A minute and a half of trippy freeform guitar provide your introduction to The Reality and their splendid new album, Rhetoric. It would be difficult to overstate how excellent this album is, from musical content, production, and, most of all, just plain fun. For a good time, call THE REALITY.
The Reality are: Dan Jones, guitars, vocals, trombone; Caleb Bone, bass, vocals; and Logan Charles III, drums, keyboards. This Tampa trio claim their genre(s) as “funk/jazz/reggae/rock,” but that only scratches the surface of what they do, including psychedelic, hip-hop, soul and more.
There are dozens of influences emerging from the band’s music: Cake, Nine Inch Nails, James McMurtry, the Rat Pack and many more. The Reality create an amalgam of all of these styles and influences, but this music is all their own.
“Live Lonely” starts with that 90-second guitar workout, then bass and drums fall in on top of chunky funky wah-wah guitar. Jones’s vocals often range from a whisper to a roar, as they do here, and he takes a great guitar solo before getting all jangly. Bone’s bass already shows evidence of the space bass style he loves (think Bootsy and Freekbass) and which will explode later on.
Bass and great drums from Charles announce “Know My Name,” followed by jazzy guitar chords. Jones again performs great vocal calisthenics, often reaching a beautiful near-falsetto. This is fun funk with another fine guitar solo.
So many of the lyrics here are heady and amusing, such as “Who among us got a fungus” on “Last Time.” Big guitar chords give way to Scofield-like trippiness. Brief guitar and bass solos led to a longer guitar romp, reminiscent of Roy Buchanan.
Things get way fun on “Scooch on Over” (the title alone is a blast). Bone’s space bass, which surfaced more in “Last Time,” emerges even more here, with a sweet tasty jam highlighting a bass solo, then Jones on trombone.
“All My Time” is 5 minutes and 34 seconds of unadulterated delight. The space bass is full frontal here, then psychedelic guitar and finally pure funk and nothing but the funk. Jones’s vocals are over-the-top delicious. During the bass solo, Jones provides that James Brown rhythm guitar, then psychedelic guitar underneath. HOT DAMN!
Imagine an Andy Griffith show-type whistle introducing a song that could have belonged to the Rat Pack (Frank, Sammy, you pick). “Whatever You Wanted” goes through two tempo upticks, thanks to Charles. After the guitar solo, it returns to original form.
The next tune, “The Funk,” certainly is. More fun Cake-like vocals, space bass and another great guitar solo ensue. Charles’ fine work on the drum kit accents every song on the disk.
“You Ain’t Her Man” is hip-hop fun, pure and simple, as Jones’s voice slides up and down. “Pair Tree” features more hip-hop vocals, which Jones handles really well, and these are decipherable — you can actually understand them (what a concept)! Bass and drums announce the song with the guitar in the background. Jones takes a very cool jangly guitar solo.
And there are more hip-hop flavors on “Guardian,” which really should be “Guardian Bitch!” The beat is really bouncy, and the choruses feature fine harmony vocals. “Here to Stay” is the closest thing to a ballad on the album, with a tasty guitar solo.
For your sports metaphor, The Reality leave it all on the field during “Dancin’ in D,” a deliriously awesome rocking romp. A 40-second drum intro leads to bass and yet more chunky funky guitar, superb and joyous vocals, and then one bitchin’ guitar solo, a funk fusion delight.
For a good time, call THE REALITY.
You will NOT be disappointed.
The Reality debuts this material tonight at the Dunedin Brewery in a show that also features shoeless soul and Cosmic Groove Ensemble. And the trio will guest on In the Groove, the jamband show on WMNF 88.5, this Tuesday (June 28), from 10 to midnight. Tune in!