Brassy’s second full-length, Gettin’ Wise, features energetic, booty-shaking tunes that get the party started right. Fusing old-school hip-hop, retro early-’80s new wave, punk and present-day electronica, the quartet from Manchester, England manages to blend the old with the new while retaining a hip, post-modern sensibility.
Formed in the late-’90s, Brassy has been toiling away in England, releasing several independent records to rave reviews from fans and critics and wowing audiences with explosive live shows. With a large and loyal fan base at home, the band was ready to conquer music lovers across the Big Blue Pond in 2001 with the acclaimed Got It Made.
While their sampladelic blend of rock and electronic hip-hop owes much to Luscious Jackson and the Beastie Boys, Brassy manages to distinguish itself with infectious grooves and refreshing style. The songs on Gettin’ Wise, which is more fleshed out than Got It Made, feature an innovative approach to blending different styles in a fitting tribute to the influences of hip-hop. Brassy tweaks these influences, but keeps true to the roots of the music. Gettin’ Wise clocks in at less than 45 minutes, ending just was I was really starting to get into the groove.
The band’s true weapon is singer/guitarist Muffin Spencer. Originally from the States, ex-pat Spencer, the sister of bluesman Jon Spencer of the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, has a natural lead singer’s swaggering, hey-baby-I’m-in-charge strut. Rounded out by drummer Stefan Gordan, scratch-master Jonny Barrington and bassist Karen Frost, Brassy’s tightness is exceeded only by its creativity. Songs like “Dus” has a deep ’70s funk groove, and “Where Did You Get That Funk,” with Spencer’s sex kitten vocals, channels its vibe from early Prince.
Spencer’s skills, talent and ease boost the songs; she’s as good as any female emcee. Whether she’s rapping or singing, her voice has power and demands attention. She has a tough-girl punk sneer that makes the lyrics and hooks of the songs come alive. On the funky guitar-laden “Feelin’ Sorry,” Spencer is spits venomous lyrics: “I hope you like the flavor of your own medicine / ‘Cause when I return a favor / I put a little bit of extra in / You got a mouth full of disrespect / Complain if you want but I wont forget.” Other songs feature jazz influences; Spencer smoothly transforms into a melancholy chantuese.
Brassy has found its niche. With the collective talent of the members, the band has made music that’s funky, fun and different.