Category: funk

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Genesis Owusu Releases a Trippy Visual for “Waitin’ For Ya (Remix)”

With the release of his debut EP, 2017’s Cardrive, the acclaimed and rising Ghanian-born, Canberra, Australia-based, artist Genesis Owusu — born Kofi Owusu-Anash — quickly established a reputation for being a restless, genre-blurring chameleon with an ability to conjure powerful and deeply personal storytelling.

The EP eventually garnered an ARIA Award nomination for Best R&B/Soul Release and praise from Sir Elton John (!), NMEi-Dmixmag and others. Owusu supported the EP by opening for Dead PrezCol3traneSampa The GreatCosmo’s MidnightNonameAniméRuel and others in Australia.

Last year, Owusu-Anash released a couple of highly-celebrated singles — the fiery street shit meets mosh pit ripper “Whip Cracker” and the ARIA Award-nominated smash hit “Don’t Need You,” which quickly became the #1 most played song on triple J radio and eventually international airplay on BBC Radio 1 and BBC Radio 6 and here in the States on KCRWKUTXThe Current and Alt98

Owusu-Anash’s critically applauded full-length debut Smiling With No Teeth was released earlier this year. The album as the acclaimed Ghanian-Aussie artist explains is essentially about “performing what the world wants to see, even if you don’t have the capacity to do so honestly. Slathering honey on your demons to make them palatable to people, who only want to know if you’re okay, if the answer is yes. That’s the idea, turned into beautiful, youthful, ugly, timeless and strange music.

Each of the album’s 15 tracks can trace their origins back to studio jam sessions with a backing band that features Kirin J. CallinanTouch Sensitive’s Michael DiFrancesco, World Champion‘s Julian Sudek and the album’s producer Andrew Klippel. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wound up writing about three of Smiling With No Teeth‘s singles:

  • The Other Black Dog,” a mind-bending production that meshed alternative hip-hop, industrial clang, clatter, rattle and stomp, off-kilter stuttering beats and wobbling synth arpeggios that was roomy enough for Owusu-Anash’s breathless, rapid-fire and dense flow. Managing to balance club friendliness with sweaty, mosh pit energy, the song is a full-throttled nosedive into madness that reminds me of the drug and booze fueled chaos of ODB, and the menace of DMX.
  • Gold Chains,” a brooding yet seamless synthesis of old school soul, G Funk and Massive Attack-like trip hop centered around shimmering and atmospheric synths, stuttering boom bap beats, squiggling blasts of guitar and the rising Ghanian-born, Canberra-based artist’s Mos Def/Yasiin Bey-like delivery, alternating between spitting dense and dexterous bars and crooning with an achingly tender falsetto. “‘Gold Chains’ got me thinking about the flaws of being in a profession where, more and more, you have to be the product, rather than just the provider of the product, and public misconceptions about how luxurious that is,” Owusu-Anash explains in press notes. “Lyrically, it set the tone for the rest of the album.” 
  • Same Thing,” a jolting and uneasy future funk banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering beats, bursts of Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a propulsive bass line and infectious hook serving as a silky bed for Owusu’s alternating dexterous and densely worded bars and soulful crooning. But at its core is an unflinchingly honest — and necessary — view of mental health struggles. 

In July, the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay released the Missing Molars EP, a five-track accompaniment to his full-length debut. Recorded during the Smiling With No Teeth sessions, the Missing Molars EP material didn’t make the album — but further continue the soul-baring narrative of the album. “Missing Molars is an extension of Smiling With No Teeth,” Owusu-Anash explains. “A small collection of tracks from the SWNT sessions that take the already established world-building groundwork of the album, and expand that universe into new and unexplored places. These are all tracks that I felt were special in their own right and needed to be shared. This is music without boundaries.” 

In the lead up to Missing Molars‘ release, I wrote about “The Fall,” a slick and pulsing synthesis of industrial house, hip-hop and future soul centered around Owusu-Anash’s silky falsetto that manages to convey a restless and uneasy energy while being a banger.

