Category: neo-soul

Steven Bamidele is a Brighton, UK-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, has been developing and honing his sound and approach for the better part of the past decade, beginning his career performing as Mirror Signal between 2013 and 2017. In 2017, he decided to drop the moniker, to write and record with his real given name and his Nigerian mother’s maiden name. But regardless of what he called himself, the Brighton-based singer/songwriter has focused on crafting emotionally-driven music that meshes elements of soul and pop.

Bamidele relocated to Brighton back in 2018 and over the following year, he played as many shows as humanly possible, earning a foothold in both Brighton and London. With the COVID-19 pandemic putting live music at an indefinite pause, the Brighton-based artist has been busy producing music for other artists in home studio, as well as working on new, original music — including his debut EP, which is slated for release later this year through Park The Van. (I should mention that Bamidele is the first non-rock signee to the label, as well.)

In the meantime, Bamidele’s latest single “What Happens Afterwards,” features Dave Bryce on an expansive, slow-burning, neo-soul-inspired track centered around twinkling Rhodes, shimmering synths, a sinuous two-step-inducing strutting groove, Bamidele’s achingly tender falsetto. Interestingly, the song is a heady mix of longing, wishful thinking, regret and a desire to move forward that captures how complicated and confusing love and lust can be.

New Audio: Los Angeles’ Bass Race Releases a Space-Age Take on Neo-Soul

Los Angeles-based indie pop act Bass Race — Steven Mertens and Laura Benack — features a highly accomplished duo: Mertens formed his first band Satan’s Rats when he was 13 with elementary school friends. That project led to two decades of tours and collaborations. After studying Studio Composition at SUNY Purchase, Mertens joined The Moldy Peaches in 2001 — and he eventually went on to direct videos for an eclectic array of artists including Regina Spektor, Lil Peep, Benee and Sheryl Crow. He has also collaborated with Blood Orange and Here We Go Magic. Benack, who started playing piano when she turned four comes from a deeply musical family: her grandfather was a bandleader, her mom is a vocalist and her father and brother are jazz musicians.

Mertens and Benack met in New York back in 2010. They started dating and immediately started a musical partnership, centered around their love of their craft — and of course, each other. With the help of friends and Benack’s brother on trumpet, they made a bunch of music videos, including for “Clowns Everywhere.” Determined to use every bit of their collective talents, they began combining their music with Mertens’ visual art in 2019 with Bass Race’s Instagram page, which fans have described as “magical” and “super amazing mega fantabulous.”

While the duo cites yacht rock, synth pop, jazz, funk and soul as influencing their sound and aesthetic, their latest single “Chasing the Sun” is a warm and easygoing retro-futuristic, neo-soul number featuring an infectious two-step inducing groove featuring twinkling Rhodes, shimming rhythm guitar, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, a sinuous bass line. Adding to the easy-going yet retro-futuristic vibes, Benack soulfully and suggestively sings lyrics full of playful space age double entendres and references.

“We were in Pittsburgh a couple years ago over Christmas to see my family and we visited our good friend Pete Mudge (Nice Rec) in his studio along with our friends Laura Herrmann and Blane Britt (GrandEar),” the duo recalls in press notes.”There was a snow storm, and it was freezing. Once we were inside, we started to warm up and Pete played us some beats he had been working on. When we heard the track that would soon become ‘Chasing the Sun,’ we all started smiling right away. The creativity started flowing and within a couple hours, I had recorded all the vocals and Steven laid down some guitars. The gray weather definitely inspired the song title, but the song lyrics detail the arduous process of overcoming writer’s block and chasing creative inspiration.”

The duo created a space-age visualizer that follows Benack and an amorphous, cosmic being traveling through space and time in a spaceship — and there’s the sense that our space traveling duo is grooving through the cosmos, as you might be while playing the song.

The duo’s latest album Tender Vittles is slated for a March 19, 2021 release.

Live Footage: Adeline Performs “Whisper My Name” for A COLORS SESSION

Initially making a name for herself as the frontwoman of acclaimed New York neo-disco/dance music act Escort, the Parisian-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, bassist, producer and jOVM mainstay Adeline has developed a reputation as a critically applauded solo artist, receiving praise from Vogue, NPR, Refinery 29, Rolling Stone, The Fader and many others — and as one of the most hardworking and prolific artists in New York’s music scene:

The JOVM has opened for the Anderson .Paak, Lee Fields, Chromeo, Big Freedia and Natalie Prass among a lengthening list of artists — and has played an increasing number of headlining shows across the New York Metropolitan area
She has played a number of stops on the national festival circuit, including Afropunk, Funk on the Rocks and Winter Jazzfest.
Additionally, she also has a stint as a member of CeeLo Green’s touring band.

Last year may have been the busiest year of the JOVM mainstay’s career:

She released 21 songs, including 2 EPs.
She collaborated with Kamauu on “Mango.” The video is a viral hit, garnering almost five million views.
She had guest appearances on material by an eclectic array of artists including Pastel, Kraak & Smack, Blue Lab Beats, Jonathan Singletary and rising French emcee Likso.

Adeline continues an incredibly run — and starts off the year with a new single, the sultry and slow-burning “Whisper My Name.” Centered around a strutting and sumptuous bass line, shimmering guitars and Adeline’s smooth vocals, “Whisper My Name” sounds indebted to 80s Quiet Storm soul — but subtly imbued with the hope of a bright new future ahead. And much like her previous released work, the new single is a reminder of that this sister is a certified star — and that she’s a mesmerizing presence both on record and on stage.

She recently performed the song as part of a recorded session for A COLORS SHOW. The full live set is coming soon — and I can’t wait.

New Audio: Broadway Star Joshua Henry Releases a Joyous and Souful Single and Visual

Joshua Henry is an acclaimed New York-based actor, musician and singer/songwriter best known for his Tony-nominated roles as Flick in Brian Crawley’s Violet and Haywood Patterson in David Thompson’s The Scottsboro Boys. Henry has also starred in Gerswhin’s Porgy and Bess, Green Day’s American Idiot, Lin Manuel Miranda’s In the Heights and as Aaron Burr in the first national tour of Hamilton. Although his successes on Broadway was fueled by a lifelong passion for music and performing, Henry longed to tell his own story. “I’d been writing songs for nearly a decade, but my incredible wife, Cathryn, pushed me to not waste any time and follow that passion,” Henry recalls. “I continue to love acting, stepping into someone else’s shoes, but this year made one thing super clear to me: We don’t know what will happen tomorrow, so I had to really give it my all.”

Henry’s Theron “Neff-U” Feemster-produced debut EP Guarantee is slated for a February 12, 2021 release through S-Curve Records/BMG and the effort will reportedly showcase the voice that won accolades on Broadway paired with thoughtful, intelligent storytelling-based songs that thematically touch upon vulnerability, love and hope. Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, the New York-based actor, musician and singer/songwriter found that the inspiration and creative process of art became intertwined. As his wife took on nursing shirts caring for COVID patients in the earliest days of the pandemic, Henry would sneak into the music room in the family’s apartment to record vocals. “It was an amazing exercise in watching something grow through constraints — to know what’s possible if you have the right people supporting you,” he says.

Small. intimate, daily events like walking through Central Park, a conversation over breakfast, time with his wife and son proved to be deeply influential on the EP’s material and on Henry’s songwriting. “In the past I’ve been a really private person, but they gave me freedom to break my chest open, to get into conversations about self-discovery and vulnerability,” he explains.

“This EP is full of my heart, but I also want people to jump and groove to it, to feel it cerebrally, spiritually and bodily,” Henry adds. ‘There was a blank canvas that took me back to when I was seven years old, just writing from my heart, with nothing to lose.” The EP’s lead single “Hold Me” is centered around a warm, neo-soul production featuring a rubbery and propulsive bass line, soul clap-led percussion and a spectral backing vocal paired with Henry’s plaintive yet regal falsetto. Unlike most contemporary pop songs, you’ll hear on the radio right now, “Hold Me” is full of a pure ebullient joy that feels like a great gospel tune — and as a result it gives the material a wholesome air.

And while the song may be an infectious, joyful delight, the song is intelligently underpinned by a very deep understanding of romantic relationships: Satisfying and truly adult love requires an immense vulnerability of us. But when it comes to the relentless and uncompromising pursuit of a lifelong there’s a deeper fear of rejection of the much-needed love and support you may need to continue, and of having to make a choice between love and your dream.

