Boston Fusion Pop Band Couch Drop Eclectic Debut EP

Arie Likhtman

A trumpet, a little bit of sax, a funky bass, some jazzy guitar, a sprinkle of keys, and ear-piercing vocals. No, that’s not a 1920s big band, that’s the future of music. All around the world, soul, and jazz are re-entering the pop scene. This new wave of Soul pop bands includes innovative groups like Lawrence, Orange Guava Passion, and Honey Butter.  But of all the Soul Pop groups, none is perhaps more eclectic, and has me more on the edge of my seat, than the Boston Funk Sextet, Couch.

 

 

Straight out of the heart of Beantown, Couch is a group with one mission in mind, in their own words “to reshape familiar pop tropes in fresh ways”. There is no better representation of Couch, and soul-pop as a whole, than their debut, self-titled EP “Couch”. An eclectic fusion of funk, soul, jazz, and pop, this five-song EP feels like a complete representation of genre-bending music. Let’s take a look at the highlights.

 

Track 1: Still Feeling You

If you’re looking for a groove, then look no further. Everything about this first track screams funk. A song about the aftermath of a relationship, “Still Feeling You” is a wild ride of a song. The rhythms are intricate, the harmonies are unique, and the beat is simple yet infectious; its impossible not to get up and dance

The first chorus is all bass, with the lyrics I’m Still Feeling You, repeated over a grungy bassline reminiscent of the classic funk sounds of Tower of Power and Earth Wind and Fire, but with a new pop twist. Oh, but it gets better. The second chorus gets even better, as the instrumental is cranked up to 11 with the introduction of Trunpet and Sax riffs that remind me of the timeless sounds of Count Basie and Glenn Miller. All in All, this first track is a perfect introduction to this funky EP.

 

Track 2: Black Bear Lane

If you thought funk was all that this EP had to offer then you could not be more wrong. Couch puts their versatility on full display with this softer soulful track. The introduction feels almost sad, with haunting synths slowly growing in intensity. The vocals enter as smooth as butter, proving that lead vocalist Tema Siegel can do R&B with the best of em. The beat is a whole vibe, with smooth yet piercing drums elevating the song and my ears to cloud 9. The melodies may not be as complicated as some of the other tracks, but the vocals are truly what shines through.

Then comes the best part, after the intense second chorus, the bridged thins out and we are treated to one of the best saxophone solos in modern pop. As a saxophone player myself, I nearly jumped out of my chair, Eric Tarlin’s smooth sound reminds me of some of the true greats, including Coleman Hawkins and even John Coltrane himself. After the solo, the choir enters, with overlayed vocal harmonies taking us to jazz paradise. “Black Bear Lane” is truly a blast from the past, but yet it feels oh so new.

 

Track 3: Stand Up 

We’ve had funk, we’ve had R&B, now it’s for a bit of hip-hop. The third track on this EP is a soulful anthem to personal empowerment. The drums open in a rolling beat instantly gets my shoulders to shimmy. Siegel’s piercing tone carries the melodies all the way through the first verse. The lyrics shine, with creative lines like I catch myself looking in the mirror, finally I see her proving that Couch are poets just as they are musicians.

The only thing that this song is missing is a rap… oh wait… it has one! The second verse is entirely rapped, in full shameless swag, this band proves that even old-school hip-hop is not beyond their reach. While some may say the rap feels a bit cringe or even outdated, I find it refreshing and quite fun. The chorus is fun and poppy, with male and female vocals overlayed in octave harmonies that bring the words to life. A testament to growing up,”Stand Up”, is one for your playlist.

 

Track 4: Like Before

Now it’s time for my personal favorite track off this masterpiece of an EP. The soulful fourth track “Like Before”, plays out the struggle between having to leave home and missing the old life, a story as old as time. Similar to “Black Bear Line”, this track is softer, with more of an R&B feel, but with a little bit more intensity. The first verse-to-chorus sequence is sheer heaven, with just keys and snaps as a backdrop to Siegel’s smooth timbre. The chorus lyrics feel timeless, my favorite line being I miss you at my door, like before, showing up out of the blue.

But Couch are never fans of monotone music. The drums slowly build, and the jazz section re-enters, with smooth trumpet riffs carrying the outro of the first chorus and the second chorus. The song ends in an explosion of passion, while still keeping its r&b and soul roots. This song feels like a microcosm of the whole EP and the whole group. Eclectic, emotional soulful, jazzy, and just plain fun.

 

Track 5: Fall Into Place

Going out with a bang, “Couch” ends in a musical explosion. This last track does not hold back, coming out swinging with the wind section on full blast. This track combines the best of the EP, with the vibes simultaneously smooth and soulful ad well as bombastic and piercing. It’s relaxing, yet exhilarating all the same time, which perfectly describes this EP. The lyrics are just as empowering as the rest of the EP, with the chorus reminding us to laugh at our fears and Let it all fall into place. The background vocals soar behind Seigel’s powerful riffs, painting a tapestry of soulful bliss. This song is a complete package, with everything from instrumental riffs to vocal tricks that would make the circus jealous.

If you thought pop music wasn’t going anywhere, then you haven’t heard Couch, this eclectic group of renegade musicians defies genre, breaks all the rules and I could not be happier. There is something so special about a group that fuses the greatest things about the past with the greatest things about the future. Their first ep “Couch” is just the beginning. They have so much more to offer, and I can not wait to see what that is. Look out, because funk is back, and Couch is right at the front of the soul train.

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