For their label debut, the New Deal, a Canadian trio comprised of keyboardist Jamie Shields, bassist Dan Kurtz, and drummer Darren Shearer, polished up and re-recorded many of the songs featured on the their previously released EPs and albums. The release has the feel of the band's arrival in front of a larger audience. As such, they do not take as many improvisational chances as they do on their earlier (live) EPs. The bulk of the album was recorded at performances in Atlanta, Ithaca, Northampton, and Quebec, though it was sculpted into a larger piece in the studio. Occasionally, crowds burst through the pristine mix, only to be twisted and turned into rhythmic samples. A defining element of the band's "live progressive breakbeat house" sound, Shearer's kick drum, is far undermixed, leaving many of the grooves lacking the band's trademark severe dance beat. What is left in these places is something resembling a more electronica-inclined organ trio in the recent tradition of Medeski, Martin, and Wood or Soulive. When the mix is right (as it is on several cuts including "Back to the Middle"), the band has an originally layered sound that cannot be rivaled. The mix has depth, which makes the disc equally good for heady headphone listening as it does for dancing.
AllMusic Review by Jesse Jarnow