Personnel: Nick Daniels III, Tony Hall (vocals, guitar); Ivan Neville (vocals, Clavinet, Hammond b-3 organ, keyboards); Nikki Glaspie (vocals, drums).
Audio Mixer: Mike Napolitano.
Recording information: Fudge Recording Studio, New Orleans, LA; Music Shed Studio, New Orleans, LA.
Photographers: Jessica Reid; Ian Rawn; Joshua Timmermans; Joe Russo.
Though Dumpstaphunk has been around for nearly a decade, Dirty Word is only their second studio album. They spent years rehearsing and playing shows at home in New Orleans and on the festival circuit, honing their writing and arranging chops. Dirty Word also marks the debut of new drummer Nikki Glaspie, the only member not originally from NOLA. As such, she adds an entirely different flavor to the band's complex rhythmic attack. An interesting presence casts a grinning shadow over these proceedings: Funkadelic's Uncle Jam Wants You LP from 1979, but it's mostly in the arrangements and approach, not the sound. Dumpstaphunk's self-produced sonic approach feels live, nasty, and greasy. The band's writing celebrates community, self-reliance, and social responsibility. The increased emphasis on chorus-like backing vocals is the big link to Funkadelic's album -- and yes, that's a good thing. Go no further than the opener, the bass-drenched "Dancin' to the Truth," with its B-3, whomping twin basslines, call-and-response male and female vocals (Glaspie has a terrific voice), and the big chant backing chorus. Ani Difranco adds to the mix on the driving title track fueled by the unique twin-bass attack of Tony Hall and Nick Daniels III; their interplay works with and under the drums (it's much easier to hear the differences through speakers than live). Ian Neville's guitar playing comes deep from the Meters' trick bag here, while Ivan Neville's virtuoso B-3 playing wails above and through the mix. The ultra-nasty dance jam "I Wish You Would" features guest spots from saxophonist Skerik and trombonist Troy Andrews. The horns offer strutting frontline hooks that move directly toward Glaspie's kit, while the twin bass punch fattens it to near bursting. The Nevilles play all around and through the massive groove, adding flavor, texture, and muscle. Guest Flea adds a third bass on the stellar cover of Betty Davis' "If I'm in Luck," guided by Glaspie's growling vocal. It's followed by Larry Graham's "Water," with the Grooveline Horns adding their infectious magic to Ivan's snaky clavinet vamps. Ian's wah-wah guitar shines on "Reality of the Situation," sharing the riff with the bubbling basses and bluesy, call-and-response male and female gospel vocals, highlighted by echoplexed backing choruses. The midtempo "I Know You Know," with the Grooveline Horns, is a staggered bit of jazzy, midtempo funk with a sophisticated vocal chart and burning breaks by Glaspie. Set closer "Raise the House" features Ian's dad Art, Andrews, and the entire Rebirth Brass Band. This is where the NOLA second line meets Funkadelic's acid-washed funk, and the party moves off into the stratosphere. While it may have taken a while for Dumpstaphunk to successfully meld their live energy with their musical sophistication inside a studio, Dirty Word is evidence that it was well worth the wait. ~ Thom Jurek
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