It’s not often you’ll hear a band describe themselves as “the love child of Black Sabbath and James Brown.” In fact, how often do you even hear these two legendary acts in the same sentence – yeah, I didn’t think so. Labeling their brand of music ‘alternafunk’ Charles Laurita & The Mischief is a six-piece powerhouse from Hamilton, New Jersey. Their particular style blends together a “tight horn section and heavy dance grooves” that attempts to break down the barriers of genre music in order to offer something for everyone to enjoy. Interstellar Fortuneteller is the band’s first full-length album and covers outer space themes such as those found in classic sci-fi movies like Alien.
Starting off with “Alone” there is an ominous windy sound that builds tension before the music breaks in and judging by the song’s title, outer space would indeed be a very lonely place to be. I kind of felt though that the minor chords and horn playing were an odd pairing when I first listened – maybe the guitar needed to have a heavier sound for me or more distortion. Moving on to the next song, “Lose My Mind” has a blues feel and a shuffle-like beat. “Break The City Down” sounds like something Stevie Ray Vaughn may have written or played with a horn section of course. Although in the song, I wasn’t hearing the guitar enough, but there’s a great part that features baritone sax.
“Out There Starlight” has a great funky rhythm guitar and handclaps that go very well together. “How To Fly” is one of my favorites from this band; a driving, toe tapping danceable number and very fun to listen to. “Wicked Little Thing” speaks about admiring the looks and moves of an attractive woman. This one would also be a good rocker to dance to. On “Talk To Me” I was finally hearing some of that James Brown funk influence, but at the same time it also reminded me of a Saturday Night Live skit called “What Up Wit Dat?” But don’t get me wrong; I adore SNL so naturally I enjoyed this tune. “Lying On The Floor” is a bit strange, at least lyrically – “She looks divine while she’s lying on the floor.” I am not sure what these words are implying; however the horns have a nice, happy feel to them. I just find the lyrics rather disturbing.
Another song I like, at least musically is, “Shut Your Mouth And Dance.” The chord changes, the guitar solo, the darker backing vocals and the horns – all of it was very well done. “Ridley” is another great number, if you’re into instrumentals. It’s got a good groove; heavy guitars and parts of it reminded me of the Blues Brothers band from the 1970s. Next up is “Shape I’m In” adding greater depth to the band’s list of songs. It’s a slower tune and here they’ve added a ukulele, if I’m correct. There’s also a gorgeous muted trumpet part and it’s the perfect choice for this tune.
“Make It Out Alive” features a funky Nile Rodgers-like guitar and “Skin & Bones” has a catchy horn part and the tambourine is a great addition as well as the faster tempo, if only for a brief moment. Interstellar Fortuneteller is a fun follow up to Charles Laurita & The Mischief’s first release. Although at times I found some songs to be campy and perhaps too long, this six-piece band grooves well together with their own genre of ‘alternafunk.’
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