New Video: Dunham Records Release a Funky Single from Charles Bradley’s Posthumous “Black Velvet”

Throughout the bulk of this site’s 8 plus year history, I’ve written a lot about the Charles Bradley, the late, Brooklyn-based soul singer and JOVM mainstay who led a remarkable life, overcoming difficult and overwhelming adversity achieve success and international acclaim late in his life, thanks in part to the release of the documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America, three full-length albums 2011’s No Time For Dreaming, 2013’s Victim of Love and 2016’s Changes, and a powerful, heartfelt live show.  Interestingly, Bradley throughout his relatively short recording career wound up playing a larger-than-life role in pop culture; Bradley was a prominent figure in the Daptone Records live documentary, Living on Soul filmed during the Daptone Records Soul Revue shows back in 2014 at the legendary Apollo Theater; performed on Netflix’s Luke Cage; was the singing voice of Minstrel Krampus on American Dad; and he had tracks featured on a number of films and TV shows, including the title tracks for Netflix’s Big Mouth, HBO’s Barry and more.

And honestly, although those successes came late in his life, none of them should be surprising because what drew so many fans, critics and others towards him was the fact that understood that the great pain and tribulations of his life were a cry for  universal love, brotherhood and empathy. He preached it passionately and constantly — and as many would say, it seemed that he believed that if he loved harder, more passionately, and just more — if we all just loved each other a bit more — we could make the world a much better place. Certainly, in a seemingly dark and cynical world in which humanity is inching towards its annihilation, we could use more Charles Bradleys, more Sharon Joneses, too.

November 5, 2018 would have been Charles Bradley’s 70th birthday and in celebration of the man, his life and his music, Dunham Records will posthumously release his fourth and final album Black Velvet on November 9, 2018.  Featuring 10 tracks lovingly curated by his friends, bandmates and family, the album chronologically spans Bradley’s recording career — but instead of a greatest hits-like anthology or a rehashing of say, several different versions of known and beloved songs, the album focuses on deeper, mostly unreleased cuts recorded during the sessions from each of Bradley’s three albums. The album will include highly sought-after and beloved covers including his takes on Nirvana‘s “Stay Away,” Neil Young‘s “Heart of Gold,” Rodriguez‘s “I’ll Slip Away,” and an alternate full-band electric version of “Victim of Love,” among others.

Of course, in many ways, the album documents the friendship and collaboration shared between Bradley and longtime collaborator, producer and co-writer Tommy Brenneck. As Brenneck explains, Black Velvet‘s first single “I Feel A Change” was recorded during the Victim of Love sessions. “Horns and organ were recorded later adding a haunting beauty to the otherwise a cappella intro. The lyrics are 100% Charles. Personal yet abstract. Directly from the heart. He truly loved the expression ‘going through changes’ and this was a few years before we would record our rendition of Sabbath‘s ‘Changes‘ with the Budos. Sadly Charles never got to hear the finished version of this beautiful song.”

“I Feel a Change” is classic Charles Bradley — the Screaming Eagle of Soul’s imitable vocals passionately expressing desire, frustration and heartache within a turn of a phrase, pleading in a deeply confessional fashion to you. Of course, Bradley’s vocals are paired with a slow-burning, sensual arrangement that feels eerily spectral yet urgent and necessary. The album’s second single “Luv Jones” is arguably the funkiest and most ecstatic track on Black Velvet, a track centered by an explosive horn line, a propulsive rhythm section, burst of organs and Bradley’s vocals crooning about love and needing his love in that old school fashion. Certainly, in light of the fact that we often live in such a dark, cynical and place, we need more sweet, good natured love songs. The man may not be with us but his spirit is forcefully vital and with us, just when we need it the most. Long live Charles Edward Bradley, y’all! Long live Charles Edward Bradley!

To celebrate Charles Bradley’s life and music, a number of Charles Bradley-themed murals will be painted in a number of cities across the world and the recently released accompanying video features a mural painted by Joe Miller in Chicago shot in time-lapse. 

