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Album Review: Lake Street Dive – Fun Machine

Fun Machine EP
lakestreetdive.com

Lake Street Dive is a four-piece birthed from Boston’s New England Conservatory Jazz program, mixologists of the perfect martini of soul, folk and jazz, shaken not stirred, and garnished with a sprig of indie-pop sensibility. This intoxicating formula is equal parts spare, precise percussion delivered by Philly native Mike Calabrese, brassy soulful vocals from Nashvillian Rachel Price, Minneapolitan trumpet counterpoint and guitar provided by Mike “McDuck” Olson, and plucky, slappy, buzzy doghouse bass lines provided by former IC townie Bridget Kearney, who got her start at the Preucil School of Music, and whose dad happens to be the Associate Dean of Research for the UI.

On Lake Street Dive’s latest EP, Fun Machine, they bring their tightly-knit virtuosity to a collection of five influential covers. We have a rewired Jackson 5 cover with “I Want You Back,” a tribute to Calabrese’s Philly homeboys Hall & Oates (“Rich Girl”), George Michael’s career pinnacle “Faith” reworked into a jump jazz shouter and their version of the classic “This Magic Moment,” which owes as much to The Mamas and the Papas as it does to the Drifters. The sole original song, “Clear a Space,” is a delightful nod to Motown and stands not at all in the shadow of the heavyweight contenders surrounding it. The climax of the EP is delivered with Price sounding a lot like Bonnie Raitt in a delicious gospel conversion of Paul McCartney’s “Roll With It,” from Wings’ epic Band on the Run.

It is probably axiomatic to say that the work of a group of musicians is a sum of its parts. However there are bands on occasion (albeit rarely) who are able to display the texture and relief of each individual’s contributions to their work while still providing the coherence of a group. It is for this that I pull up a barstool and imbibe round after round of Lake Street Dive.

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