Northern Stomp by Lo Fidelity Allstars, a frothy dance funk mix.

I have a special connection with the Lo Fidelity Allstars. I used “Bootsy Call” from their On the Floor at the Boutique mix as my intro music on my college radio show, Fireball Music. While I enjoyed the first Lo Fi album just fine(How To Operate With a Blown Mind), it isn’t a timeless classic by any means. The second record, 2002’s Don’t Be Afraid of Love firmly established the template that Lo Fidelity Allstars have operated from ever since, that they love funk and disco. LOVE IT. Funky basslines, Bootsy Collin’s appearances, straight faced disco pop tracks with unapologetic lyrics of unfettered love, that’s Don’t Be Afraid of Love in a nutshell. In the time since Don’t, the band hasn’t really done much of anything beside post some angry Myspace blogs about the state of British popular music(Though angry, these posts are not incorrect in their statements on the general terribleness of Kasabian and Razorlight). Along with his pessimistic posts, apparent Lo Fidelity Allstars mouthpiece Phil Ward did drop news of a new record, one of which they were immensely proud. They did warn against people hoping for another How To Operate With A Blown Mind, which was fine by me. I wanted another Don’t, which Northern Stomp essentially is.

Northern Stomp easily takes the title of most streamlined Lo Fi Allstars album. The first two records, for all their strengths could get bogged down in spacey interludes and go nowhere dub tracks. At ten songs, Northern Stomp is tighter than ever before, with more dance jams than I ever expected. If “Valentine’s Roast” had appeared on either of their previous releases, I would expect it to run an additional two minutes, slowly drifting into space. Whatever their recording conditions were this time, brevity was the result.

While knowing what a Lo Fidelity Allstars album is going to sound like isn’t that hard to predict, it’s the vocals where they continue to surprise. Northern Stomp runs the gamut from loutish Brit vocals who sound like they had too many fags and pints the night before, Bee Gee aping male falsettos, and the now expected Greg Dulli appearance(“Southside Lowdown”). Dulli appeared on “Somebody Loves You” on Don’t, where he put in a more demure lover man performance, while his performance here is positively feral, akin to his more passionate Afghan Whigs work. It takes an already strong track and makes it one of the albums many standouts. The album’s highlight is “I Know I’m a King”, disco funk pop of the highest order, where the chorus explains that “Women dress for women/I dress for a living”.

On the aforementioned Myspace Blog, Ward mentions that this might be the last Lo Fidelity Allstars record, indicating a recording process that while creatively fruitful, left them in a less promising financial situation. I hope this isn’t their swan song, as it sounds like they’ve fully shook off their Big Beat late 90’s past and are fully embracing their favorite influences, merging everything together into a frothy dance funk mix.

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