This Toronto hip hop/funk fusion band just dropped their second album- listen below.
Toronto funk-rap quartet Mauve Grove take inspiration from classic funk, prog rock, old-school hip hop and R&B, and modern styles on their latest album LUSH. Members including vocalist CJ Hall, guitarist Babak Taghinia, drummer David Jones, and bassist Spencer Bridgwater combined their eclectic influences on their second full-length project.
"It’s a bit of a blurred mosaic, but if you combined something like Nas, ATCQ, BADBADNOTGOOD, Weather Report, and The Mars Volta, you’d probably be close to what we’re going for," said Bridgwater.
Some of the tracks on LUSH were written when the bandmates first met, but neither of them are quite sure when the album started forming.
"The beginnings of LUSH are distant and mysterious, like sharing a name with a renowned foreign fashion mogul," said Bridgwater. "We had several of the tracks written back when we first all met. Songs like "So Rude" and "Textiles" just came immediately, and we experimented on them through our live shows. All in all, the record probably took about two years from first note to release, which may seem like a long and anguishing time, but will appear as a sweet fleeting moment as soon as we get back on the road. The writing process was one-hundred percent homegrown by us, but to say that we didn’t take a ton of external feedback from shows would be disingenuous."
Mauve Grove recorded the LP at Genesis Sound in Toronto, with the engineering and mixing talent of Matt Snell.
"He is a stellar and handsome human being," said Bridgwater. "I think being able to just come
into a studio and play was the best. Working with someone who has an open mind such as Matt
allowed us experiment and try things we wouldn’t have considered otherwise. Special shoutout
to Roland for inventing the RE-201 Space Echo, which I’m convinced is just a very small man in
a box pulling tape through a weird echo tank."
One of the most challenging parts of the recording process for the band was listening back to their tapes, and asking critical questions.
"Is this track too short or too long? Does this chord really have emotional weight behind it? Does the bassist know what he’s doing? But really, I think a lot of our time during mixing was very detail-oriented, which can often get in the way of the bigger picture," said Bridgwater. "Once we got over those hurdles, things picked up quickly and we ended up with a body of work we can be proud of."
The band describes the listening experience of LUSH as almost psychedelic- as the feeling of looking in the mirror, and seeing a different face each day.
"The complexity of relationships, how anxiety makes us questions ourselves constantly, and how we escape from all of it," said Bridgwater. "We explore moods like changing clothes. Each track gives a bit of a different perspective of modern social life, but in the end, we think the record is best thought of as a series of stories from front to back. There are good days and bad days, and LUSH is the authentic acceptance of both as a constant reality."
Vocalist and songwriter CJ Hall finds a sense of catharsis in crafting songs.
"Writing is surprisingly therapeutic," said Hall. "I have really fallen in love with the process. From
thought to pen and paper, then finally in concert with the boys to make a proper track. I think as
a group we feel a true sense of accomplishment about it all when we finish a song. All of my lyrics are personal, it’s just how I write. They come from a place of joy, brutal honesty, and self-reflection."
The boys kick off the record with "Colours"- a vulnerable, soft song about falling in and out of love in adulthood.
"Power Plant Blues" is a funkier, jazzier take on classic 90s hip hop tune.
"Lyric-wise, I'm just talking about us a band and our come up," said Hall. "How we’ve grown together and where we’re headed."
The band showcases their party vibe talents on the fourth track.
""Stolen Wood Burns Hot" is through-and-through a party track that talks about the pitfalls of partying too hard," said Hall. "But that doesn’t mean you can’t still dance your ass off to it."
"Textiles" was Hall's anxiety outlet, offering a space for the musicians to just let go. Its sister track, "Frisky", works as the cool-down compared to the former's fiery nature.
"It's a prayer- the hook is about being sentimental, the nostalgia of times past," said Hall. "For the verses, I went for a mirrored cadence, where the lyrics are the same but the progression is first front-to-back and then it swaps."
"Feng Shui" brings you back to that initial funky, psychedelic fun aesthetic the boys are known for.
"It's about kicking back and having good time with someone," said Hall. "Just a fun chance to stretch/relax and do a more classic upbeat funk/rock number."
The band describes "When It Rains" as a track about attempting to flirt, and describing a beautiful person. "Total slow jam," said Hall.
One of their catchiest singles, the eighth track "So Rude" now has an accompanying music video.
"It's another cathartic track," said Hall. "Just pure energy letting it all out for three versus over the funk. Old school hip-hop with a modern take."
One of their most complex tracks, "Evil", follows an anti-hero character.
"The people we look up to are often not who they appear to be, flawed, human," said Hall. "Self-doubt and anxiety are points of expression, and the precise and mechanical instrumentation cuts between cadences like cold clockwork, leaving the listener on edge at every turn."
The final song, "One Nite Stand" reflects back on the band's debut track off LUSH- a vulnerable conversation about dating in adulthood, wrapping up on an honest, complexly intimate note.
Mauve Grove say their LP is meant to be interpreted in many different ways- but like the band themselves, they encourage an eclectic listening approach.
"The personal experiences for everyone will be different and that is definitely by design," said Bridgwater. "For LUSH, there are three key times for best listening: blasting it loud at a house party, in the car after quitting a job you hate to go see a person who you love, and alone in your room as you paint by candlelight."
You can help support Mauve Grove by following their socials, streaming their music, or by donating to their Bandcamp linked below.
"We couldn’t be where we are without our listeners, so first a huge thank you to everyone who’s been with us throughout," said Bridgwater. "The best ways to support us are through Bandcamp, streaming, or through our channels on Instagram or YouTube. We've got some very dope things coming very soon!"
(Postponed due to COVID-19.)