Photo courtesy of NPR
With Bonnaroo tickets on sale and the Manchester festival’s June 7-10 dates around the corner, it might be a little daunting trying to decide which of the 100+ artists will give you the most bang for your buck. In this column, we’ll focus on a different artist every week to give you a sense of who they are and who will be worth checking out once summer rolls around.
It’s hard to keep track of the amount of musical projects Thundercat has dipped his gifted fingers into. The individualistic bassist has contributed to today’s jazz through work with Kamasi Washington on “The Epic,” hip-hop with a strong role in the creation of Kendrick Lamar’s acclaimed 2015 record, “To Pimp A Butterfly,” and even electronica, with credits on a handful of Flying Lotus records. As for himself, Thundercat has put out three records through Flying Lotus’ independent label, Brainfeeder.
With a listen to any of the bassist’s virtuosic runs of the fretboard, it becomes easy to see why so many contemporary artists today want to work side-by-side with him. His style, characterized by a colorful, modulated bass that’s played more like a lead guitar than a rhythm instrument underscores a level of creative expression no other artist can claim to replicate. Falling within the genre label of acid-jazz, Thundercat’s blend of twinkling neo-soul synth voicings and striking, layered harmonies makes for an intriguing listening experience, to say the least.
His latest solo record, 2017’s “Drunk,” transports the listener to a disorienting, child-like realm of fervent whimsicality. The musician’s frequently-employed falsetto becomes as much of a staple as his ambitious bass riffing and gives the album an over-arching theme of intentional silliness. Tracks like “A Fan’s Mail” are examples of this, with absurd choruses like “everybody wants to be a cat / it’s cool to be a cat.”
One of Thundercat’s greatest strengths that will translate into his live performance at Bonnaroo is the ability to simultaneously lead his songs in vocals and bass and make it all look like a cake-walk. Thundercat’s set will provide for a strange, but captivating collection of imaginative jazz-soul tracks that will appeal to those wanting to hear a barrier-breaking artist who seeks to fight wonderfully against formulaic approaches to music.
Watch Thundercat’s performance on NPR’s Tiny Desk Concerts below.
Tickets and information can be found on the Bonnaroo website.
To contact Music Editor Hayden Goodridge, email email@example.com.
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