May 12, 2010

The Macrotones - Wayne Manor


Wayne Manor, the debut album from The Macrotones, an eleven-piece afrobeat band out of Boston, is tight display of funk and percussive aggression that shows a lot promise for the group. Certain songs attack and punch you in the face from start to finish while others slowly creep, ebb, and flow, much like some of their biggest influences, Budos Band, Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Afrika 70, and Antibalas.

Funky basslines and tight rhythm section lay down a tight groove over which the horns drive the action and melody of the song in place of a vocalist. While there are only three horns in the eleven piece band, Nate Leskovic on trombone, Andy Bergman on baritone sax, and Jason Buhl on tenor and soprano, make their presence felt with authority with a heavy, deep register.

The percussion section really takes the identity of the album's overall sound. Since The Macrotones don't have a vocalist, they have an elongated, open texture. The clave, shekere, congas, and trap drums fill in the gaps and give the album its lasting impression.

The Macrotones are part of a growing faction of afrobeat bands throughout the east coast. Inspired by Fela and his contemporary disciples, they take on the same challenge as their peers: to continue the legacy of afrobeat with their own sound.


I have been listening to this wonderful debut album by Boston, Massachusetts’ The Macrotones. Their music is all instrumental, and very funky, complete with jazzy horn section and irresistible percussion. This album often reminds me of the soundtrack to a spy movie. There is an inquisitive nature behind each of these songs that keeps the listener on their toes throughout the twists and turns of each song. “Hitchin’ to Bristol” is my favourite song on the album. The horn section just sweeps you off your feet when you would least expect it to. And listen to the insane percussion solo halfway through the song “Clave Fury”. A really interesting band that I definiately think you should check out if you are in the mood for something a little more on the jazzy side.


So when a band lists as their influences The Budos Band, Fela Kuti, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, the Daktaris, Antibalas, Nomo, and the El Michels Affair, I don't have to scratch my head long trying to figure out if I'm going to like them. I'll take one please, super-sized. And when the band is a (semi-) local band out of Boston, I've got to throw out some kind words for them to help spread the beat.

Their name is The Macrotones, an eleven piece outfit that's got a macro-sound, as in large, thick, and especially prominant. Like many of the groups they mention as influences, they pump out an instrumental, afro-beat inspired, funk sound that will get your booty shaking. While you certainly get the sense that Fela's spirit is lingering in the air, there are also dashes of good ol' American funk thrown in for good measure. Tight horns, funky basslines, all sorts of percussion - certainly a tasty recipe.

Although I haven't had the pleasure, I'm guessing that experiencing these guys first-hand would be quite an experience. If you're in the Somerville area, check them out at Johnny D's in Davis Square and let us know about the show.



1. Book It! 5:20
2. Conversation 4:52
3. Hitchin' To Bristol 4:06
4. Clave Fury 5:49
5. Flood 4:22
6. Can You Hear Me Now? 3:20
7. Architecture 3:53
8. Emergency Room Lullaby 5:45
9. Brazil 9 7:30

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