N’awlins funkateers lose lead vocalist, gain hip-hop chorus
New Orleans quintet Galactic is clearly under the spell of fellow Crescent City funk/soul brothers The Meters, right down to their shared obsession with grooves vs. vocals. So after original frontman Theryl “the Houseman” DeClouet parted ways with the group in 2004, your logical reaction would be “so what,” right? Not so fast, podna. There’s no doubting Galactic’s considerable Medeski Martin & Wood-style instrumental prowess (these jam cats are built for Bonnaroo), but on the band’s seventh album, the songwriting gruel occasionally runs thin. Spread out over a record in which DeClouet is essentially replaced by a succession of hip-hop collabos, the tracks on From the Corner to the Block tend to rise or fall on the relative strength of who’s rocking the mic: Blackalicious’ Gift of Gab offers some rapid-?re curbside reporting on “The Corner” and Lifesavas’ Vursatyl rides shotgun over creeped-out closer “Find My Home.” But otherwise, a bevy of worthy underground rappers (Mr. Lif, The Coup’s Boots Riley, Lyrics Born, and Lateef The Truthspeaker among them) struggle to distinguish themselves over the mid-tempo bootyshake churning around them.