Recording studios are where instrumental bands go to die. So when Galactic split with its lead singer back in 2004 and, after three years of touring, threatened to make a purely instrumental album, even the biggest fans of this funk-filled New Orleans quintet braced for the worst.
As things happen, the worst did occur—just not how anyone could’ve imagined. Katrina hit, flooding forced the band from its studio and Galactic decided to bag the instrumental effort and try something more adventurous. They invited some of hip hop’s best MCs— Lyrics Born, The Coup’s Boots Riley, Mr. Lif, Digable Planets’ Ladybug Mecca, among others—to guest on a collaborative project about their home city.
Fifteen months after its release, From the Corner to the Block still demonstrates staying power. Lyrics Born opens the album with “I Got It (What You Need),” a high-energy collision of rapid-fire lyrics and street party vibe. The title track showcases the Soul Rebels Brass Band and Juvenile, a Crescent City MC who shines. “Second and Dryades” goes even more into a Big Easy sound with Mardi Gras fav Big Chief Monk Boudreaux leading the charge.
Galactic’s always given Missoula audiences memorable live shows—instrumental or not. But with this effort, they offer an album that’s just as worthy of buzz.
Galactic plays the Wilma Theatre Wednesday, Feb. 11, at 8 PM with JJ Grey & Mofro. $26.