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BADBADNOTGOOD - 'III'

Anthony Dean-Harris
Editor-in-Chief
anthony.deanharris@nextbop.com / @i_ADH

There's been a longer wait between BBNG2 and III. In the two years between the release of their last self-produced and promoted album and their first release on a label, keyboardist Matt Tavares, bassist Chester Hansen, and drummer Alex Sowinski moved their whole operation from Sowinski's dad's basement into a studio space they built themselves, signed to the young aforereferenced label Innovative Leisure, toured the globe a bit, and continued to approach their being a band with workmanlike intensity. As these young men have grown as musicians, they continued to show the results in their releases, each album stronger than the last (and also sort of reminding the jazz cognoscenti not to be so overbearing on what can objectively be called a band's early work). In their first official album, the trio have released their most polished and jazz-influenced record yet.

Let it no longer be said that BBNG don't play jazz. III's nine original compositions certainly fit the bill of what this genre is in the 21st century. All these songs may not have the "head-solo-solo-head" format exactly, but the pattern and moments to shine are there in their own ways. However, in talks the guys have given about making this album, they can't deny this format altogether, either. They may have constructed synthy club banger "Can't Leave the Night" to be the most camouflaged straight-ahead tune they've ever made that could actually end up being played in a club. Saxophonist Leland Whitty appears once again in a few places in the album, though most prominently on "Confessions" where he truly does get to open up while fitting in this rather specific pocket of triplets much of the time. He has this ability to remind you there's a hell of a lot more young players in Canada who aren't anything to sneeze at. "Eyes Closed" is the Grizzly Bear song you always wanted them to play once you learned Droste, Bear & Co. learned music as jazz players. Tavares trades out keys for the guitar on this track so sweetly. Hansen downright owns every bit of "Kaleidoscope", probably the most prominently he's shined on bass yet. The guys seem to play the acoustic ballad "Differently, Still" just to prove that they can. In an album so geared toward doing everything right but still so distinctly them, this song throws things for a loop, grooving so softly with Tavares on an honest-to-God piano, Hansen on upright, and Sowinski so delicately playing with brushes. They're showing, and proving, their range on this album, acting as detractors to all their critics.

Yes, it's been a long road to III and it shows. They've released an album that displays a maturity some of us may have always known they've always had and are steadily proving their doubters wrong. It's a proper debut release on a label that's been a long time coming, certain to please their fans and surprise newcomers. And the road just keeps moving forward.

III is available now on vinyl, CD, and digitally at iTunes, Amazon, and the Innovative Leisure Bandcamp.