BADBADNOTGOOD (let’s call them BBNG) first came to notoriety with their covers of Odd Future songs, a process they took to the next level with a video they released of Tyler The Creator performing “Seven” with them in the studio. It was mental. Much like anything involving Tyler, he commanded the center of attention, hamming it up for the camera and well, was generally Tyler. So the three white boys laying down a pretty heavy groove in the background stayed exactly there–in the background. But in doing so they showed exactly why Tyler gave them their blessing. Quite simply, they’ve got a great sound.
BBNG are a trio of young jazz musicians (or rather jazz-trained musicians): Matt Tavares on keys, Chester Hansen on bass, and Alex Sowinski on drums. What they make could be called jazz, funk, or hip-hop, but ultimately it’s all about the bottom. The bass to be precise, a low end so satisfyingly squelchy that you’ll have to wade through it.
The principle for BBNG 2, their second mixtape/album, remains the same as their earlier work – some Odd Future covers, some other covers (Feist, Kanye, James Blake, James Blake covering Feist) and some of their own compositions, all done in their already signature sound of bass, fat synths and tough drums. The structure is classic jazz, with plenty of space for improvisations and solos, but the sound encompasses almost every form of alternative music with a beat in 2012.
The most immediate tracks are the cover versions, but the way BBNG tackle them is far from straightforward. For James Blake’s “CMYK” (they’re obviously fond of four letter acronyms/words) they take the beginning of the tune and funk it up deliciously. They slow it down, they speed it up, they make it loud, they turn it on its head completely. But then, like every good jazz troupe, they return to the melody that started the whole thing in the first place. Like most of the songs here, just like that video they made with Tyler in fact, it’s chaotic, funky and a lot of fun. However, make no mistake, BBNG are highly talented musicians and serious about what they do.
The sleeve for BBNG 2 doesn’t carry much text, but what it does tell you is that everyone who made the album is under 21. According to drummer Alex Sowinski, that’s not to show off about how precociously talented they are, but what it’s possible to do by that age, and should be appreciated. And it will be. BBNG 2 isn’t perfect – some tracks lose you in their intricacy, or are simply too dense to get your head around, but almost all of them have an element to them, a bassline, a break or a sound that’s simply too good to ignore. BBNG 2 puts down a marker for this trio to be taken very seriously indeed. And the fact that this is a free download? Hell, you’d be stupid not to get involved.
- Will Georgi