By Mags Blackburn
I came across the Maynooth five-piece The Actual Mafia just as they were releasing their album “Bullet To The Chakra” in August this year. But what a treat they are. Fun, cheeky and uber-talented, these guys know how to have a good time. “Bullet To The Chakra” is 9 tracks of funky guitars, sexy horns and rumbling bass lines. The music is good, really good – but it’s the cheeky lyrics, the reference points and the monologue interludes that add spunk to this album.
Playing with the mafia theme, ‘Don and Dusted’ opens with a montage of news reports about mafia activity and an execution scene. Maybe it’s a metaphor, that they’re going to kill it or that they’re wiping out any preconceptions of what we should expect from them. It’s hard to deny the Red Hot Chilli Peppers vibe on ‘Jogging donkey’, but they incorporate their own style of funk on this track with rhythm guitar and horns. “Can’t funk with me// Can’t funk today.”
The General is the first single from the album. Alternating between bass guitar, vocals and sax, this is a lively track. The deep bass vocal that joins is really enjoyable. “Are you willing to march for the General?//One Two// One Two”. ‘Once Upon a Street Corner ‘, is the first spoken word interlude on the album. “Word of the day is Why// But Y is a letter” This is a play on a drug deal where words and letters are for sale. “I’ll give you W// A third of Why// 33% off”. A ‘Street Like Sesame’ continues where ‘Once Upon A Street Corner’ left off. “The word of the day is why// The letter of the day is I// I’m gonna funk you up”. ‘The Curious Art of Falling Apart’ is a slower tempo track compared with what’s gone before, but with a deep bass and horns it is no less rambunctious.
“Come to think of it// Maybe those weren’t MnM’s after all”, the closing line of ‘Trip’ and an example of the humour to be found throughout “Bullet To The Chakra”. On the closing track ‘Set the night on Fire’ we are introduced to some Spanish influenced plucked guitar. This is translated then onto a plucked bass line. On this track the musicians are giving free reign to improvise with the emphasis on the instruments rather than vocals.
The Actual Mafia, as they say themselves, have “allsortsabillies” and this can be heard throughout the album with funk and rock being the more dominate. This is a fun ride of an album and I’d say they’d be killin’ it live as well.