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R&B - Released June 4, 2013 | Brainfeeder
Hi-Res Distinctions Indispensable JAZZ NEWS
One of the many charms of Thundercat's first album, The Golden Age of Apocalypse, was the manner in which the supernaturally skilled bassist seemed to wing his way through songwriting -- stumbling upon ideas, going with the flow, goofing off -- and come up with brilliance. On his sharper, more focused second album, he works through anguish -- the loss of close friend and musical partner Austin Peralta -- with some staggeringly emotive and tightly composed content. There's less room for instrumentals and noodling, but even those moments are purposeful. The half-ebullient, half-turbulent, wholly absorbing "The Life Aquatic" adds some timely lightness after the heavy-hearted opening combination of "Tenfold" and "Heartbreaks + Setbacks." The odd-signatured "Seven," part of which resembles one of those wild-card Yes interludes, is an alternately showy and frivolous set-up for the delirious dancefloor funk jam "Oh Sheit It's X." For all the darkness and depth, one of the most moving songs here is "Tron Song," a falsetto ode to his cat and the greatest example of his fearlessness. Animal-loving touring musicians finally have a song that speaks directly to them: "I always come back to you/Don't you worry about me." Even the melodic ditties that skirt smooth soul and soft rock supply more resonance here; the sweetly forlorn "Without You" comes across like a missing Twennynine-era Don Blackman cut. The driving "Lotus and the Jondy," like early-2000s Radiohead with humor and fusion chops, is a fantastical adventure with moody riffing. Executive producer Flying Lotus and Peralta evidently are present as characters in the story, "Straight trippin' in the darkness, straight-up seein' goblins," while Thundercat's older brother Ronald is present in material/musical form to finish it with a supreme drum freak-out. Denser and fathoms deeper, this is some kind of leap. ~ Andy Kellman
Soul/Funk/R&B - Released February 24, 2017 | Brainfeeder
Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
Between Apocalypse and Drunk, his second and third albums, bassist Stephen Bruner contributed to a slew of remarkable recordings by fellow Los Angeles dwellers -- Flying Lotus' You're Dead!, Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly and Untitled Unmastered, Kamasi Washington's The Epic, and Terrace Martin's Velvet Portraits among them. Several months before Bruner picked up a Grammy for "These Walls," off To Pimp a Butterfly, he issued an EP anchored by "Them Changes." His funkiest, sweetest, most vulnerable song, it reappears as the top highlight on Drunk, a fragmentary and scattered program relative to the Thundercat full-lengths that preceded it. Bruner is still fueled by numerous forms that immediately preceded his birth -- smooth soul, soft rock, jazz fusion, synth funk, new wave, all late '70s/early '80s -- and filters them through his soft-hearted, mischievous personality. He surrounds himself with a slightly different cast of old and newer associates, including the first three figures listed above, keyboardist Dennis Hamm, drummer Louis Cole, and producer Sounwave. For better and worse, there's a lot of foolishness occurring here. Bruner dreams about being a cat (replete with meowing background melody), pens a tribute to Japanese pop culture ("Just point me to the Pachinko machines"), and delivers a sarcastic jingle regarding social media fatigue ("I'm out here probably doing the most"). At times, the whimsicality sinks into middle school humor ("Captain Stupido") and misogyny ("Friend Zone"). Love and mortality remain Bruner's strongest subjects, placed on full display in terse but touching ballads like "Lava Lamp," "Jethro," and "3AM." In "Show You the Way," another bright spot, he swaps verses with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins, two of his heroes, to swirling and balmy effect. Additional guests Kendrick, Pharrell, and Wiz Khalifa add to the star power, but the main attraction is Bruner's singular combination of tremulous yet fluid bass and aching falsetto. ~ Andy Kellman
Soul - Released June 22, 2015 | Brainfeeder
Hi-Res Distinctions Pitchfork: Best New Music
"[The] fretwork is as virtuosic as ever, but in keeping with the more somber atmosphere, he’s more likely to use the bass for simple melodic embellishments, like the gentle arpeggios on 'Lone Wolf and Cub'..."
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Thundercat in the magazine