Boulevards: Yadig!


[Don’t Funk With the Groove, June 8]

As Boulevards, Jamil Rashad became a local celebrity with his risqué yet endearing funk jams, matching them with a high-octane stage presence and a dedication to his suave ‘80s aesthetic. His first two records, 2016’s Groove! and 2017’s Hurtown, USA, didn’t quite live up to the intensity of his live show, something his new album comes much closer to doing.

Yadig! takes the nostalgia train back even further, ditching the crisp ‘80s aesthetic for a soulful ‘70s vibe. Much of this sonic shift seems to be due to producer Russell Manning, who swaps out the usual thick Moog basses and brassy Junos for a tape-saturated array of pianos, electric organs, clavinets, and vintage string machines. The resulting record draws on influences like The Meters, Tower of Power, and Funkadelic―artists that Rashad’s father, a longtime DJ at WSHA, played when Rashad was a kid

On the opening track, “Lord Knows,” Rashad welcomes the listener to “the church of funk” before launching into James Brown-esque vocals over staccato guitar stabs and howling horns. “My Baby’s Gone” features a meaty bass line and fuzzed-out guitar riffs reminiscent of Lonerism-era Tame Impala.

Lead single “K.M.O,” which premiered in the INDY, decelerates in both the pre-chorus and the outro, giving weight to softer moments. The final two tracks possess a dark complexity that isn’t present in the rest of the album. The syncopation on “The Bug” is both disarming and alluring, whereas “Losing My Mind (A Junkies Anthem)” is a monologue about self-destructive behavior.

The tape saturation, as pleasant as it sounds, can be a bit distracting, particularly on tracks like “Need You,” and “Funkdefied (Freestyle)” is an unnecessary addition containing an almost minute-long list of United States airports and scat-singing. These are minor road bumps, though, and Yadig! is Boulevard’s warmest, most honest work to date.

Support independent journalism. Join the INDY Press Club to help us keep fearless watchdog reporting and essential arts and culture coverage viable in the Triangle.