Originally commissioned to be part of a global ad campaign, Jagwar Ma’s Jono Ma gave album track “Waitin’ On Ya,” the remix treatment. The original was sultry bit of neo-soul centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, a sinuous bass line and Owusu’s silky smooth delivery. The Jono Ma remix retains the acclaimed JOVM mainstay’s silky smooth delivery but pairs it with skittering drum ‘n’ bass-like beats and glistening synths and buoyant horns, turning the song into a trippy yet club friendly bop.

The “Waitin’ On Ya (Remix)” caps off a wildly successful year for the Ghanian-Aussie JOVM mainstay: Owusu-Anash has firmly secured himself atop international “emerging artists to watch in 2021.” Smiling With No Teeth has received critical acclaim internationally from NPR Music, i-D, Paste Magazine, Hypebeast and countless others. The album has also received over 50 million streamed globally while landing on a number of Spotify and Apple Music playlists.

The video for the “Waiting On Ya (Remix)” was directed by Riley Blakeway, who directed the award-winning video for “The Other Black Dog.” The video continues the narrative developed from “The Other Black Dog” but through a fever dream-like prism that features that visual’s main character running a complex and crazy scam that seems him travel to all kinds of paradisal locations — but while appearing and being a menacing and uneasy look at someone, who might be slowly going mad.

New Audio: Montreal’s Fredy V. & The Foundation Release an Uplifting and Anthemic Ode to Self-Determination

Montreal-based collective The Foundation features some of the city’s best musicians, who also play in the Canadian city’s top R&B, hip-hop, funk, gospel, soul and jazz acts. The members of The Foundation gained collective experience from production and performing on a weekly, nationally aired TV show — and they used their momentum of their show to write and record their critically applauded debut EP One Step.

The Foundation also collaborates with some of the French Canadian city’s top and upcoming R&B, hip-hop, soul and funk acts, including Mel Pacifico and Fredy V — both, who are full-time members of the collective. The collective’s latest single “On The Rise,” marks the one-year anniversary of the release of their debut EP. But song is also a bold mission statement of stops, description the group’s current direction and mindset.

Featuring glistening synths, twinkling keys, thumping beats, hand-claps, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, wobbling bass synth, “On The Rise” is centered around a warm and roomy, New Jack Swing meets neo-soul with a hint of classic Chic-like production. Fredy V. contributes self-assured and thoughtful verses describing the sacrifices he had to take to get to where he is right now, including distancing from the people and habits that didn’t align with his goals. Pacifico contributes her soulful vocals to the song’s uplifting and infectious hook.Unsurprisingly, the new single is informed by and inspired by the collective’s experiences during the pandemic: Both individually and as a collective, The Foundation was forced to reflect on the direction of their careers in music — and their lives.

Thematically, the song touches upon self-empowerment, maturation, self-determination and accountability — that come about as someone matures and is actively attempting to make serious moves for themselves. The song — and the band — seem to say to the listener, “well, if you wanna fulfill your dreams, stop the bullshit and get to work. It ain’t easy but once you get there, it’ll be worth it.”

Moscow-based instrumental funk outfit The Diasonics — Anton Moskvin (drums), Maxim Brusov (bass guitar), Anton Katyrin (percussions), Daniil Lutsenko (guitar) and Kamil Gzizov (keys) — formed back in 2019 and in a relatively short period of time, the Russian quintet quickly amassed a cult following, honing what they’ve dubbed “hussar funk,” a blend of hip-hop rhythms, 60s and 70s psychedelia, Eastern European flavor within cinematic arrangements.

Since their formation, The Diasonics have released ten highly celebrated singles and various in-demand 45 vinyl records through funk labels like Funk Night Records and Mocambo Records. The Russian funk outfit’s highly-anticipated full-length debut, Origins of Forms is slated for a January 28, 2022 release through Italian funk and soul purveyors Record Kicks. Recorded on an Otari MX-5050 MK III at Moscow’s Magnetone Studio and mixed by The Cactus Channel‘s and Karate Boogaloo‘s Henry Jenkins in Melbourne, the album’s overall aesthetic is firmly rooted in the early 60s and 70s.

