It doesn’t take more than twelve seconds for King Cole and J. Buck to find the perfect beat to swing to in the new single “The Mean Season,” and while the track lasts for another four minutes or so, the entire foundation for everything we’re going to hear is set up in these crucial moments. The bass is bulging but under control given the space it’s allowed by the percussion, but once the vocal slices its way into the harmony here, it’s going to have all the attention in the room focused squarely on its verses. “The Mean Season” wasn’t made to be a throwback to the past, but instead a time machine bringing a little bit of the past into the present – arguably, I might add, just when we need to hear it the most.
This track is really bass-heavy, but it’s important to understand why its use of indulgence was integral to making the hook cathartic. Without the bassline staggering into its place with a drunken swing as hard as anything you’d see in the World Series, the vocal wouldn’t have the solid ground to drop these lyrics on, nor would the percussion have an even-glowing groove to shadow from the background. If you want to be technical about it, what King Cole and J. Buck are doing here is a lot more elaborate then what the status quo calls for, and in 2020, they’re doing all they can to distinguish their sound from the scores of other neo-funk releases hitting the internet as December winds down.
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I do think the production quality definitely helps for us to appreciate everything that this song has going for it, but I don’t think that it’s fair to credit all of the charisma in the instrumentation – nor any other cornerstones of this composition – to the sleek design of the mix. There’s a natural intensity that follows the verse wherever J. Buck takes it in this single, and it’s typically when we’re not expecting a big eruption of emotion to come pouring out of the speakers that we’re greeted with confessions of both the linguistic and melodic varieties. These are two guys that love music supremely, and even if they had recorded this track on a cassette player stored in the attic since 1995, I have a feeling their energy would still leave an incredible imprint of this marvelous single.
“The Mean Season” wraps up with a little lest panache than it gets going with, but after the musical calisthenics King Cole and J. Buck do for our entertainment here, who can complain? Indie artists have been tasked with picking up the pieces where a lot of their mainstream competitors have fallen well short in 2020, and it’s only through the diligent efforts of musicians like these two that the industry is surviving the year as well as it has. This is a fiery piece of funk guaranteed to light up your holiday season, and while it’s only the first hit for King Cole, I doubt it’s going to be his last.
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