Color Red Music will be releasing their debut EP Pocket Protection, Vol. 1 on May 4, 2021. The EP’s latest single “Paul P. Sure” is a strutting number that’s one part Allman Brothers-like Southern fried guitar rock, and one part retro-futuristic Stevie Wonder funk within an expansive and free-flowing jam-band like composition. The song’s origins have an interesting backstory: Originally brought in as a song sketch by the band’s Provosty, the remaining members fleshed it out further when they were all in the studio. The composition pulls some inspiration from The Derek Trucks Band’s “Kickin’ Back,” which interestingly enough, the band played during their first show together.
When it comes to titles, the band likes to play with words and the original title for the song was “Grateful Allmonds,” because the song combines elements of The Grateful Dead and The Allman Brothers Band. They eventually changed the song’s title to “Paul P. Sure,”as a play on the guitarist’s name and Paulie Shore.
“Paul P. Sure defines the intention and essence of Pocket Protection. There were no blueprints or discussions to establish a game plan or any strict guidelines as to what everyone should do or play,” Pocket Proection’s George Gekas explains. “Instead, we relied on intuition and each other to continue to move the music forward. It felt right when we first performed together, made sense in the studio, and will continue to as a collective idea.”
Initially starting his professional life as a lobbyist, the rising Boise–based electronic music artist and producer Morgin Madison eventually pursued his passion for music as a full-time gig. Madison released his first singles in late 2017 — and those singles found the Boise-based producer and artist establishing a unique dance music sound that ranged from chilled house beats to vast, hard-hitting set pieces.
With releases through labels like Colorize, Songspire Records, PRGRSSN and even mau5trrap, the Boise-based artist and producer has been prolific releasing material that has found Madison’s sound moving towards a progressive house direction. As Madison says in press notes, he’s just getting started releasing music that he describes as “the most genuine, melodic dance music I can make.”
Building upon a growing profile, Madison’s full-length debut Livingthe Phantasm was released today through mau5trap. The album’s material was crafted last year, when the rising producer, much like the rest of us, was confined at home as a result of pandemic-related restrictions: at the time, he was creating music for a time that to him felt like a distant dream. With the music industry and everything else around us collapsing, he began to ask himself “If this is it, what do I want to say before I go.” Naturally, the question inspired a creative streak uninhibited by a concern for the future. The album’s latest single “Feels Like” is a Balearic-like house banger centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, thumping beats, a sultry vocal sample and a euphoria-inducing hook. While being sleek, the song is a soulful and sensual take on house, that may remind some of Octo Octa.
Since the release of his debut EP Find You Inside, the Toronto-based Salusbury has been prolific, releasing a number of singles, including his latest single “Pretty Blonde Boy.” Centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, strummed reverb-drenched guitar, a languid backbeat and Salusbury’s achingly plaintive baritone, “Pretty Blonde Boy” is a slow-burning Tears for Fears meets The Smiths-like track inspired by it’s creator’s deeply personal and devastating experience of loss. “Two of my oldest, closest and dearest fiends, both taken too young and barely years apart. If there’s a word beyond ‘brother’ than that’s what they were,” Salusbury explains. “Love wasn’t just enough to balance out all that they carried on their shoulders. Their losses were devastating, breaking me in a way that I’m not sure will ever heal. It was in such eerie succession. They were mirrors of one another, both drawn into this senseless and tragic spiral of prescription pain meds and heroin, combined with fentanyl. Often the brightest lights go out the fastest . . .
“Overwhelmed with grief, I recorded the vocal performance in between tears and clenched fists. As time passed and I gained a resigned joy and acceptance among the sadness,‘Pretty Blonde Boy,’began to like an open road, rolling hills… the sun rising, or maybe setting, with that warm magic hour glow and a cool breeze, driving with nowhere to be. In tribute and memorial, for those burdened with pain or crisis, this is a testament to trying to be okay again. To find beauty, appreciation and gratitude in what feels hurtful, hollowing and unfair. ”
Deriving their name from a French expression that gently mocks sappy lovers, the Paris-based indie rock duo Fleur bleu.e — Delphine and Vladimir — features two accomplished musicians, who have been performing and writing music since they were both children: Vladimir was a guitarist in French garage rock band Brats, an act that recorded and released a Yarol Popouard-produced album that was supported with touring across France with BB Brunes. Delphine began playing cello in classical orchestras before learning guitar and playing at alternative festivals across Paris with her first band Le Studio Jaune.
