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(Column) Rice: Just Another Gal from Casper – Listening to Black Pumas

Kate Rice


You know how vinyl is a thing again? (Some will argue that it’s never not been a thing. Fair enough.) A friend of mine scored a Black Pumas album for Christmas. I’d heard a few songs — enough to know I liked ‘em — but after hearing a few more tunes on the turntable, I decided to really give them a listen. And you know what? I kind of can’t stop listening! 

A quick internet search’ll tell you that Black Pumas are an “American Psychedelic Soul Band.” Their funky, laid-back grooves and sweet vocals somehow manage to sound both current and retro. Recent similar-vibed artists include Alabama Shakes and Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings. (If you’re not familiar with either of these groups, you might just add them to your “gotta check these out” list, too.) But Black Pumas could easily fit in alongside the likes of Bill Withers, Curtis Mayfield, Marvin Gaye and other throwback soul singers. To give you an even further idea of their sound, I’ve tossed a few of their songs onto my “bluesy” playlist, a few on my “sexy as s#*! playlist, a few on my “what the funk” playlist, one onto my “retro vibes” playlist… (Hey, don’t judge me — a person can never have too many playlists!) If any of this sounds intriguing to you, you’ll probably enjoy giving Black Pumas a listen.

I’ve been listening to their self-titled, Expanded Deluxe Edition. And you know what? Every song is amazing. Which is why, when it plays through to the end, I just start it over again. My favorite cuts are “Oct 33,” “Fast Car,” (yep, a sweet version of the classic Tracy Chapman song) and “Eleanor Rigby” (yep, a sweet version of the even more classic Beatles song).

They’ve also covered the Jimmy Webb penned, Glen Campbell popularized “Wichita Lineman,” putting their own touches on the guitar, drums, keyboards and vocals while staying true to the original. But don’t think their material is all cover-heavy. These folks know how to create their own lyrics and music, and I for one can’t wait to hear what they drop next. 

Search Black Pumas on streaming platforms like Spotify and YouTube, or hit up Casper’s downtown Sonic Rainbow for CD and vinyl options.