Retrofit, BEasy (Independent)

The debut EP of a band of up-and-coming younger session musicians and sidemen from New Orleans and Baton Rouge, BEasy puts some modern embellishments on a tried-and-true, feel-good formula. Retrofit indeed; the band’s name is clever wordplay, in that they are strongly influenced by classic “retro” soul and groove music while adding some newer elements to it. The band cites “blues, gospel, R&B, afrobeat, funk, and all forms of soul music” as influences on their website, with jazz conspicuously absent despite its evident impact on most or all of the musicians.

The stylistic blending and modern production are the newer twist—drummer Scott Graves playing an explicitly Tony Allen–influenced afrobeat groove midway through “Happy With You,” but also employing fills with a rock bite. Despite the modern edge and the obvious influence of jazz, there are no self-indulgent solos to be found here—just tight, simple but not simplistic pop hooks and the music to serve them.

Keyboardist/vocalist/frontman Christopher DiBenedetto is the most prevalent player here. While clearly impacted by the music he cites as influences, the timbre and inflections of his voice more closely resemble the more soulful side of John Mayer: soft-spoken, intimate and lower in the quieter, sparser verses often giving way to soaring falsetto for the louder, high-energy choruses. This EP is short, sweet and to the point; each song is the length of a pop song, nothing lingering past its welcome. The hooks are repetitive but not overly so, and the energy is consistently high while remaining dynamic. The addition of local singer-songwriter Kathryn Rose Wood for the final song was a good choice, her vocal harmony with Chris serving to diversify and strengthen the closing of this group’s debut and hinting at what they may be capable of down the road.