Rather than a prog rock conceit, The Aristocrats are actually named after one of the world’s famous jokes (look it up!). This is the band’s fourth studio album, and if you’ve not come across them before they have some pedigree. Guitarist Guthrie Govan has worked with Asia, Steven Wilson, and a string of collaborations along with solo projects. Bassist Bryan Beller has worked with Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Mike Kenealy, Dweezil Zappa and others. Marco Minneman, the drummer, has worked with Steven Wilson, The Mute Gods, The Sea Within and was a near miss for the Dream Theater drum stool when Mike Portnoy left. They have a great deal of experience between them in varied music styles, and it shows in their output.
One thing the band doesn’t do is to take things too seriously. Their song titles (actually, that should be ‘tunes’ as this is instrumental fare) are frequently double-entendres, and they add a fair bit of humour in the playing styles too. Often referred to as fusion, the band’s output covers the whole gamut of progressive rock, heavy metal, jazz rock, death metal and most things in between. The music on this particular album touches those bases too, and manages to throw in some hill billy/cowboy music as well on Spanish Eddie and When We All Come Together, which are fun pieces. The opener, D-grade Fuck Movie Jam, despite its salacious title, is a bright atmospheric tune that sets the tone for what is to follow. There’s much fun in the playing and the bar is set high throughout. Often treading similar ground to Joe Satriani and maybe Bozzio Levin Stephens, they actually play with a little more freedom that Satriani does, and as you might expect there is more interplay between the band members than is typical with Satriani. There are nine high class tracks on this release, the last two of which, “Burial At Sea” and “Last Orders” are particularly classy. Each band member has three song writing credits to their names, but rather than being selfishly solo, they provide quality tunes for their band mates to have fun with. Despite the frivolity and license, with plenty of twists and turns, this is an entertaining and quality listen. The band thinks it’s the best album they’ve done, and they may be right.
There are both standard and deluxe versions of “You Know What…?” available. The deluxe version includes a bonus DVD comprising behind the scenes clips and exclusive interview footage, plus a 12-page booklet with artwork for each of the nine compositions by regular collaborator Hajo Müller.
The Aristocrats are on tour in Europe starting later this year, including UK dates in Newcastle, Edinburgh, Manchester and London in January.
1. D-Grade Fuck Movie Jam (6:31)
2. Spanish Eddie (6:56)
3. When We All Come Together (6:16)
4. All Said And Done (4:43)
5. Terrible Lizard (6:30)
6. Spiritus Cactus (5:59)
7. The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde (7:37)
8. Burial At Sea (6:35)
9. Last Orders (8:32)
Guthrie Govan / guitar
Bryan Beller / bass
Marco Minnemann / drums
CD Boing – BM 00009
Release date: 28th June 2019