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Black Pumas and the revival of funk

| Monday, February 24, 2020

Lina Domenella | The Observer

Active since 2017, The Black Pumas are a newly formed band with a retro funk vibe including samples from many R&B tracks nodding at older, but very notable artists.

Singer, Eric Burton and guitarist Adrian Quesada formed this psychedelic soul duo in Austin, Texas. Burton’s soulful voice coupled with Queseda’s experience as part of Grupo Fantasma — a Latino band which won a Grammy for Best Latin Rock, Urban or Alternative album in 2010 for their album El Existensial — has resulted in homemade music that has something for everyone, the lyrics and skillful guitar.

Their self-titled debut album features a multitude of songs, however, I believe their top three are “Colors,” “Black Moon Rising,” and “OCT 33.”

“Colors” is about the colorful diversity found in any given moment in our lives. With lyrics consisting of “baby blues,” “meadows of green,” “gray clouds,” “bitty blue bird flies,” “gray clouds,” “white walls” and “blue skies” the listener is left imagining the vividness that the lyrics masterfully describe.

The song can also be about human diversity as well, with the chorus saying, “my sisters and my brothers, see ‘em like no other, all my favorite colors.” —giving us not only a beautiful picture but a beautiful message.

Written on a New Mexico rooftop, this featured song has a psychedelic sound paired with a hint of nostalgia, feeling both relevant and timeless.

“Black Moon Rising” is a dark love song, nevertheless, the lyrics aren’t entirely the focus. The solid string section distances itself from Burton’s soulful voice, allowing Quesada to stand out. The band, known for playing with past sounds, echoes Creedence Clearwater Revival’s classic “Bad Moon Rising.”

The final song highlighted is “OCT 33.” The acoustic guitar provides the foundation for this song. Although repetitive in nature, it provides an enticing sound that leaves you hooked. This song also includes a reference to “Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa-Fa (Sad Song)” by Otis Redding, indicating the melancholy undertones in both the lyrics and guitar.

This band, although new, has an evocative and reminiscent sound which is still in the process of being developed. The lack of outside influence and the sheer necessity of evolving their sound (which only time can bring) results in very similar conceptual pieces. However, the combination of vocals and guitar weave together, and this crucial element is going to be pivotal to their future success.

Want more from The Black Pumas?

Make sure to check out the live version of “Colors” and “Black Moon Rising” as well as the acoustic version of “Colors” here!

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