I've got to say that taking on a review of this sort is a bit intimidating because I don't have as much context for funk music as I feel would be necessary to do a good review. But then, coming in with almost no experience does give me the advantage of judging the sound for what it is rather than what it's supposed to be. And my initial impression of The Huffers is that they remind me of The Specials with the energy of Madness. Many times during my work writing these reviews, I notice that the instrumental music seems to be without a purpose. Like the composer was throwing stuff at the wall to see what would stick and then would paint over the rest of the space with glue and keep throwing.
That simply is not the case with The Huffers, a post-punk influenced funk band. Though, that description combined with what I hear coming out of the speakers screams ska. The compositions that make up their EP Thinking Of Good Things feel like just that - compositions. The songs, with the exception of "Judges,” (the lone cover), were written by trombonist and bandleader Buford O'Sullivan. They've got such novelties as structure and movement, leading one to believe that these are actual songs rather than mood pieces. To ears that hear a lot of music, it's so refreshing to get outside of what I listen to on a daily basis and to have that rewarded by a band that's really working to make good music.
I know that it's a bit of a reach, but the very first measure of "Whole Steps" reminded me of the very first few measures of The Specials' “Do The Dog.” That resemblance quickly disappeared, giving way to a very present and very groovy bass guitar foundation underneath the horn section. The title track has much more of a 70's R&B disco vibe to it. Of the four tracks, it feels the most cinematic, like it's playing during the opening credits. The band plays with a backbeat and an even more relaxed feel on "Better With You.” Even with the loose nature of the song, it still manages to feel structured and deliberate. The opening to "Judges,” feels very spaghetti western until everything tightens up and the focus goes to the play between bass and guitar.
Overall, with my limited experience, this feels like an objectively good piece of music. I have no idea how it would stand up against what's considered canonical in the funk world, but it sure does sound good to me.
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