** Jon Burke of LostAtSea.net Music** writes-
"On Funkadelic's classic cut "Can You Get To That," a chorus of voices croon: "I once had a life/ Or rather life had me/ I was one among many/ Or at least I seemed to be." That line pretty much sums up the history, through the current state, of funk and soul music. At one point in time both genres were thriving, cutting-edge forms that have now mostly stagnated. There is the occasional blip - the Neo-Soul movement (D'Angelo's, Voodoo being the pinnacle), the careers of both Amy Winehouse and Jamie Lidell, and the consistent reverence from hip hop artists and DJs who use classic elements of both genres to create new and interesting sounds. When it comes to actual funk and soul however, true fans oft find themselves waiting for the next set of diminishing returns from Prince or choking down whatever R&B pap is on MTV. Given those decidedly soulless and unfunky conditions, it wouldn't be unreasonable to have low expectations for Drop Shop - the new record by Lockboxx. That said, there is nothing mediocre about this debut - the soul is knee-deep and gravy-thick and the funk… well, Lockboxx is so funky your speakers might start stinking up the room.
To say that Lockboxx appreciate funk is an understatement - they fully understand that the foundation of any good funk band is in the rhythm. Drummer Steve Kray casts a wide net with his thunderous style that elicits comparisons to such classic percussionists as Buddy Miles (Band of Gypsys) and Roger Hawkins (Muscle Shoals). Aside from the traps, Kray also produced the album and seems to have worked hard to maintain the classic elements of funk - wah guitar, keys/organ, and ass shakin' bass. There is even a little vocoder thrown in for fans of the Troutman Brothers and, of course, obligatory song titles like: "Absoludicrous" and "Rollerglow."
Lockboxx's guitar player, Brandon Miles, is a sick bastard. The man has no shame. Miles frequently takes Drop Shop listeners on stratospheric, "Maggot Brain"-esque solos, proving his chops and paying homage to Eddie Hazel, P-Funk and The Isley Brothers. At the same time, Miles can often sound like Bobby Womack - laying back into the groove or throwing some wah pedal out into the mix. Miles' ability to know when to lead and when to back off is crucial to Drop Shop's sound.
Ben Viguerie's keyboards seem to set the mood for the whole album. Viguerie plays eerie swamp atmospherics on one track and burns up another with the classic sound of a Hammond organ. Viguerie's stabs of spaced-out bleeps into the heart of "Absoludicrous" lend the song the kind of futuristic feel that would make Africa Bambaataa jealous. The man's sheer versatility allows Kray and Miles to bend time, space and genre to create a fresh sound from innumerable remnants of their funk and soul idols.
To be honest, the technical musicality of Lockboxx may scare off some less adventurous listeners. Real funk, after all, is not for everyone. Drop Shop's collection of hustlers' grooves and sky high atmospherics force a physical response from the listener - which can be frightening. Suddenly hips start to shake, toes to tap and asses to wiggle. For those listeners willing to take a risk, Drop Shop is the place where fans of Roy Ayers, George Clinton, Al Green and even D'Angelo can come to hear something fresh and funky, sweet and soulful. "
-- Jon Burke, LostAtSea.net Music
"Lockboxx is one of my very favorite groups on today's music scene. Oh you say that you have never heard of them? Well I wouldn't expect you to unless you have been doing the digital equivalent of "crate digging" like I have over on MySpace. Lockboxx was in fact one of the first artists I "discovered" via MySpace and they remain a favorite. I discovered them because of a super/erotic/super/hypnotic track they had playing on their MySpace page called "Rollerglow". The song "Rollerglow" occupies the space between Kool & the Gang's "Summer Madness", Donald Byrd's "Wind Parade" and Ronnie Laws "Tidal Wave" (how's that for 1970's Funk references). I found myself going back to their MySpace page nearly every day, just to hear "Rollerglow."
