As the polyester paisley days of the ’70s have long faded into the past, we look to unlikely sources for funk music today. As Jamie Lidell proved, quite well, last year on Multipy, an afro and a soul patch are not required for one to truly be funky. Similarly, Michigander Afrobeat troupe NOMO features members of Saturday Looks Good To Me, also proving that a background in indie rock can’t stop you from hammering out a groove, either. Much like those two acts, Nino Moschella, an Irish-Italian-American son of a harp-pluckin’ doo-wop singer, doesn’t need to step out of the Mothership to reveal how funkadelic his jams are.
Moschella, much like Lidell, looks to the golden age of funk and soul for inspiration, at times resembling a modernized Sly Stone or a more lo-fi Stevie Wonder. His latest album, The Fix is a DIY funk-soul wonder, so rich and warm in tone, it almost sounds like a reel of lost material from the ’70s. Yet, it has an odd, quirky, ramshackle quality about it that sometimes finds him sounding, if not vocally, musically like Beck. Check the acoustic guitar laden “Didn’t You See Her” or the sharp-edged poppin’ and lockin’ of the title track. It may not be James Brown, but it’s got its own kind of oddball funk sense, and that only adds to Moschella’s charms.
“Strong Man,” however, gets down and dirty with some raw ass grooves, organ and Bonham-esque stomp providing some irresistibly fuzzy rhythms. Some rich wah-wah and slinky bassline make “Inside Yourself” the R&B anthem it is, as does Moschella’s falsetto, which harmonizes quite well with himself. Yet, if I were to choose a hit single from this set, I would go with “Time Would Tell,” rolling at a mid-tempo strut with a chorus of “oh, oh, oh, oh,” the catchiest of organ melodies and some righteous guitar soloing at the end. If Gnarls Barkley’s “Crazy” could become an international superhit, I don’t see why this couldn’t either. “No One,” likewise, offers some psychedelic soul delights with plenty of sweet vocal effects to spare.
Those in need of a serious funk-soul fix will find plenty to love on The Fix. For an Italian dude hidden away in rural Northern California, there is no shortage of grooves on this mamma jamma. It’s a bit of an atypical funk album, employing a one man band of four-tracked sounds rather than, say, The JB’s. But Moschella’s got soul; he could be playing a kazoo and a comb with tissue paper and it would sound like butter.
Jeff Terich is the founder and editor of Treble. He's been writing about music for 20 years and has been published at American Songwriter, Bandcamp Daily, Reverb, Spin, Stereogum, uDiscoverMusic, VinylMePlease and some others that he's forgetting right now. He's still not tired of it.