Kenny Wesley probably isn't a name you're familiar with, unless you're a die-hard “So You Think You Can Dance” fan. However, with his debut album The Real Thing, Wesley has immediately established himself as a serious -and seriously fun- artist who's looking to bring funk back.
Welsey influences are undeniable – half the tracks on this album sound like great 70s funk, in the vein of Parliament or the Jacksons, with a heaping helping of current-day synthesizers on top. Wesley shines on these tracks, such as Real Thing and Taffy, with some down-and-dirty fuzz guitar riffs and hot drumming that make head-bobbing a virtual necessity.
Dallas duo Fresh Linen wants to take hiphop in a new direction. Fresh Linen’s music isn’t simply hiphop, although it’s got the beats and the rhymes and you could dance to it. It’s a celebration of east coast music tradition going back to the 70s, thrown in a blender, and with some cutting-edge electronics thrown in for grins.
Their brand of psychedelic, rasta-influenced hiphop songwriting brings constant surprises. Few of their songs sound more than somewhat alike, although they’re linked in the duo’s cerebral lines as they weave around analog chip grooves and beats that seem to exist in a cavern, leaving electronic echoes in the distance.
It’s easy enough to get lost in the mind-expanding production to not even notice how catchy their hooks are!
This isn’t just music to listen to in a a smoky room, either. Fresh Linen treat their voices as instruments, bouncing off each other, doing complex overlays, and playing with the soundscape as they groove on through it. Then to switch things up they use a Halloween-like piano line to tie together fro grow, an epic ode to their hair.
From high-level trash talk to The Take Over, which brings the smooth and smokey 70s vibe to modern times with some sleazy sawtooths in the background. It runs on, perhaps, a tad too long, but they sing it with real soul.
While their particular style takes a moment to get used to, there’s a lot in Fresh Linen for a lot of people to enjoy. With sharp production, two great performers, clever lyrics, and a range of influences over the last 40 years across R&B, hiphop, and electronica, they’ve got a lot of appeal.
They’re currently unsigned, but hopefully not for long. With polish, they could be big.
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The Take Over is one of Fresh Linen's more introspective records to date. This breakthrough song was written by the Indiana duo as an ode to family lost and present as well as their clear intentions to rise in the music stratosphere. The repetitious hook doesn't lack. Although fueled with deep subject matter, the record remains melodic and easy to vibe to in its entirety. "A lot of feeling went into the recording of that joint" says Shaun Linen. It was written in the wake of Fresh's fathers passing. "It was a trying time, but I conjured up enough spirit to keep going. A lot of soul goes into this" says Fresh.