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Swell Henry

Yeah No
Swell Henry

Yeah No is a group of musicians that make jazz music for people who don't even have to like typical music. They take the instrumentation and basically squeeze out a lot of the solos and distill it down into something more melodic and concise. While that may sound like they're simply sucking the life out the genre, it's really nothing like that. While there's definitely less of a free-wheeling style that sometimes makes for gold on jazz recordings, this fourth record from Yeah No finds them working a room that's stacked with hooks and still full of atmosphere.

And really, their music isn't nearly full-on jazz. It brings in elements of both folk and rock music to its structure and songcraft, resulting in 10 tracks and just under 40 minutes of music that should appeal to a wide range of listeners. After opening with the mellow "She Has Four Thorns," "Last Beginning" also takes some time to get going before flourishing about halfway through with a build of horns and accordian that gets downright skronky before it's all over with. The whole thing is underpinned with a solid rhythm section to help keep things on course.

The group is at their best on tracks like "Camper Giorno," on which they mix sections of freestyling grooves with hyper-melodic intervals that pull all the elements together into a glorious whole that sways just right. Around the middle section of the disc, the group hits their high point with "Flanked" and "He Has Two Pairs Of Dice." The former is an almost rocking number with coiling horn melodies and a frantic rhythm section while the latter busts forth with some serious new bop action that still sounds like the group is barely keeping things on the rails.

While it doesn't contain the electronic elements, Swell Henry still has things in common with artists like Jaga Jazzist who are taking the sounds of jazz and pushing it in a slightly different direction. Some may view it as sacrelige, but it's simply another way of hearing things and another solid little release from Chris Speed and company.

Rating: 7.5