[WHITE NOISE] Mother Bunch superior Daniel Menasche has a decent set of pipes and a smooth enough flow for those occasional dalliances into hip-hop, so one imagines the short-fiction writer gives good readings. But in the age of MC Paul Barman and Har Mar Superstar, we expect an engagement beyond mere facility with borrowed idioms. Menasche's organ-led combo lays down a nifty groove with chops to spare on Dirty Theory, though it never quite surrenders to the danceable maelstrom forever hinted at. The slightly antiseptic backing singers, in particular, veer from purposeless to something more troubling on the many tracks preening with oversold braggadocio. There's a creeping consistency reminiscent of a car radio chancing upon a faraway funk station and desperately trying to keep the wispy signal in tune.
Soul necessitates a certain animalistic baring of inhibitions that this thoroughly tasteful outfit only braves during self-deprecatory rap "Little Dan," even if the horndog posturing's comedic tint reveals little more than a passion for early Woody Allen. Dashed-off compliment "The Way You Smell" flounders in oblique timidity. Just imagine where Har Mar's nose may have led Menasche.
SEE IT: Mother Bunch plays the Blue Monk, 3341 SE Belmont St., with Redray Frazier, on Friday, Aug. 9. 9 pm. $7. 21+.