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Published: 2008/10/20
by Brad Farberman

Make the Road By Walking – Menahan Street Band

Dunham Records

In preparation for this article, I found myself downloading a Jay-Z album. Which is strange, because I don’t care for said artist’s music, or for hip hop in general (although it was sort of cool when I saw him come out with Phish at Coney Island kind of). However, upon discovering that Mr. Z had scored a hit in 2007 with a single (“Roc Boys”) that drew its main sample from a track by the Menahan Street Band (“Make The Road By Walking”), I wanted to check it out. Needless to say, I was not impressed.

I was impressed, however, by Make The Road By Walking, the debut full-length from Menahan Street Band. Make The Road is raw, funky, and endlessly soulful, as one would expect it to be, given the personnel.

MSB is headed up by one Thomas Brenneck, guitarist for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings and The Budos Band, and filled out by members of those groups plus cats from Antibalas and El Michels Affair. And if those names don’t ring a bell, I’ll spell it out for you: these are bad musicians, making soul music in 2008, mostly for the Daptone label out of Bushwick, Brooklyn. And if you are unfamiliar with this world, Make The Road would be as fine an introduction as any.

“Home Again!” finds the MSB enjoying a day at the beach, dropping punchy horn lines on top of a soothing (but funky) acoustic guitar hook. The two-chord vamp “Esma” features a latin vibe and plenty of piano, and the aptly-titled “Montego Sunset” has a decidedly Studio One feel to it.

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