Category: funk

Color Red · Brothers of Brass – “Legal State” | Color Red Music

Tracing their origins back to their formation in Atlanta back in 2014, the Denver-based brass band act Brothers of Brass — Khalil Simon (sousaphone), Armando Lopez (soprano and tenor sax), Jake Herman (snare drum), K.R. Azad (bass drum), Christopher Henry (trumpet), Sean Bocinksy (trumpet), Matthew Rossman (trumpet), Ethan Harris (trombone) and Scott Flynn (trombone) — features a diverse array of musicians, who have roots in Louisiana, California, Kansas and Florida.

Since relocating to Denver, the brass octet have quickly become “arguably the most popular street [music] in Denver,” according to Westword Magazine while developing and honing their own take on traditional New Orleans brass, one that also finds the band infusing funk, pop and hip-hop influences.

Drawing from their shared backgrounds in New Orleans-styled brass bands and HBCU marching bands, with nods to New Orleans brass, bounce and hip-hop, Brothers of Brass’ swaggering debut single “Legal State” is centered around a strutting sousaphone line, energetic brass lines and a dexterous and expressive sax solos to create a decidedly upbeat, party anthem. But at its core is a sobering yet fiery reflection on the inequities of cannabis remaining illegal across the South while it’s legal and enjoyed recreationally in their home state of Colorado.

 

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DJ Williams is a Plainfield, NJ-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, composer. producer, guitarist and bandleader, who grew up in Richmond, VA. Throughout his nearly two decade career, Williams has developed and maintained a reputation for being both incredibly prolific and for being a highly sought-after collaborator: the Plainfield-born, Los Angeles-based artist is the founder of the Richmond-based and DJ Williams Projekt; the hip-hop/R&B act The Breaks; the acoustic duo Williams & Jones; and he’s probably best known for playing in the critically acclaimed, San Diego-based funk/jam-band act Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe.

Unsurprisingly, as a result of his various creative projects. Williams has toured around the planet, playing in clubs of all sizes, as well as the international festival circuit, playing the largest and most prestigious festivals across the US, Canada and Europe — and he’s shared stages with the likes of John Legend, Dave Matthews Band, John Oates, Warren Haynes, Ivan Neville, Big Daddy Kane, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Soulive, Levon Helm, Slightly Stoopid, Robert Randolph, Slick Rick and a growing list of others.

As a singer/songwriter, composer and bandleader, Williams’ work  boasts compelling melody, an eclectic musical palette and deliberate and careful songwriting, revealing his desire to push new sonic and stylistic boundaries. His latest project, DJ Williams’ Shots Fired features members of Dave Matthews Band, Lenny Kravitz‘s backing band, Slightly Stooped, Trey Anastasio Band, Lyrics Born, Soulive, Greyboy Allstars and others — including the likes of Dan Africano (bass), Kowan Turner (drums), Joe Tatton (electric organ), Scott Flynn (trombone), Nick Gerlach (sax) and André Mali (trumpet) and a rotating cast of collaborators and associates.

DJ Williams’ Shots Fired’s debut single “She’s No Good” quickly earned regular airplay on SiriusXM during the spring of 2018 and as a result, the band was named as a “heat-seeker” and “an artist to watch.” Building upon a growing profile, the act’s newest album, a concept album conceived as the four-part soundtrack for an imaginary movie is slated for an August 2020 release through Color Red Records. Interestingly, the album’s first single “Iron Fist” depicts a character known as “The Samurai,” represented through Williams’ slashing guitar work. Centered around a looping 12 bar blues like structure, the song features a chugging two-step inducing groove, twinkling and arpeggiated organ blasts, shuffling drumming and an enormous horn line, the track is as swaggering and expansive composition that meshes elements of psych rock, jam band rock, arena rock and funk that feels as though it captures the band’s live show and energy with an uncanny and unerring accuracy.

