Canada has never been known for producing jazz/funk bands, at least the average listener couldn’t name many, but the guys in Gorilla Tophat have brought the flavor of music down South from the Great White North on their debut LP “Unnatural Habitat.”
The album kicks off with the aptly titled “Here We Go,” a track with horns and plucky guitars and quick hi-hat hits to drive the song along. It’s a good tone setter for the rest of the album with soulful vocals that continue throughout the album.
“Sunday Morning” sounds like it came straight from the Bill Withers 70s era of funk with a saxophone undertone and trumpets and trombones to fill out the brass on the track. The following track, “Want You To,” slows things down for a sultry blend of sweet crooning and light acoustic accompaniment. Listening to the song in any other lighting other than dim feels wrong; it’s the kind of song that you’d want to have playing at your place when you’re expecting a date to really set the mood.
The song “Conscience Clean” starts off with a bass line that is all about groove and a chorus that’s almost indescribable mumbling, but if it wasn’t there the track wouldn’t carry as much weight as it does. There are even a pair of jazz-flute solos in the song that would put Ron Burgundy to shame.
Overall this album is quick and slow, loud but smooth and all cool all the time. With all the instruments and vocals going on it’d be easy for something to get lost in the production, but surprisingly it doesn’t. All the piano keys, brass instruments, strings and percussion leave their footprint on each track with the vocals being the exclamation point at the end.
This article was originally published noting vocals on “Conscious Clean” as samples. It has been corrected with clarification from the band that these are not samples.