A little over a month ago, Thee Idea Men dropped a superb follow up to their first full-length production, Getcho Groo Von. The album, titled New Level Shoes, continues the same vein of irresistible funk the group pioneered nearly two years prior. Since the beginning, the group has called Philly home, and although they’re well-traveled, the city remains their hub for performing and recording. In fact, New Level Shoes was recorded and mastered at the MilkBoy Studio, an extension of the popular rock venue and watering hole. Lucky for us locals, Thee Idea Men frequently bring their show to the shore in all its foot-stomping glory.
As for New Level Shoes, the record starts out strong and finishes stronger, never slowing or watering down. It’s a delightful hybrid of rhythm, blues, funk and punk that always surprises and never disappoints. The songs themselves are flat-out fun, created by four dudes that you can tell love creating and playing music together. That love comes across loud and clear, along with the fact that each one of these dudes is a genuine musician who’s been playing since he could hold an instrument. Thee Idea Men never take themselves too seriously though, and the resulting tunes are something truly special.
The album begins with the blues-infused rock jams “Help Me Mama” and “Natural Gravitation,” (two songs that are impossible not to jive to), before transitioning to the smooth funk of the title track. Next come the rock-steady rhythms of “I Don’t Know (I Can’t See)” and “Shake It,” where both the bass and lead guitar have a chance to shine. Throughout New Level Shoes, the guitar work from all corners is a cut above, and with the help of their versatile drummer, Thee Idea Men transition from tempo to tempo and style to style without the slightest hiccup. It’s a rare treat when a band is comfortable enough to change it up and take it easy from time to time, as the group does well with their pleasant jazz-rock ballad, “Please”.
From there, the record turns to the catchy, country-tinged earworm “All the While” and wraps up with three songs that seriously deserve more plays, (including the Them Crooked Vultures-esq, “Underplayed”). As a whole, New Level Shoes is a gluttonous, guilty pleasure that gets better with each listen. As far as this record goes, I’d have to agree with the sentiments shared in the closing tune “Addicted”- “You tell me you’re no good for me/Oh baby well you don’t know shit.”
On July 11th, Thee Idea Men will be heading to Asbury Park’s Langosta Lounge for a gig with The Amboys. Be sure to check them out, and in the meantime, head on over to their website and their SoundCloud, where you can listen to New Level Shoes in its entirety. You can also purchase the album in full off Thee Idea Men Bandcamp page.