Dysphunctional Species: A CD Review   Leave a comment

May 1, 2012

Since the late 1980s there has been a transition away from strict categorization of music by Billboard Magazine and other chart-making publications to better reflect the expanding taste of music consumers. The times have, indeed, been changing. More people listen to, and in turn talk about more types of music, awakening to the fact that they might actually like an artist and the music that they previously believed was not to their taste. (Like many parents during the rise of Elvis three decades earlier, can you imagine a caucasian, pop-loving teenager of the 1980s self-embracing the music of George Clinton, and the parental response?) This diversification of listening, and its reflection in the charts is a good thing. But for all the advancements in finding, hearing, and appreciating music, there is still nothing like a friend, someone you trust, placing a CD in your hand and saying “listen to this.” The implied message is clear: I like it and I bet you’re going to like it too. That’s where I found myself this week when a friend placed a CD in my hand.

Northern California group Dysphunctional Species delivers a three-track EP that immediately speaks to the abundance of musical talent in Mendocino County. Created by Ian Gleason, Jameson Hodder, Andrew Johnston, George Abrams, Keith Abrams, and Prometheus Glover, Dysphunctional Species is in reality, a group of six seasoned musicians who give us a taste of funk meets hip-hop. The EP includes “Classic Dreams”, “Five Feet of Dynamite”, and “Just Live”. Listening to any of the tracks, the listener’s feet are immediately forced to move regardless of one’s inherent rhythmic abilities (or inabilities.)

The three tracks are uniformly well produced, and they seem to be almost random rather than thematic. That’s not necessarily a bad thing as no one suggests that this triad of songs was created as a monolith of thought. The first and last tracks, “Classic Dreams” and “Just Live”, carry strong production values built on top of well crafted songs.

But then there is “Five Feet of Dynamite”, a standout track. You find yourself instantly multi-tasking: feet move, heads bob, hands clap, fingers snap, or in some combination, all of the above. The physical side of this is all reflexive as your brain quickly moves on to the lyrics which add the necessary steam to this updated “boy-meets-girl” storyline. There’s an opening (and recurring theme) of

She’s like five feet of dynamite,

make your earth shake

like a seismic quake.

That’s followed by an opening verse with lyrics recognized by any male who has fallen head-over-heels; love at first glance; in this case, for a cinnamon-skinned woman, five feet tall, on the dance floor, skirt moving with the rhythm, flashing just enough thigh to stop the observer in his tracks:

 Oh, My, My, Take a look at ‘dem eyes, 

take a look at ‘dem thighs, 

Get my blood-pressure to rise, 

like a tide in the sea, 

I’m dying to be 

a worker in your garden, 

every flower needs its honey bee 

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t Shakespeare or Gershwin. But it is solid American songwriting. And within the genre (and beyond) it connects. There’s no need for a prerequisite course in Henry Miller or visual memories of the Studio 54 dance floor to get this picture. With “Five Feet of Dynamite”, Dysphunctional Species has created a fully fleshed-out mindscape in three minutes and 35 seconds. Dress comfortably when listening. Heat rises from the disc. The EP and the group are highly recommended. Hopefully, performing soon at a club near you.

(This review was originally published in the May 2012  Lighthouse Peddler, a monthly newspaper on the Mendocino coast.)


Posted May 1, 2012 by Jazzdavid in Music History, Popular Music, Review

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: