by Nolan DeBuke
Hard Proof is a firmly fused band that integrates African rhythms laced with rock, jazz and deep funk adventures into their sound. Austin, Texas based, this ten-piece collective began by studying the blueprint of Fela Kuti’s Africa 70 band, as well as Funk and Jazz, what makes this even more unique is they are a totally southern based American musicians, yet eloquently capture the sub-Saharan vibe with authenticity.
Stinger picks up right where their last album Public Hi-Fi Sessions left off, yet continuing to take the sound to the next level at the same time. The title track sets the listener up for what is to come. A hard-hitting aggressive genre-bending jam that features low notes from baritone sax, and a cutting rhythm section that drives the record with hard grooves and deeply underpinned funk.
“Men of Trouble,” offers a funky flute solo followed up by a searing guitar solo to contrast the textual differences between the instruments. The song transverses thorough various feels, beats and the ever present ambient of wah, wah drives it through a soulful experience throughout.
“Trickle Down” is a nice transitional tune, that settles the moment and builds into a rock guitar solo fueled by Afrobeats and a mighty horn section that groove together like a prayer meeting.
It was the tune “Lots” that best shows Hard Proof’s Afro-Funk chops with awe-inspiring syncopation and brilliance. Danceable rhythms are non-stop, and get your “bood” moving to the grooving.
How does one describe Hard Proof, almost like a stew that features a dapple of Antibalas, Bixiga 70, a chunk of Snarky Puppy, a dash of Ikebe Shakedown, and the rhythms of The Funk Ark, and this will give you your entree to Hard Proof!