MonoNeon

MonoNeon

My Feelings Be Peeling

The infinitely funky and highly prolific MonoNeon is back with yet another album that falls into suit with his previous work as a groove clinic of raw musicality and candid lyricism. Laying down funky line after funky line, the nine-song LP features Mono on bass and guitar with a little help from collaborators in the form of fellow low-ender Alissia Benveniste and drummers JD Beck and Sam Porter supplying intricate beats. The album kicks off with the laid-back grooves and crisp guitar strumming of “Don’t Make This World War 3,” and then continually builds with increasingly fast and soulful hits like “She Was Round & Brown” and “She Look Cute With My Hoodie On.” Every song features the intense musical mastery that Mono has become viral for, but the continual growth and expansion of his vocal range and one-of-a-kind songwriting won’t be lost on any listener who cops his latest work. If you’re just in it for a good time, don’t skip out on the first single, “Fart When You Pee” — because like any reasonable 12-year-old, we’re still laughing about it. But like everything he does, that’s just Mono being Mono, and this album once again proves that he refuses to be anything else. —Jon D’Auria

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Tedeschi Trucks Band

Signs[Fantasy/Concord]

Whose Hat Is This?

Everything’s OK[Ropeadope]

Tim Lefebvre’s five-year stint in TTB (now anchored by Atlanta bassist Brandon Boone) resulted in two sterling studio sides and one live album, exposure to a swath of southern music for Lefebvre, and a cadre of new grooves for our ears, as he processed said music through his jazz-rooted filter. It also has produced an exciting experimental quartet, Whose Hat Is This?, made up of Tim and his TTB mates Kebbi Williams on tenor sax and flute, and drummers JJ Johnson and Taylor “Falcon” Greenwell. On their dizzying debut, Everything’s OK, cut live in Baltimore with guest hip hop artist Kokayi, the unit’s all-improvised set leads to many noteworthy moments. This includes “Jon Homes,” which rides Lefebvre’s kinetic P-Bass boogaloo, “X’s for Eyes,” Tim’s random interval exploration, via pick and effects pedals, “If I Had to Decide Between the Pork and You,” a free-tempo, bluesy theme and development on acoustic bass, and the electric-Miles-esque “Well Alright, Playboy.”

As for the song-rich Signs, it’s a worthy swansong for Lefebvre, who shares three co-writes and reminds how interwoven he was in the band’s creative fabric with lyrical lines that never overstep but always serve and swing. It’s also a sad goodbye to the brilliant, late keyboardist/flautist Kofi Burbridge, who was pivotal to TTB’s musical DNA, and who shared a special bond with Lefebvre at live shows, where the two enjoyed a step-out segment. Track-wise, Tim adds a minor 9 subhook to the simmering ballad “I’m Gonna Be There,” drives the riff-heavy “Shame” and the trippy “Still Your Mind,” and serves as the funky, bouncing rhythmic core on “Walk Through This Life.” Five years well spent. —Chris Jisi

Potty Mouth

Potty Mouth

Snafu

Six years after their debut album, Hell Bent, the pop-punk trio Potty Mouth has returned with their sophomore effort. Even beyond their obvious maturation as band, the new album brings to mind the work of popular ’90s acts such as Blink-182, Garbage, Weezer, and even Nirvana, but the bottom line is that the bandmembers are damn fine songwriters. Ally Einbinder kicks out charging bass lines that steadily pulse under the vocally melodic work that is just about as catchy as hooks can be. Einbinder serves as so much more than just the foundation, though, as her register-wandering lines serve as ear candy on tracks like “Massachusetts,” “Plastic Paradise,” and “Bottom Feeder.” If Snafuis the kind of evolving they’re already proving with just two albums, it’s safe to say that we can’t wait for their third effort. —Jon D’Auria

Red Dragon Cartel

Red Dragon Cartel

Patina[Frontiers Music Srl]

Former Lynch Mob/Ace Frehley bassist Anthony Esposito returns to the limelight on Patina, the latest from a re-aligned Red Dragon Cartel, the band launched in 2014 by ex-Ozzy/Badlands guitarist Jake E. Lee. Not only did Esposito play bass on Patina, he also co-wrote, co-produced and engineered the record, so it is a testament to his well-rounded skill set. Musically, Patinaharkens back to the blues-based hard-rock swagger of Badlands, albeit with a more modern attack. Check out “Havana,” “Bitter” and “Chasing Ghosts” for prime examples of Esposito’s deep-pocket grooves and how well they complement Lee’s wickedly unique riff flexing. —Freddy Villano