The recently released video manages to simultaneously evoke the infectious joy of its accompanying single while also being an intimate look into the loving relationships of a young artist with a big dream.

Live Footage: Nick Hakim Performs “QADIR” on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert”

I’ve written quite a bit about the Washington, DC-born, Brooklyn-based singer/songwriter, guitarist Nick Hakim over the past handful of years. Hakim’s critically applauded full-length debut, 2017’s Green Twins can trace its origins back to when he finished his two critically applauded EPs Where Will We Go Part 1 and Where We Will Go Part 2. Armed with the masters for those efforts, Hakim relocated from Boston, where he was then based to Brooklyn.

As soon as he got himself settled, he quickly went to work, spending his spare time writing and recording sketches using his phone’s voice memo app and a four-track cassette recorder, fleshing the material out whenever possible. He then took his new demo’d material to various studios in NYC, Philadelphia and London, where he built up the material with a number of engineers, including frequent collaborator Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering and production), who were tasked with keeping the original spirit and essence of the material intact as much as humanly possible.

Thematically, the album’s material focused on specific experiences, feeling and thoughts he had during the time he was writing and composing it, making the album feel like a series of different self-portraits. Much like Vincent Van Gogh’s famed self-portraits, the material sometimes captures its creator in broad strokes, with subtle gradations in mood, tone and feeling. Sonically, Green Twins drew from a broad array of influences including Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye, Shuggie Otis and My Bloody Valentine and others. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and we were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins,” Hakim said in press notes at the time.

Since the release of Green Twins, Hakim developed a reputation as a highly sought-after, go-to collaborator working with Lianna La Havas, Anderson .Paak, Onyx Collective, Sporting Life, IGBO, Nappy Nina, Ambrose Akinmusire, Slingbaum, FKA Twins and Oumou Sangare.

The JOVM mainstay released his highly-anticipated sophomore album WILL THIS MAKE ME SOUND GOOD earlier this year through ATO Records. Interestingly, the album’s material manages to be distinctly Hakim while being a tonal shift from its predecessor: his sophomore album reflects the ideas with which he grappled with while writing and recording the album. To prepare listeners for the experience, Hakim shared the following statement about the record:

“I feel the people simmering, on our way to the boiling point. There’s a lot of madness going on around us and this world can feel so cold. It can get hard to remember what makes it worth it. The people around me and the music I love helps.

For a while, I couldn’t write. I worked on new music but couldn’t find the right words. But that time was just a build-up to the three months of expression that led to this album. I hope this music will raise awareness about where we are right now. About how we are living on this planet. About how we treat our neighbors. About community. About depression. About what can heal us and what can’t. About overmedication, overstimulation and manipulation. About respecting and loving the people around us, because one day they won’t be here-or you won’t.

But it’s also true that I’m still trying to figure this record out. People have told me that it’s confusing or that it’s messy-that’s fine. There’s so much pressure on artists to commit to being one thing, or to restrict an album to exploring just one subject or sound. But my life isn’t like that, and so my music can’t be like that either. I’m not thinking about this music as a product to be bought and sold, or how I’ll buy your interest. This is my world; a lot of friends touched this record, and that makes me feel lucky and proud. These songs are glimpses into my community. I’m exploring, but I’m not alone. It’s a journey in progress; it’s an experiment, every day.”

“QADIR” is a slow-burning and atmospheric single, centered around a repetitive and hypnotic arrangement featuring shimmering and reverb-drenched guitar, a sinuous baseline fluttering flute, stuttering beats and Hakim’s expressive and  plaintive vocals — and as a result, the track is a fever dream full of ache and longing, partially written as an ode to a late friend and an urgent reminder to check in on your loved ones before it’s too late. ”If I really sink into a recording, I don’t want it to end,” Hakim says. “[‘QADIR’] is repetitive and hypnotizing, like a trance — that’s intentional. The song is my ode to him. It’s my attempt to relate to how he must have been feeling.”

Recently Hakim and his backing band performed a socially distant rendition of “QADIR” on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, which features Hakim singing the song on a cartoon-background that’s one part hood, one part Sesame Street. 

New Video: Los Angeles-based Phenom Angela Munoz Reveals Her True Self in Visuals for “I Don’t Care”

Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden — and , singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz. 

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents JackWaterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz.

