North Plainfield’s P-Funk North’s Debut Album “Buds Won’t Break Your Heart” is a Passionate Love Letter to Their True Devotion—Mary Jane.
“We’re P–Funk North, we bring the party,” says frontman Dave Sloyan to the raucous crowd at 10 Street Live last fall , at the reggae-punk party band’s release party for their sparkling debut album “Buds Won’t Break Your Heart”. They didn’t disappoint. The audience danced and shouted the lyrics as the band powered through each of the albums twelve earwormy tracks, never letting up an inch of the manic, ecstatic energy that makes them so . For P-Funk North (no relation to the George Clinton outfit, except maybe in spirit), the show was a victory lap following two years of touring and performing all over the tri-state area, where they have kicked up a storm with their captivating performances.
But the album itself is a triumph in its own right. With Green Day-inspired riffs, reggae, hip-hop and funk beats, jazzy horns and good old fashioned guitar-hero solos, P-Funk North approaches the spirit of the “stoner” lifestyle with appropriately absurdist and even romantic mindset. It’s clear that these guys love weed, like really love it, and they sound all the better for it. True to the title, “Buds Won’t Break Your Heart” almost feels like a concept album about the emotional roller coaster the defines the lives of both young lovers and potheads alike. It’s all there in the lyrics; there’s the glorious highs (“Can’t stop, won’t stop/Let’s get crazy”), the crippling paranoia (“Maybe I said too much/maybe I said enough…”) the existential angst (“This pent up shit inside of me/comes out in catchy melodies”). One of the albums strongest tracks, the aptly named “More Than Meets the Eye”, is downright surrealist but upbeat; “If all reality was merely just a fallacy/ welcome to your never ending dreams”.
Musically, P-Funk North is tight as a drum and versatile as hell, and they give every member a chance to shine. From Dave Sloyan’s groovy basslines to guitarist Joel Oviedo ‘s tasty licks, everyone manages to impress without anyone showing off—these guys play like a unit, and they have an intoxicatingly fun time doing it. They describe themselves as a “musical cocktail with the sole purpose of keeping good vibes alive”, and this couldn’t be more accurate—they make you want to join them, dance like mad (which is a staple of their live shows—trust me, you need to SEE THEM LIVE), and of course share a huge blunt.
“3rd degree of separation” starts the album off with a bang and states the bands purpose plainly enough – – lines like “they’ll never hit me harder than this roach blunt” are set to music that almost gives you a contact high. “Smoke Break” and “Hit the Bowl”—the bassline of the former is so groovy gave me the munchies. Both of them also push the 420 vibe to more existential areas, managing to be good fun while also asking all the important questions—“Who’s writing this shit?” “And don’t it make you wanna hit the bowl?” It seriously, seriously did.
Sloyan channels Billy Joe with “Poppies and Gin”, which is a throwback to 1994 in the best possible way, with an anthemic riff you can play air guitar to and an impassioned vocal and references to Ross and Rachel of ‘Friends.’ He is accompanied by James Powell on vocals on “Hit the Bowl” and “Billy The Bum.” Meanwhile, DJ Redrum adds some vinyl scratch on both “Sugarcoat” and “Billy The Bum” which trend closer to old school hip hop and really showcase the bands versatility.
Lake any good smoke partners, P Funk North knows how to get you high but they also know how to bring you back down, as they prove with the pair of ballads “Jealousy” and “Waking Up Angry” which have the best guitar solos on the album. On “Rewind This Crisis”, a song that goes to some relatively dark psychedelic places, Bruce Krywinski plays the flugelhorn beautifully enough to rein in any of Mary Jane’s more undesirable side effects. The albums closer, the acoustic “True Love Anarchy” is delivered with the desperation of someone who finally realized what was important, and gets hopeful (“I know it’s sunny somewhere”) at just the right moment. It raises a lump in your throat, and is the perfect ending to an album that the party doesn’t have to end if your playlist has a ‘repeat’ button.
“Buds Won’t Break Your Heart” is available to stream and download on all the major services.