Tuesday, February 23, 2010

February 23: Breakestra, "Hiding"

Artist: Breakestra
Song: "Hiding"
Album: Hit The Floor
Year: 2005

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In nearly every aspect of culture, over the decades, trends in all aspects of society somehow seem to reinvent themselves with amazing consistency. Whether they are styles within fashion, common trains of thought, or musical sounds, in nearly every case, a so-called "new" trend can be traced back to a similar style from decades earlier. This is especially true in the world of music, as one can see things like "grunge," which was simply a new term for punk, "nĂ¼ metal," which was being done nearly a decade before it became the norm, and the fact that "emo" can be found in music as early as the 1980's. As the decades pass, one of the most interesting approaches occurs when a group takes multiple previous styles and fuses them together, creating a new sound that is often greater than the sum of its parts. Proving this idea with wonderfully unique results, the ten-piece "funk orchestra" known as Breakestra have created some of the most original and outright fun music of the past two decades. Mixing together soul, funk, hip-hop, blues, and Motown, nearly every one of the groups songs is nothing short of a pure celebration of music. Standing as their first full length of completely original music, their 2005 album, Hit The Floor is highlighted by one of the most beautiful and irresistible songs ever recorded, "Hiding."

As the brain-child of funk fanatic, Miles Tackett, nearly every song form Breakestra centers around a brilliant bass groove, and "Hiding" is no different. The opening notes of the song prepare the listener for a smooth, mid-tempo rhythm, and within seconds, listeners find themselves unable to resist the urge to bob their head. Overlaying this groove with one of the most perfectly tones guitars ever captured on record, the group quickly evokes the true spirit of rock music, as the sound could easily have been from an early Stax recording, and this authenticity is truly unparalleled among the peers of Breakestra. It is within the guitar playing that there is also almost a ska feeling, and this seemingly strange fusion between ska, funk, and soul is one of the keys to the wonderful mood of the song. This fantastic musical performance is taken to an entirely new level when the beautiful combination of a Fender Rhodes organ and full horn section come into play. As this wall of sound revolves around the steady beat, "Hiding" easily and quickly moves far beyond anything that had been heard in decades, making the song and album into instant classics. At times, the groove gets so intense, that it is as if The J.B.'s have found a new singer and are again performing. Truth be told, though many of the sounds on "Hiding" had been heard before, they had never been fused together in this manner, and the results are truly unlike anything else in music history.

Though the music alone is worth buying the album and experiencing the sound, the vocals make the song truly one-of-a-kind. Bringing more soul, emotion, and pure vocal beauty than anything else in decades, Miles Tackett instantly makes his case as one of the finest vocalists of his generation. With a strong but smooth delivery, Tackett croons with the best of them, proving that though the style may have faded decades earlier, with a bit of a modern twist, truly talented vocals will quickly rise above the trends. To compliment his magnificent voice, "Hiding" is also one of the most heartfelt and truly beautiful lyrics in years. Perfectly capturing the struggle between guarding ones' emotions and telling someone how they truly feel, the lyrics are beyond universal, and yet have never been expressed in quite this manner. When Tackett sings, "...I've been hiding from your words, and keeping my head clear...trying not to let my heart, drown under the fear..." one can easily understand and relate to the turmoil in his mind, and yet the way in which he sings makes this unquestionably one of the finest love songs of his generation. Proving that not only his he an amazing composer and band leader, but a top-notch vocalist as well, Miles Tackett's singing on "Hiding" is nothing short of phenomenal, and the soul and power that he brings to the song is one of the keys to making it an amazing musical feat.

In most cases, when a group decides to revive an "old" sound, it is usually a "one off" effort, as there is almost always a reason why said style lost popularity. In a majority of these instances, the group is simply attempting to capture that style for a single song, perhaps to give their fanbase a bit of a novelty song. However, there are a small number of cases where a group takes the best elements of older styles, and fuses them together into a fantastic, new sound that is clearly years beyond the trends of the time. Standing as a shining example of this idea, Breakestra manage to mix together nearly every popular sound of the past decades, and their extraordinary fusion of soul, funk, hip-hop, and early rock are truly unlike anything else in music history. Bringing an amazing amount of energy, as well as an undeniable authenticity to their music, Breakestra proves time and time again throughout their 2005 album, Hit The Floor, that no sound is "dead," it is just a matter of how you approach the sound and convey the spirit behind the music. The modern musical flashback that runs throughout "Hiding" is truly unlike anything else ever recorded, as Breakestra proves that, with phenomenal singing and an irresistibly funky musical backing, an old style can be given new life, and it is one of the reasons why "Hiding" stands as one of the finest songs ever recorded.

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