Monday, November 25, 2013

Juicebox: First Cut

Juicebox describes themselves as "an infectious blend of rhythm and blues, soul and funk."  After seeing them perform live once and listening to their just-released six-track EP, there's no doubt that I would have to describe them as an undeniably infectious blend of rhythm and blues, soul and funk.

Based out of NYC, Juicebox is made up of seven musicians who have played together since 2009.  Their EP, "First Cut," marks the ensemble's first official release. Now, I've never been much at reviewing music, but when you listen to something and your immediate reaction is ".....DAMN!" then it warrants a little praise.

Saturday night, I caught them playing at the Rockwood Music Hall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  The venue heated up instantly when they took the stage.  Everyone was into the music and jamming out with every solo, including the one guy just off stage right who appeared to be getting taken to church by Lisa Ramey's vocals.  But all it took was a couple songs, and he had plenty of company.  The band had tremendous energy through their 45-minute set and even onto the one-song encore the crowd called for as Juicebox was about to exit the stage.

I've known organ and keys player Dave Mainella since we were kids, and I even took piano lessons from his dad.  He invited a few friends and me down for the show, and we jumped at the opportunity.  What sold it for me was probably when Mainella described the band as a mix between James Brown and Lauryn Hill.  It was the first time I had heard them play, and I was immediately drawn in (as evidenced by the conversation I had with Ramey following the set, who confirmed that she noticed my awkward eye contact as she sang...but its not my fault since her voice is killer).

Mainella held it down along with Isaac Jaffe and Alex Raderman on the bass and drums respectively, while sax player Nicholas Myers, trumpeter Aaron Rockers and guitarist Frank Cogliano cooked up some nasty riffs and solos to blend it all together.  You can just see how much fun they were having on stage, the type of fun that's, well, "infectious."

To me, their up-tempo songs are really where they make their money, as you can't help but want to get up and dance, but when that beat drops it can easily make your knees weak.  The songs are simply intricate, and are powerful yet a little sensual at times (just listen to the final track, Friday Morning Class, for a perfect example).

Listen and watch their video above, download their EP and follow them on Twitter.  These guys are good, I can't say it enough. And if anyone knows where a good spot in Boston would be for them to try to play out, let's hear it.

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