Many might think that the days of bands with a big sound, bringing different sorts of music together into a bigger picture, are past. Southern-bred CBDB, however, proves that there’s life yet in music like this. In a desperate age where no one is making the money they used to, too many bands ape successful sounds in hopes that, by some stroke of luck, they’ll catch on in a big way. At least, for a time. CBDB, however, isn’t a band looking to compromise or dilute their sound for momentary success. Their second album, Joyfunk Is Dead, plants a flag for what promises to be a long, storied career.
“Stuffed Avocados” starts things with a distinct fusion-vibe, but unlike similar efforts, a single instrument doesn’t dominate the sound and the band adopts a compositional approach to playing. There is a lot of rambunctious spirit in this band. They aren’t afraid to let it rip or hang back and they fill the music with tremendous verve. “Pschabango” has progressive rock flair, but avoids any hint of imitation. The keyboards explore a variety of colorful textures that earlier tracks never touch.
Lush textures abound in “Airman” which, despite its seemingly ill-advised marriage of jazz balladry with manic fusion, coheres into one of the album’s most impressive tunes. The focus is phenomenal – it is quite impressive to hear how much ingenuity CBDB can pack into a five-minute song. “New Eyes” has a playful reggae lilt without ever sounding too heavy-handed. In the hands of lesser musicians, reggae covers can often stick out like sore thumb clichés and do more to reveal the band’s limitations than anything. CBDB, however, tackle the genre without too much reverence making them beholden to a ham-fisted interpretation of what makes a good reggae song.
The funk-rock blast of “Fun Run” is another highpoint. CBDB rolls out a huge guitar riff for this one, deceptively simple, but direct and punchy. The drumming pushes this along as well, particularly on wall-crashing crescendos. The band explodes with enormous energy here and sympathetic listeners will finish the song feeling breathless with excitement. “7 Seas” rides on an appealing shuffle punctuated with Glenn Dillard’s great saxophone playing.
“Numbers” closes the album with CBDB’s biggest statement yet. This eight-plus minute song is a towering summing up of the band’s musical strengths and passions and features each member of the band playing at, or near, the peak of their powers. Their jaw-dropping shift through various time signatures and musical voices clearly puts them in a breed apart. Few other bands are primed to provide such a wide-ranging musical experience and have meaningful songs to back it up. While there’s no or little question that the band’s chances for commercial success would likely improve by reigning in some of their restlessness and the production could be punchier, any serious music devotee will devour this astonished by the energy they have.