For 20 years, Tiger Saw has garnered acclaim for it’s minimalist, slowcore sound, establishing themselves at the forefront of the DIY, community-based New England indie folk scene. Over time, they’ve created their own take on r&b music, a style they dubbed “Basement Soul”. Now, with the release of their seventh album, “The Featherweight”, the band’s new songs are a reverent celebratory homage to 1970’s funk, dance, and soul music.
Tiger Saw’s 2007 release “Tigers on Fire” featured loose, off-the-cuff paeans to the hundreds of dirty and dark basement parties where they cut their teeth. Among the album’s musicians were members of Dirty Projectors, White Hinterland, and Deer Tick.
Now, a decade later, Tiger Saw returns to the sound. Bandleader Dylan Metrano enlisted bassist Erik Tans, freshly home from a long African ethnomusical journey. The mysterious Pushcart Prize-nominated poet and musician Jim Rioux was drafted to kiss the drums. They improvised spare, funky bass-heavy grooves that would become the foundations for the new songs. The band recorded at Portsmouth, NH’s Electric Cave studio with producer and multi-instrumentalist Marc McElroy. McElroy’s encyclopedic knowledge of funk, soul, and r&b music and mastery of analogue keyboards steered the songs into a reverent celebratory homage to 1970’s dance and soul music.
Lyrically, Metrano reflects on the uncertainty of living in dark, divided times. In the opening cut, “Bring Out the Dead”, a swampy tribute to Dr. John’s style of New Orleans voodoo funk, he first calls for us to “break your phones and shake your bones” and ultimately rallies us to “join the fight / be the light”. The album reveals it’s underlying theme- that we can “turn the tables on the hands we’re dealt”. And indeed, “don’t underestimate the featherweight / with eyes on the impossible”.
The featherweight represents the dark horse- potential within the underestimated. As the Featherweight, Tiger Saw is an unlikely and untouchable funk band. It’s music to move to, to dance to, but also to inspire and embolden.
The album features several guests, including the Earth-shaking voice of the Soggy Po’ Boys’ frontman Stu Dias, taking the lead vocal on “Stronger Than Wedding Rings”; the interstellar girl group voices of Pearl and the Beard’s Jocelyn MacKenzie and Emily Hope Price throughout, and Jason Anderson’s Funkadelic-channeling guitar pyrotechnics on “Every Day / Every Night”. The otherworldly genre-defying horn section of brothers Chris and Eric Klaxton take the songs into uncharted territory. Guitarist Guy Capecelatro III, singer Mara Flynn, and multi-instrumentalist Djim Reynolds lend their talents as well.
There are secrets hidden throughout the tracks- tap dancers and magicians, oboes and alter-egos. It’s heavy and it is light. These are songs to get real gone, to take flight, and to shake the night.