Made of You
Erstwhile up-and-comers Funky Butter have released their first - and last - studio album, Made of You. Gentle and thunderous, nuanced and brash, poised and un-posed - the New York City-based band drew from a wide range of musical styles - rock, pop and soul, hip-hop and jazz - a synergistic burst of emotionally honest songwriting, dedicated musicianship, soaring vocals, and passionate live performance. Funky Butter pushed the envelope from casual, comfortable, and everyday, deep into jagged and unknown musical territory - and back again. In January 2007, the band co-headlined the Main Stage of World Cafe Live playing to a sold-out crowd of 500+. In the summer of 2006, Funky Butter produced their own bi-weekly Summer Concert Series, Real Music Thursday, where they performed to sold-out audiences at World Cafe Live, and introduced cutting-edge artists from around the country. Funky Butter rocked many of the east coast\'s debut music venues including The Trocadero (Philadelphia), The Bitter End and the Knitting Factory (New York), The Middle East (Boston), and the 8x10 (Baltimore). Three years of passionate, dedicated creativity cemented Funky Butter\'s reputation as an imaginative and dynamic band, but in August 2007 the band had pushed the envelope as far as they could go. \'We decided we were ready to move on to different projects, different sounds,\' says bassist Justin Goldner. \'Like Miles said, \'If I don\'t keep moving, I\'ll die.\'\' Made of You features 10 Funky Butter tracks selected from the band\'s catalogue of original songs, honed in live performances over three years. Funky Butter leads the album off with \'When She Hides.\' Catchy, and concise, it nevertheless grows naturally into denser harmony in the way that the band\'s music and message progressed over almost three years. Lead vocalist Kate Ferber\'s voice grabs hold of the audience, spinning a captivating and personal tale. Fellow Philly native Zack Djanikian of The Brakes contributed backup vocals to \'When She Hides\' and several other tracks on Made of You. \'Ringer\' - featuring the vocals of bassist Justin Goldner - is symbolic of the band\'s more recent collaborations with it's newest member, Dallin Applebaum. Influenced by Nickel Creek\'s swansong, Why Should the Fire Die, the song delves into shadowy subject matter without losing a sense of light and melody. \'Ringer\', which some say foretells the band\'s eventual breakup, struggles between a tortured attachment and the inability to break loose: \'Every time I turn away/There you are.\' \'Hungry\' is a playful, funky call of the wild, seducing from within, feeding the hunger for life that is too often denied and suppressed. One of Funky Butter\'s earliest songs - the first of Ferber and Goldner\'s collaborations - \'Hungry\' celebrates the band\'s roots in groove-oriented music and soulful melodies while hinting at more progressive directions it would explore in the ensuing years. You can hear the influence of both Laura Nyro and Frederic Chopin in the nuanced use of tempo. By the summer of 2006, much of Funky Butter\'s new material was dark, difficult and exploratory. Some fans wanted to hear only the more playful songs they\'d heard before. In response came the most formulaic pop song the band could conceive - in the most facetious tone they could muster. The ironically titled \'Something New\' is a high-octane, overly-caffeinated, hyperventilatingly cynical ode to mindless pop culture and wanton consumerism. In fact, \'Something New\' contains nothing new, all tried and true cliches squeezed into a three-minute song. Some of the lyrics were influenced by well-intentioned comments from fans, flipped to express the band\'s frustration at people\'s unwillingness to try something new. \'The Minefield\' is a fitting follow-up about jumping into the music industry head-first and meeting with some of the nasty folks portrayed in \'Something New.\' Prior to joining Funky Butter, Dallin Applebaum was approached by a group of moneyed producers who encouraged her to drop out of school, become a pop star, and make the music they wanted her to make. Applebaum describes being played like a puppet. \'You give me a melody so I\'ll just sing along...for all that I\'ve built here feel[s] so wrong.\' Her plaintive lead vocal holds back, suppressing all creative instincts until, unable top hold back the tide, it explodes - pleading, demanding, screaming, \'I\'m not making a sound.\' The second half of Made of You opens with \'Justify Myself,\' an early song that showcases Ferber\'s vocal prowess and marks the band\'s departure from the straight-up rock of \'Hungry\' to a more subtle, jazzy sound. The song\'s entire arc is contained in the instrumental intro, originally a jazz piece composed years before the band formed. Following \'Justify Myself,\' the album takes a turn inward for a sequence of songs exploring, according to the band, \'our innermost desires and how we struggle against ourselves, how we construct walls and realities to make it easier to live and to avoid confronting the scarier parts of ourselves.\' Applebaum\'s \'Pretty Hands\' originally reflected her more progressive writing desires as a solo artist. In Funky Butter\'s hands it\'s an epic song, After the storm of \'Pretty Hands\' comes the delicate respite of \'Where is My Man\', the lament of a lonely soul. \'I wrestle,\' sings Ferber, \'and I win, and still I cannot understand.\' The respite is temporary, however, and peace is not yet at hand as the chugging guitars of \'She Walks the Line\' hammer on. More than any other, this song captures the energy of Funky Butter\'s live performances, with the narrative exploding into Dan Tirer\'s guitar fireworks. The cacophony fades into the distance, however, replaced by the peaceful prelude to the album\'s title track and finale: a prayer, a confession, an intensely slow yet ceaseless groove, an acknowledgement of that which came before and that of which now is composed. Made of You is many things: the culmination of years of hard work and the support of fans - and a hint of what the group might have become. \'Ultimately,\' says Goldner, \'It\'s about enjoying the music. We enjoyed playing it and we put the time into making this record so people could enjoy listening to it.\' Although no longer together as a band, Funky Butter\'s members continue to collaborate with one another on various projects while pursuing their own creative paths. Kate Ferber recently performed a sold out staged reading of her musical \'One Child Born: The Music and Life of Laura Nyro\' which she continues to develop with her co-writer Louis Greenstein at CAP 21\'s Shop Theater. Dallin Applebaum is performing solo and enlisting her former bandmates in recording a new EP of original material, due for release in Winter 2009. Dan Tirer has been recording and performing with a wide variety of artists in New York City including Ryan Star, Emanuel and The Fear, T.J. Moss and Nick Howard. Josh Steingard has been recording and touring with Erin Barra, Gia Ashe and his new power trio, Sugar Mama. Justin Goldner recently released Una Passeggiata, a live album reflecting his interests in world music, and has been fortunate to perform and travel with a variety of inspiring artists including Eren Cannata and Meshell Ndegeocello.