Category: Psych Soul

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Shares Cool and Funky “Blockhead”

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s recently released third album  A New Kind of Love feels and sounds like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by the band’s creative mastermind Seth Applebaum and a talented cast of collaborators and players that include Billy Aukstik (trumpet), Stephen Chen (baritone sax), Lo Gwynn (vocals), Romi Hanoch (vocals), James kelly (trombone), Megan Mancini (vocals), Michael Sarason (flute) and a list of others.

Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as Applebaum’s experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to soullessly recreate it. 

Thematically, the 12-song album sees Applebaum exploring the complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about two A New Kind of Love‘s singles:

  • Scatter,” a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freakout of a solo. But if you pay close attention, the song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrously wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness and confidence that she deserves — and will get much better soon enough. 
  • Why” a spectral and slow-burning bit of psych soul with Latin-influenced percussion paired with powerhouse vocals. The song manages to capture curiosity, obsession and desire with an uncanny psychological realism. 

“Blockhead,” A New Kind of Love‘s third and latest single is narratively structured around a phone call between the song’s narrator — voiced by Megan Mancini — and an unheard listener, in which the narrator reminds their caller that their lover is absent, a virtual non-presence, who’s blowing it. And throughout, you can feel the narrator’s frustration with the other side of the phone call — with the narrator literally saying at one point, “what are you doing here?” Guaranteed, for most of us, this conversation should feel so familiar, that it scans simultaneously as advice and accusation. The song is built around a coolly funky and cinematic psych soul arrangement that’s roomy enough for some inspired and fiery soloing.

Directed by Ghost Funk Orchestra’s Seth Applebaum, and shot on glorious Kodak film, the accompanying video stars Megan Mancini as herself, on an old-fashioned landline and a lawn chair that she takes everywhere with her.

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Shares Spectral “Why”

Founded and led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebuam, rising New York-based psych rock/psych soul outfit Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi, solo recording project back in 2014 with a unique sound featuring tape-saturated drums, spring reverb, surf rock guitar, Latin-styled percussion, odd time signatures and Spanish language female vocals. Since then, the project has become a full-fledged band with as many as 10 members — while crafting a unique sound that draws from even more eclectic and diverse sources, including salsa, Afrobeat, classic soul, film soundtracks and more. 

Ghost Funk Orchestra’s full-length debut, 2019’s A Song for Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, who played an immense role in his life. Although the album’s songs don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction specifically conveys what Anish’s presence felt like — and was — for Seth, a tough but kind, music obsessed, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and sound further than anything he had done to that point, including writing much more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section. 

Their sophomore album, 2020’s An Ode to Escapism saw the band further expanding upon the sound developed on A Song for Paul with the album’s material featuring much more intricate arrangements, unusual time signatures, rapid tempo and time signature changes within songs, heavier drums and vocal harmonies that soar over the entire affair. Specifically written as an invitation to the listener to close their eyes while listening and delve deep into their own subconscious, if they weren’t too afraid to do so, the album thematically touched upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image. 

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s third album  A New Kind of Love reportedly feels like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by Applebaum. Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as his experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to recreate it. 

The 12 song album sees Applebaum exploring the complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs. 

Earlier this month, I wrote about A New Kind of Love‘s first single “Scatter,” a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freak out of a solo. But if you pay close attention, the song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrous wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness and confidence that she deserves — and will get much better soon enough.

A New Kind of Love‘s second and latest single “Why” is a spectral and slow-burning bit of psych soul with Latin-influenced percussion paired with powerhouse vocals. The song manages to capture curiosity, obsession and desire with an uncanny psychological realism.

The accompanying video for “Why” was shot on Kodak film –and manages to seem inspired by nouveau vague yet surrealistic.

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Share Trippy and Cinematic “Scatter”

Founded and led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebuam, rising New York-based psych rock/psych soul outfit Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi, solo recording project back in 2014 with a unique sound featuring tape-saturated drums, spring reverb, surf rock guitar, Latin-styled percussion, odd time signatures and Spanish language female vocals. Since then, the project has become a full-fledged band featuring as many as 10 members — while still featuring a unique sound that draws from even more diverse sources including salsa, Afrobeat, classic soul, film soundtracks and more.

Ghost Funk Orchestra’s full-length debut, 2019’s A Song for Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, who played an immense role in his life. Although the album’s songs don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction specifically conveys what Anish’s presence felt like — and was — for Seth, a tough but kind, music obsessed, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and sound further than anything he had done to that point, including writing much more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.

Their sophomore album, 2020’s An Ode to Escapism saw the band further expanding upon the sound developed on A Song for Paul: The album’s material featured much more intricate arrangements, unusual time signatures, rapid tempo and time signature changes within songs, heavier drums and vocal harmonies that soar over the entire affair. Specifically written as an invitation to the listener to close their eyes and delve deep into their own subconscious while playing the album, if they weren’t too afraid to do so, the album thematically touched upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image.

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s third album A New Kind of Love reportedly feels like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by Applebaum. Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as his experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to recreate it.

The 12 song album sees Applebaum exploring a complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs.

A New Kind of Love‘s first single “Scatter” is a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freak out of a solo. But pay close attention, y’all. The song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrously wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness that she deserves — and will get better.

Directed by Greg Hanson and shot on Kodak film, the accompanying video for “Scatter” stars singer/songwriter and musician Romi Hanoch in a gloriously cinematic fever dream that includes a debonair, fish man boyfriend, an underwater party, doppelgängers, and a saxophone playing creature that nods at nouveau vague and others.

New Video: Monophonics Share a Cinematic and Feverish Visual for “Sage Motel”

Since their formation, Bay Area-based soul outfit Monophonics —  Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys), Austin Bohlman (drums), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), and Max Ramey (bass) – have developed and honed a sound that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax RecordsMuscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: an incredibly cinematic sound that features elements of classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock and psych soul recorded on vintage analog recording gear, paired with a healthy amount of old-fashioned woodshedding and craft. .“We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can,” the band explained in press notes. 

Monophonics’ third album, 2020’s It’s Only Us, which featured “Chances,” and “It’s Only Us” received praise from the likes of BillboardFlood, Cool Hunting and American Songwriter, while selling 10,000 physical copies and amassing over 20 million streams across the various digital streaming platforms. Thematically, It’s Only Us touched upon unity in a fractious and divisive world, strength, resilience, acceptance — and of course, love. (It can’t be ol’ school soul without love songs, you know?)

The acclaimed Bay Area-based soul outfit’s fourth album, the Kelly Finnegan-produced Sage Motel was released last week through Colemine Records. The album’s title is derived from an actual place — the Sage Motel. What started out as a quaint motor lodge and common pitstop for travelers and truckers in the 1940s, Sage Motel morphed into a bohemian’ hang out by the 1960s and 1970s: Artists, musicians and vagabonds of all stripes would stop there as seedy ownership pumped obnoxious amounts of money into high-end renovations, eventually attracting some of the most prominent acts of the era. But when the money ran out, the motel devolved into a hot sheet hotel. 

If the hotel’s walls could talk, they’d tell you tales of human highs and lows, of a place where big dreams and broken hearts live, and where people find themselves at a crossroads — sometimes without quite knowing how they got there. And thematically, Sage Motel tackles all of those subjects while seeing the band further cementing their reputation as one of the world’s premier psychedelic soul bands. 

Last month, I wrote about Sage Motel‘s second single, the swaggering “Love You Better,” which continues the band’s remarkable run of period-specific, cinematic soul centered around Finnigan’s soulful vocals, twinkling keys, hip-hop-like breakbeats, a gorgeous horn arrangement, an expressive and lengthy flute solo and an all-woman backing vocal section. But underneath the prideful swagger, the song captures the bitter heartache of someone who gave a relationship — and their partner — their all, and yet still wound up being taken advantage of and abused. 

“The song ‘Love You Better’ is rooted in the spirit of soul music and hip hop,” Monophonics explain. “It’s a braggadocio tune with a clear message to the one you loved that no one will ever be as good to them. It is that feeling of knowing you gave your all to your partner and really tried to love them the right way, only to be hurt and taken for granted. It’s empowering and important to have that self worth and remind somebody that they really missed out on a really good thing.”

Sage Motel‘s latest single, the swooning album title track “Sage Motel” is centered around a gorgeous, late 60s-early 70s soul-inspired arrangement featuring twinkling keys, Finnigan’s soulful delivery, wah wah pedaled guitar, martial-like half-step drumming, soulful all-female backing vocals paired with a lysergic guitar solo and the band’s unerring knack for crafting razor sharp, infectious hooks. The song’s narrator tells a story of a meet-cute at the titular Sage Motel that turns into a dangerous, life-altering obsession — with an almost lived-in, novelistic precision.

Directed by Kassy Mahea, the cinematic and feverish accompanying video for “Sage Motel” tells the story of a tragic love triangle rooted in the unrequited — and obsessive — love held by a lonely cleaning woman at the hotel. While only a music video, the characters that inhabit its universe behave, feel and talk the way that dysfunctional, hurt, and deeply confused people behave and talk.