Flight of the Conchords

Flight Of The Conchords

Live in London

The self-proclaimed “New Zealand’s fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo a capella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo” Flight Of The Conchords, who became wildly popular from their eponymous comedic HBO series, have just released a live album and DVD that features the hilarious two-piece playing a new batch of side-splitting songs. But don’t be fooled with the non-stop laughs — these guys can play. And more important to those reading this, Jermaine Clement is seriously good at bass, or as their fictitious manager calls it, “the dad guitar.” Simply being really talented at the 4-string is impressive enough, but try doing that while singing in a multitude of voices, delivering hilarious punch lines, and interjecting constant banter with bandmate Brett McKenzie, all while keeping a straight face in front of a thunderous audience. The gig is no joke, and nobody does it quite like Jermaine. And he delivers impressive tone as he switches from Hofner 500/1 to a Fender Telecaster Bass throughout their live sets. Even Brett picks up the bass for one song, and not surprisingly, he holds it down, too. Not bad for the fourth best band from New Zealand. —Jon D’Auria

Fima Ephron

Fima Ephron

Songs From the Tree[Modern Icon Recordings]

Ephron is an undersung Big Apple bass treasure, deep in groove and taste, and a talented composer. His latest—recorded in ten hours with the killer esemble of saxophonist Chris Potter, guitarist Adam Rogers, drummer Nate Smith, and keyboardist Kevin Hays—is a first-rate effort rooted in the Gotham electric jazz vein of artists like Michael and Randy Brecker, and Steps Ahead. Helping to nudge the genre forward is Ephron’s post-session sonic touches, adding keyboards, percussion, voices, and deft edits and mixes (as well as David Torn’s live looping on “Signs”). The other key is Ephron’s holy hookup with drum force Smith. The pair navigate three different feels on “Fortune” (with Smith unleashed behind Potter’s solo tear), explore the elongated 9/4 groove of “Plan Nine” with a greasy agenda, and in the disc’s take-notice moment, relentlessy drive the Weather Report-intoned “Arboreal.” —Chris Jisi

The Beta Machine

The Beta Machine

Intruder

When he hasn’t been on the road touring the world over the past seven years with A Perfect Circle, Puscifer, Eagles Of Death Metal, or Thirty Seconds To Mars, Matt McJunkins’ attention has been focused solely on his own project, The Beta Machine. As a collaboration with his rhythm section partner in APC and Puscifer, drummer Jeff Friedl, The Beta Machine released their debut EP, All This Time, in 2017 and have now unleashed their highly anticipated album, Intruder. Unlike his sideman role in his other bands, McJunkins takes the spotlight as Beta’s frontman, and his vocals and driving playing lead the way on their dynamic alternative-rock sound. The first single, “Embers,” plunges forward on McJunkins’ steady lines and colorful vocals that have hints of David Bowie accents. Tracks like “Precious Design” and “The Fall” exhibit his ability to capture seriously dirty tones, although the heaviest bass cut of the album comes from “Bleed for You,” where his anthemic vocals belt over the speedy bass work of his right hand. For fans of his other bands, Intruderis a must listen — not only because it slays from front to back, but also because it gives a deep insight into McJunkins’ skillful style as a songwriter. —Jon D’Auria

Beastie Boys Book

Beastie Boys Book [Random House]

The all-encompassing, everything-you-ever-wanted-to-know about the Beastie Boys memoir is a supremely entertaining read that takes you from the innovative MCs’ early days growing up in the five boroughs all the way through the peaks of their illustrious career as titans of hip-hop. While the book meanders through the evolution of three young punk rockers who reveled in debauchery and eventually grew into enlightened and iconic artists, the true focus of the tale shines light on the genius of Adam Yauch (MCA). Since Yauch passed away before the book was written, his life is told through the eyes of his best friends and bandmates, Adam Horovitz (Ad Rock) and Michael Diamond (Mike D). We quickly find that Yauch was the center and the heart-and-soul of their trio. More than just a supreme emcee and bass player, Yauch was the man with all of the answers, a Zen-like figure who loved getting his hands dirty. His bandmates explain how he tinkered with an analog tape machine and figured out how to reverse the reel, which led to the iconic beat behind their early single “Paul Revere.” They also chat up his subtle genius in songwriting, and how one time between takes in the studio, he was fiddling around with some chords and a funky run that became the entirety of their smash song “Sabotage.” The book goes deep into Yauch’s lifelong passion for bass, and how he gained so much from studying his idols Ron Carter, Darryl Jenifer, Carol Kaye, Jah Wobble, and Aston Barrett. Even after their wild commercial success and iconic status, Yauch was known to keep a very simple existence (partially due to his Buddhist spiritual awakening), and despite all of the money they made, he lived in a tiny New York apartment with nothing of value in it except for his basses and amps. In fact, it seems as though he was always happiest in life when he was playing his 4-string. This book doesn’t simply serve as a candid trip down memory lane for superfans and causal listeners alike, it reminds us of how damn much we miss MCA. —Jon D’Auria