Read this article to get hip to some of the best Funk bands on the scene today. Listen to the Spotify playlist below to hear my favorite instrumental Funk songs from some of the most exciting albums of 2016.
Read to the bottom for some YouTube videos of fine Funk songs from 2016 not available in Spotify. Watch the music videos to see a couple of impressive Funk bands in action. And, when you’ve digested this post & playlist — check out the best instrumental Funk songs of 2017.
See Matthew Hartnett perform “New Sunlight Lake Charles” and have fun with his friends in Brooklyn, while paying homage to Louisiana music…
Now, get a 2.5 hour Spotify playlist of dope, instrumental Funk power, and come along on A Dope Instrumental Funk Music Joyride…
If you don’t have Spotify listen to these superb songs here…
Electrifying, Enlivening Instrumental Funk Songs
Kung Fu’s Funky Joyride
Kung Fu’s 2016 album, Joyride, inspires the name of this playlist. So, they kick it off with “The Get Down,” setting the mood high and the vibe all about a funky good time. It has a little party-starting chant, but it’s 90% instrumental Funk.
Kung Fu typically rains down a devastating, lethal Funk on you with their bad-ass black-belt backbeat. Joyride is no different. It’s a dynamic, explosive record of perfect party music.
Kind, Tasty Colorado Funk
Space Orphan‘s debut album, entitled Shut Up About The Sun, is more intoxicating mile-high Funk for ya. “Progressive old school.” What does that even mean?
For this group, it means providing a soulful, funky sound that is heavily based on groove, just as bands like The Meters and James Brown did in years past. But it also means taking those classic, danceable elements, and adding a few new tricks. Space Orphan will hit you in your soul and keep you dancing at the same time. Listen to “Superphonic” in this playlist to get a taste of the organ fueled groove, and hear for yourself what progressive old school sounds like.
Funky In The Middle
The results from top to bottom are gritty, greasy and funky to the bone. The Nashville Session presents The New Mastersounds at their finest, utterly unadulterated by modern digital technology, full-on analog and unapologetically doing it old-school. In this Spotify playlist, listen to their furious version of “Made For Pleasure,” the title track from their outstanding 2015 album, with extra organ jam and hot drumming.
Watch The New Mastersounds play “In The Middle” live in studio…
Tropical Heat & Sublime Steel Drum Funk
NYC’s Funkiest Brass Band
Breakdown Brass is one of my favorite bands right now. As Brooklyn’s baddest brass band — with members of Antibalas, Lee Fields & The Expressions, Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings, Charles Bradley, Monophonics & Ikebe Shakedown how can you go wrong? These dudes know how to formulate a funky brass band groove like nobody else.
“Harrow” (which you’ll hear in this playlist) is their blistering 2016 single — full of driving, dirty horns, punctuated by intense trombone and baritone sax solos. The B-side “Nautilus (Hijacked)” is a dance-floor burner that pays homage to Bob James…funky brass band style…listen to that creative cover here. I can’t wait until they come out with a full-length album!
The Real Uptown Funk
Lettuce made one of the best albums of 2015 with Crush. On tour since then, they’ve released an excellent EP for 2016, Mt. Crushmore. “116th St.” is pure Lettuce style, and has a nice dose of Superfly/Shaft car chase Funk flavor. Dig it!
Southern Fried Funk In NYC
I’m loving the new album Southern Comfort from Matthew Hartnett! Funky, soulful, jazzy & mostly instrumental — sometimes mellow, sometimes fierce — energetic, diverse, and dope throughout. Just how I like my music!
If you love big horns, deep bass lines, and dope drumming…you must check out Southern Comfort from this tremendously tight band. In this playlist, you get to hear “No Patience” — some scorching instrumental funk for you.
“Tremazing” New Orleans Funk
In this playlist, listen to “Feelin’ Tremazin'” a laid-back, bouncy, brassy New Orleans Funk groove that pays tribute to the musical vibe of the Big Easy, and makes you feel amazing.
Funky, Jazzy, Modern, Instrumental, Party Funk
Gotta Get That Funk Up In Your Life
Wah-Wah Heavy Nashville Funk
They play enticing, eclectic instrumental Funk, and always come up with some sly & subtle grooves. On “Work Tapes” they start with a dope wah-wah, car chase style, then add in happy horns and that boom bap. And, they don’t let up on their 2016 record, 3. They stay skillfully mellow, and furnish feel-good funky music throughout.
New, Vintage Blacksploitation Funk
Too Cool To Categorize
The Macrotones are masters of Boston’s Afrobeat scene, and yet they defy categorization because they skillfully mix African music, Funk, Jazz, Rock, and their own special sauce to create unique, ingenious music. “Grand Crew” is more difficult to define intriguing Funk from a band to look out for.
