Review: Dumpstaphunk’s Dirty Word Turns It Up
Dirty Word, the new album from New Orleans funksters Dumpstaphunk (Ivan Neville, Ian Neville, Tony Hall, Nikki Glaspie, and Nick Daniels), takes phunky phresh to a whole ‘nother level. The epic list of collaborations on this album is enough to give any true music lover chills. Most notably, Art Neville, an icon of the New Orleans music scene and founding member of the Meters, joins family members Ivan and Ian for a memorable performance. To add to the musical gumbo, you’ve got Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, Flea, Skerik, Ani Difranco, and more. Layers and layers of funky, jazzy, soul-cleansing, rowdy, bouncy, gritty, jump-around-with-a-stupid-smile-on-your-face-beats prove that this band can take it to the next level.
Perhaps my favorite thing about Dumpstaphunk is their refusal to conform to a genre. They exhibit freedom of expression and artistry through a lack of boundaries, and there are no limits to where they’ll go. However, from the deeper, bluesy tunes to the ones that make your soul lift out of its chest, one foot always remains planted in the funk. There is never a doubt that they’re just trying to keep it funky, and they are most definitely succeeding in this mission.
The album opens up on a groovy beat. “Dancin’ To The Truth” is a feel-good song accompanied by lovely, passionate vocals. It resembles a Soul Train track but with a modern feel.
The next track, a namesake to the album’s title (“Dirty Word”), will have you getting down to an extensive instrumental intro jam, then swooning over the voice of an angel (Ani Difranco).
“I Wish You Would” is pretty resemblant of their signature style; very bouncy and upbeat, but with a grungy undertone. Bring Skerik and Trombone Shorty into the mix and you’ve got yourself the makings of a modern-day NOLA classic.
“They Don’t Care” takes it down a few notches, luring the listener into a sultry, soulful slowjam with simplistic lyrics about being alone. It is beautiful yet sad, simple yet complex, and stands in contrast to the rest of the album’s indisputable feel-good vibe.
The next song, “I Know You Know,” continues addressing themes of self-despair and personal crises through similarly simplistic lyrics with a more upbeat vibe. It tells the heart-wrenching tale of being aware of your significant other’s infidelity. Dark and depressing but juxtaposed with their signature phunkiness.
“If I’m In Luck” is more of a rock song, most notable for its featuring of Flea of the Chili Peppers. It’s different than anything they’ve ever attempted and I commend them for that. They kill it as always and just exude a unique style and level of talent.
“Water” takes the groove to another level, with massive horns, a turned up beat, and spot-on, seemingly magical harmonization.
“Blueswave” has a bit of a hokey-pokey feel to it, coupled with deep soulful lyrics. Like I said, Dumpstaphunk doesn’t hesitate to experiment, and this bluegrassy yet funky track proves just that.
“Reality of the Situation” errs more on the R&B side than anything else on this album, with bold vocals and a message that calls for love and peace over aggression.
“Take Time” is just a laid-back jam with a happy beat and simple message: take time for yourself. Good vibes, positive message.
The album closes out strong, with a little help from Art Neville, the Rebirth Brass Band, and Trombone Shorty, on the massive track “Raise the House.” From the first chords, Rebirth’s horns are distinctly reminiscent of NOLA, inducing intense nostalgia for my favorite city. Feels like a Mardi Gras morning (cue tears).
Whether you are a lover of New Orleans music or just music in general, do yourself a favor and give this album a listen: