Issue Two: Spins, Streams & Downloads

Bass Magazine digs into the latest releases of albums, books, and videos involving all things bass.

Issue Two: Spins, Streams & Downloads

Bass Magazine digs into the latest releases of albums, books, and videos involving all things bass.

Marvin Gaye

You’re the Man [Motown]

Flying high off the widespread success of his triumphant 1971 album What’s Going On [Motown], prolific soul genius Marvin Gaye hit the studio to record the greatly anticipated follow-up record, You’re the Man. However, subsequent disputes between the singer and his label led to the album being shelved, which prompted Gaye to return to the studio to unleash perhaps his greatest effort, Let’s Get It On [1973, Motown]. Luckily for us, 47 years later, You’re the Man has been dusted off, remastered, and released — and let us tell you, it was well worth the wait. The album features the infinitely funky bass playing of Michael Henderson, aside from an alternate version of the title track that contains the playing of the legend himself, James Jamerson, which is just as grooving and bouncy as you’d imagine it to be. This jam-packed soul compilation contains all of the vocal mastery that solidified Gaye as an icon, but in true Motown fashion, Henderson’s relentless pocket provides the backbone and essence of the experience. Just try to listen to “The World Is Rated X,” “You’re the Man,” “You Are That Special One,” “Checking Out (Double Clutch),” and “Woman of the World” without bobbing your head. –Jon D’Auria 

Anderson .Paak

Ventura [Aftermath]

Hip-hop and R&B singer and drummer Anderson .Paak recorded two albums at the same time and released the first of the two, Oxnard, earlier this year, and has just dropped the second, Ventura. The former featured more of a modern hip-hop vibe, while the latter unveils the throwback soulful side of .Paak’s songwriting. Anderson’s longtime bassist, Kelsey Gonzalez, lays down most of the silky lines, although producer and multi-instrumentalist Jarius Mozee contributes deep synth work on the more modern tracks. Gonzalez steps out and lays down some dirty slapping on “Chosen One,” but he keeps his playing in the realm of vintage R&B on “Come Home” and “Make It Better.” From start to finish, this album is an all-out party of good vibes with booming bass and stellar production. –Jon D’Auria 

Billy Mohler

Focus [Make]

You can go home again. After finding success as a rock and pop bassist, producer, and songwriter on projects with Macy Gray, Lady Gaga, Kelly Clarkson, Limp Bizkit, and Steven Tyler, Billy Mohler returns to his acoustic bass jazz roots, born of growing up with Kneebody drummer Nate Wood, graduating from Berklee, and playing with jazz giants upon his acceptance into the prestigious Thelonius Monk Institute of Jazz. On his organic, no-chordal-instrument debut — featuring Wood, Kneebody trumpeter Shane Endsley, and Human Feel saxophonist Chris Speed — Mohler provides a deep, woody, rhythmic backbone on his eight post-bop originals. “Deconstruction” and “Van’s Jam” pivot on propulsive ostinatos and angular unison horn melodies. “Wolf Moon” is a stark, Chet Baker-intoned ballad rife with mood swings and guide tones. Wood stretches in 7/4 on the kinetic, clarinet-delivered “Visible Light.” And the closing “Coin” is a horn meditation afloat on bowed pedal tones rich in overtones. –Chris Jisi

Joseph Patrick Moore

Nevada Sun [Blue Canoe]

Over the course of his dozen solo discs, doubler Joseph Patrick Moore has proven himself a master of blending bass colors to create fresh, original swaths of sound. On Nevada Sun, in addition to his basses, he draws from his skills as a producer, multi-instrumentalist, and composer, for a true do-it-yourself outing — with splashy results. The title-track opener is a swung-funk urban soundscape pivoting on precision slapping, with a contrasting suburban bridge. “Iraqi Peace” packs appropriately spiced layers of plucked and bowed basses into its D drone/G harmonic minor tonality. Elsewhere, Moore gets his fretless on for the reggae-fied “Fearless” and the catchy “Magnetic,” mines vintage Japanese yacht rock on “Happy Girl,” and goes gradually techno for the closing “Spritual.” –Chris Jisi


Spaza [Mushroom Hour Half Hour]

This slice of earthy avant-garde improv by a group of Johannesburg musicians gets its name from South Africa’s informal spaza shops, and its sturdy foundation comes from upright bassist Ariel Zamonsky, an Argentinian who moved to Pretoria to study jazz. Steeped in ritual music, electronic textures, and experimental flavors, these first-time collaborators are irreverent enough to masterfully mix all three; Zamonsky — present, tasteful, and focused — soulfully grounds the primitive/futuristic blend of vocals, trombone, percussion, and electric violin. Magical and spiritual but never oppressive, Spaza’s debut captures the spirit of a ceremony at the crossroads of the everyday and the mystical. –E.E. Bradman


Cuz I Love You [Nice Life/Atlantic]

If you’re like most of us, your first slurp of Lizzo was probably “Juice,” the banger with a throwback groove and picture-perfect bass by Leon Bridges/Mike Posner collaborator Nate Mercereau. The good news is that the fun doesn’t stop there: The funky blues and vocal harmonies on “Crybaby,” boasting more tasteful Mercereau low end, remind this listener of that other famous Minnesota native, as does the opening guitar riff of “Tempo.” These flavors are timeless, though — the good feelings are triggered by Oak Felder’s melodic subwoofer magic (“Like a Girl,” “Soulmate,” “Better in Color,” “Tempo”) and team X Ambassadors’ minimalist 808 rumble (“Jerome,” “Heaven Help Me”) were just as in vogue in 1980s Miami as they are today. The album’s first bass guitar makes its appearance on “Exactly How I Feel,” and it’s no surprise that producer Mike Sabath is also credited with bass lines for Drake and Selena Gomez (although this is my fave). Mercereau closes out the party with a smoking performance on “Lingerie” that begins with the tone knob all the way off and graduates to a gnarly synth eruption and back again. Dig how skipping the bass on the verses makes the choruses pop harder. Pay attention, cover-band warriors: You’ll probably be playing at least one of these tunes at your next gig. –E.E. Bradman 

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