Chicago instrumental rockers Tortoise made us all wait seven years for The Catastrophist, an album that more or less stayed their previously charted course. Fortunately, Tortoise guitarist Jeff Parker makes up for his band’s lukewarm effort with a fun, funky, and brief new record named The New Breed. It isn’t as studiously executed as 2012’s boppy Bright Light in Winter and not as deceptively intricate as 2005’s The Relatives, but it’s got a robust sound and a spunky attitude.
The whole thing came about after Parker moved from Chicago to Los Angeles (guaranteeing that the gaps between Tortoise albums are about to become longer…). Upon going through his stuff while unpacking, he found some old demos from his Myspace days and decided to give them an upgrade, sharing with producer’s chair with bassist Paul Bryan. Bryan, saxophonist Josh Johnson, and drummer Jamire Williams are all on hand to recreate that soulful ’70s sound on tracks liked “Jrifted” and “Get Dressed”. Parker’s daughter, Ruby Parker, sings a tricky melody on the decidedly un-cliche “Cliche”. With all that being said, opener “Executive Life” feels like a mini-album unto itself, featuring a great number of meters, changes, and moods in under eight minutes. In other words, this is more like it.