“Gurami,” Origins of Forms‘ first single is a slow-burning and soulful strut, centered around shimmering wah wah pedaled guitar that sounds inspired by Turkish psychedelia, boom bap breakbeats, soaring keys, and at trippy groove rooted in a sinuous bass line. While we all know the composition was written and recorded by a contemporary act, “Gurami” sounds as though it could have been part of the soundtrack of a Sergio Leone Spaghetti Western or an deep instrumental soul obscurity sampled by the RZA and then later played by El Michels Affair.


 

Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk outfit Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012. And since their formation, the Lincoln-based soul and funk outfit. which features some of their city’s most acclaimed and talented musicians, has received attention in the national and international soul and funk scenes for a genre-defying sound inspired by Stax RecordsMotown RecordsMuscle ShoalsNew OrleansPhiladelphia and San Francisco.

During their run together, the Lincoln-based quintet have also developed a reputation for being one of the region’s hardest working bands: They’ve released five albums, including this year’s Eddie Roberts-produced Natural Born Hustler, which featured the The Payback-era James Brown meets 70s Motown-like “Hustler” and sociopolitically charged, bluesy and soulful strut “Sunday Lies.” Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal have supported their albums with several tours across the Continental US and two European tours — and they’ve shared stages with George ClintonCharles BradleyBooker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.

The Lincoln-based soul and funk outfit’s latest single, “Automatic” off Natural Born Hustler is a slow-burning and beguiling ballad that’s equal parts 50s doo-wop, Lou Rawls, and Motown/Daptone Records soul. Fittingly for a song centered around a classic and timeless sound and Hoyer’s effortless crooning, the song lyrically focuses on true love and its ability to make all of life’s woes and uncertainties disappear when you’re with your lover. From experience that sort of love is rare; but worthy of celebrating and cherishing.

Oakland-based funk and soul outfit The Grease Traps can trace their origins back through about two decades and two prior projects: Back in 2000, Aaron Julin (keys) answered a classified ad by Kevin O’Dea (guitar), searching for players who were hip to the grooves laid down by Blue Note Records artists like Grant Green and Lou Donaldson. The duo quickly formed Groovement, an act that covered those artists, along with others jazz-funk staples.

When their sax player and frontman moved, Julin and O’Dea switched gears and formed Brown Baggin’, an act that got into the harder hitting funk of The JBs, The Meters, Kool & The Gang, Mickey & the Soul Generation and a lengthy list of others. They increasingly became influenced by the rare funk compilations released by Keb Darge, Gerald Jazzman Short and labels like Harmless, Ubiquity, Soul Jazz and Now-Again, as well as contemporary outfits like Breakestra, The Whitefield Brothers and the Daptone and Soul Fire crews.

As the story goes, in 2005 while still with Brown Baggin,’ Julin and O’Dea began to get fed up juggling the schedules of seven band members, who each had their own varying professional and personal obligations. Julin and O’Dea put out a classified ad seeking a bassist and drummer to jam with as a quartet. The first two musicians, who answered the ad and showed up were Goopy Rossi (bass) and Dave Brick (drums). It was clear from those early jam sessions, that the quartet had a great musical and creative chemistry.

Originally intended as a fun side project, The Grease Traps quickly became a priority as Brown Baggin broke up. Performing as an instrumental quartet four a handful of years, the band expanded their lineup with the addition of a horn section and lead vocalist The Gata. Over the years, the band has shared stages with the likes of Shuggie Otis, Robert Walter, Durand Jones and The Indications, Monophonics, Neal Francis and Jungle Fire.

The band’s long-anticipated full-length debut Solid Ground is slated for a November 5, 2021 release through Italian purveyors of funk and soul, Record Kicks. Six years in the making, Solid Ground was recorded between Monophonics’ Kelly Finnigan‘s San Francisco-based Transistor Sound by Finnigan and Ian McDonald and Oakland-based Fifty Filth Studio by Orgone‘s Sergio Rios, live and straight to eight-track tape on a Tascam 388 to recreate that old-school analog sound. The album’s material features guest spots from the Monophonics’ horn section, backing vocals by Bay Area-based vocalists Sally Green and Bryan Dyer, as well as strings organized by Kansas City-based violist Alyssa Bell.

