Album Of The Week: Hard Proof’s Stinger

gsdfsfsdsdVibrant music is more than just an assortment of sounds abiding by rhythm and structure. It’s an antidote for life’s redundancy; it makes the knees buckle and the hips gyrate. The sensation transforms a floor into an artistic canvas where the feet are the paintbrushes creating a contagious vision. Austin, Texas afrobeat funk act Hard Proof brings that and more with their album Stinger that’s due out on January 13.

The band isn’t a stranger to being in some rad acts around Austin. Derek Phelps on trumpet, Jason Frey on tenor sax and Joseph Woullard on baritone sax and flute all perform as part of bluesman Black Joe Lewis’ backing band The Honeybears. Guitarist Aaron Sleator, bassist Joe Sokolik, drummer Stephen Bidwell, conga player Thomas Tony Cruz, percussionist Tommy Spampinato and guitarists and keyboardists Gerardo Larios and John Branch have played in a variety of bands around the “Live Music Capital Of The World,” as well. With all of these immense talents in one band, it’s not difficult to imagine how good Hard Proof really is. The collective combines stellar horns with shredding riffs and pristine beats to create amazing music.

How did Hard Proof get their artistic identity? A band with 10 members often means that there are 10 different ideas. Turns out the band studied the legendary afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti extensively, along with a bunch of African funk and jazz. It’s very evident with how they deliver a groovy sound that also consists of a variety of musical dimensions. There’s nothing boring about Stinger at all. For a closer look, let’s dive into my top tracks off of the Album Of The Week:

“Men Of Trouble” has a spooky beginning that’s anchored by Woullard on flute. It seems like it should be part of the soundtrack for a spy film. The horns shine in “Trickle Down;” this track hits a groove that never leaves and Phelps, Frey and Woullard slay from start to finish. I can definitely tell that this song has to tear the house down when Hard Proof plays it live. A heavy dose of ‘70s funk is present In “Soul Thing,” and it’s smooth as silk.

Hard Proof will be ringing in the release of Stinger at Antone’s in Austin on the same date as the album’s official release with psych-soul act Los Coast opening things up. A portion of ticket proceeds and Hard Proof’s merch sales will be going to benefit American Gateways, the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas and Equality Texas and most likely a few other organizations. Hopefully they come through New England later this year and stop by Providence. Until they come through your friendly neighborhood music venue, grab a copy of Hard Proof’s excellent album Stinger when it’s released. It’s a stunning record that’ll knock you off your feet.

Listen to “Soul Thing” via Soundcloud:; Hard Proof’s Website:

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