The young, Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist phenom has a beguiling voice and mature presence that belie her relative youth. Munoz recalls Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome to The Jungle” as the catalyst that sparked her desire to play music and to become a star. As a girl, she learned to play guitar and piano — and with practice, she began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance. Interestingly, a few years ago Munoz’s brother Brandon introduced her to the Adrian Younge-produced Something About April. Munoz was intrigued by the quality of the music, and as a result, she found herself thinking about how it would be interesting to create music that encompassed various perspectives — similar to how Younge does so with his analog recordings.

Shortly after being introduced to Something About April, the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom serendipitously found self working with The Midnight Hour, who recorded her song “Bitches Do Voodoo” on their full-length debut. They’ve since took Munoz on tour, where she’s blown away audiences with her self-assured stage presence, a maturity that belies her age, some dexterous musicianship and her soulful vocals. 

Munoz’s debut single “I Don’t Care” features the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom’s remarkably self-assured and effortlessly soulful vocals over a gorgeous arrangement of twinkling keys and harp, soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, wah wah pedaled guitar and an enormous hook.  And while the material is deceptively anachronistic sonically with the song drawing from classic Quiet Storm soul and 90s neo soul, there’s an underlying youthful brashness that’s beguiling and infectious. Munoz wrote “I Don’t Care” about how difficult staying true to who you are can be, especially as an artist, and ultimately realizing that she doesn’t need to fit into a mold — or be something that she never wanted to be. Unsurprisingly, she’s been told since she was a child that, in order to succeed as a musician she needed to change herself to look like a “superstar.” 

Directed by Adrian Younge, the recently released, gorgeously cinematic video sees Munoz peeling back the layers of the glamorous look that is expected of her to reveal her true self — and by doing so, we wind up seeing how truly beguiling the young artist really is.  “I knew that my purpose in life isn’t to be anyone’s object, it’s to share my experiences and impact people in the most positive way,” Munoz says in press notes. “I hope the song and video helps people realize that they don’t need to change the way they are to feel accepted.” 

New Audio: Introducing Los Angeles-based Phenom Angela Munoz

Founded and led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, multi-instrumentalist, arranger, producer and Linear Labs founder, The Midnight Hour is a 10 member ensemble that also prominently singer/songwriter and guitarist Jack Waterson, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Loren Oden — and , singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and 18 year old Los Angeles-born and-based phenom, Angela Munoz. 

The Midnight Hour released their self-titled debut back in 2018, an effort that established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily influenced by  David Axelrod, Quincy Jones, Curtis Mayfield, Barry White and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Now, as you may recall, since the release of  the ensemble’s full-length debut, Muhammad, Younge and and the Linear Labs crew have been extremely busy: last year saw the release of Jack Waterson’s psych rock, solo debut Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson, and a lengthy tour that included a Brooklyn Bowl stop last September. This year will see the release of the ensemble’s highly-anticipated sophomore album, as well as solo efforts from Loren Oden and Angela Munoz. 

The young, Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist phenom has a beguiling voice and mature presence that belie her relative youth. Munoz recalls Guns ‘N’ Roses’ “Welcome to The Jungle” as the catalyst that sparked her desire to play music and to become a star. As a girl, she learned to play guitar and piano — and with practice, she began to dominate singing competitions, leaving unexpected audiences in a trance. Interestingly, a few years ago Munoz’s brother Brandon introduced her to the Adrian Younge-produced Something About April. Munoz was intrigued by the quality of the music, and as a result, she found herself thinking about how it would be interesting to create music that encompassed various perspectives — similar to how Younge does so with his analog recordings. 

Shortly after being introduced to Something About April, the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom serendipitously found self working with The Midnight Hour, who recorded her song “Bitches Do Voodoo” on their full-length debut. They’ve since took Munoz on tour. where she’s blown audiences. 

Munoz’s debut single “I Don’t Care” features the Los Angeles-born and-based phenom’s remarkably self-assured and effortlessly soulful vocals over a gorgeous arrangement of twinkling keys and harp, soaring strings, a sinuous bass line, wah wah pedaled guitar and an enormous hook.  And while the material is deceptively anachronistic sonically with the song drawing from classic Quiet Storm soul and 90s neo soul, there’s an underlying youthful brashness that’s beguiling and infectious.