When the duo met in 2019, they bonded over a mutual love of The Smiths, Beach House, Françoise Hardy and Elli et Jacno among others, and a desire to craft music that was emotionally ambiguous while being fueled by their teenage myths. Seemingly influenced by dramas and nightmares, their artistic vision is to go beyond the prism of the gender binary and call upon the listener to express their fragility, celebrating one’s inner world and the beauty in imperfections.
They released their critically applauded single “Horizon” late last year and building upon a buzz worthy profile in their native France, the duo released their Ben Etter-produced second single earlier this month. Centered around shimmering and reverb-drenched guitars, propulsive yet simple backbeat and Delphine’s gorgeous vocals, the song sonically — to my ears, at least — brings Bloom-era Beach House to mind while being an emotionally ambiguous feminist manifesto.
Founded in 2014 by Fez, Morocco-born, New York-based master musician Maâlem Hassan Ben Jaafer (sintir, vocals), the New York-based Grammy Award-nominated act Innov Gnawa, which currently features core members Casablanca, Morocco-born, New York-based Amino Belyamani (chorus, qraqeb, piano) and Salé, Morocco-born, New York-based Ahmed Jeriouda (chorus, qraqeb, cajon) and a cast of collaborators, specialize in Gnawa, the ritual trance music of Morocco.
Frequently refereed to as the Moroccan Blues or the Sufi blues, Gnawa is rooted in centuries of history with the musical genre and dance being traced to the mixing of rhythms and polytheistic spiritual beliefs of West Africa — primarily from what is now known as Mali and Mauritania — with Islam and Morocco’s indigenous culture. Lyrically, Gnawa songs are prayers and invocations to saints and spirits for liberation, peace and freedom from worldly suffering and so on. Geaturing unique instruments that are often handmade, including the lute-like sintir, he three-stringed African bass, the guembri, metal castanet-like qarqaba, which are used to pound out clattering and hypnotic rhythms, symbolically meant to represent the clinking and clanking of the slaves’ chains and shackles paired with call and response vocals, Gnawa possesses a hypnotic power that has won over audiences and musicians from all over the globe, including Jimi Hendrix, Paul Bowles and Randy Weston. And in the band’s native Morocco, the genre is revered as a treasured, indigenous soul music, much like the blues and country are to Americans.
Produced by Daptone Records‘ founder and self-professed Gnawa enthusiast Gabriel Roth, the acclaimed Brooklyn-based act’s forthcoming album Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records. Deriving its name for a Moroccan term for “night,” Lila is traditional ceremony in which the group dedicates an evening of cleansing and healing through music that was recorded in an epic five hour, one-take session.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album single “Chorfa.” Clocking in at 13:51, “Chorfa” was centered around an expansive arrangement featuring the double bass-like guembri, the hypnotic polyrhythm of the qarqaba and call and response vocals led by the collective’s Ben Jafaar. The song finds the members of the acclaimed act tapping into a deeply spiritual and universal longing for freedom, clarity, peace and healing that feels — and of course sounds — older than time. “El Ghaba” continues in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor: the double bass-like guembri paired with the hypnotic clicking and clacking of the qarqaba and melodic call and response delivered vocals before ending in an explosive flourish. “Ask a forest dweller about primordial darkness and they will say it is beginning and end, mysterious and all-knowing, dreadful and welcoming, powerful yet invisible,” the band’s Amino Belyamani says of the song.
Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records.
Stereonoon is an Italian neo-soul/jazz and R&B inspired collective formed during pandemic-related lockdowns that features core creative duo Verona-born vocalist Anna Polinari and cinemavolt’s creative mastermind Max Tozzi paired with a rotating cast of talented Italian players. Late last year, the act released a straightforward yet vibey cover of Joe Jackson‘s classic “Steppin’ Out,” centered around a sinuous bass line and Polinari’s sultry vocals.
