Independent Clauses | n. —unusual words about underappreciated music

Band's got soul

February 8, 2009

On a bitter, cold night in January, Fundamental Elements rolled into Springfield and warmed things up. Big Momma’s Coffee Shop played host to lead vocalist/trumpeter Russ Mohr, drummer Luke DeJaynes, bassist Mark Dejaynes, guitarist/vocalist Joe McGill , and keyboardist/vocalist Dustin Burggraaf. With a solid set of songs from their new album The Cycle We’re In and a few older tracks, FE showed Springfield how to do soul. In tracks like “Don’t Say” and “Nobody but You,” Russ breaks out some white-boy rap, Jason Mraz-style. Keyboard and percussion layer together, making most songs even more complex than the accompanying lyrics. Songs like “Asking Myself” and “Straight Fallin” feature Russ’ smooth vocals.  In some places, the whole thing sounds a bit like Maroon 5.

The lyrics are simple and straightforward, a reaction and commentary on the world and love; in this way, the band is classically soul. The band incorporates soul, hip-hop, and a little r&b to create an upbeat, eclectic sound. Fundamental Elements hails from St. Louis and has been touring in the mid-west to get the word out.

When asked to pin down genres of music that really get my blood pumping, I generally don’t include soul. And that’s what’s cool about FE. Their music is a variation from the acoustic, electronic, or just plain weird sound of so many new bands. That’s not to say I don’t love these bands. I do. But it’s good to hear something with a focus on instrumentation. Something about a trumpet-playing rapper in a soul band lends authenticity.

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Stephen Carradini and friends write reviews of bands that are trying to make the next step in their careers.

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