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Comprised of Jane Zabeth Nicholson (vocals), Neil Yodname (guitar), Zeeshan Abbasi (guitar), Cory Osborne (bass) and John Rungger (drums), the Chicago, IL-based shoegazer act Lightfoils formed back in 2010 and since their formation, the band has developed a reputation for pushing the sonic boundaries of the genre with a unique and sophisticated take as heard on 2014’s critically applauded Hierarchy.

The band’s long-awaited, forthcoming album Chambers will be self-released by the band, both for the autonomy and the ability to be intimately involved in all aspects of the album’s production and promotion — and with the album’s first single “Summer Nights, ” the first bit of new material since the release of Hierarchy finds the Chicago-based shoegazers fully commanded the sound they’ve developed with a swaggering self-assuredness, as the band pairs layers of lushly shimmering and chiming guitars with a propulsive, hip-hop like rhythm section and soaring hooks while Zabeth Nicholson’s ethereal vocals float over the mix, expressing deep longing. And while anthemic, the gorgeous track manages to possess the wistful feel of a summer night, complete with the knowledge that a bitterly cold winter is coming.

 

 

New Video: The Ass Kicking Visuals for Electric Citizen’s “Hide It In The Night”

With the release of 2014’s full-length debut Sateen, the Cincinnati, OH-based quartet Electric Citizen, currently comprised of husband and wife duo, Laura Dolan (vocals) and Ross Dolan (guitar), along with Nick Vogelpohl (bass) and Nate Wagner (drums), received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that owes a debt to Led Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, early 70s Rush and others. Building upon a growing profile, the band went on a busy schedule of touring both nationally and internationally with several renowned acts, including Fu Manchu, Wolfmother, The Budos Band, and Pentagram. The quartet’s critically applauded sophomore effort, 2016’s Higher Time found the band expanding upon their sound, as they were crafting muscular and anthemic hooks around prog rock-like structures but while retaining the conciseness of its predecessor. Additionally, the band’s sophomore album found Laura Dolan stepping up into more of a traditional frontperson role, which was reflected during the tour to support Higher Time as she strutted, stomped and swaggered across the stage with a larger-than-life confidence.

The band’s third, full-length effort Helltown was released through RidingEasy Records last month, and the album derives its name from the neighborhood in which the bandmembers live, practices and where the album was written, recorded and mixed. Now more prosaically known as Northside, Helltown earned its name in the early 1800s. thanks to a reputation for the rowdy taverns frequented by the neighborhood’s factory workers and immigrants. And while being an ode to the band’s neighborhood and its buried past, the album is also a decided return to form, employing a much grittier sound that in some way recalls their debut. Additionally, the album finds the band returning to their original lineup. As the band’s Laura Dolan says in press notes, “In many ways this album is a realignment to the first,” Laura says. “We experimented a lot on the second album, some of which we learned we didn’t like.”

“Hide It In The Night,” Helltown‘s first single is centered around Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin power chords, thundering drumming, arena rock friendly hooks and Laura Dolan’s rock star belter vocals — and while heavily indebted to its influences, the track will further cement the Cincinnati-based band’s reputation for tough, gritty, power chord rippers with an anthemic, larger-than-life feel. Further emphasizing the gritty vibe of the song, the recently released video is centered around a brutal, winner-take-all street fight that the members of the band watch with a insouciant cool.

Founded by some of the originators of CMJ and its long-running CMJ Marathon, Mondo.NYC is a music, technology and innovation-based festival that within its first couple years has quietly taken the place of both the CMJ Marathon and New Music Seminar’s New Music Nights Festival. Now, as you may recall, the third edition of Mondo.NYC took place last week and it found the global, emerging music, technology and innovation conference moving a few miles east across the East River to Williamsburg, Brooklyn with  The Williamsburg Hotel,Rough Trade and Brooklyn Bowl hosting daytime conference-related events hosted by  The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA), Guild of Music Supervisors,Record Store Day, and others meant to connect fans, artists, music industry professionals, business pioneers and leading names in tech and music to network, trade ideas and learn in a rapidly changing industry landscape. Additionally, the panels, talks and other events were meant to inspire young people to take control of their careers — whether they were heading towards a technological-based career, behind the scenes in A&R, marketing, promotion, management and publicity or up in front as an artist.