New Video: Brandon Coleman Shares Soulful and Swooning Ballad

Brandon Coleman is a South Central Los Angeles-born and-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger, and composer. Coleman’s older brother put him on to Miles Davis at a very early age. “There would be a lot of times kids at school would be singing a popular song and I wouldn’t know it. Instead, I was blasting Kenny Kirkland and Chick Corea and they’d all think I was speaking another language,” Coleman recalls.

When he was 16, Coleman taught himself piano. By the time he turned 17, he landed his first touring gig with Brian McKnight and since then, he has toured with Babyface, Roy Hargrove, Stanley Clarke, Alicia Keys, and Childish Gambino. Coleman has also been a member of the Brainfeeder crew, contributing his talents to albums by Kamasi Washington, Thundercat, and Flying Lotus among others. He also opened for Flying Lotus back in 2019.

Coleman’s sophomore album Interstellar Black Space is slated for a May 20, 2022 release through Brainfeeder. The album features an incredibly talented cast of guests including Kamasi Washington, Patrice Quinn, Ryan Porter, Keyon Harrold, Ben Williams, and Marcus Gilmore. The album’s second and latest single, the slow-burning, classic soul inspired “Be With Me” exemplifies the label’s cosmic approach towards music: violin, cello and sitar are paired with strummed guitar, a sinuous bass line and Coleman’s expressive tenor to create a song that’s trippy yet swooningly earnest.

“There’s a culture of music that I grew up with that I’ve always loved and it’s always spiritually spoken to my soul: the lyrics of The Delfonics, Four Tops, Manhattans… groups like that motivated me to want to write a truly inspired song,” Coleman explains. “I wrote this in 30 minutes. We recorded it in one take. It’s soul music through the mind of synthesizers!”

Directed by Lauren Desberg, the accompanying video for “Be With Me” is split between footage of Coleman in a sparsely set studio, and a story following a madly in love anime couple on an alien planet. After being proposed to, the woman, who’s also a NASA astronaut tearfully returns back to Earth — and the video is in many ways a heartbreaking trip through what was and what would have been.

New Audio: Monophonics Shares a Strutting and Soulful Ode to Heartbreak and Pride

Since their formation, Bay Area-based soul outfit Monophonics — Austin Bohlman (drums), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), Max Ramey (bass) and Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys) – have developed and honed a sound that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax RecordsMuscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: an incredibly cinematic sound that features elements of classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock and psych soul recorded on vintage analog recording gear paired with a healthy amount of old-fashioned woodshedding and craft. .“We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can,” the band explained in press notes.

Monophonics’ third album, 2020’s It’s Only Us, which featured “Chances,” and “It’s Only Us” received praise from the likes of Billboard, Flood, Cool Hunting and American Songwriter, while selling 10,000 physical copies and amassing over 20 million streams across the various digital streaming platforms. Thematically, It’s Only Us touched upon unity in a fractious and divisive world, strength, resilience, acceptance — and of course, love. (Hey, it can’t be ol’ school soul without love songs, you know?)

The acclaimed Bay Area-based soul outfit’s fourth album, the Kelly Finnegan-produced Sage Motel is slated for a May 13, 2022 release through Colemine Records. The album’s title is derived from an actual hotel. What started out as a quaint motor lodge and common pitstop for travelers and truckers in the 1940s, Sage Motel morphed into a bohemian’ hang out by the 1960s and 1970s: Artists, musicians and vagabonds of all stripes would stop there as seedy ownership pumped obnoxious amounts of money into high-end renovations, eventually attracting some of the most prominent acts of the era. But when the money ran out, the motel devolved into a hot sheet hotel.

If the hotel’s walls could talk, they’d tell you tales of human highs and lows, of a place where big dreams and broken hearts live, and where people find themselves at a crossroads — sometimes without quite knowing how they got there. And thematically, Sage Motel tackles all of those subjects while seeing the band further cementing their reputation as one of the world’s premier psychedelic soul bands.

Sage Motel‘s second and latest single, the swaggering, “Love You Better” continues a remarkable run of period specific, cinematic soul centered around Finnigan’s soulful vocals, twinkling keys, hip-hop-like breakbeats, a gorgeous horn arrangement, an expressive and lengthy flute solo and an all-woman backing vocal section. But underneath the prideful swagger, the song captures the bitter heartache of someone who gave a relationship — and their partner — their all, and yet still wound up being taken advantage of and abused.

“The song ‘Love You Better’ is rooted in the spirit of soul music and hip hop,” Monophonics explain. “It’s a braggadocio tune with a clear message to the one you loved that no one will ever be as good to them. It is that feeling of knowing you gave your all to your partner and really tried to love them the right way, only to be hurt and taken for granted. It’s empowering and important to have that self worth and remind somebody that they really missed out on a really good thing.”