By Frank Alkyer | Published April 2017
It’s hard to believe that Kneebody, a wondrous, take-no-prisoners experiment in groove and sonics, has been around for 16 years and 11 albums. The music the group makes on Anti-Hero sounds as fresh as the first needle drop of its debut recording, Wendel, back in 2002. At the same time, Anti-Hero serves as a reminder of the beauty of such a group staying together for a good long stretch. The rhythm section of keyboardist Adam Benjamin, bassist Kaveh Rastegar and drummer Nate Wood is tight, thoughtful and downright surprising. The horn line oozes power, with trumpeter Shane Endsley and saxophonist Ben Wendel launching bombs and twisting lines. “I’ve often joked that our band is almost infamous at this point for being extremely hard to describe,” Wendel said in press materials for the disc. “I’ve always been proud of that. The music we’re doing is always new but the band itself is not new. Kneebody has always been our creative home. It’s always been the ground for us.” It’s not that Kneebody defies genres, it’s simply that the band refuses to be cornered by them. Like the best of all improvised music, the sound palette of Kneebody takes influences from many sources—’70s fusion, heavy metal, hip-hop, bebop and classic soul, just to name a few. If you’re a fan of music with rough edges and deep grooves, give tunes like “For The Fallen” and “Drum Battle” a spin. If you like a good head-banging groove, “The Balloonist” is your jam. But there are also some great atmospheric glides on this album, like “Profar,” “Carry On” and “Austin Peralta.” The pacing of this recording is also special. Clocking in at just under an hour, Anti-Hero revs you up, then chills you out. And stick around for the hidden outro at the end: It’s a nod to musical history that sums up this group perfectly. The musicians in Kneebody know where this music has been and where they want to take it. On Anti-Hero, they’ve created a vehicle that lets us simply enjoy the ride.