by Frank Ippolito
A Life of Color is the debut recording from Bear and Airplanes and wow, what a debut it is – they had me at a mix of jazz, rap, funk and pop.
First, the music. It’s stellar. Garrett Bowers is featured on guitars and tuba. Tuba? Wha? Pablo Bastidas serves up a great groove on drums. And Ian Graham fills in this quartet on bass and piano. The one thing you’ll instantly love is the time signatures. Changing time and keys keep the music interesting, and thankfully, because, well, sometimes this genre gets pretty stale after three or four bars.
Justin Tullis gives an outstanding vocal performance. Smooth and silky is what to expect. And the lyrics are uplifting, forward-facing and very positive (okay, they threw in a “booty” reference, but hey, who’s counting…).
Why you should listen: These cats touch on a lot of musical genres and do it very, very well.
What you should listen for: Take a listen to the words. These guys, (in the liner notes the band is credited for the lyrics), are terrific. While they stay clear from controversy, “Welcome to the Middle Class” touches on the strife inner city kids struggle with…nice job guys.
What they sound like: Like Arrested Development meets The Roots.
One more note: The last track “So Good to be Bad” is a live recording, and I’m very happy to report they sound as good as they do on the record.
Make sure to give a listen to A Life of Color by Bears and Airplanes below.