Category: funk

New Video: Hannah Williams’ Stomping Feminist Anthem

I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years, and as you may recall Williams can trace some of the origins of her musical career to growing up in a extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words, and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to Motown and Bill Withers, which transformed her life. Along with that, Williams’ mother encouraged her to join the church choir when she recognized that her daughter had talent. 

 With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed over 1.5 million streams on YouTube. Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of JOVM mainstays  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations, which is currently comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals). And the album which featured the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused” was one of my favorite albums that year. 

The following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received greater international attention after smash hit-making producer  NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of  “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a  result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.  

With growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take. 

“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single is a strutting and explosive stomp stomp that sonically is one part Ike and Tina Turner classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others, in which its narrator has finally had enough with the bullshit, and one part Daptone Records-like soul. But unlike their previously released material, the song has a loose, jam-like vibe, centered around Williams’ crooning and shouting with a take-no-prisoners, take-no-shit attitude. 

Directed and filmed by Nick Donnelly, the recently released video is set in a decidedly English pub, where we see Williams and her bandmates hanging out and chatting over a few pints. Nearby an older lady is dancing her ass off and having herself a good time, much to Williams delight. Interestingly, the video makes a point of reminding the viewer that “50 Foot Woman” is a contemporary, feminist anthem. 

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Born in the early 70s, the Pasadena, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer Damon Garrett Riddick, best known as JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk came of age during the heyday of acts like Uncle Jamm’s Army and Egyptian Lover, two of the area’s pioneers of electro hip-hop and what would become West Coast hip-hop — and of course, the legendary Prince.

Riddick’s parents encouraged and nurtured his interest in music: he learned drums and then drum machine. A chance encounter led to an apprenticeship under funk songwriter/producer Leon Sylvers III, and by the mid-90s, the height of West Coast, G-funk hip-hop, Riddick was a highly-sought, local session musician, playing on tracks by Mack 10 and MC Eiht. “Everybody was trying to do the live instrumentation thing, so then you got cats like me playing on records,” Dam-Funk explained on his Stones Throw Records artist bio.

Sideman status wasn’t enough for him though. While watching gold plaques be handed out to everyone but him, Riddick decided that it was time to go “full-funk” and make a do-or-die try to become an artist on his own terms. In 2006, he and a few friends launched the popular Funkmosphere party. Around then, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer caught the attention of Stones Throw Records. Unsurprisingly, the label related to Riddick’s insistence that funk needed to be saved from cartoonish and devilish caricature — and that funk was a way of life.

Stones Throw Records released his first two full-length albums — 2009’s Toeachizown and 2015’s Invite the Light, as well as a  compilation of his early production, 2010’s Adolescent Funk. 2013 was a big year for the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay — his collaboration with Steve Arrington Higher was released that year, and he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in the funk and hip-hop act 7 Days of Funk, who also released their debut album that year.

Each of those releases helped to establish Dam-Funk’s signature sound and aesthetic — synth-based funk that draws from G-Funk era hip-hop and 80s synth funk. However, over the past couple of years, Riddick has been experimenting with the warmer sides of deep house and techno with material released through his own imprint Glydezone Recordings while spending time DJ’ing, and working on remixes and mixes.

Slated for release next week through his own label, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay’s forthcoming effort STFU II while being a follow-up to last year’s Architecture II is reportedly a gradual return to his old-school funk roots — and a long-awaited sequel to 2015’s free all-instrumental EP STFU. Now, as you may recall, clocking in at over 7 minutes, the EP’s first track, the strutting EP closer “On Code.” Centered by tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated bass synths, keytar and atmospheric electronics that gave the affair a subtle cosmic glow.

“Compos Mentis,” the EP’s second and latest single is centered around a lush and jazz-tinged funk arrangement featuring arpeggiated bass synths, atmospheric electronics, tweeter and woofer rocking beats and twinkling keys — and much like its immediate predecessor, the track possesses a similar, subtle cosmic glow and an deep melodic sensibility.

 

 

I wrote quite a bit about  Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist and JOVM mainstay Jamil Rashad, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Boulevards several years ago — and because some time has passed since I’ve personally written about him, I feel that it’s necessary for a bit of a refresher.

As the son of renowned jazz radio DJ, Rashad grew up in a musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged. Unsurprisingly, a young Rashad listened to a wide variety of music including jazz, blues, R&B and funk. When the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay was in his teens, he became a self-confessed “scene kid” and got into punk, hardcore and metal, which he admitted later influenced his solo production work.

After attending art school and playing in a couple of local bands, Rashad wound up returning to the sounds that first captured his heart and imagination — funk. Rashad began writing and recording what he has described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move.,” developing a reputation for a sound that’s heavily indebted to 70s and 80s funk that has helped add his name to a growing list of artists in a contemporary neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes acts like Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson, and others through the release of two full-length albums — 2016’s Groove and 2017’s Hurttown, USA.

Slated for a June release, Rashad’s forthcoming, third Boulevards album YADIG! is reportedly a world-building effort that paints aural portraits of love found on the dance floor, nights you hope will never end and the adrenaline-meets-sleep-deprived in-betweens as the sun is rising. The album’s latest single “Take It To The Top” is a funky strut centered by a sinuous bass line, scorching blasts of psych rock meets Prince-like guitars, thumping beats and Rashad’s self-assured yet sultry crooning that sonically brings Rick James, Prince and others to mind.

