Under the Influence of Giants self-titled debut album is a refreshing change of pace from most pop and rock acts today. Fueled by some of the funkiest grooves and catchiest hooks, it’s difficult not to be reminded of the ’70s when listening to it.
If hearing “’70s” makes you think of disco, the Bee Gees and Saturday Night Fever, you wouldn’t be too far off. Unlike the passing craze of yesteryear, however, this music has a healthy dose of rock edge and grit, along with the kind of killer bass lines that made artists like the Bee Gees way too catchy.
In many ways, it’s as if Under the Influence of Giants (whose influences include “giants” like The Who, Led Zeppelin, Prince and Stevie Wonder) took some of the best aspects of that era’s music and cut out the annoying watered-down funk qualities that made so many other ’70s artists so forgettable.
The first single from the album, “Mama’s Room,” is arguably the best song on the album and is the one that’s most likely to get stuck in your head for days at a time. The pacing is nearly perfect, and this track exemplifies their grooving abilities and singer Aaron Bruno’s formidable skills, both in his natural vocal range and in his “falsetto” range.
The track “Against All Odds” is probably the closest to being a “rock” song on the album with its straight-ahead rock drumbeat, but the bass work and saxophone accents keep things very funky.
That’s not to say that all the tracks have a funky, retro feel, though. “Stay Illogical” is a haunting ballad, and the track “I Love You” is quite possibly one of the most upbeat and sweetest love songs ever made. “Meaningless Love” has a synth intro with a very ’80s, “new wave” style that actually works quite well.
All in all, Under the Influence of Giants first album is quite a feat, displaying a lot of talent, originality and a catchy feel that seems noticeably absent from a lot of pop music today.
Release Date: Aug. 8
Label: Island Records