Galactic, at its core, is a New Orleans-based jazz/funk/R&B band that draws primarily from its hometown's rich history of music traditions.

Debuting in 1996 with "Coolin' Off" (Capricorn), the group, comprised of Theryl deClouet (vocals), Jeff Raines (guitar), Robert Mercurio (bass), Stanton Moore (drums), and saxophonists Ben Ellman and Jason Mingledorff, became a formidable presence in both the New Orleans R&B community, and somewhat unsurprisingly, the same college jam band circuit frequented by the likes of the Dave Matthews Band and Phish.

On subsequent records "Crazyhorse Mongoose" (1998) and "Late in the Future" (2000), the band expanded its stylistic palette to include traces of acid-jazz as well as an increasing debt in performance, songwriting, and production to gritty '70s soul music. 2003's "Ruckus" was the zenith of Galactic's sonically far-reaching early period.

2007's "From the Corner to the Block" proved to be an experimental move for the band by collaborating with rappers like Juvenile and Lyrics Born, among others. Unlike many others' attempts at combining traditional live funk instrumentation with hip hop, "From the Corner to the Block" was uncompromised and raw, sometimes reminiscent of OutKast.

After Jazz Fest Live 2008, Galactic's major artistic breakthrough came in the form of "Ya-Ka-May," released in 2010. With contributions from established and highly regarded New Orleans artists including Allen Toussaint, Trombone Shorty, and The Rebirth Brass Band rubbing elbows with then up-and-coming bounce acts Big Freedia, Katey Red and Sissy Nobby wrapped in a full integration of electronic and organic production, "Yo-Ka-May" was an unexpected kaleidoscope of the city's past, present and future of music.

Following another live album in 2010, Galactic issued the even more expansive "Carnivale Electricos" in 2012. Consolidating the ground broken on "Yo-Ka-May," Carnivale Electricos pushed deeper into the roots music of New Orleans, with further explorations into zydeco, and married it to the productions of Mannie Fresh, one of Dirty South hip hop's most influential producers.


"Yo-Ka-May" is a stunning accomplishment of songwriting, performance and production, and a thrilling testament to the breadth of Galactic's inclusive, genre-shattering vision. Where earlier albums hinted at the range of Parliament-Funkadelic's greatest achievements of making just about anything indelibly funky, "Yo-Ka-May" is where Galactic pulls out all of its tricks and becomes a forseeable heir to the Chocolate City. The inclusion of LGBQT friendly artists like Big Freedia was somewhat unprecedented and prescient, as Freedia in particular would be later influential on pop culture's appropriation of bounce music and twerking.


Though much of Galactic's material is at the very least interesting, "Yo-Ka-May's" "Liquor Pang" and "Do it Again" are seamless and innovative examples of Galactic turning the past to present, while "Bongo Joe" from "Ruckus" is a fantastic song in the band's early style.

More by Joshua Levine


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

The Range

Song of the Day: 'Cosmic Love Song No. 23' by Louise Le Hir

The Lantern Fest: Get Your Shine On

Fill Up On Beer, Bands and Brats at 4thtober Fest

More »

Latest in Primer

Most Commented On

  • Noise Annoys

    Mute Swan and the Curse of Local Hype
    • Oct 20, 2016
  • Honky Tonk Girl

    How this Tucson 19-year-old might trip the country electric
    • Sep 29, 2016
  • More »

People who saved…

Facebook Activity

© 2016 Tucson Weekly | 7225 Mona Lisa Rd. Ste. 125, Tucson AZ 85741 | (520) 797-4384 | Powered by Foundation