The Boston-based trio Soulive are a busy bunch, though in most recent years you'll find guitarist Eric Krasno, keys player Neal Evans and drummer Alan Evans playing with their own groups and as valuable sidemen. So the 5-song EP Cinematics, Vol 1 is like a desert oasis for thirsty fans of the original trio.
As the title suggests, Soulive are playing movie music on the new release. But the movies only exist in the imagination. The idea, they say, is "to turn the backs of your eyelids into a vibrant, action-packed movie screen." So what's playing? That depends on the song, but the overall era recalls drive-in miscellany from the 70s.
My own record collection has been growing in the "soundtracks/scores" category, and I'm not alone. Soundtrack music and film scores have become increasingly popular among collectors and open-minded fans for the past decade. In demand vinyl reissues coming for Record Store Day on April 21st include Dave Grusin's music for 1973's The Friends of Eddie Coyle, Lalo Schifrin's Enter the Dragon from the same year, and director Robert Rodriguez's recent drive-in-throwback Planet Terror.
Although the three members of Soulive approached writing this new music without any preconceived plan, the cinematic quality of the tunes arose naturally from their nearly twenty years as a band. I'd guess the modern passion for vintage movie music hasn't gone unnoticed by the trio.
Soulive's too-short (I'm ready for Volume 2 now!) trip to the movies includes "Millers Last Stand" that recalls old Italian cop movie themes, and "Sidekick" wouldn't sound out of place among Marvin Gaye or Isaac Hayes "blacksploitation" themes. For fans of road movies, relax with the window down and cruise along to "Bluebird". If you find yourself at the beach, "Wave" closes the album just in time for a bouncy, mid-tempo surf movie sunset.
On this week's New Cool, you'll hear the EP's opener, and my favorite song, "Kings March". The mood isn't far from the trippy background BadBadNotGood set up for rapper Ghostface Killah's fantastic album Sour Soul in 2015. Can you picture a handsomely dressed European couple mixed up in spy movie intrigue with Bruce Lee in a jungle fortress? You can let your own imagination go wild and enjoy a mental matinee with Soulive's latest, and expect more soon. Soulive recorded this collection in just two days, and it hit the streets a month later. The band says a series of "Cinematics" releases will follow quickly.
The New Cool airs Saturdays from 3 to 5p, hosted by Abe Beeson and produced by KNKX Public Radio in Seattle, Wash.