Neo-Soul Band Con Brio Create Their Own ‘Paradise’ On Debut LP [Full Stream/Review]

first_imgWhen the San Francisco Bay area funksters Con Brio set a goal for themselves, they follow the philosophy of “go bigNeo-Soul or go home.” Teaming with producer Mario Caldato Jr., responsible for producing most of the Beastie Boys funkiest material, the band shows a depth and a jaw dropping surety of purpose that astounds listeners. While hearkening back to the great soul/funk bands of the seventies, particularly spiritual hometown ancestors Sly & The Family Stone, Con Brio manages to only invoke and invigorate, not duplicate, the sound already laid down by the greats. With a series of high profile opening gigs and choice festival slots rounding out their own sell out club appearances, the band has taken the time to hone their sound to a razor keen edge, and on their first full length release they show no signs of nerves. All that is on display here is fiery musicianship played with a well-earned sense of confidence infinitely more valuable than any shallow boasts or braggadocio. You can stream the album in full below, thanks to Consequence of Sound.The title track, “Paradise,” blasts this collection to life with a confidence and swagger that defy any debut album expectations and raise hopes high for each moment to come. Huge guitars, monolithic drums and horn hooks give the song an immediate, in-your-face edge, which lead singer Ziek McCarter throws himself in front of with reckless disregard for his own safety. Not wanting to wear out listeners right off the bat, Con Brio shifts to some down tempo smooth grooves with some slinky, sexy grooving that has the band as crisp and punchy as possible. The rhythm section of Jonathan Kirchner on bass and Andrew Laubacher on drums shine throughout the album, but their precision pace-setting early in the disc boldly establish a measured and energetic approach to laying the back beat for their compatriots.Check out our chat with Con Brio at Bonnaroo HERE and watch the first official video from Paradise, “Free & Brave” below:As the chief recipient of the percussion efforts on songs like the maniacally driven “Free & Brave,” Ziek McCarter steers the ship from the front, loosing his golden and evocative voice with effortless ease to spectacular results. Clever use of harmony, echo and other tricks of the trade give him a radio friendly air that belies the raw emotion he packs into every exhortation. The Michael Jackson comparisons are inevitable, and, rather than downplay the similarities, McCarter steers into the skid with songs like “Hard Times.” Just the presence of wailing guitarist Benjamin Andrews balances of the sweetness of the vocals with a much needed weight and kinetic force.Watch an emotional rendition of “Hard Times,” performed after the recent outbursts of violence, below:Horn duo Brendan Liu on trumpet and Marcus Stephens show equal comfort with show stopping wails as they do with long, mournful notes, and use every trick in the book to give each song a distinct flavor. “No Limits” and “Honey” showcase both ends of the pair’s spectrum, and whether they are leading the charge or providing washes of background color, they are doing it with their full attention and skill. On the closing track, “Can’t Get Enough,” Con Brio finds themselves relaxed and in full groove mode, as if to remind themselves as well as the listeners that sometimes it’s not about how fast you go or even how slow…it’s about the journey along the way. The track rises and flows, and, while never approaching the extremes of the earlier numbers, their decision to end the album with a cool down jam shows a lot of wisdom.The final verdict on Con Brio will come in due time. There are thousands of bands that have been hailed as the “Next Big Thing” and then quickly and quietly faded into obscurity. That said, Paradise is a truly bold statement about not just what Con Brio can do now, but what they just might do in the future. If they have more in them that’s anywhere near as strong as the material here, their future is truly bright.last_img

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