Soon I got up the courage to send them an email requesting a copy of the song, so that I could play it on Soul-Patrol.Net. Steve Kray of Lockboxx was reluctant to give me a copy at first; telling me that it was "un-mastered" and I could have a copy once the album was finished. I "twisted" Steve's arm and he eventually sent me a copy of the song and it's still playing on one of our Funk shows. So now the album is finished and will be released sometime later this year (June 3). My recommendation is that is you are a fan of music like "Summer Madness", "Wind Parade" and "Tidal Wave", then you will find yourself hopelessly addicted to the album "Drop Shop" by Lockboxx. Oh there is more, there are tracks that remind me of Herbie Hancock, Sun Ra, Funkadelic and others. Within certain parameters the album is extremely diverse. This is exactly the type of album that would have come out on CTI or GRP years ago. I really like it a whole lot and the only suggestion that I have for these guys is that they get one of these extremely strong Neo Soul singers that has a crappy band to sing one or two songs (to add a "Jon Lucien/Flora Purim" vibe) on their next album and they will have a bonafide hit on their hands."
-- Bob Davis
(Founder and Executive Producer Soul-Patrol.com)
"OK. I have to be honest - I looked at the pics in the cd package & said to myself, "How funky is this going to be, really?" Looked more like an indie rock group than a funk/soul group. Started listening to the song [Absoludicrous #7]... "Ok, really nice groove; I'm impressed." Then the chorus breakdown - "What? Ok, they got funky with it!" I had to check out a few of the other songs - "Whoa! Yo, this group is the real deal!" Shut me up. I am thoroughly impressed! It's like hearing a revival of all my favorite groups from the 70's - Ohio Players, Parliament/Funkadelic, Isley Bros., Sly Stone, Earth Wind & Fire (before the pop stuff) & on & on & on - with genuine authentic funk, soul & r&b, but with their own style; uniquely Lockboxx. The musicianship is truly the highlight. Dude on the bass is sick - Brandon (demonstrated even more on other songs than this one); guitars also. He is a perfect fit for the drummer - Steven; they're really tight together. However, Ben definitely "brings it" on all the keys too. Quite a trinity... Great job on background vocals; well-arranged and adds to the appeal of the song; love the dynamics. In terms of production, I liked the organic sound; keeps it authentic... Overall, you are a special group. True funk/soul/r&b lovers won't be disappointed..."
--TAXI A&R #178
(1) CTI Records was a record label owned and overseen by legendary jazz producer Creed Taylor (CTI stood for Creed Taylor Inc.). He began the CTI label in 1967 as an imprint of Herb Alpert's A & M Records (US). Three years later Taylor took CTI out from under the A&M umbrella and relaunched CTI as an independent label. Most titles from 1970 through 1977 were distibuted my Motown.
(2) GRP Records is an American jazz record company that was founded in New York by Dave Grusin and Larry Rosen in 1982. Their original distribution arrangement with Clive Davis at Arista made them known as Arista GRP. Embracing an all-digital recording philosophy, they became the first label to release all of their titles on compact disc.
The Band: The members of Lockboxx have been playing music
together for over a decade, beginning during their
years in the fertile music scene of Denton, TX, home
of the esteemed University of North Texas music and
Steven Kray (drums) -
Born Dubuque, IA, twenty years late for the first funk
wave, a worthy torch-bearer for his generation of
American funk. Lives Portland, OR.
Brandon Miles (guitar) - Born and lives in Houston, he has an encyclopedia of funk and jazz in his hands and original, fiery chops in his soul.
Ben Viguerie (keys) - Born Houma, LA, where funky music is abundant as the bayou critters they eat down there. Lives San Francisco.
Kray, a collector and archivist of rare funk recordings, film/video and a deep studio audio engineer, stewarded the live, organic sonic approach of Drop Shop.
Miles grew up playing multiple instruments before choosing guitar for formal study. Brandon's playing on Drop Shop naturally evokes the tough sound of Funkadelic's Eddie Hazel and Gary Shider to nail down the funk and jazz guitar idioms from the 70's on this record.
Viguerie's recording and production career spans acclaimed releases in dub, house, techno, electro, and hip-hop... Ben's session and production talent is in high demand, recently contributing to Dub Gabriel's haunting Suicide cover "cheree" featuring Michael Stipe. Ben recently toured with Austin Latin sensation Grupo Fantasma and is just starting an exciting new project with Narada Michael Walden...