Cinematic Soul — Genre-Bending Funk
In 2016 they re-released their 2004 debut, Wildflowers, as an extended album — 19 tracks of dope instrumental Funk. My favorite is “The Buzzard” for its quirky Funk flavor — boom-bap drumming, groovy guitars, brilliant bass line, moody horns & organ…and then a little somethin’ special reminiscent of the Sanford Son Theme Song.
Funky, Genre-Bending Keyboard Madness
Adventurous Jazz, Awesome Afrobeat, Deep Funk
Arousing African Funk Flavors
Multi-cultural British band, Lakuta, includes marvelous musicians hailing from Kenya, Tanzania, Ghana, Malaysia, Spain and the UK, Lakuta is a truly global mix of musicians who draw on influences from Jazz, Funk, Soul and world music — you’ll hear all these influences in this sensational song.
What’s The Best Band Name Ever?
Their motto — Get busy groovin’, or get busy dyin’ is one to live by. Listen to “Verve” here because it exemplifies how they bridge the gaps between the Funk, Jazz, and Jam Band scenes with aggressive guitar solos, funky organ, and deep rhythm section.
Funky Offal For Breakfast
The Funky Netherlands
The Funkstamatics are the hardest rockin’ jazzed-up Funk band in the Netherlands. They really plundered their vinyl collections for inspiration on their 2016 record Lift Off. From Meters-style raw Hammond grooves and James Brown breaks to spacey Jazz-Funk in a Herbie Hancock vein, lazy New Orleans rhythms, filthy Funk-Rock guitars and even a hit of boogie/disco … it’s all there on Lift Off.
Give a listen to “Scool” — a percussive, syncopated nugget of boom-bap brilliance, with soaring horns, deep bass, and glorious guitar licks.
The Jig creates its own original sound: vintage and up-to-date at the same time. An instrumental groove machine with a Rock & Roll attitude, uncut Funk, and stunning brass section…these guys never fail to come through with uplifting, powerful and exhilarating music.
Yet another dope Dutch band, The Soul Snatchers, released Where Y’at in 2016, and “Humpin’ & Bumpin’” is my favorite one because it’s the only all instrumental Funk song on this record. These guys play timeless, down to earth Funk and Soul songs. They have a groovy Hammond organ vibe, big horn section, and tight rhythms. Most of the tracks feature the gritty vocals of Dutch Soul singer Jimi Bell Martin.
Funkin’ For Toronto
The Soul Motivators — the hottest property in Canadian Funk — come through with the instrumental version of “Dr. Know It All.” In 2016 they released instrumental versions of the tracks from their superb 2015 album, Free To Believe.
Formed in 2012 and inspired by a multi-cultural urban lifestyle in downtown Toronto, their repertoire blends Funk, Soul, Hip-Hop breaks and psychedelic beat. They bring to mind classic Blaxploitation soundtracks, b-boy dance battles, and car-chase Funk. The Soul Motivators’ neo-soul style vocal tracks are outstanding also.
Funk In The U.K.
The Impellers, from Brighton, England, are a 10 piece powerhouse, bringing pounding instrumental tracks and lyrically strong vocal numbers too. They’ve released albums on the excellent labels Mocambo Records and Legere Recordings. Here we have “Put the Man in Egomaniac” from their My Certainty Instrumentals record. It’s got powerful percussion carrying the song forward, along with funky guitar riffs, fun horn parts & brassy breakdowns.
Three Step Manoeuvre formed in the summer of 2013 and since then they’ve been writing songs, playing gigs, and honing their sound around the UK. They came together through a shared love of the classic organ trio line-up, and the music of Funk pioneers like James Brown and The Meters, jazz legends such as Jimmy Smith and John Scofield, and modern groups including Lettuce and Soulive.
November 2016 saw the release of their first full album, Three Step Strut. Listen to “Southern Fried” in this Spotify playlist — you’re gonna love it! It’s a classic funky Soul jam, with a delicious percussion part, nasty chicken scratch guitar, and groovy organ.
Joe Tatton, funky organ & keyboard player for The New Mastersounds has a solo single for 2016. The Joe Tatton Trio released “Bang Bang Boogaloo” on ATA records earlier this year, and it has been getting airplay on The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Show on BBC Radio 6 Music. It’s got a potent piano groove that makes you wanna move.
Get into another UK Funk phenom, Flevans, from the always ahead of the curve Brighton funky breaks scene. “Reach Out” comes from his 2016 album, A Distant View, on LOA Records. The version in this playlist comes from The Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club – Volume 4 compilation on Freestyle Records. It’s a return to the uplifting Funk and Soul rhythms and hooks that made Flevans’ name, strutting and swinging with a compositional and multi-instrumental confidence that he honed over many years on the British underground Funk scene.
