The self-titled debut album by the Free Nationals sounds pretty much like what one expect an album by singer/rapper Anderson .Paak's backing band might sound like. Comprised of members Kelsey Gonzalez (bass), Ron "Tnava" Avant (keys/ vocoder), Callum Connor (drums) and José Rios (guitar), the band's name represents freedom, autonomy and staying true to the funk.
The 13-song tracklist reads and sounds like a contemporary music fan's wet dream: names like Chronixx, Syd (of the Internet), Kali Uchis, Daniel Caesar and the late Mac ….
Funky, groovy, and smooth, it's the Free Nationals that gave Anderson .Paak 's breakout 2016 album Malibu its sun-soaked textures. A busy touring schedule, and two more .Paak albums, thereafter, meant that the band had to put their own project on hold over the last few years, but they've now managed to finish piecing it together, lending the end of the year some breezy Cali vibes. .Paak only shows up on one track here, on the bouncy "Gidget", the singer and the band sharing a magic chemistry.
In less than a year, the Free Nationals went from playing weddings to performing on "Ellen," opening for Beyoncé, and amping up Coachella crowds. As Anderson .Paak's live band, they've been fundamental in establishing his retro sound. (As influences, they cite Snoop Dogg, Stevie Wonder, and Erykah Badu.) Now, after nearly two years of pump-faking, the band--comprised of guitarist Jose Rios, keyboardist Ron "T.Nava" Avant, bassist Kelsey Gonzales, and drummer Callum Connor-- has set off on its own with a 40-minute self-titled debut.
E ven in this era of guest spots and collaborations, it's hard to think of another album that unites reggae singer Chronixx with Unknown Mortal Orchestra and the late Mac Miller. All crop up on this squelchy retro-funk outing by Free Nationals, otherwise known as Anderson .Paak's backing band. There's just the one guest spot from .Paak - a tune called Gidget, which references a fictional 1960s female surfer.