Fat Freddy's Drop's Solid New Album: Blackbird

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Fat Freddy’s Drop (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Fat Freddy’s Drop is one of my favorite bands, and they just put out a superb new album, Blackbird. They’re one tight band, all the pieces fit together nicely, and the horn players really know how to solo.  They’re jazz musicians at heart. This band is a septet with a big sound. Nice arrangements too.

Sadly, they rarely come to the U.S. It’s expensive to bring them to California let alone on a U.S. tour, which is why visits from them are all too rare.

The band formed in Wellington, New Zealand in the late 1990s. With their Midnight Marauders album in 2003, Fat Freddy’s Drop became the biggest selling group in New Zealand, and the most popular NZ group in the world. They specialize in dub, reggae, often with a good touch of soul. The “Drop” in the band’s name came after dropping LSD before recording the top single “Hope”.  They sometimes refer to the group as “The Seven-Headed Soul Monster”.  Most of us at KCRW discovered the band with the superb 2005 release Based on a True Story.

I love the sweet puppy vocals of lead singer Dallas Tamaira; hearing him reminds me of another great singer, David Hidalgo of LA’s Los Lobos; maybe with a wee bit of of Bill Withers‘ soul thrown in. Both Fat Freddy’s Drop and Los Lobos put plenty of soul and good musicianship into their grooves, but otherwise they don’t sound very similar to one another: more clavé in Los Lobos, more reggae dub groove in Fat Freddy’s Drop.

Fat Freddy’s Drop tours Europe this Summer, so those of you continental types are lucky. Unfortunately, we won’t see them here this Summer in the U.S.

Here is their Summer 2013 Tour dates and a Polish performance of the title song of their new album Blackbird…

…and an earlier set they did on Morning Becomes Eclectic, the song “Fisherman” from June, 2010.

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