[GARAGE SOUL] Donât call it a throwback. On its debut LP, Life Lessons, Brownish Black is a band serrating the edges of soul music. Sure, the blend of R&B and funk might sound old-school, but when compared to contemporaries like Nick Waterhouse or the Daptone Records crew, the Portland octetâs aggressive sound is less a pristine mirror of decades past than a forceful projection of the places the idiom can be taken. In the case of this album, that place is the garage. Detroit native M.D. Sharbatzâs hardcore punk roots show in the recordâs raw sound. The horns waver, and Sharbatz is more apt to bark and quiver than straighten his voice into a smooth croon. But throughout Life Lessons, Brownish Black proves capable of producing thick grooves at near-Stax levels of competency. Many tracks take unexpected turns: the ascending swell in âSinging a Songâ; the sudden spaghetti Western drop in âLe Systemeâ; the Family Stone-style a cappella handclap break in âMaking Time.â If the goal of Life Lessons is to push the soul genre toward a rough-hewn fringe beyond the familiar, itâs undoubtedly a success.
SEE IT: Brownish Black plays Goodfoot Lounge, 2845 SE Stark St., with Thanks and DJ N-Able, on Thursday, June 11. 10 pm. $7. 21+.