The Funky Side Of Jazz, The Jazzy Side Of Funk
Takuya Kuroda, a Japanese-born trumpet player, made his Concord Records debut with the wildly diverse and infectiously funky Zigzagger. This innovative trumpeter/composer navigates between his influences of Jazz, Soul music, Hip-Hop, Afrobeat, and electronica – never following a straight, conventional path. On his fifth studio album, and first for Concord Records, Kuroda darts between those wide-ranging interests with a funky swagger and an intensely swinging vigor. Listen to “Thirteen” here because it represents the best of modern Jazz, and still sounds right at home in a playlist of the best instrumental Funk songs of 2016.
The Filthy Six have a sublime single, “Wanna Be Startin’ Somethin’,” out on Acid Jazz Records for 2016. Their soaring horns, blistering guitar and gut-wrenching Hammond are fueled by one of the hardest grooving rhythm sections around producing a hip-shakingly powerful mixture of Jazz, Funk and Boogaloo. “Iguana Strut” is an instrumental groove fusing boundless energy and incredible musicianship to create tight, funky music that moves the mind, body and soul.
The Funk’s Alive Down Under
Next we have Australia’s Deep Street Soul. Since signing to Freestyle Records in 2008, they have earned a reputation as being right at the grittiest end of the hard Funk scene and made a big impact from the outset. You’ll hear more songs with vocals on their new album, Come Alive!, on the famously funky Freestyle Records. “Big C” is a bouncy instrumental Funk powerhouse.
Intoxicating, Genre-Bending Brazilian Funk
Nomade Orquestra released a captivating album of genre-defying, modern Jazz & underground Brazilian music hybrid on Far Out Recordings in 2016. I believe technically it came out in Brazil in 2014, but only got worldwide distribution this year. So, I’m including it as one of the best albums of 2016.
Nomade Orquestra’s debut album is one of those records that comes out every so often (yet never often enough), which is difficult to describe, and sheer pleasure to listen to. It’s a wonderful mixture of Jazz, Funk, Rock, and electronic music with African & Latin music elements…and of course, the intriguing new Brazilian music coming out these days. With 12 guys in the band, you get layers of superb sound — big horns, potent percussion, rolling bass, groovy keyboards, and funky guitar.
“Fuego Policia” is my favorite song on Nomade Orquestra because it’s the funkiest. Staccato horn stabs, baritone sax, Funk guitar, deep bass & percussion make this the track most likely to make you move your body.
The Dip is an electrifying seven-piece Soul band from Seattle, Washington. The band tows the line between crooning Soul music and hard-driving Funk. Featuring crunchy lines from the Honeynut Horns, The Dip serves a throwback groove that is sure to get you movin’.
Their 2015 self-titled debut features several vocal tracks that are a throwback to a more soulful time, yet these guys play irresistible music that’s 100% modern & original (never cliche). “B.T.” is a slower, but powerful, super groovy instrumental track from 2016’s Won’t Be Coming Back EP you’re sure to love.
Hot Sweaty & Funky
Old School Soul Music (Now)
Listen to “Apollo’s Mood” in this playlist, from their self-titled debut album. It’s got the groovy old-school Soul flavor like only the Daptone family plays it.
The James Hunter Six give us “Satchelfoot” from their fourth album, 2016’s Hold On!, marking their debut on Daptone Records. This is the only instrumental on the record because James Hunter is England’s best Soul singer. If you like the movie The Commitments, you’ll love the 1960s style Soul of The James Hunter Six.
All of these hard-working Funk bands deserve your further attention. Dig deep into their catalogs, learn more about them, buy their vinyl LPs, and see them live when you can.
Here’s a funky bonus for you — three 2016 Funk songs that aren’t available in Spotify…
Listen to Agent 3, a new project that features Soulive/Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe drummer Alan Evans, Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe guitarist DJ Williams, and Rubblebucket keyboardist Darby Wolf. “Agents from Below” is a soulful groove featuring a beautiful guitar tone, Soul Jazz organ groove, and Alan Evans’ always dope drumming…
Brownout keeps the Texas Funk & Soul torch alive with a funky cover version of the classic “Iron Leg” by San Antonio’s Mickey and the Soul Generation. Recorded and mixed at Level One Sound in Austin, TX. Features Anthony Farrell from the Greyhounds on organ…
Wanna hear what else is new in the world of Funk? Click the link to listen to some of the best contemporary Funk songs of 2016 (with vocals).