An estimated 92% of us experience earworms. Despite the annoying times we can’t get a chorus or a hook of an overplayed pop song out of our heads, getting a really good earworm stuck can be one of the best things, ever. We here at Nerdist are dead set on bringing you those types of songs—even if only for the weekend. So shove this into your grey matter!
About two weeks ago, I became happily stuck down a musical rabbit hole when a friend of mine reminded me of, and subsequently reinvigorated, my obsession with today’s band. Since then it’s been an interesting task trying to describe Vulfpeck to people who don’t know of them. Some tend to know of the band from their insanely clever and completely silent album “Sleepify” that funded an entire tour, but are still a bit foggy on their actual music. It might be that there’s something about the words “modern American funk band” that results in a bit of an eye roll. The concept of a band that aims for a single-take, minimal, and raw sound can be a tough pill to swallow for some and may see seems too simple when we’re normally inundated with precisely and over-produced music in all forms of media. However, Vulfpeck’s raw sound is the product of incredible musicians so skilled that they simply make it look effortless and speaking as someone with no musical talent myself, I find it absolutely infuriating.
Oddly enough, I just so happen to write a music column where I can nonsensically gush about the band while letting their music do the heavy lifting of impressing you. There are a few more songs than usual today because I am just that obsessed lately, so let’s get to it!
What’s not to love in this song and video? Nothing. That’s what. Now, I’m not sure if I just have a penchant for earworms with falsetto vocals or if that’s a key trait of an effective one in general, but man oh man is this one fun to sing along to. The lighthearted lyrics of a schoolyard relationship perfectly compliment the upbeat music (including the clarinet arrangement) and the incredible dancing skills of Chasity Roman and Nick Bencivengo cement the song into memory. There’s really nothing I don’t like about this video, even now with the knowledge that I will never be as good at anything in my life as those two kids are at dancing.
“Adrienne & Adrianne”
Part of what I love about Vulfpeck is how much fun they seem to have while playing. This is a group of guys who seem to know their music on a molecular level, which allows them to immerse themselves within it. And when you know and you love something to its core, it’s hard to hide the way it makes you feel. After watching almost every video on Vulfpeck’s YouTube channel (there are a lot), I noticed that the members of the band appear to enjoy every note they play and seem completely comfortable at all times. There’s a sincerity in their movement and the occasional smile or smirk that cannot be faked. It may sound hokey but each band member seems to lose themselves into (and become part of) the music while they play.
A key element to Vulfpeck’s sound is their inspiration from (and emulation of) the old session bands like The Wrecking Crew and the Funk Brothers. This, of course, explains why the music feels straight out of a movie from the 1960s but also why the band appears to focus on a “one take” vibe with everyone playing at the same time. I believe it’s this that makes the band sound so cohesive. With everyone relying on each other to sound good on a single take that they’re all playing together, it should naturally lead to performances that only get stronger as time goes by. Over time, I imagine that each member knowing every aspect of their well-oiled musical machine allows them adapt in the moment, to a point where a single take become effortless and fun.
I may be way off base here, but another indication of how effortless they make their music sound is how some of the songs (especially this one sung by the incredible Antwaun Stanley) seem like stream of consciousness poetry that’s belted out with the utmost confidence. This and “Wait for the Moment,” as near as I can tell, have lyrical improvisation fitting for their jazz sound.
“Christmas in L.A.”
Catchy Christmas song? Check. More falsetto vocals? Check! Edited footage of dogs moving making it look like they’re dancing? CHECK! At this point there’s really no reason for me to type anything else because you’re doing one of three things right now: Listening to it again, saving it to a Christmas playlist, or sending it to a friend that lives in Los Angeles.
I suppose since the last song caused the reading blind spot we now find ourselves in, it’s probably a good a time as any to end this weird love letter to a band I’m completely enamored with. While they make almost all of their music available on their site and YouTube, make sure to check out (and hopefully pledge to) their Kickstarter for their upcoming album scheduled to be released next month.
What are your favorite Vulfpeck songs? How excited are you for their new album? Am I TOO in love with this band? Let’s discuss in the comments below!
Blake Rodgers writes for Nerdist from Chicago, IL where he lives happily with his Guinness World Record for High Fives. You can be his pal by following him on Twitter (@TheBlakeRodgers)