The GB Album Club 037 - We Like It Here by Snarky Puppy

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unclejam23

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Duders! Welcome to the 37th edition of the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club! Last week, we did prog. The week before, we did prog. The week before that... prog. (Really, prog inspired post rock, but that's a distinction most people won't bother to make.) This week, dare we do more prog? The answer: Kinda? Yes, progressive jazz is a thing, but then we can debate whether jazz should really be thought about that way blah blah blah blah nerdy genre bullshit. Whatever. This week, our album is We Like It Here by Snarky Puppy! It was chosen by our very best of friends @justin258, and you can listen below with these links:

Spotify

Apple Music

Youtube

And as this is our first live album(!), you can watch the performance here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z4IrNFUaEg0&t

Here at the Unofficial Giant Bomb Album Club, we gathered in a Discord and made a pool of random albums from which we choose one at random every week to listen to and discuss! If you want to submit an album, you can do so at our Discord! It may seem like the theme is prog, but believe it or not, this has all been a coincidence. Rather, there is no theme this time, so submit whatever you damn well please!

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unclejam23

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Found myself a bit up and down with this one.

There's a particular sect of jazz that I've never really responded to, which is jazz that's basically an excuse for every member of the band to noodle while everyone else keeps the rhythm going. The kind of jazz that takes the improvisational aspects of the genre so much to heart that it blocks out everything else. Intent. Vision. A sense of purpose other than to make the function the form.

To be clear, this album doesn't do that. But it isn't as far from it as I'd like it to be. Moreover, and this is a related complaint in my head, I would say that my biggest issue with this album is that it takes too long for it to start exploring new ideas. The first half stays in a particular pocket, and while it brings in a creative element or two (I'm a sucker for a good vocorder), I kept waiting for it to take off and I was about to give up hope.

Then the back half of the album starts.

That's when I got it. The band starts exploring way more out there palettes and switching things up, and it allowed me to not only see that there was intent behind these compositions, but I could even tell what said intent was. Simply put, this is where the connection was forged between the music itself and my emotionality, and I put my knives down and started enjoying myself.

I like my jazz a bit weirder. Also, full disclosure, I was a bit miffed because @justin258 said in the discord that it was between this and Mingus, so I couldn't help but compare this album to Mingus a lot. (I'm petty sometimes! I'm sorry!) But I can listen to Mingus whenever I want. This is a great album once it leaves the ground.

Favorite Songs: "Kite," "Outlier," "Tio Macaco"

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redwing42

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My favorite type of jazz is the songs that take me on a journey, be it to a Caribbean island, a smoky lounge, or the intro of Cowboy Bebop. While this album was pleasant to listen to, it rarely took that further step to really transport me. "Tio Macaco" was really the closest to this feeling for me. Maybe it was too close to the ensemble jazz that I used to play in my teens (not that I was at all on this level). I saw this as a slightly divergent evolution of the classic ensembles led by Count Basie and Duke Ellington. Different in substance, but a similar foundation. So again, it was pleasant enough, but it just didn't take me away like I want my jazz to do.