4

Kneebody: Anti-Hero

Mike Jacobs By

Sign in to view read count
Several questions came to mind when listening (repeatedly) to Kneebody's latest offering, Anti-Hero.

1. "Why does this feel important?"

Easy one. Anti-Hero is by far the strongest effort yet from arguably the most original collective to strafe the jazz world in recent history. All the pheromones that make Kneebody so attractive have never been fuller in force. Next question...

2. "Is Kneebody really a band or some nefarious hive-mind experiment gone musical?"

This is a tricky one. If there weren't so much contagious spark on Anti-Hero, it would surely be tempting to pick the latter. For a group of players to come along, so unique in their collection of musical gifts, and be so successful at expressing them with such unity of thought, purpose and identity, it almost screams "secret CIA program." Nevertheless, the benefit of the doubt should be given. Kneebody has always been about band ethos and despite uncommon egolessness in the service of the music, fear not. There's nary a hint of "Stepford-type" conformity and both collective and individual brilliance abound.

The balance is uncanny though. For each element of restraint there seems an offsetting element of exploration; for every great solo, an innovation in structure. The melodic, single-worthy alt-pop of "The Balloonist" contains within it one of the most sonically adventurous keyboard solos you might find. Turning traditional form on its head,"Yes You" starts as an incendiary, near song-long sax solo, backed only by drums and seamlessly morphs into an group end structure that derives its continuity from that solo. The wonderfully self-convoluting metrics in the intro / outro of "Profar" bookend one of the slyest groove sections ever.

The compositions on Anti-Hero, (nearly evenly dispersed from Ben Wendel, Shane Endsley, Adam Benjamin and Kaveh Rastegar), are so well assimilated by the group identity, there's barely a tell as to their composer of origin. And don't let Nate Wood's absence from the writing credits fool you either. His rhythmic framing, nuance, and powerful performance are all so essential to the success of all of these tunes, it amounts to much more than a writing credit ever could. Next question...

3. "Should innovative music be this fun?" "Should fun music be this innovative?"

Rhetorical maybe but, as many Pop fans suffer a fear of Jazz, often Jazz fans do sometimes suffer from what could be called "Insider Syndrome" -whereby the afflicted feel that their music is appreciated by the relative few because relatively few are savvy enough to appreciate it. This attitude may or may not contain a kernel of truth but unfortunately, it often also leads to "Accessi-phobia" -that is, the fear and/or reflexive dismissal of the accessible. Out of all their albums, Anti-Hero perhaps shows most successfully how Kneebody may be the cure for both maladies. From flat out fist-pumpers ("Uprising") and pop anthems (Mikie Lee) to dystopian soundscapes ("Carry On") and longer-form barnburners ("Drum Battle"), each tune in this collection carries multiple genetic markers that may appeal to fans of Radiohead or Ravi Coltrane. Next question...

4. "Will I still like you in the morning?"

As instantly attractive as Anti-Hero is, it's no quick fling. Be warned -before you know it, It will be habitually lingering in your apartment, going with you everywhere in the car, rearranging your playlists. Don't worry though, repeated listenings reveal a depth worthy of a long-term relationship (and you may just find yourself clearing out a spot for it on the best of 2017 shelf).

Last question...

5. "Why don't you have it yet?"

Don't be shy -Anti-Hero is one good time you won't have any regrets about picking up.

Track Listing: For the Fallen; Uprising; Drum Battle; Anti-Hero; The Balloonist; For Mikie Lee; Profar; Carry On; Yes You; Austin Peralta.

Personnel: Ben Wendel: sax; Shane Endsley: trumpet; Kaveh Rastegar: bass; Adam Benjamin: keyboards; Nate Wood: drums.

Title: Anti-Hero | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Motema Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn CD/LP/Track Review Estonian Suite: Live In Tallinn
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: November 18, 2017
Read The Princess CD/LP/Track Review The Princess
by Mark Corroto
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Queen City Blues CD/LP/Track Review Queen City Blues
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Latin Lover CD/LP/Track Review Latin Lover
by Rob Rosenblum
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Reclamation CD/LP/Track Review Reclamation
by Glenn Astarita
Published: November 18, 2017
Read Provenance CD/LP/Track Review Provenance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1" CD/LP/Track Review Masters Legacy Series, Volume 1
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "Astrometrics" CD/LP/Track Review Astrometrics
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 13, 2017
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition" CD/LP/Track Review The Grateful Dead 50th Anniversary Deluxe Edition
by Doug Collette
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Whisper to the Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Whisper to the Wind
by Jim Olin
Published: September 8, 2017
Read "Songbook" CD/LP/Track Review Songbook
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 7, 2017

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.

Please support out sponsor