When Brand New Heavies burst on the scene in the late ’80s appropriating fashion and funk music cues from the 60ʻs, they were part of a retro-future soul awakening leaping from Britain that projected to the world numerous shades of Black culture. Between Neneh Cherry, Caron Wheeler, Soul II Soul, and Lisa Stansfield, this drum machine version of soul took up space on the radio and MTV. Brand New Heavies, a live band with real musicians donning vintage vines, drew a smoldering type of romanticism. But Authenticity provided the sizzle.
Like a wristwatch, keeping both East and West coast time, the Heavies informed early ’90s music, including Hip-Hop, from the groove centric position of ’70s swag. Coming together in 2013 as members of BNH, band founder Jan Kincaid and vocalist Dawn Joseph instantly clicked and began writing new songs within a week of the first meeting. Calling themselves MF Robots, a subtle reference to today’s generic musical landscape, the duo left the Heavies to pursue their burgeoning partnership, which has already shown instant connectedness and spark in a brief span of time.
Kincaid and Joseph, who are currently putting the finishing touches to their untitled new album for BBE Records, decided to cover the venerable 1974 soul stomper “Finders Keepers” by Chairmen of The Board.
Music For Robots, the duo’s debut album from 2018, was packed with 14 tracks of dance-friendly tunes that slightly missed the indelible mark of an acid jazz mystique.
But this time around “Keepers” moves with great jostling energy, trademark foot-stomping and pushed tempo, and accentuated horn lines pushing the rolling funk momentum. It’s a return to an identifiable sound, born out of a specified musical DNA made by retro-standards established 30-plus years ago. This updated version smoothes out the horn attack, sands down the edges of the grooves, and keeps all the definitive wonk of the percolating clavinet keyboard runs intact. The unapologetically ’70s-sounding arrangement draws on horn powered groups from a previous era, and moves past cult definition.
It’s just good music.