Category: Soul Music

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Release an Intimate and Gorgeously Shot Visual for “Colors”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year, and since its release the had has rapidly built up a national profile and following through a relentless touring schedule that has included three separate New York stops this year:   The Knitting Factory, back in May; Mercury Lounge, back in July; and Brooklyn Bowl in September. 

Album single “Colors” exploded nationally when a live version of the song amassed over 4 million YouTube views — and since then, the song has become the most added song to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio. None of that should be surprising as the song is a decidedly old school singer/songwriter soul-inspired track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

Directed by Kristian Mercado, the recently released video for “Colors” is an intimate and profoundly empathetic look at a young and very beautiful Black family — mother, father and son — who hit hard times, and wind up homeless. It’s a heartbreaking and seemingly lived-in display of how easily and quickly one family can lose everything for no fault of their own but the main takeaway from the video is that while they’ve lost material things  and are struggling to survive, they have each other, their essential decency and their humanity.  

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New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Rhythm Scholar Takes on a Beloved Motown Classic

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculous prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. During that same period, the JOVM mainstay has developed a reputation for crafting slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, hip-hop, New Wave and a growing list of  other genres and styles. 

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him tackling the beloved and classic Temptations tune “Just My Imagination.” Perhaps unlike his other remixes, this particular one reveals a subtle yet deft touch: while retaining the original’s memorable and gorgeous melody and the legendary soul act’s impeccable harmonies, the JOVM mainstay’s take manages to gently push the song up about a decade by adding some lush Rhodes, a soulful horn line, some conga and a soaring string arrangement — all of which gives the material a dreamy, gossamer-like air. 

New Video: The Midnight Hour Releases a Late Night Lounge-Inspired Visual for Shimmering Ballad “Harmony”

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson.

Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr. Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And The Midnight Hour’s highly-anticipated — and long-awaited — sophomore album is slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2‘s first single “Harmony” is a gorgeous and mesmerizing song that’s one part classic, Quiet Storm-era soul, one part neo-soul and one part J. Dilla and Flying Louts breakbeats, centered around a lush Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, featuring twinkling keys, shimmering and soaring strings, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. But by far, the superstar of the show is Loren Oden’s soulful and plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly, desperately, passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge explain in press notes, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”

Directed by Adrian Younge and filmed at his Highland Park-based Linear Labs studio, the recently released video evokes the late night lounge vibes of the single — while reminding the viewer and listener that it’s possible to fall in love in just one night. “The video represents the spirit of The Midnight Hour: A visceral feeling of expression in those late night moments that is difficult to define, but impossible to deny,” Adrian Younge says in press notes. 

New Video: Rising British Pop Artist Jordan Mackampa Releases a Symbolic Visual for “Parachutes”

Jordan Mackampa is a rising London-born and-based Congolese-British singer/songwriter. With the release of “Under” earlier this year and 2016’s Physics EP, and 2017’s Tales From The Broken EP and Live from the Grand Cru EP, Mackampa has received critical praise from NME, The 405, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Indie Shuffle, Wonderland and others — with all of his previously released material amassing over 50 million Spotify streams.

Mackampa’s work is inspired by his Congolese roots and his mother’s love of legendary soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield. And much like his influences, Mackampa has a developed a reputation for pairing an old school singer/songwriter soul-like vocal delivery with earnest songwriting and catchy melodies with a modern approach. Building upon that momentum, Mackampa’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Foreigner is slated for a March 13, 2020 release. Along with that the rising Congolese-British artist is currently on tour opening for Amber Run  and he has been confirmed to play at next year’s SXSW.

Mackampa’s latest single, “Parachutes” is a breezy yet deliberately crafted track centered around a radio friendly and loose arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. But the star of the show is Mackampa’s easygoing and expressive vocals — in this case, Mackampa’s voice evokes the soaring high of being in love and the embittering low of heartache and betrayal within the turn of a phrase.

“‘Parachutes’ encapsulates those situations with people you’ve come across in life; who aren’t who they pretend to be and the person they are with you, isn’t someone you want to be around,” Mackampa explains in press notes. “However because you love them, either platonically or romantically, you’re conflicted by your feelings for them until it gets to a point where you don’t want to be hurt anymore… Nobody is perfect, but if you were trapped in an airplane with them and they had a parachute but you didn’t you would jump out regardless, because any pain you would experience afterwards, won’t be as bad as what you’ve already gone through.”

Directed by Tom Ewbank, the recently released and deeply metaphoric captures the psychological and physical battles of any relationship — essentially saying that sometimes other people can be hellish and torturous. “I wanted this video to capture the mental, and sometimes physical battles we go through in relationships, whether they are platonic or romantic with people in our lives,” Mackampa explains in press notes. “It can sometimes feel as though you’re dealing with two different people, but no one else sees the other person you encounter who brings you pain and hurt, rather than joy. You become inwards within yourself until you can’t take it anymore and have to walk away from them, even if it’s hard.”

November will be a rather busy month: I was just in Syracuse for a wedding — and in 10 days I’ll be in Montreal for the M for Montreal Festival. So I’ll be doing the best I can while on the road with posts. But in the meantime, let’s get back to the work at hand: Kyshona Armstrong is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, who writes and records under the mononym Kyshona. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to her day job as a music therapist. Initially writing some of her first songs with her patients — the students and inmates under her care, Armstrong felt the need to write independently and find her own creative voice. This endeavor led her to Nashville’s songwriting scene — and since then, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting.