 

 

 

 

Crowd Company is a rising, London-based acid jazz/jazz fusion/funk octet featuring core members Rob Fleming (vocals, guitar), Emil Engstrom (bass), Claudio Corona (keys), Esther Dee (vocals), Jo Marshall (vocals) and Robin Lowrey (drums) with a horn section including a rotating cast of top local players like Piers Green and Ed Benstea that specializes in sound that draws from and features elements of 1960s soul, 70s jazz fusion, contemporary funk, the blues and jam band rock: their material is centered around arrangements that feature Hammond organ, a virtuous horn section, soulful vocals and three part harmonies and funky grooves paired with razor sharp hooks.

The British octet has also built up a reputation for a powerhouse live show, while opening for an impressive list of acclaimed and legendary artists including The MetersGeorge Porter, Jr., JOVM mainstays Soulive, The New Mastersounds, Saun & Starr, James Taylor Quartet and Monophonics among others.

Earlier this year, the band released their most recent album, the Alan Evans-produced and mixed Lowdown, which The Big Takeover lauded as an album “that bursts at the sonic seams with rich, vibrant and varied compositions.”  The rising British act’s latest single “Orbital” was recorded during the Lowdown sessions at Evans’ Iron Wax Studios. And although the track sees the members of Crowd Company continuing their collaboration with Lettuce’s Ryan Zoidis and Eric “Benny” Bloom, it wasn’t included as one of Lowdown‘s album tracks. Clocking in at a little under 5:30, the funky and intergalactic composition sees the act bridging acid jazz, jazz fusion, retro-futuristic funk and psychedelia in a way that reminds me of Switzerland’s merchants of jazzy grooves L’Eclair— but with an enormous Parliament Funkadelic-like horn section.

New Video: Montreal’s The Brooks Perform Their Funky New Party Anthem “Turn Up the Sound”

Montreal-based soul act The Brooks formed over eight years ago — and the act can claim a lineup featuring some of the French Canadian city’s most accomplished local soul musicians: Florida-born, Montreal-based singer/songwriter and frontman Alan Prater has toured with Michael Jackson and the band itself can trace its origins to behind the walls of the Motown Museum: Alexandre Lapointe (bass) has worked alongside Joel Campbell, the musical director for Tina Turner and Janet Jackson. Prater and Lapointe are joined by Maxime Bellavance (drums), Phillips Look (guitar, vocals), Daniel Thouin (keys), Sébastien Grenier (sax), Hichem Khalifa (French horn), and Phillipe Beaudin (percussion). 

Developing a sound that draws from James Brown, D’Angelo, Fela Kuti, Herbie Hancock and J. Dilla, the members of The Brooks have developed a reputation for a songwriting approach that eschews rules and trends while spreading joy and funk — and for an energetic live show. And as a result, the band has built up a profile both across the province and nationally over the course of two critically applauded albums and an EP: Named the “best kept secret of Canadian funk” by La Presse, the band has received a number of nominations and awards at GAMIQ, Independent Music Awards, ADISQ, and others. 

The French Canadian soul outfit’s third full-length album Anyway Now is slated for a release this full through Duprince Records across North and South America and Underdog Records through Europe and Japan — and the album’s first single is the stomping, strutting and funky party anthem “Turn Up the Sound.” Centered around an arrangement that nods at The Payback-era James Brown, Dance to the Music and Stand!-era Sly and the Family Stone, the upbeat song was written to be played loud and to get you to get up out of your seat, escape your daily concerns for a few minutes and dance. Everything may seem canceled or postponed but music is still there to bring you joy — and to remind you that brighter days will come in time. “I just wanted to write a fun song to get you to escape from whatever you’re doing,” the band’s Alan Prater explains in press notes. 

The single is accompanied by a live footage of the band performing the song in the studio, and it manages to reveal the band’s creative chemistry while being an introduction to the band to new listeners. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Adeline’s Elegant and Sensual Visual for “Twilight”

Over the course of this site’s nearly ten year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist, producer  Adeline. Since leaving her post as frontwoman of the equally acclaimed electronic dance music/neo-disco JOVM mainstay outfit Escort, the New York-based singer/songwriter, bassist and producer released her self-titled, full-length debut to critical praise from the likes of Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile as a solo artist, Adeline has opened for the likes of Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among others, further cementing her long-held reputation for dazzling audiences with her captivating live show and energetic presence. She’s also made appearances at a number of stops across the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazz Fest. Further proving to the world in general that she may arguably be one of the hardest working women in contemporary music, Adeline is also a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band. 

Now, it’s been a while since I’ve personally written about the JOVM mainstay — but interestingly, she’ll be releasing the highly-anticipated follow up to her critically applauded debut, Intérimes EP. Slated for a June 12 release, the EP will feature the EP’s first single ‘Middle,” which she performed on CBS This Morning earlier this month, a funky psych soul cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Caravan” and the EP’s latest single, the sultry, “Twilight.” Centered around shimmering synths, twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line and Adeline’s gorgeous pop superstar-like vocals, stuttering beats “Twilight” the track is indebted to Erykah Badu neo-soul and Quiet Storm soul. “Twilight is about a relationship that’s ending,” says Adeline. “It’s that particularly painful moment when you realize that it’s over. You have nothing left to give and there’s nothing left to say. The twilight is the period from dawn to sunrise or sunset to dusk. It’s the moment of realization that there is a transition coming. It’s saying goodbye to something while saying hello to the next.”

Directed by Adeline herself, and shot in a hazy, Super 8mm-like graininess, during the golden hour of twilight, the video features the JOVM in a number of different locations in New York, while capturing her with a brooding and seductive, movie star-like elegance. 

New Video: Lyon, France’s Da Break Releases a Cinematic Visual for Hook-Driven and Funky New Single

Da Break is a Lyon, France-based funk and pop project centered around its core trio, producer Bruno “Patchworks” Hovart, vocalist Jen “Hawa”  Zonou and drummer Remy Kaprielan. The act’s 2018 self-titled full-length debut established the act’s swaggering and soulful aesthetic and sound — one that drew heavily from 90s hip-hop, hip-hop soul and R&B. 

Building upon the attention their full-length debut received, the Lyon-based funk and pop act released, their full-length debut’s highly-anticipated follow-up Burning EP. Burning EP found the members of Da Break expanding upon their sound, incorporating elements of jazz, reggae, G-funk and disco — while the act’s Jen “Hawa” Zonou boldly stepped forward as a powerhouse frontperson. 

Da Break begins 2020 with the sultry, hook-driven funk bop “Miss Rosa.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, some Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, Zonou’s self-assured and soulful vocals and a propulsive drumming, the track may arguably be the most ambitious and radio friendly they have released to date, while broaching more serious subjects in a way that brings  Crystal Waters smash-hit “Gypsy Woman,” to mind.

Directed by Arnaud Ly Van Manh, the cinematically shot video for “Miss Rosa” stars Lego Adilo, Nadine Charvolin, Nicolas Mondon, Bruno Patchwork, Julien Espinoza, Pierre Vadon and Antonin El Camino. Starting in media res, we follow a Black man being chased through the countryside by a Ku Klux Klan-like trio. The titular Miss Rosa, nervously waits for her boy to come home but we also see her make a cup of tea, pull out a shotgun and then shoot two of her boy’s tormentors. Not only is she a badass, but there’s something about racist idiots getting their comeuppance that’s entertaining to me. The video ends with an ironic yet well-deserved twist. 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Releases a Hilarious Visual for Shimmering and Funky Jam “Dragonball Durag”

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globeand Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

Directed by Zack Fox, the recently released video features cameos from HAIM, Kali Uchis, and Quinta Brunson and stars Bruner, as a desperate and impossibly horny loser, who stumbles upon the titular durag, and when he puts it on, he unleashes his newfound mojo and attempts to charms the ladies in a hilariously awkward and creepy fashion. And although he constantly gets rejected, he never lets it dull his spirit or his hopes.  

Sangit Segal is a rising Israeli-born and based multi-instrumentalist songwriter and producer, best known as Sangit, whose passion for music has led him to collaborate with an eclectic array of artists from different backgrounds and cultures. Born in Hadera, Israel, Segal grew up on Kibbutz Kfar-Glikson, a collective agricultural community with an idealistic social mission. His father managed the kibbutz factory while his mother worked in the nurses, when she was taking care of Segal and his four sisters. At his parents’ insistence,  Segal took music and dance lessons throughout his childhood, but his love of music truly blossomed when he turned 11 and picked up the saxophone. Although his earliest musical influences came from listening to classical music records with his grandfather, the young Segal preferred Israeli, British and American rock music. Later in life, Sangit discovered African, funk and electronic music, which have gone on to become fundamental to his own sound.

Disgruntled with the kibbutz’s agenda, Segal’s parents relocated the family to nearby Zikhron Yaakov when he turned 14. In Zichron Yaakov, Segal began to play the drums and was inspired by his djembe instructor to develop both his musical and spiritual sides. When he turned 19, the self-described troublemaker and individualist flew to India rather than join the army. And while in India, he embarked on a journey of self-discovery: learning from the philosophies he encountered, he began taking tabla and sitar lessons. When he turned 21, Segal underwent a Sannyasa imitation ceremony, receiving the name Sangit, which means music in Sanskrit. (In Hinduism, Sannyasa is a life stage in which adherents renounce material desires and pursue a life of peace, love and simplicity.) “The name Sangit really grew on me, and it strengthened my true calling in life––music,” Segal recalls.

Returning to Israel, Segal attended the Rimon School of Music, studying composition and music arrangement, but after a year, he left to study percussion in Cuba — and later to play with African masters. In 2004, the Israeli-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer along with Alon Yoffe and Abate Berihun co-founded the Ethiopian jazz act Kuluma. The act released the critically applauded album Mother Tongue.

In 2012 Segal released Open Channels, his first collaboration with his wife Noa Golan, who he had met in Aviel, Israel, a small village in Northern Israel, where they currently live with their children. On their property, he built a recording studio, where he invites musicians and artists of diverse backgrounds to join him on his inventive recording and film projects, including a series of audio-visual collages as part of his Studio Sessions Project, which has featured dozens of musicians and darncers in each music video. Throughout the years, the Israeli-born multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and producer has collaborated with an impressive and eclectic array of artist including legendary Afrobeat drummer Tony Allen, video mash-up star Kutiman, vocalist Karolina, Ethiopian legend Mahmoud Ahmed, Tel Aviv-based funk act Funk’n’stein and many others. Interestingly, Segal has long embraced experimentation through collaboration, allowing the music to essentially write itself and evolve out of the ideas and styles of each musician and artist.

Sangit’s debut EP, 2016’s Afro Love found him blending African grooves with a funky, global fusion sort of vibe. Eventually, the Israeli-born artist’s work caught the attention of Cumbancha Records, who released his full-length debut Librar yesterday. Blending and meshing African, Afro-Cuban roots music, jazz, funk and Moroccan Gnawa trance music with Ethiopian scales and a bit of Caribbean flavor, the album finds Sangit crafting a unique, global-spanning, difficult-to-pigeon hole sound. The album as he describes in press notes, is “a reflection of my creative momentum. I am passionate and fanatical about my music. And this album,” he says “represents my spiritual journey, my evolution.”

The album’s material features musicians healing from Mali, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Morocco, Iran, Congo, as well as Isreali musicians repenting a diverse array of cultural influences — and naturally, the album continues his personal mission to collaborate with artists from different backgrounds in creative projects that move him and audiences across the globe. Interestingly, the album has lyrics written and sung in nine different languages by 11 different vocalists from around the planet. (His live band is a nonet and from what I understand is currently setting the groundwork for their first international shows in 2020. Hopefully, they’ll be a New York City Metropolitan area stop at some point!)

“Turn Your Head to the Light,” the infectious and incredibly upbeat new single off the recently released album is centered around a a propulsive and sinuous bass line that recalls Stevie Wonder‘s “Superstition,” an enormous and ebullient brass line, and features vocals from Funk’n’stein’s Elran Dekel. And while sonically being a seamless synthesis of Motown-era funk, gospel, and Afrobeat, the song has a decidedly positive message that reassures the listener that “if you are going through some bad days or a gloomy night, all you have to do is turn your head to the light, focus in the positive, believe in yourself.” 

 

 

 

 

Throughout the course of this site’s almost 10 year history  I’ve managed to spill quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Grammy Award-wining singer/songwriter, bassist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. Bruner has long been a Brainfeeder Records cornerstone, releasing critically applauded material including  Golden Age of Apocalypse, 2013’s Apocalypse, 2015’s The Beyond/Where Giants Roam EP and 2017’s Drunk while also establishing himself as a highly sough-after collaborator, contributing to Kamasi Washington’s aptly titled 2015 effort, The Epic and to Kendrick Lamar‘s 2016 commercial and critical smash hit, the Grammy Award winning To Pimp A Butterfly. And in 2018, he teamed up with Flying Lotus to compose an original score for an episode of Donald Glover’s Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning TV series Atlanta.

Drunk, Bruner’s most recent album was conceived and written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter and bassist, but importantly, the album represented a major career transition — from virtuoso bassist and collaborator, to globally recognized star while further cementing his reputation for arguably being one of the past decade’s most unique, genre-defying voices. Thundercat’s fourth full-length album, the Flying Lotus-produced It Is What It Is is slated for an April 3, 2020 release through Brainfeeder Records. Much like its immediate predecessor, the album features a who’s who list of collaborators and guest spots from the likes of Ty Dolla $ign, Childish Gambino, Lil B, Kamasi Washington, The Internet‘s Steve Lacy, Slave‘s Steve Arrington, BADBADNOTGOOD, Louis Cole and Zack Fox among others.

“This album is about love, loss, life and the ups and downs that come with that,” Bruner says in press notes. “It’s a bit tongue-in-cheek, but at different points in life you come across places that you don’t necessarily understand… some things just aren’t meant to be understood.”

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Black Qualls,” It Is What It Is‘ first single, which found Bruner teaming up with Slave’s Steve Arrington and The Internet’s Steve Lacy on a strutting and strolling pimp bop, centered around Bruner’s sinuous bass lines, four-on-the-floor drumming and an infectious hook. The end result is a song that manages to be classic Thundercat while sounding as though it could have been on Slave’s Just a Touch of Love. The album’s second and latest single “Dragonball Durag” is a mid-tempo strut of a song centered around Bruner’s chunky and wobbling bass lines and his velvety falsetto — and while recalling Quiet Storm-era funky soul, the song is mischievous and funny song that details its creator’s sense of humor and obsession with Dragon Ball Z and the confidence boosting power of the durag.

“I have a Dragon Ball tattoo… it runs everything. There is a saying that Dragon Ball is life,” Bruner explains. As for the durag: “There are two types of people in the world, the guy with the durag and the guy who doesn’t know what a durag is. The durag is a superpower, to turn your swag on… it does something, it changes you. If you have one in the wardrobe, think about wearing it tonight, and it may pop off because you never know what’s going to happen.”

The JOVM mainstay will be embarking on a lengthy international tour that includes a March 24, 2020 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below. 

Tour Dates:

2/28     Vancouver, BC – Vogue Theatre

2/29     Portland, OR – PDX Jazz Festival 

3/02     Seattle, WA – Showbox SoDo

3/03     Arcata, CA – Van Duzer Theatre

3/04     Chico, CA – Senator Theatre

3/06     Oakland, CA – Fox Theater

3/07     Los Angeles, CA – The Wiltern

3/08     Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory North Park

3/10     Phoenix, AZ – The Van Buren

3/12     Denver, CO – Ogden Theatre

3/13     Omaha, NE – Slowdown

3/14     Minneapolis, MN – The Fillmore

3/15     Chicago, IL – Riviera Theatre

3/17     Detroit, MI – Majestic Theatre

3/18     Toronto, ON – Queen Elizabeth Theatre

3/19     Montreal, QC – Corona Theatre

3/21     Boston, MA – House of Blues

3/22     Philadelphia, PA – The Fillmore

3/24     New York, NY – Webster Hall

3/28     Silver Spring, MD – The Fillmore Silver Spring

3/29     Knoxville, TN – Big Ears Festival

3/31     Nashville, TN – Marathon Music Works

4/1       Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel

4/2       Atlanta, GA – Variety Playhouse

4/9       London, UK – Roundhouse

4/11     Manchester, UK – Academy

4/14     Amsterdam, NL – Paradiso

4/15     Paris, FR – Elysée Montmartre

4/17     Berlin, DE – Astra

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Brownout Releases a Swaggering Arena Rock Friendly Single

