BP Recommends: Reggie Young, The Killers, Mike Stern, and More

November 16, 2017

REGGIE YOUNG
YOUNG STREET
[reggieyoungmusic.com]

Gospel-rooted New York bassist (and Apollo Theater house-band anchor) Reggie Young goes yard on his latest effort. The brass-bolstered title-track opener establishes the groovy ground rules, including Young’s powerful presence—whether laying it down, playing the melody, soloing, or commenting in-between the other instruments. Additional highlights include the hard rock and tapping-infused “Riding Low,” the fretboard fireworks showcase “Sister Mother Funky,” the provocatively panned and layered soundscape “Adjacent Perspective” (featuring Matt Garrison), and Young’s lead vocal stylings on the playful “Alright with Me” and the highly original “Magic.” Add this one to the list of the year’s standout bass albums.
— CHRIS JISI

THE KILLERS
WONDERFUL WONDERFUL
[Island]

Listen to Mark Stoermer’s solo project released last year, Dark Arts [St. August], and you’ll hear hints of the gritty, percussive tone he brings to the Killers’ first studio album in five years. The title track, a brooding art-rocker spiced with progish bombast, sets the mood; Stoermer channels the resolute, nail-picked twang of Geddy Lee (one of his heroes), but with a crunchier edge that has started to become his own signature. Further on, “Run for Cover” tests his punk chops, while the U2-ish “Life to Come” highlights the bond he’s forged over 15 years of banging out grooves with drummer Ronnie Vannucci Jr.
— BILL MURPHY

MIKE STERN
TRIP
[Concord]

Winkingly named for a not-so-funny fall in which he broke both arms, guitar savant Mike Stern’s latest is an inspiring testament to his recovery, including nerve damage that required him to glue his pick to his fingers. You’d never know it from his fertile fingerboard flights, which—as usual—are anchored by an array of veteran and young bassists. Victor Wooten drives the title-track opener with muted finger funk. Tom Kennedy’s octaver-fueled ostinato is the backbone of “Whatchacallit.” Edmond Gilmore contributes upright and electric respectively to the ballads “Gone” and “I Believe You.” Most impressive is Teymur Phell: Paired with Lenny White, he displays stellar bass guitar walking chops on “Half Crazy,” “Scotch Tape and Glue,” and “B Train” (see if you can name the standards each is based on), while also getting down and dirty beneath the album-best “Screws.”
— CHRIS JISI

THE MASTER MUSICIANS OF JAJOUKA FEATURING MATERIAL
APOCALYPSE LIVE
[M.O.D. Technologies]

Bill Laswell and the Material collective team up with Morocco’s Master Musicians of Jajouka, once described by William S. Burroughs as a “4,000-year-old rock & roll band,” for a stunningly vibrant, made-in-the-moment concert featuring North African trance music at its most intense. Laswell’s heavily effected, earthshaking rumble holds this cultural amalgamation together with a gravitas that intensifies the performances’ spontaneity.
— FREDDY VILLANO

MR. BIG
DEFYING GRAVITY
[Frontiers]

Billy Sheehan has been keeping busy lately, sharing his time between the Winery Dogs, the Fell, and hard rock favorites Mr. Big. Proving that he’s not spreading himself thin, Sheehan delivers in the way that only he can—by unleashing blazing-fast fills and re-writing the script of rock bass. Even on soft acoustic ballads, Sheehan is able to add flavor and flair while remaining tasteful, a feat in itself.
— JON D’AURIA

WOLF PARADE
CRY CRY CRY
[Sub Pop]

After a six-year hiatus, Wolf Parade is back with an angular, hook-laden slab of indie pop that reminds us why they work so well together as a unit. Dante DeCaro is a key part of the chemistry, laying down solid, melodically adventurous lines that help propel songs like the hard-driving “Valley Boy,” the loping, psychedelic “Flies on the Sun,” and the Bowie-esque closer “King of Piss and Paper” into bold new sonic territory for the band. Catchy art-pop rarely sounds this unswervingly experimental.
— BILL MURPHY

BLACKMORE’S NIGHT
TO THE MOON AND BACK: 20 YEARS AND BEYOND [Minstrel Hall Music]

Bob Curiano, Mick Cervino, Peter Rooth, John Ford, Mike Clemente, and the man in black himself, Ritchie Blackmore, make up the list of musicians who’ve contributed bass to Blackmore’s Night since its inception 20 years ago. This best-of package provides a thorough taste of the harmonically sumptuous counterpoint this kind of renaissance fare requires from its bottom feeders.
— FREDDY VILLANO

THEO KATZMAN
HEARTBREAK HITS
[theokatzman.com]

Primarily known as Vulfpeck’s drummer and multi-instrumentalist extraordinaire, Theo Katzman’s new classic-rock solo album departs from his usual funky fusion style. One (albeit huge) element he carries over from his main ensemble is the accompaniment of Joe Dart, who shows a different side of his groove. Katzman is at his best when Dart goes to the depths of the pocket on “Hard Rock,” “As the Romans Do,” and “Plain Jane Heroin.”
— JON D’AURIA

ARCADE FIRE
EVERYTHING NOW [Sony]

Wildly popular Canadian indie-rock band Arcade Fire has just released its most bass-centrically mixed album yet, and one glance at the liner notes reveals why. Amidst a slew of producers, Tim Kingsbury’s bass tones received the royal studio treatment from both Pulp bassist Steve Mackey and Thomas Bangalter (one half of Daft Punk) on some of the album’s key tracks. That explains the up-front and even funky tone on songs like “Signs of Life,” “Good God Damn,” and “Everything Now.”
— JON D’AURIA

MONONEON
A PLACE CALLED FANTASY
[dwaynethomasjr.bandcamp.com]

MonoNeon continues refining his Southern R&B/experimental aesthetic, all adorned by greasy, bold bass. Abrupt modulations, surprise transitions and endings, and lyrics that address themes of empowerment, relationships, and fame, are essential ingredients of the magic. The uplifting “Little Tittie Committee” and “True Happiness Happens at the End” are straightup earworms, while “So U Wanna Be a Superstar” and “Are U Going to Love Me the Same” owe a debt to George Clinton. “Ain’t Nothing United About America” smoothly grafts a microtonal riff onto Princeapproved bass and guitar, followed by a live jam that’s just a tease. Fantasy spans only 33 minutes, leaving MonoNeon’s status as an enigma intact. When he throttles a finger-busting double-time bass line toward the end of the album and sings, “All I ever wanted to do was be a mystery,” it’s hard not to nod and compliment him on a job well done.
— E. E. BRADMAN

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