The Actual Mafia’s ‘Bullet to the Chakra’ EP – Review
The Actual Mafia are a 5-piece rock-funk group hailing from Maynooth. The band have been gigging together for four years and will release their debut EP ‘Bullet to the Chakra’ on the 10th of August, following the release of their first single ‘The General’ which came out in July.
The album opens with ‘Don and Dusted’, a track of chopped together news items that sounds like the opening dialogue of a mafia flick which sets the scene for the album as though it were a story about to unfold.
This leads right into their rocking first track ‘Jogging Donkey’ with lyrics resonant of 90s hip-hop funking up the tune and mentioning the album title ‘Bullet To The Chakra’. The chorus is a little reminiscent of early N.E.R.D. kind of pop-rock. This one is a definite headbanger you’re going to want to hear live.
‘The General’ has some jazzy brass elements that their sound a slightly different twist to the previous track. Unlike a lot of rock bands, the lyrics are easily distinguished so even on the first listen you get an idea what the band are all about. The group deftly mix funky brass with more rock-type vocals, guitars and drums in a blend that works far better than it really should. This track was their debut single this July and certainly is a good example of the band’s unique flavour.
‘Once upon a street corner’ picks up the story started in the first track, with two distinct voices discussing a deal – these little dialogical interludes give the album a drama and theatricality that turns the album into a performance and not just a series of tracks.
Track 5, ‘Street like Sesame’, brings the music back in, mixing rap and funky brass with a steady guitar rhythm that builds up to a powerful chorus with some higher vocals that bring in another dimension. This track is one to listen to loud. The lyrics bring in elements of the dialogue in the previous track and tie the album together a little.
The 6th track opens slightly more gently with softer vocals and drums before funking things up with a short rap, the vocals are swing from husky to suave and from quick to slow, effortlessly adjusting to the stylings of both the rock and funk genres. This track provides a good example of The Actual Mafia’s flexibility and their confidence in their sound.
This is followed by ‘Funky Sonic’ which holds a tension at the beginning the makes the listener impatient for the break out. The lyrics line has a repetitive but catchy rhythm that is easy to dance to and punctuated by the same fantastic brass elements that permeate the album.
Track 8, ‘Trip’ gives another unique insight into the collective mind of The Actual Mafia – this monologic track is a humorous almost-sermon that gives you an idea of the bands inspiration and message while keeping up the idea that this album is a story.
The final track starts punchy and funky and is lively and dancey – you will want to sing along to ‘Set the night on fire’. This track round of the album with a funktastic bang that will leave you smiling and get stuck in your head.
Overall the album is a great balance of genres and instruments and engaging vocals. The non-musical tracks add intrigue and atmosphere and transform the album into almost a short audio film. This is energetic, feel-good music that you are going to want to play loud and see live. The EP launch gig is on in The Workman’s Club on Sunday, 10th August.
Check out The Actual Mafia on their Facebook page.
Review by Kat Clinch