Favorite Track: "Light as Anything" Least Favorite Track: "Sitcom"
Minneapolis writer, arranger, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Cory Wong is one of the most interesting faces in funk music. His 2018 record ; The Optimist is consistently groovy, jazzy, and I guarantee that at least one of these seven tracks will get stuck in your head. With that being said however, this project does lack a little in terms of substance considering we are only given seven tracks to choose from. It makes the album feel a little more like an EP opposed to a full length project. Despite this, there isn’t really a dud on this thing; it’s very consistent. Track #1 ; “Jax” just sounds like an intro. It features a very funky bassline that oddly enough reminds me of the theme music for the old video game Bloon Tower Defense. I’m not exactly sure if i’m the only one who heard that in the track but it gave me a good laugh. One element of the track that really makes this intro FEEL like an intro, is the erray of horns that offer this sort of fanfare of anticipation, almost teasing things to come on the record. In addition, the drum work on this one is some of my favorite on the record. The stuttering hi-hats fit well with the themes of anticipation and give the groove this sort of anxious feeling. The next track “Light As Anything”, is one of the only tracks we get that has a strong emphasis on vocals throughout the record. We get some guest vocals from Robbie Wulfsohn which are very very pleasant. His melodies and pitch throughout the whole track remain painfully enjoyable. The hook is a very fun one and it really makes the track what it is. Track #3 ; “91’ Maxima” seems to almost fade in and out of consciousness. If I were to describe the track using one word it would “American”. To elaborate, the tune is almost reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix playing the national anthem at Woodstock with its absolutely flying guitars that seem to go all over the place ; (in a good way). After watching an interview that Cory Wong did with Sweetwater I wasn’t surprised that he described Red Hot Chilli Peppers as one of his favorite bands growing up because the intro on track #4 “Jumbotron Hype Song” is a dead ringer for an intro that Flea and the guy’s would of included on Blood Sex Sugar Magik. The heavy base in the intro truly couldn’t be more Flea influenced. I’m no expert in the field but I it sounds like the line is played using Flea’s classic slap bass style, however I certainly could be mistaken. In the same way that “Jax” sounds like an intro, the closer; “The Optimist” couldn’t sound more like an outro if it tried. The track simply radiates positivity throughout it’s playthrough and really wraps a bow around this albums overall theme. Almost every song on this thing is not only incredibly infectious and groovy but almost every track throws these obvious ideas of good vibrations and positivity at you. This album truly sounds happy in every way. If you need a good pick me up and are looking to use music as your remedy, I think Cory Wong’s The Optimist, might be just what you’re looking for.