Over the course of this site’s nearly ten-year history — yes, ten years! — I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the critically applauded, Austin, TX-based Latin funk-based outfit and JOVM mainstays Brownout. Now, as may recall the act was formed over a decade ago as a side project that has composed and arranged music that at points evokes the likes of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic that features members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma. Interestingly, during that same period of time, the project has managed to evolve into its own unique, critically applauded effort, completely separate from the members primary gigs — while having a long-held reputation as being a highly sought-after backing band, collaborating with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell.

Adding to a growing profile, the act has toured across the national festival circuit, playing at Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others in support of the act’s handful of EPs and their six full-length albums — 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath,  2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II and 2018’s Brownout Presents: Fear of a Brown Planet.  

Slated for a March 6, 2020 release through Fat Beats Records, the Steve Berlin-produced Berlin Sessions is the Austin-based JOVM mainstays’ full-length album of original material from the band in over eight years. Interestingly, while the album continues an ongoing collaboration with Berlin, it’s also the first album of original material featuring lead vocalist Alex Marrero, who collaborated with the band on the band’s successful Brown Sabbath albums. Sonically, the album reportedly finds the band drawing from and meshing a multitude of sounds and genres including rock, psych rock, Latin funk and breakbeat. 

The album evolved shortly after the Fear of a Brown Planet sessions. Recorded during hot Texas summer afternoons in Beto Martinez’s Buda, TX-based Lechehouse Music Studio, many of the album’s takes were recorded with the AC off — and with the temperature well past the 90s. And as a result, the sessions captured the enthusiasm, sweat and swiftness of a band eager to record their first batch of new, original material in close to a decade. “The ideas came swift and there was much experimentation in recording techniques and instrument usage,” Brownout’s Beto Martinez says in press notes. “Steve Berlin was very hands on with implementing new sounds and tones through effects or otherwise. I not only played on the record but recorded it at the same time. After placing mics and setting the recording gear, I had to play parts I had either just written or just learned all while watching meters and the tape machine to make sure it was all recording correctly with Steve Berlin sitting directly behind me. It was a nerve wracking and trying experience, yet a very fulfilling learning process.”

With the addition of Marrero as the band’s full-time vocalist, Brownout’s material features a lyrical depth and themes that the instrumental albums simply didn’t exude.  “As I started writing lyrics for Berlin Sessions, I noticed there were more abstract yet universal themes,” Brownout’s Alex Marrero says in press notes. “Writing in a way that doesn’t spell everything out directly. They can mean anything to anyone depending on what they need it to. Although seemingly ambiguous, all the songs ended up having a lyrical thread and thematic connection of stepping outside of your physical realm and connecting to a more universal energy.  Fighting for your individuality. Healing and processing our human emotions, connections and turmoil with a sense of awareness that we are still connected to something outside of what we consider ‘physical reality.’ It’s about overcoming your problems, the cards you’ve been dealt in life or just enhancing your personal connections by acknowledging we cannot be defined strictly by how the material world has laid ‘reality’ out to us; especially not societal norms and expectations. There is a bigger truth we just keep forgetting to look at. I don’t mean religion, I mean energy.”

The swaggering, arena rock friendly “Somewhere To Go” is Berlin Session’s first single. Centered around a propulsive and funky groove, the enormous horn section that they’re known for and Latin percussion, the song is an uplifting anthem that the band says is about tackling complacency by taking chances. 

Brownout will be celebrating the Berlin Sessions album release with a pair of shows at Austin’s 3TEN ACL Live on March 6, 2020 and March 7, 2020 with more national dates to be announced. “I think the history and evolution of this band is being captured and showcased well in our live shows,” Brownout’s Alex Marrero says in press notes. “We’re perfecting the marriage of the instrumental catalog of the band and the newer material where I can step away from the percussion and serve as full-on front man for the songs that require it. It makes for an exciting live performance.”