Me neither. But now we have an answer anyway. Maybe we should've been wondering.
With the upcoming release of Escape from Dee-troyt, Los Angeles outfit Rhett Frazier Inc. displays a rare mix of classic soul and funk alongside modern synths and the occasional loud guitar. When lead singer Rhett Frazier says "The future's caught you from behind" on leadoff track "U Can't Stop," you realize it's a great analogy for the music itself.
The sound begins with Frazier. He actually has a falsetto and a baritone singing voice. Sometimes, one fades into the other. Other times, they are overdubbed. All this adds up to a depth of vocal sound not usually possible in a band with just one vocalist. In a band with just two primary members, the ability to seem like two people is invaluable.
Frazier's main co-conspirator is drummer/producer Donny Gruendler. Like Frazier, he's a multi-tasker, with the liner notes crediting him with drums, synths and mangled beats. The juxtaposition of Frazier's retro voice and Gruendler's futuristic production give the music its teeth.
The sound is made fuller, though, by the addition of guitar, bass and some keyboards and strings. The guitars on "Heaven", "Am I Grooving U?", "Is That O.K.?" and "BeLong" lend the tracks a hard-driving, sandpaper grit.
The true delight of the record is its eclecticism. The vocals, the techno production, edge of the guitars, the tenderness of the piano and strings on "If I Said" -- these things shouldn't fit together. In reality, they fit together quite well.
My spin: B-
When I listen to Escape from Dee-troyt, Prince comes to mind. While the Frazier and Gruendler certainly don't have Prince's polish, few other artists seem able to keep all the right elements of the past while continuing to push the envelope.
It is also one of those albums that should work wonderfully at the club, in your car or at home simply enjoying good music.
The future has indeed caught this duo from behind. Another strong album or two like this, and it may be catching a lot more fans.
Escape from Dee-troyt
Rhett Frazier Inc.
Rhett Frazier Inc. is: Rhett Frazier-vocals; Donny Gruendler-drums, synths, mangled beats
Additional players: Christian Lundberg-guitars, mixing; Derek Jones-loops, mixing; Mike Thompson-keyboards, piano; Denny Freeman-guitar; Mark Goldberg-bass; Jesse Stern-bass, guitar; Antoine Salem-acoustic guitar; Dale Jennings-bass, 12 string guitar
Producer: Rhett Frazier Inc.