Last year was a rather productive and prolific year for critically applauded bassist and vocalist, Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, as he made guest appearances on two of the the year’s most critically and commercially successful albums — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Bruner also released what was arguably one of the best albums of 2015 The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, which further cemented his reputation as a dexterous and playful bassist and songwriter, with material that sonically channeled Stevie Wonder’s incredible 70s output — or in other words it possessed a retro-futuristic leaning that made it all sound as though it came from straight from a rusty spaceship that’s traveled several hundred lightyears across the universe. In fact, if you had been frequenting this site over the past year, you might remember that I wrote about the wobbling and propulsive bass and arpeggio synth-led single “Them Changes” and its incredibly symbolic and surreal video, which emphasized the devastating heartache at the core of the song.
“Bus In These Streets” is the first bit of new music from Thundercat since the release of The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam and the single, which is a comedic and playful ode to both our reliance and dependence on technology — and the track has Thundercat pairing his dexterous and sinuous bass lines and his ethereal crooning with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) playing shimmering and twinkling keys, propulsive drumming and drum programming and Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone. Certainly, it’s one of Thundercat’s most playful yet cinematic songs he’s released to date, and every time I’ve heard it, I’ve thought about how it would be perfect in a It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World-like comic ensemble film.
You can catch Thundercat as he’s playing several tour dates including a set at this year’s Afropunk Festival. Check out the tour dates below.
Aug 27 Brooklyn, NY – Afropunk Fest
Sep 10 London, UK – OnBlackheath Festival
Sep 15 Oakland, CA – Brainfeeder at Fox Theatre*
Sep 16 Oakland, CA – Brainfeeder at Fox Theatre (sold out)*
Sep 17 Los Angeles, CA – Brainfeeder at Hollywood Bowl*
*with Flying Lotus, Funkadelic featuring George Clinton, Shabazz Palaces & The Gaslamp Killer