This is an entry in an ongoing series for 303 Magazine, which will provide a range of local album reviews. It is our intention to highlight the talents of local musicians, whether veterans to the industry or newcomers. Like the bands, the album can be fresh or something we just haven’t had the power to take off repeat in the past few months. Check out previous entries in the series here.
Lettuce is a band for the stage. Recording music is part of the job for any band, but describing Lettuce without a stage is like describing Colorado without mentioning June blizzards, Casa Bonita and food smothered in green chile. It takes the spirit right out of it.
The band gave their fans a brand new salad to chomp into with Resonate, their first album since 2019’s Grammy-nominated Elevate. If that feels soon, it is because Lettuce dove into the studio with Russ Elevado at Colorado Sound Studio to create a series of recordings from the minds of the many members of the band. “We went in to record one record and ended up cutting close to three,” explains drummer Adam Deitch. “We went into the studio with 30 songs. I didn’t know if we would get to all 30, but my guys are professionals. Those are songs they have never heard or played in their lives, and they immediately brought them in. They learned them by ear and it was an amazing and magical experience.”
When it came to dividing up the tracks, let’s just say the members of Lettuce know how to cut a list. “We listened to all the songs and decided on a live set, says Deitch. “It needed a good opener, a vocal tune or two, a lot of different tempo and a lot of different grooves. We just separated the album into what we felt would work as a live set. You feel the flow of the record. Resonate even more so, has a flow to it. I think it is our best work yet.”
The man is not lying. Resonate opens with “Blaze,” which serves the name well. Deitch cites the opener as the track he has most enjoyed performing on the tracklist. “[It’s] super funky, which we had recorded to be the first song on Elevate, but we weren’t into that version when we recorded” Deitch describes. “We wanted it to be a little more raw and a little funkier. We went back and re-recorded it, and the second version that we recorded was much better, and that is the version that starts off Resonate.”
“Good Morning Mr. Shmink,” comes next, blasting off with a flittering bassline and quick-paced rhythm. “NDUGU” turns up the horn section but calms the tempo for that very specific Lettuce jam. “Checker Wrecker” calls on Jungle Boogie and Big Tony to turn the volume back up and serve as the funky bacon bits of these greens. “Moksha,” with Indrajit Banerjee transports the listener to a new backdrop entirely, challenging the initial energy while simultaneously matching the vivacity in a perfect marriage.
Earth Wind and Fire’s “Remember the Children” serves as an important cover that is sure to be expected from a live Lettuce set. “I think that is a song that most Earth Wind and Fire fans don’t even know because it was very early on in their career,” says Deitch. “People know the big hits like “Shining Star” and “September,” but a song like this is about the children, and that we need to get to them and teach them love and respect and all of the important things that make the world a better place.”
“House of Lett” is a funk sensation, ready to burst the energy to any crowd in any place. “Resonate” operates like a dream that builds up to a peak of celebration, and the titular song on the 11-track list and provides a strong wrap up to the first project to follow up to a Grammy-nominated album. The nomination last year surged the group creatively. “To get recognized by all the people and the Academy and by all of the people that are involved in that was a major thing for us,” Deitch reflects. “We’re in an area of music that is not the most popular music in the world. For us to get recognized for playing instrumental funk music is a huge pick-me-up for all of us. As soon as this quarantine lets up, we’re going right back in, and we will record some more.”
Resonate is just a notch in the Lettuce belt of eclectic product Lettuce fans have become expectant on. The release serves as a tour through genres unlike most other music created today. “As a drummer, I like beats from all different eras and styles,” says Deitch. “A lot of the grooves on this record have their own unique flare. It takes you around to different eras of funk and soul and hip hop flavor with the beat. It takes you on a journey, a rhythmic journey that brings you to a bunch of different eras.”