Hop on the ‘JOYRIDE’ with Kung Fu (Album Review)

Photo by Joe Schlee

By Randy Harris

Ah, Kung Fu! Ask everybody who is anybody in the live music scene today, and they will tell you that Kung Fu is one of the best on the road. Featuring Tim Palmieri (guitar & vocals), Robert Somerville (tenor sax & vocals), Beau Sasser (keyboards & vocals), Chris DeAngelis (bass guitar & vocals), and Adrian Tramontano (drums/percussion), the band has now released a new album, Joyride, and fans everywhere are out of their minds over the new release.

“Daddy D” bursts the album open with a deluge of funky jazz fusion. The chorus brings in hints of soul music, as Palmieri explodes into a raging solo that continues over the last few choruses. “Chin Music” keeps the groove rollin’ strong with a cheeky sax hook. A wailing sax solo takes the lead in the first third, followed by a raunchy middle section that includes a wicked drum solo. Palmieri takes over the reins for a mind-bending final third. “Vroom” implements an overall laid back feel, but the groove is fleeting. DeAngelis is featured with a jazzy bass solo, showing off some quick, fancy fingering. The bridge absolutely rocks, and the band shows an incredible group dynamic. Palmieri brings it home with a shredding guitar solo over a driving drum beat. “Joyride” presents a four-to-the-floor beat, showing a bit of modernity in the dance groove. We also get our first studio taste of keyboardist Beau Sasser, the newest member of the group, winding through wailing solos.

“Speed Bump of Your Love” brings in a powerful groove, providing a laid back dance beat. “Primetime Rib” is incredibly funky with ringing chords on the keys in the background, providing a steady home base while the remainder of the band forms the enticing chords surrounding them. Along with the samba-style drum beats, the beckoning call from the lyrics of, “Yes indeed it’s prime time!” bring the tune home. “The Get Down” picks up the groove and brings back a ‘70s soul type of feel. Palmieri tests the very fabric of sound with his early solo, reaching into the depths of guitar history. “Gold Coast” takes it back a notch, focusing on heavy bass and deep, harmonic chords from the heavenly keys. The dreamy verse melds into dissonance to form a quick but distinct tension. The band rocks out for a heavy bridge and builds around a rockin’ solo from Palmieri until there’s nowhere left to go but home. Finally, “Samurai” closes out the album with an absolute rager! The hypnotic, driving groove encompasses everything that is Kung Fu: pure interstellar, psychedelic funk.

Overall, this is a truly incredible collection of tunes, written and performed by some of the best musicians on the scene today. Combining elements from jazz, funk, soul, rock & roll and beyond, Kung Fu continues to prove time and time again that they deserve way more credit than they receive. What stands out most is their ability to weave the instruments in and out of each other. The instruments work together in such an intricate manner that it is almost impossible not to get hooked on the interstellar, psychedelic funk that is Kung Fu. Joyride is in stores now!

Catch them Thursday, March 31, 2016 at The Hamilton in Washington, DC (tickets available here). For more tour information click here.

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