On the Bone
Longtime Boston-based trombonist Brian Thomas has stepped out on his own for his first solo album On the Bone, a cool collection of six soulful jazz songs that move and groove with a helping of funk. It’s the type of music that really lives up to its name and offers a mix of comfort and energy at the same time.
Joining Thomas is Darby Wolf on Hammond organ, Johnny Trama on guitar, Tom Arey on drums and Yahubu Garcia-Torres on percussion. L.A.-based saxophonist Scott Mayo contributes an excellent solo to the old school vibes of “Turn On,” and tenor saxophonist Mike Tucker wheels and deals on the extra funky title track, when he and Thomas play together, they make a dynamic duo. All the musicians are at the top of their game and there isn’t a weak link to be heard from beginning to end.
The songs of On the Bone often change tempo and switch up the groove, but one constant is the cool factor; you get the feeling that the musicians are having fun and enjoying themselves. “Just a Glimpse” is laid back and soulful like a Sunday stroll; “Check Your Intentions” is hypnotic and will relax you. The only thing here that some listeners might consider missing is vocals as On the Bone is an instrumental all the way through. But that is merely a point of preference, and with these songs the instruments do the singing so you don’t need any vocals on top of them. Vocals would just get in the way.
For more, visit: brianthomastrombone.com
On the Prowl
If you want music that has over-the-top humor but can still kick butt, then you’ll love Steel Panther’s new album On the Prowl. The L.A.-based comedic band likens itself to a glam metal group from the 80s, all at once poking fun at the genre while paying homage to it. One listen to Steel Panther and you’ll get the joke, and you won’t want to stop listening.
A lot of On the Prowl’s songs deal with the typical drugs, sex, and rock ‘n’ roll you’d expect. A lot of the lyrics might make you wonder what their families think. “Teleporter” will crack you up as singer Ralph “Michael Starr” Saenz recounts a series of embarrassing incidents, and “All That and More” is so absurd you wonder how they got through recording it with a straight face. Their formula of using the verse to help set up the joke in the chorus works more often than not, and usually to hilarious results.
For all of the jokes On The Prowl has, the guys in Steel Panther can seriously tear it up on their instruments. “Friends with Benefits” checks all the boxes for an in-your-face 80s rock band with guitar finger-tapping and high-pitched screams; “Ain’t Dead Yet” covers the flipside of the coin with a well-crafted ballad.
While the sincerity in the songs contributes to the humor as it plays against the zany lyrics, there is also real heartfelt emotion on tracks like the aforementioned “Ain’t Dead Yet”–about aging–and “1987.” In the latter, Saenz laments the loss of a simpler time he once enjoyed and the bands of yesteryear. “And the music that we worshipped will live on/Even after all our heavy metal heroes are gone.” Steel Panther does this in their own weird way with On the Prowl.
For more, visit: steelpantherrocks.com