Porky’s Groove Machine – Sticklers For Specificity
Sticklers For Specificity, released in February of 2021, is the latest extended play from Porky’s Groove Machine, a septet based in Appleton, Wisconsin. The cover artwork is adorned with a visual homage to Rene Magritte’s 1929 surrealist painting “The Treachery of Images”—with an illustrated hog in place of the famous tobacco pipe—immediately signaling the irreverent, Dada-esque approach to dance music that has become a trademark of this group.
More experimental than previous releases, and a stylistic departure from the primarily Afrobeat-influenced sound of their early work, Sticklers For Specificity was recorded at the famed Hideaway Studios in Northeast Minneapolis, with production handled by Jason McGlone. The EP begins with the title song, a humorous duet that lyrically riffs on conversational pedantry, backed by horns and a tight rhythm section.
The second track, “Spice Girls”, opens with a classic funk vamp, hearkening back to the late 60s/early 70s work of James Brown, before shifting into a melodic ode to its subject—which is not, as one might expect, the turn-of-the-millennium British girl group, but rather actual spices, as in culinary seasoning. The middle-eight features a sultry saxophone solo, before segueing into a retro-rap interlude underpinned by an old-school Roland beat machine, then picking up the chorus and closing out the song with a capella coda.
“Traffic Jam” features a comedic spoken-word introduction with “chipmunk-ed” vocals, which recalls the wackier moments of vintage Parliament-Funkadelic albums, while “Swamp Ass Shimmy” narrates an unpleasant journey through bayou country. The final song (“S.A.D.”) is an upbeat, disco-inspired dance tune about seasonal affective disorder, creating an unexpected juxtaposition between the feel-good rhythm and the lyrics.
There is no shortage of musical ideas on this five-track EP, and with Sticklers For Specificity it would seem that Porky’s Groove Machine has achieved a decidedly rare feat: thoughtful party music.
– K. McKee