Live music showcases took place across a handful of venues in the New York metropolitan area, including the aforementioned Brooklyn Bowl, Piano’s, Berlin, Arlene’s Grocery,  Coney Island Baby, The Delancey, DROM, Hank’s Saloon, Niagara, N.O.R.D. and Jersey City’s White Eagle Hall that featured artists from the US, Switzerland, Sweden, Hungary, Canada, France and elsewhere performing music across a wide array of genres and styles.

One of the artists who played during the music festival portion was the Swedish adult contemporary pop artist ELINDA, the collaborative music project of the Ekerö, Sweden-born, Stockholm, Sweden-based singer/songwriter and dancer Linda Östergren Frithiof and her husband, multi-instrumentalist and producer Mikael Frihiof. Linda Östergren Frithiof can trace the origins of her performing career as a trained dancer, studying at  the Lasse Kühler Dansskola School and the Ballet Academy, one of Scandinavia’s leading dance schools. While training as a dancer, it was discovered that Östergren Frithiof had a commanding voice and once she graduated dance school, she began performing at nightclubs, cabarets, vacation resorts, cruise ships and corporate events before landing gigs as a backup singer for a number of major Scandinavian artists including Magnus Uggla, Markoolio and E-Type, Shirley Clamp, Martin Stenmarck and Charlotte Perrelli, as well as Lutricia McNeal. She’s also sang vocal demos for Celine Dion, and collaborated with the likes of Leif Larsson and Anders Borgius for Swedish artists like Björn Skifs and David Hasselhoff. (Yes, David Hasselhoff.)

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Adding to a rather diverse and eclectic career path, Östergren Frithiof has played Sally Bowles in the Stockholm-based production of Cabaret and Joanne in the Stockholm-based production of RENT before joining The Original Band — The Abba Tribute, which features a number of musicians who have played with ABBA either on their records or tours. Additionally, Östergren Frithiof, was involved in the casting, choreography and scripting for the show, which has toured across Sweden and has performed in China several times, including a televised audience of more than 100 million viewers for the Chinese New Year broadcast.

Östergren Frithof, has been building up a profile as a solo artist largely inspired by the sounds, vocal styles and stage shows of Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Chaka Khan, Prince, Justin Timberlake,Beyonce, Alicia Keys, Ariana Grande and Bruno Mars. With her husband and collaborator Mikael, they formed a label Breaking Records and began writing and recording original material that draws from her own life, centered around her struggles and victories as an artist and mother of five. Interestingly, her MONDO.NYC set at Piano’s was her Stateside debut and I spoke to the up-and-coming Swedish adult contemporary pop artist and her husband at P.J. Clarke’s Lincoln Center location about her career to date, the MONDO.NYC Festival, her dance floor friendly, feminist anthem “Superwoman” and a lot more. Check it out.

Throughout this site’s eight plus year history I’ve written a lot about the ridiculously prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar, and as you’ll likely recall he has received attention for slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, soul hip-hop, New Wave and others.  Interestingly, over the past year or so, the longtime JOVM mainstay has increasingly employed the use of live instrumentation to his remixes; in fact, his latest remix finds him taking on the Depeche Mode classic “Never Let Me Down Again.”

Featuring Jason Spillman (bass), Angus Mashgyver (guitar) and samples of Heavenly Music Corporation and Cliff Martinez, the remix retains Dave Gahan‘s imitable vocal but places it within a slightly more up-tempo setting with layers upon layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a dance floor friendly break, and ambient flute and other instrumentation to bolster the song’s melody in the song’s quieter moments. Live bass and guitar give the song a muscular and funky heft. But while pushing the song from ambient and industrial electro pop to thumping, industrial-inspired house, Rhythm Scholar manages to retain the most important quality of the song — it’s brooding, emotional quality.

