up, see a preview of the day's events on TV, and erupt in a foul mood. Of course, the spirit of the song easily describes the mindset of the band.
Using a gritty funky blues foundation, opening track, “Armageddon,” immediately grasps you with a power that’s familiar yet the sounds eventually become sculpted into the group’s own identity. A similar blues-funk set up appears on two other tracks. While not as striking due to their lack of bringing more into the situation, “Double Shift” and “West Como,” an lascivious ode to the loveliness of jamband nation’s female constituents, find their success based on how well the sextet sells the material. Although those two tracks are my least favorite examples of what One Under can accomplish, what grabs me is the playing. You can actually hear the maturity of the band members where solos and interplay fit together nicely like puzzle pieces.
But there’s more to One Under than a nod to blues and funk. You can find elements of prog rock, jazz and world thrown into the musical stew. And like some utopian neighborhood, the different genres find a way to coexist, even within the confines of one song (a symbolic ode to hurricane ravaged New Orleans on “Katie’s Eye” and the breezy jazz and subtle world elements on the instrumental “Tune O’ Cello”). With its acknowledgement to the importance of space between notes, the ballad “Juniper Falls” fits much better within the context of what makes One Under shine.
But, it’s “Sundial” where One Under truly takes flight. You can hear strains of other jambands in the mix, but in the end it gracefully moves forward under the guidance of its own personality — the familiar guitar strains of Ed McGee, the playful rhythm of drummer Seth Kafoure, percussionist Johnny Polansky and bassist Patrick Kenney. The song locks on to its uplifting groove and runs with it for than eight minutes, similar to an “Eyes of the World” moment that includes levitation and soft landing. “Where Was I Now?” rides a similar wave of arpeggios that begin on organ then double up on guitar a favorite guitar progression of McGee’s that works well in these situations.
Occasionally, the enthusiasm of creation overrides the common need for a little editing, making it sound more like a live representation than a studio recording. The jam near the end of “Armageddon” is good, but a touch of conciseness brings up the usual debate of making an album versus hitting the record’ button and reproducing a live set. Still, the good vibes and stellar musicianship throughout One Under make for a bold announcement that this is one act one to watch in the future.