The Nashville-based singer/songwriter’s latest album, the Andrija Tokic-produced Listen is slated for a February 28, 2020 release. Recorded at Tokic’s studio, The Bomb ShelterListen finds Armstrong pairing a sound that effortlessly meshes roots, country soul, country, soul, roots music, rock, R&B and folk with lyrics specifically meant to do two things: uplift the marginalized and to bring awareness of the plight of the marginalized to the masses.

Co-written with her brother Kelvin Armstrong, Listen‘s latest single “Fear” is a strutting, swampy and slow-burning  12 bar blues centered around Armstrong’s effortlessly soulful, powerhouse vocals, twinkling keys, strummed acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering slide guitar and an enormous hook — and while being both radio friendly and carefully crafted, the song features an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting message.

“Fear is that boogieman that sits quietly in the corner of our minds that can paralyze us the moment confidence enters the picture,” the Nashville-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Rather than listen to that voice that’s telling you why change isn’t possible, call it out. Recognize the fear and move past it. It’s just another wall to be knocked down. We can’t let fear rule our every move. Fear is what has kept us so divided.”

 

 

New Audio: Marcus King Releases an Effortless and Soulful Ballad

Marcus King is a young, rapidly rising, Greenville, SC-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. The Greenville-born, Nashville-based is a fourth generation musician, who followed in his family’s footsteps. Playing professionally since he was 11, King was discovered after a video of him performing at Norman’s Rare Guitars went viral. At 23, King has been performing for the past 15 years, establishing himself as a world class guitarist and vocalist. 

Since 2015, King has been relentlessly touring with his backing band The Marcus King Band — Jack Ryan (drums), Stephen Campbell (bass), Justin Johnson (trumpet, trombone) and Dean Mitchell (sax, still guitar) — playing 140 dates live shows over the course of the past year. Adding to a breakthrough year, King and his backing band have played on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry — and he recently opened for Chris Stapleton during his last US arena tour, playing in front of 17,000 people every night.  

Building upon a rapidly rising profile, King’s highly-anticipated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut El Dorado is slated for a January 17, 2020 release through Fantasy Recordings. Continuing their previous successful collaboration together, “How Long,” King’s full-length debut was co-written with Auerbach over three days at his Easy Eye Sound studio — and reportedly, the album is a contemporary sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country soul.

“Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so,” Dan Auerbach says of his time working with Marcus King. “He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down. I was equally blown away by the way he can sing — so effortless, so soulful, straight to the heart. He’s a naturally gifted writer too, which was clear right away. Everything for him is so innate — that’s why he can always go right to the heart of a song and connect in a deeper way. He’s really one of a king and I’m proud I got to work alongside him on this record.” 

Interestingly, El Dorado’s second and latest single “Wildflowers and Wine” is a slow-burning track that’s one part Muscle Shoals soul, one part Southern rock, one part R&B and one part classic blues centered around a lush arrangement of twinkling keys, a soulful backing vocal section and a sinuous bass pair line paired with King’s vocals. And while being clearly indebted to 70s AM radio, the song manages to be a carefully crafted and self-assured bit of soulful pop, which manages to belie King’s relative youth while being a perfect vehicle for a his blues-tinged guitar work and his exceptional and effortlessly soulful vocals. 

 

Since their formation, the Bay Area-based soul outfit Monophonics — Austin Bohlman (drums), Ian McDonald (guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), Max Ramey (bass) and Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys) –have developed a approach that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: an incredibly cinematic sound that draws from classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock and classic American song craft, recorded on vintage analog recording gear. Along with that there’s a healthy amount of old-fashioned woodshedding and McDonald’s and Finnigan’s late night overdubs and studio work. 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 says.

Simultaneously known as an act that’s keen to create a heavier version of classic soul, and as one of the best contemporary purveyors of the classic soul sound by those in the know, the Bay Area-based act’s  third album It’s Only Us is slated for release next year through Colemine Records. Reportedly, the album is a reflection of what the band sees as the current direction of the world while thematically touching upon messages of unity, strength, resilience and acceptance. Sonically, the album finds the band gently refining their signature sound with a healthy dose of new and warm textures.

“Chances” It’s Only Us‘ first single is a lush and uptempo bit of two-step inducing soul that’s one part deep, crate digging Northern soul and classic American soul, centered around a propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line, fluttering vibraphone, shimmering guitar, bold and lustrous horns. Out in the front of the mix, Finnigan and background vocalists the Soul Mates sing lyrics warning empathetic lovers to think twice about giving that straying lover another chance, making the song an aching and age-old tell off about the difficulties of saying goodbye — even when it’s necessary.

 



New Audio: Midnight Hour Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr.

Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs has released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And as you may recall, the ensemble’s long-awaited sophomore album is also slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2’s first single is a mesmerizing and gorgeous, Quiet Storm meets neo-like bit of soul, centered around an enormous sounding Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, complete with shimmering strings and the like. And yet, the star of the show is Oden’s plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly and passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge note, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”