Published May 02, 2014Yes, Toronto's BADBADNOTGOOD are superficially a jazz trio. Yet there are layers to the group once known as the Odd Trio, which broke out in 2011 with post-bop covers of Odd Future. Over the course of two albums (discounting singles and live records), pianist Matthew Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen and drummer Alex Sowinski have crafted a unique sound from a mutual love of electronica, jazz and hip-hop both old and new. BADBADNOTGOOD's first retail album, III, is also the group's first entirely original effort. It's a testament to the band's talent and telepathic interplay that these originals can hang with their best covers.
Produced by T.O. beatmaker Frank Dukes (Danny Brown, 50 Cent), the entirely analog-recorded III retains the bop, hip-hop and beat music influences of BADBADNOTGOOD's earlier records while integrating psychedelic textures, the virtuosity of progressive music and the pulsing 4/4 beats of Krautrock. These new sounds creep into the whirring, Stereolab-esque "Hedron" and album highlight "CS60." Single "Can't Leave The Night" pivots on Sowinski's live trap drums, mimicking the tightly sequenced hi-hats of Southern rap. Coupled with Hansen's thudding bass line, it gradually morphs into what sounds like Herbie Hancock covering TNGHT. "Differently Still" is the biggest surprise, a modal/post-bop number led by Tavares that feels all the more subversive for its straightforwardness.
III is not a perfect record; songs like "Eyes Closed" lack memorable riffs and serve more as mood-setting jams. Nonetheless, III's hazy, after-hours vibe is infectious, and these songs reveal fresh nuance with repeat listens. In one album, BADBADNOTGOOD have transcended their reputation for doing "jazz covers of rap." Let's see what happens next.
Read our cover story with BADBADNOTGOOD here. (Pirates Blend/Innovative Leisure)