Tuxedo - Tuxedo III (Advance Review)

Tuxedo
tuxedo_tuxedo_iii.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

Tuxedo - Tuxedo III

The L.A.-based duo of Mayer Hawthorne and and Jake One, collectively known as Tuxedo, was ahead of the mainstream pack upon the arrival of its self-titled 2013 EP. Boasting the Zapp-influenced bouncer “So Good” and the caressing slow-jam “Get U Home,” the guys’ sleek brand of west coast funk undoubtedly provided a few hints for both Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, with “Uptown Funk” and “24K Magic” building upon their old-school vibe—albeit with a more commercial vocal approach.

Tuxedo - Tuxedo III

The L.A.-based duo of Mayer Hawthorne and and Jake One, collectively known as Tuxedo, was ahead of the mainstream pack upon the arrival of its self-titled 2013 EP. Boasting the Zapp-influenced bouncer “So Good” and the caressing slow-jam “Get U Home,” the guys’ sleek brand of west coast funk undoubtedly provided a few hints for both Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars, with “Uptown Funk” and “24K Magic” building upon their old-school vibe—albeit with a more commercial vocal approach.

Tuxedo’s first and second full-length albums, each endowed with a consistent cross-section of smooth top-down jams and laid back, lights-down passages, cemented their credibility and earned them a seriously appealing collaboration with Zapp on last year’s “Shy.” Although that gem is unfortunately not included on the team’s new Tuxedo III LP, Hawthorne and One continue to stick to their mandate of understated boogie finesse without resorting to too many faddish adornments. As with Tuxedo II, the new set occasionally suffers a tad from unimaginative lyrical scenarios; this isn’t, however, an overall deterrent to a musically palatable and stimulating listening experience.

The opening cut, “The Tuxedo Way,” is pleasing enough in its festive vocals, although the lyrics and arrangements feel slightly anti-climactic.  Assimilating instrumental moments and rap interludes into the mix, Tuxedo aims to broaden its base via numbers such as the hook-centered ditty “Gabriel’s Groove” and the lowrider swayer “Dreaming in the Daytime,” which includes an underwhelming rhyme slot by MF Doom. Still, the vocal harmonies are on point and the body-callin’ rhythm pattern tight throughout. A seamless continuation of previous shining entries such as “Lost Lover” and “Watch the Dance,” the uncomplicated “You & Me” delights with lightly poppin’ percussive effects amidst a bubbly beat and sophisticated keyboard work. This example of sticking to the rhythmic foundation of the group’s defining works—while adding in a few subtle vocal embellishments—is the type of cut that continues to set Tuxedo apart from many of its contemporaries. Likewise, “OMW” carries that engagement forward. Slivers of vocoder and cleverly punctuated phrases add to its cool factor.

On the slow-jam tip, the short and sweet “Extra Texture” benefits from colorful lyrics and an easily gliding, memorable hook complemented by the production prowess of DāM-FunK, while the more derivative “Toast 2 Us” isn’t as impactful in Benny Sings’ affected vocal stylings and a languid musical arrangement. The latter is easily forgotten, however, with the onset of the vibrant closing number, “Close,” spotlighting up-and-coming female vocalist Gavin Turek. Employing a buoyant tone which pairs ideally with Hawthorne’s co-lead and just the right dose of computerized vocal effects, she enriches the feel-good disposition of the track.

 

A majority of the selections on Tuxedo III clock in at just under or over three minutes. While this results in abrupt endings in a few cases, it also keeps the flow moving along nicely—as most of the tracks segue nicely into one another. Accordingly, listeners who’ve been with Tuxedo from the start may find themselves desiring a bit more in the meat and bones of some of the material, while newcomers are likely to find themselves intrigued with the team’s cultivated sowing of solid, yet nonabrasive, grooves and unassuming melodical stance. Moderately recommended.

by Justin Kantor

 
Featured Album - Will Downing - "Romantique, Part 1"
Featured Album - The Soul Rebels - "Poetry In Motion"
Album of the Month - Plunky & Oneness - "Afroclectic"
See our Christmas Playlist! - A SoulTracks "Merry Christmas" - Now on Spotify

Leave a comment!