Something different than you’d find me reviewing is this new release from The AV Club, out of Chicago. Understand, this is a project driven by bassist/composer Andrew Vogt (hence “The AV Club”), who understands the nuances of feel and groove as opposed to technical proficiency makes all the difference in the world.
When writing about instrumentals, it’s a bit more of a daunting task as you want to be able to convey a feeling since there isn’t any text to offer as a guide. On this album, the overriding emotion is that of joy – simple, unabashed good feelings, which is what emerges from the eight tracks. And, of course, there’s always the argument of style versus substance, which is a whole lot of nothing as with this congregation of very fine musicians do not let their skill overtake the vibe, which makes this such a pleasure to listen to.
“Steveland” gets the proceedings off to an upbeat start; smooth grooves kick in and take you on a breezy joyride; heavy rhythm and slick guitars carry this piece, reminding me of the jazz-funk I listened to as an early teen – keyboards and horns puncture the track and keep the vibe going. (By the way, “vibe”, “groove” and “feel” will be used a lot here, probably!) “Fat Tuesday” rollicks along with what I immediately interpret as a very New Orleans good-time number; something you would hear as you sip a hurricane in a Chartres Street bar; “Pearofjax” is just tight, smooth jazz-funk that motors with a very ’70’s groove and “Yam Of Lotus” (with its humorous spoken-word opening) is a bit slower but blossoms into a very liquid and laid back – a bit of “space” soul.
All in all, this gathering of songs by Mr. Vogt and his cohorts is very fine; very finessed. This could be a perfect summer soundtrack – especially since there are no vocals to distract. Think of this as a musical companion to warm July nights; it isn’t hard to do.
The AV Club’s self-titled album is currently available