Over the years, I guess The Aristocrats have proven to be one of the most innovative instrumental band there is at the moment. With three very experienced musicians who have played with every known name in the scene, The Aristocrats became the place to challenge themselves to the max, with high-class instrumental music. On their 2019 release You Know What?, guitarist Guthrie Govan, bass player Bryan Beller and drummer Marco Minnemann seem to have settled and turned their compositions into more coherent pieces of music. Where in the past the songs sometimes were written in favour of their solos, I think You Know What? delivers great songs, where the solo parts are perfectly blended in.
As on the previous records, the compositions have been nicely split up into three songs per musician. The result of that is a beautiful varied album, where the Bryan Beller compositions tend to have their roots in classic rock with a small foot in the blues. The opener D Grade F*ck Movie Jam has a fine seventies feel, like taking Hendrix wah wah guitar and Grand Funk Railroad's Mel Schacher's bass to the modern age. All Said And Done also has that fine seventies feel, combined with west coast influences, this one reminds me a bit of HLMP. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde starts as a ballad style composition, but has a powerful mid-section, blending the song into one more than interesting musical experience. Guthrie's compositions also have a bit of a bluesy feel; Spanish Eddie combines bluesy jazz with tremendous powerful parts and great soloing. Terrible Lizard is more of a heavy rock song with a strong experimental drive during the mid-section. This song refers the most to previous The Aristocrats albums. Last Orders is the final Guthrie track, smooth and has the same impact on me as Stevie Ray Vaughan's Riviera Paradise and Lenny. Just wonderful. Marco Minnemann's contributions usually have a bit of a different feel, although absolutely suited to the other compositions; these seem to have some special challenges in them. When We All Come Together is a brilliant country rock vs basically everything kind of track. Love the bullfrog! Spiritus Cactus is a more atmospheric composition, where references to film music appear. Marco's final contribution Burial At Sea is a more furious power rock song with some delicate parts embedded. The perfect track before the final Last Orders sets off.
Again, The Aristocrats have delivered a fantastic piece of music, perhaps a little more bluesy parts, some laid back elements, but always exploding at the right moment. I don't think I have to mention the craftsmanship of the trio, that is just obvious. You Know What? turns out to be an amazing display of music, with Last Orders as my personal highlight.
****+ Pedro Bekkers (edited by Tracy van Os van den Abeelen)
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