The album’s material features a mix of covers and originals. The originals draw from the Oakland-based soul outfit’s various influences including gritty funk, fuzzy psych soul, lowrider soul and funk. Lyrically and thematically, the album’s material sees The Gata openly discussing the pressing issues of our moment: racism, finding hope in a world that seems pitted against you and so on. The albums’ covers manage to capture the energy of the band’s live set.

Album single ” Birds of Paradise” is a strutting bit of Muscle Shoals, The Meters and The JB’s funk centered around shimmering and arpeggiated Rhodes, a chugging bass line, old school breakbeat-like drumming, wah wah pedaled guitar, a big horn line, and an enormous hook paired with The Gata’s soulful crooning, yelps and howls. Fittingly, the song focuses on affairs of the heart: the song’s narrator brags, struts and attempts to do anything and everything he could to prove that he’s the man for the woman he desires.


 

 

Formed by Eddie Roberts and Robert Walter founding members of The New Mastersounds and The Greyboy AllStars respectively, The Rare Sounds is a new act that also features The Greyboy All Stars’ Chris Stillwell and Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and The Greyboy AllStars’ Zak Najor.

The Rare Sounds’ debut single “Yeah You” is a gritty and urgent bit of 70s-like jazz funk and fusion centered around a relentlessly funky groove and some inspired soloing that to my ears is a slick mix of The JBs Booker, T and the MGs and Headhunters era Herbie Hancock. And at its core, is the knowing familiarity, comfort and esteem held by musicians who have played together for years in a number of different projects and configurations.

Interestingly, the Robert Walter penned composition had been workshopped in several different projects but its found a home during the band’s session at San Francisco‘s Hyde Street Studios last August. Walter describes “Yeah, You!” as “70s jazz-funk and fusion before the edges and dissonance were smoothed over to make it more commercial.” 

The band will be releasing additional tracks from their Hyde Street Studios session in the coming months and plan on booking additional performances in select markets to showcase the material.

New Video: Tony Glausi Releases a Funky New Bop Paired with Sultry Visuals

Portland, OR-born, New York-based musician Tony Glausi is an accomplished jazz trumpeter. But with his latest full-length effort EVERYTHING AT ONCE, which has already seen praise from Soulbounce, Under the Radar, Sonofmarketing, NYS Music, Earmilk, American Songwriter and Ghettoblaster, Glausi steps out into the spotlight as a bandleader, producer and singer/songwriter, boldly pushing his sound and approach into new directions with the album’s material drawing from pop, R&B and funk. “Coming out of high school and studying music in college, I was pretty fixated on jazz trumpet playing, and my earlier releases were heavily oriented around improvisation and swing,” Glausi explains in press notes. “But as I continue to write and explore new sounds, I feel like I get closer and closer to my true voice, one record at a time.”

Sonically, the album is much like a mixtape to the Portland-born, New York-based musician’s life, as a result of his willingness to try anything. But thematically, the album is quintessentially a New York album, full of the places, random faces and random interactions that you’d fully expect here. “The album is literally a two year snapshot of my life. Each story is like a scene from a film, or I guess 10 different films” Glausi says.

“Writing EVERYTHING AT ONCE, I felt like the project wasn’t about me. It wasn’t about Tony, the trumpet player. I just wanted to make fucking songs,” Glausi explains. “I sing on three of them, but I just wanted to produce the music and ultimately let my collaborators shine,” he adds. The album features guest spots from vocalist/saxophonist Braxton Cook, Latin Grammy-nominated artist Nana Mendoza Brooklyn-based vocalist Elysse, British vocalist Max Milner and emcee Charlemagne the Goddess.

EVERYTHING AT ONCE‘s latest single “Backseat Bump” is a slinky, late night funky jam centered around buzzing bass synths, wobbling bass lines, squiggling guitars, soulful cooing from Nana Mendoaz and a strutting trumpet solo from Glausi. Sonically, the track is one part Dam-Funk, one part Future Shock era Herbie Hancock — while being something that just exudes New York flavor.

The recently released video by Evan Hansen follows Morgan Bryant and Glausi on a wild day and night out on the town, with the incredibly attractive pair goofing off and being a carefree young couple, hooking up in the backseat of a cab.