PREMIERE: Hard Proof Bridge Western Rock and Sub-Saharan Funk in “Stinger”

The Austin ten-piece get an assist from the production work of Chris "Frenchie" Smith.

The members of Austin’s Hard Proof keep their hands busy. When they’re not together, they play with Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, The Calm Blue Sea, Cougar, Ocote Soul Sounds, and The Echocentrics, and the group’s horn section has collectively backed Broken Social Scene, The Walkmen, Spoon, Antibalas, and more. By the light of that miniature cosmology, the ten-piece have forged a sound of their own, one that mixes the selective defiance of Fela Kuti and the soft flutter of Ethiopian jazz with hard Congolese drumming and showy Western rock and roll.

It’s a polyglot combination that, quite honestly, shouldn’t really work—years of free festivals have proven the hard-rockin’ funk band to be neither sufficiently hard-rockin’ nor funky, and despite their shared continental heritage, Fela’s sprawling afrobeat has little in common with the eastern lope of, say, Alemayehu Eshete. But thanks in part to the production work of Chris “Frenchie” Smith, the band’s new full-length, Stinger, is not only a cohesive exploration of sub-Saharan sounds, but a bright and punchy rock record, too. We’re premiering it in full today, and you can give it a listen below.

Stinger is out January 13 via Modern Outsider.


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