The act’s debut EP Yeah. And Stuff was released late last month and features guest spots from a number of internationally acclaimed musicians including Snarky Puppy’s Mark Lettieri (guitar), Matteo Pontegavelli (trumpet) and Francesco Dondi (tenor saxophone). The EP’s latest single “Inconvenient” is a neo-soul and jazz-tinged take on trip hop centered around twinkling piano, a sinuous bass line, stuttering drumming, an expressive, jazz-inspired guitar solo and Polinari’s sultry vocals. Lyrically, the song is an unflinchingly honest view of a vulnerable narrator examining herself and her longing to be someplace she feels she belongs.
After stints in bands like Kite Flying Society, Saving Twilight, The Weak Ends and The Wonderers throughout the early 2000s, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Geannie Friedman initially founded Semihelix in Austin, back in 2012 as a solo recording project in which she used drum beats, keyboards for bass lines while accompanying her vocals with guitar. After several lineup changes, the band eventually settled on their current lineup: Friedman (vocals, guitar), Valdemar Barrrera (drums) and Kevin Martin (bass).
Influenced by My Bloody Valentine, The Kinks, Black Tambourine, Sebadoh, The Pixies and Sonic Youth, the Austin-based act have established and cemented a sound that’s one part dream pop, one part 90s psych fuzz and delay with melodic yet loud sounds. The trio’s latest single “New Destination” finds the band crafting a song that to my ears, sounds indebted to New Zealand jangle pop, Katy Goodman’s work with La Sera and acts like Seapony, complete with an infectious and rousingly anthemic hook. But just underneath the sunny vibes, the song tells a tale of a narrator discovering the resilience she’ll need for the slings and arrows of the rest of her life.
“The catalyst behind the idea for this song came from a place where I felt ostracized and bullied in my hometown,” Semihelix’s Geannie Friedman explains. “I wrote about how moving and starting new would help to heal from many experiences of feeling like an outsider.
“Also, having been in relationships with others that weren’t healthy, it was a time for me to learn how to be happy on my own without being dependent on a relationship for happiness. Although I wrote this song over a decade ago when I was in my 20s, it’s a song that I relate to for many stages in my life, where I’m leaving behind and shedding the old, and renewing into someone stronger and resilient.”
jJ. Period is a Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ best known for working with the likes of Q-Tip, John Legend, Nas, Big Daddy Kane, Lauryn Hill, The Roots, The Isley Brothers and Mary J. Blige on official mixtapes — and for developing an “audio-biography” style that incorporates interviews with these artists into his “Best Of” complications. He has also made original productions and remixes for film trailers for American Gangster and Street Kings. In late 2008, the Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ became the first DJ/producer ever commissioned by Activision to score and producer an entire video game soundtrack for Tony Hawk’s Motion for Nintendo DS. And before I forget, he worked on The Hamilton Mixtape — while serving as Music Supervisor for the Brooklyn Nets.
The Los Angeles-born, Brooklyn-based producer and DJ’s debut album Story to Tell is a trail-blazing musical journey in three acts — with the first installment, Chapter One slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Truelements Music/RBC Records. Narrated by Dave Chappelle, Story To Tell (Chapter One) is a collaborative endeavor that blurs the lines between song and story; between hip-hop, R&B, jazz, reggae and salsa. Collaborating with an All-Star cast of Grammy-winning writers and musicians, Story To Tell reportedly will create a vibrant world of connections — between artists, songs, stories, genres, cultures and generations in the acclaimed production’s genre and convention defying style.
Story To Tell (Chapter One)’s first single “All In Your Head” plays with the classic audio storybook format with Dave Chapelle serving as a mischievous tour guide, explaining the set up to the proceedings, quickly followed by a slick yet soulful production centered around tweeter and woofer rocking boom bap beats, glitchy vocal samples and shimmering Rhodes serving as a warm bed for an inspiring manifesto to overcoming self-doubt and being fearless featuring Tiffany Gouché’s silky crooning and Black Thought spitting red hot bars. Sonically speaking, “All In Your Head” effortlessly blurs the lines between neo-soul, R&B and hip-hop in a crowd-pleasing fashion.
Deriving their name from a slang phrase popularly used by Mardi Gras indian tribes that means “we’re comin’ for ya” or “here we come,” the Grammy Award-nominated New Orleans-based funk act Cha Wa — currently founding member and bandleader Joe Gelini, along with Spyboy J’Wan Boudreaux, Second Chief Joseph Boudreaux, Ari “Gato” Teitel, Joseph “Jose” Maize, Clifton “Spug” Smith, Aurelien Barnes, Eric “Bogey” Gordon, Edward “Juicey” Jackson and Haruka Kikuchi — can trace their origins back to 2014 when Gellni was first introduced to the Mardi Gras Indian tradition while attending Boston’s Berklee College of Music, where he met New Orleans-born, jazz drummer Idris Muhammad, who gave Gellini lessons in New Orleans-styled drumming.
As the story goes, those lessons inspired Gellini to relocate to New Orleans after graduation. Gellini quickly became involved in the city’s beloved Mardi Gras Indian community, eventually attending rehearsals for Mardi Gras marches. Gellini met Monk Boudreaux, Big Chief of the Golden Eagles and one of the city’s most widely known and popular Mardi Gras Indian vocalists at those rehearsals. Coincidentally, Boudreaux is the grandfather of Cha Wa’s frontman J’Wan Boudreaux.
Unsurprisingly those rehearsals eventually turned into Gellini performing alongside the New Orleans Mardi Gras Indian legend. Gellini met J’Wan Boudreaux while the younger Boudreaux was still attending high school, but shortly after, J’Wan joined the band as their frontman. Since then, Cha Wa have established a sound and aesthetic that simultaneously draws from New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indian tradition and the city’s beloved rhythm and blues and funk sounds through the release of three albums — 2016’s debut Funk ‘N’ Feathers, 2018’s Grammy Award-nominated Spyboy and their most recent album, My People, which was released last week.
“Mardi Gras Indian tradition and culture goes back over 250 years in the city of New Orleans. And it’s a culture that derives from men of color wanting to celebrate the Mardi Gras holiday but weren’t able to at the time,” Boudreaux explained in an interview with NPR. “So what they did was they created these elaborate suits…it represented the Native Americans that helped the Blacks escape slavery, and they actually helped them throughout the swamps and the bywater to get where they needed to go. So to pay homage to those natives, these men created what we call today Indian suits.” On the album Cha Wa founder Joe Gellni adds that the group “”tapped into that collective unconscious of what it is to live in New Orleans and to see all the nuances and ways that different people of color in the band actually experience racism — what sort of plight we’re facing in New Orleans socially and culturally, and class-wise and environmentally.”
My People‘s latest single, album title track “My People” is a strutting bit of funk that’s one-part classic second line march, one part The Meters, one part Nite Tripper-era Dr. John centered around a shuffling rhythm, shimmering Rhodes, a big horn section and call and response vocals singing lyrics that remind people of the universal facts of life: the rich get rich, while the sick get sicker; that while we have our differences, we have much more in common than we expect — we’ll all experience heartbreak, despair, frustration, loss, death. And if we can see that the universe in others, it may mean we get closer to understanding someone else’s life and their pain.
Although they haven’t been able to tour, as a result of the pandemic, but they have made a recent appearance on Good MorningAmerica and on NPR, and that has allowed them to spread the album’s music and message to a much wider audience — and not just to those who will agree with them, but as Boudreaux explained to NPR “also to the people who may not be so open…just try to open up your eyes and see the world through the lens of the next person – the person that’s next to you, being held down by these different things like systematic oppression…if we don’t say anything about it, then no one will actually understand and know that we’re with them.”
Wojmann is a mysterious and emerging French electronic music producer and electronic music artist with a rather unique and interesting back story: Born somewhere in Southern France during the late 20th century, the emerging French artist suffered from a severe case case of amnesia, a case that has essentially erased his past. Found in front of a small Provence town’s public pool last April, the only memories that Wojmann seems to have is a haunting rhythm in his head that he tries to transcribe to music.
His debut EP will be released through acclaimed French label Sinners. The EP’s first single “Vars” is an expansive deep house track centered around skittering, tweeter and woofer rattling beats and glistening synth arpeggios within an expansive, mind-bending song structure, complete with an atmospheric break. Sonically to my ears, the song reminds me a bit of Octo Octa‘s Between Two Selves as it possesses a similar sensual quality.