 

 

 

 

Born in the early 70s, the Pasadena, CA-born, Los Angeles, CA-based multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer Damon Garrett Riddick, best known as JOVM mainstay Dam-Funk came of age during the heyday of acts like Uncle Jamm’s Army and Egyptian Lover, two of the area’s pioneers of electro hip-hop and what would become West Coast hip-hop — and of course, the legendary Prince.

Riddick’s parents encouraged and nurtured his interest in music: he learned drums and then drum machine. A chance encounter led to an apprenticeship under funk songwriter/producer Leon Sylvers III, and by the mid-90s, the height of West Coast, G-funk hip-hop, Riddick was a highly-sought, local session musician, playing on tracks by Mack 10 and MC Eiht. “Everybody was trying to do the live instrumentation thing, so then you got cats like me playing on records,” Dam explained on his Stones Throw Records artist bio.

Sideman status wasn’t enough for him though. While watching gold plaques be handed out to everyone but him, Riddick decided that it was time to go “full-funk” and make a do-or-die try to become an artist on his own terms. In 2006, he and a few friends launched the popular Funkmosphere party. Around then, the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles multi-instrumentalist, composer, singer/songwriter and producer caught the attention of Stones Throw Records. Unsurprisingly, the label related to Riddick’s insistence that funk needed to be saved from cartoonish and devilish caricature — and that funk was a way of life.

Stones Throw Records released his two full-length albums — 2009’s Toeachizown and 2015’s Invite the Light, a compilation of his early production, 2010’s Adolescent Funk. 2013 was a big year for the Pasadena-born, Los Angeles-based JOVM mainstay — his collaboration with Steve Arrington Higher was released that year, and he teamed up with Snoop Dogg in the funk and hip-hop act 7 Days of Funk, who also released their debut album that year. Each of those early releases helped to establish Dam-Funk’s signature sound and aesthetic — synth-based funk that draws from G-Funk era hip-hop and 80s synth funk. However, Riddick has spent the past couple of years experimenting with the warmer sides of deep house and techno with material released through his own imprint Glydezone Recordings while spending time DJ’ing, and working on remixes and mixes.

Slated for a May 17, 2019 release through his own label, Dam-Funk’s forthcoming effort STFU II reportedly is a gradual return to his old-school funk roots while serving as a both a follow up to last year’s Architecture II EP and along-awaited sequel to 2015’s free, all-instrumental EP STFU. Continuing in the vein of its sonic predecessor, the EP’s first track, the strutting EP closer “On Code” clocks in at just under seven minutes and is centered by thumping, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, layers of arpeggiated bass synths and keytar and atmospheric electronics. And although the material is lovingly indebted to the period that influenced it, the song possesses a subtle cosmic glow — all while reminding the listener of Dam-Funk’s innate melodicism.

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Geneva Switzerland’s L’Eclair Releases Trippy, Lo Fi Visuals for “Castor McDavid”

Comprised of Sebastien Bui (keys), Eli Ghersinu (dino bass), Stefan Lilov (broken wah guitar), Yavor Lilov (kicker’s delight/endless kick/bronto kick), Quentin Pilet (bongos), Alain Sandri (congas) and DJ Laxxiste (440 FX), the Geneva, Switzerland-based instrumental act L’Eclair describe their sound in a number of different ways on their Facebook page, including “as if Booker T and the MGs came from Eastern Europe,” an obscure 70s movie soundtrack and as “kraut-exo-soul, brutal funk and Turkish groove.”

The Geneva, Switzerland-based instrumental act’s forthcoming sophomore album Sauropoda is slated for a May 24, 2019 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records — and the album, which was recorded over the course of two days last October in an undisclosed mountainous location is comprised of deep jams the band road-testing following the recording and release of last year’s breakthrough debut album Polymood. Recorded live and with few overdubs, Sauropoda‘s compositions are reportedly much more organic and capturing the band’s live sound much more accurately than its predecessor.  Interestingly, the album’s trippy and cinematic first single “Endless Dave” it’s a wild yet seamless synthesis of Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela KutiReturn to Forever-like jazz fusion, prog rock, dub and spaced out psychedelic and 70s soul that sounds both familiar and unlike anything I’ve heard this year.

The recently released video by banditbandeau features incredibly lysergic and lo-fi visuals including wild splashes of color, hypnotic moving shapes and geometric figures that look like textbook figures describing the curvature of spacetime, mixed with found footage and early computer rendered graphics undulating to the funky groove.

Comprised of Sebastien Bui (keys), Eli Ghersinu (dino bass), Stefan Lilov (broken wah guitar), Yavor Lilov (kicker’s delight/endless kick/bronto kick), Quentin Pilet (bongos), Alain Sandri (congas) and DJ Laxxiste (440 FX), the Geneva, Switzerland-based instrumental act L’Eclair describe their sound in a number of different ways on their Facebook page, including “as if Booker T and the MGs came from Eastern Europe,” an obscure 70s movie soundtrack and as “kraut-exo-soul, brutal funk and Turkish groove.”

The Geneva, Switzerland-based instrumental act’s forthcoming sophomore album Sauropoda is slated for a May 24, 2019 release through Beyond Beyond Is Beyond Records — and the album, which was recorded over the course of two days last October in an undisclosed mountainous location is comprised of deep jams the band road-testing following the recording and release of last year’s breakthrough debut album Polymood. Recorded live and with few overdubs, Sauropoda‘s compositions are reportedly much more organic and capturing the band’s live sound much more accurately than its predecessor.  Interestingly, the album’s trippy and cinematic first single “Endless Dave” it’s a wild yet seamless synthesis of Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela Kuti, Return to Forever-like jazz fusion, prog rock, dub and spaced out psychedelic and 70s soul that sounds both familiar and unlike anything I’ve heard this year.