Ooh La La

Miss Fairchild sexes up New England a second time
By SAM PFEIFLE  |  August 22, 2007
INSAIDEbeat_missfairchild_M
SMORGASBORD OF FUN: Miss Fairchild.

Ooh La La Sha Sha | Released by Miss Fairchild | at SPACE, in Portland | with the Model Airplane | August 24
You know that scene in The Blues Brothers where Jake and Elwood are buying instruments for the band and find themselves organ shopping with Ray Charles? Five minutes later, 500 Chicagoans are filling the streets, busting a move to “Shake a Tail Feather.” I sometimes think that if The Blues Brothers had been set in Portland, Ray Charles would have inspired 500 Portlanders to wander out into the streets and nod their heads a little bit.

Which is a little unfair. Mainers can get down. They just need to the proper stimulation. Three years ago, a young lovely named Miss Fairchild (well, okay, a few musically inclined and technologically savvy guys with a soft spot for Bell Biv DeVoe named Miss Fairchild) stimulated the Hell out of this town, playing Pied Piper to the hilt with an infectious brand of rhythm and a hip flautist to boot. Or, as Schuyler “Great” Dunlap calls himself on their new album Ooh La La Sha Sha, at the beginning of “New Thang:” a flutician.

That flute, so rarely heard outside of an orchestral setting yet played by so many fifth-grade girls around the country, is central to the method of Miss Fairchild’s success. Were the band simply reveling in and revisiting the sounds of Motown, early boy-band, the P-Funk All-Stars, and Run-DMC, they wouldn’t amount to much more than a Motor Booty Affair-like novelty band — fun in the club, but something you might wake up the next morning regretting. Instead, with Samuel P. Nice (a/k/a Sammy Bananas, of the mixtape and mash-up-making Certified Bananas) manning the production, Dunlap playing a handful of instruments, and friends and family delivering live drums and a horn section, the band provide a richly textured sound that borrows from just about all of the above, but never quite gets larcenous.

At the 1:20 mark of “Cheatin’ Man,” a classic upbeat R&B celebration of the playa, lead vocalist Daddy Wrall (the former Wrall Skillz), demands the band “break it down.” What follows? A ripping flute solo, of course. Has that juxtaposition ever appeared in popular music? Possibly, but it’s never been so funky. The six-minute-plus “Trust Game,” a three-part examination of a fraying relationship that leads with Big Pun-style menacing bass and segues into free jazz horns, finishes with a guitar solo dripping with distortion. You’ll even hear Sufjan-esque strings and horn arrangements from time to time, likely followed by a Del tha Funkee Homosapien-type rap.

Best of all, these guys are having a blast and if you can’t get down with it, you’ve probably got some issues. The height of their ridiculousness, the proof of their shamelessness (both meant as compliments), can be found in “Tic Toc,” an ode to everything that built up to George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” and everything that came after. The repeated finish demands that you “Get on your feet and dance/Pick yourself up by the seat of your pants/Because it’s funk time.” Later, we learn that it’s “funk o’clock.” On the printed page, I could see how that might read as utter crap. Take my word for it, you won’t care at all about its vapidity.

1  |  2  |   next >
  Topics: Music Features , Entertainment, Music, Music Reviews,  More more >
| More


Most Popular
ARTICLES BY SAM PFEIFLE
Share this entry with Delicious
  •   HIP HOP SUMMER  |  July 31, 2014
    For pure output, it’s hard to argue Portland is anything but a hip hop city.
  •   SEVEN-MAN ARMY  |  July 24, 2014
    Lately, it’s been open season on “Wagon Wheel,” which has become the acoustic musician’s “Freebird,” one of the very few songs that people actually know well enough to find it funny to request.
  •   AMOS LIBBY'S FIVE WEEKS IN THE HEART OF THE CONFLICT  |  July 23, 2014
    "(Israeli) immigration asked me at the airport why I didn’t leave when I could have and I said it was because I felt safe. They told me I was nuts.”
  •   WHAT YOU SAY, RYAN?  |  July 16, 2014
    Ryan’s calling card is his sincerity. While the production and presentation are of a genre, you won’t find him talking about puffing the chron or dissing women or dropping a million f-bombs or using a bunch of contemporary rap jargon. He’s got a plan and he executes it, with more variety and modes of attack than he’s had on display to this point.
  •   BETTY CODY, 1921-2014  |  July 11, 2014
    The Maine music community lost a hidden giant last week with the death of Betty Cody, at 92.

 See all articles by: SAM PFEIFLE