If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four years, you’ve likely come across a growing number of posts featuring the critically applauded bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. And as you may recall, the past two years or so have been incredibly busy for the renowned artists, as he’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar on Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, which he promptly followed up with one of my favorite releases of 2015, the mini-album The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort that further cemented his growing reputation as one of this decade’s most unique, genre-defying artists.
Drunk, Bruner’s third, full-length effort was released earlier this year and the album was written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and it features an All-Star list of collaborators including some of his go-to collaborators Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. As you know, the album features a few, previously released fan favorites like “Bus In These Streets” but it also features the bitterly hilarious, Anti-Valentine Day/fuck being friend zoned track, “Friend Zone,” “Them Changes,” a song that focuses on a heartbroken and dazed narrator trying to piece his life back together after a romantic relationship has ended, and the shimmering and slow-burning “Lava Lamp,” among a number of others.
Bruner with a backing band featuring Dennis Hamm (keys), Justin Brown (drums) and Miguel Atwood Ferguson (violin) was recently on NPR Tiny Desk to perform the aforementioned “Lava Lamp,” “Friend Zone” and “Them Changes” and from the footage, a Thundercat performance seems to an almost otherworldly experience of trippy funky — with a mischievous bent. Enjoy, catching what may be the most inventive and interesting bassist since the late, great Jaco Pastorius.