 

Matthew Messore, is an Orlando, FL-born and-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist — and as the story goes, after spending a period of time traveling across the country, Messore returned to his hometown to work on music, with his solo, bedroom recording project Cathedral Bells. So far, the project’s material thematically focuses on the disquiet and isolation that comes after leaving your hometown for a while and finding yourself returning to the life you thought you left. Interestingly enough Messore’s latest single is a cover of Teen Beams’ “Cemetery Surf,” that manages to retains the lo-fi, home recorded vibes and ethereal melodies of the original, while pushing the tempo up to an almost dance floor friendly level with an emphasis on jangling guitars — and while being a subtle yet unique take on the original, it reveals the song’s infectious hooks.

 

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New Video: Maria Del Pilar’s Groove-Driven Call for Empathy for DREAMers

Maria Del Pilar is a Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and musician, whose family immigrated to the States when she was a child. After developing roots in her adoptive hometown, Del Pilar became an integral part of the city’s music scene as the frontwoman of the critically acclaimed local act, Los Abandoned. Pilar’s solo debut Songs + Canciones I was released to critical praise for Del Pilar’s ability to craft infectious pop hooks that possess a rock ‘n’ roll grit that recalled her Riot Grrl roots. Interestingly, Songs + Canciones I‘s lead single “En El Dancefloor” skyrocketed to the top of the Mexican radio charts and led to shows at Vive Latino and Mexico City’s prestigious The Zocalo.

Songs + Canciones II, the highly-anticipated follow-up to Del Pilar’s solo debut is slated for a November 2, 2018 release, and while finishing up the album, Del Pilar has managed to collaborate with a diverse array of renowned artists including Chicano Batman, Francisca Valenzuela, and Tegan & Sara; in fact, the album features collaborations with a virtual who’s who of the Los Angeles music scene, including members of Chicano Batman, No Doubt, Las Cafeteras, Fitz + The Tantrums and others. But in the meantime, the Chilean-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter has also performed as a backing singer  during tUnE yArDs’ most recent appearance on Conan. Adding to a growing profile, “Se Me Hace Mas” was recently  featured on the new Starz drama Vida.

“Original Dreamer,” Songs + Canciones II’s latest single is of our current sociopolitical moment, as it was written while the Trump Administration and the Republican led house was busily repealing DACA, which struck a chord both personally and politically. After the introduction and approval of 2001’s DREAM Act, millions of undocumented minors were granted legal residency in the States along with their parents and guardians. Del Pilar’s mother and father were among the first DREAMers — but sadly, her mother died when she was 12.  The stories reminded me of what I saw my parents go through when I was a kid immigrating from Chile to the US,” Del Pilar says in press notes. “I had a chance to thank my father for these sacrifices but never got a chance to thank my mom. This song gives me that chance.”

Produced by Poolside‘s Flip Nikolic, the song features looping, psych rock-inspired guitar lines from Chicano Batman’s Carlos Arevalo — and while centered around a fiercely held belief that no one is an illegal alien, the percussive, deep groove-driven song manages to bring Fear of Music-era Talking Heads to mind; but with a bold, distinctly Latin flavor and vibe, along with some infectious hooks. Of course, at its core is a deep (and much-needed) empathy and understanding of the plight of society’s most vulnerable, reminded the listener that a great deal of Americans are descendants of those who have taken great risks and had enormous dreams.

Directed by Maria del Pilar and Guillermo Moreno, the recently released lyric video begins with a number of DREAMers telling the stories of the sacrifices and risks that their parents’ and loved ones’ took to get to the States, the big hopes and even bigger dreams they had for their children — and the deep seated sense of appreciation these DREAMers have for their parents. Photos of some of these DREAMers with their parents at various ages, ending with these young people graduating from school — and everyone is beaming with pride and hope for bright futures. The lyric video will further emphasize the song’s call for empathy (which we need more of in a deeply cynical world). 

New Video: Everlast’s Searing Indicment of Instagram Culture

Born Erik Francis Schrody, the Valley Stream, NY-born, Los Angeles, CA-based singer/songwriter, guitarist and emcee Everlast is a multi-Grammy Award-winning and multi-platinum selling artist. best known for as being the frontman and co-founder of House of Pain, a member of hip-hop supergroup La Coka Nostra, which featured members of House of Pain and others, and for an lengthy solo career that he can trace back to the late 80s as a member of Ice T’s Rhyme Syndicate collective; but he’s probably best known for his critically and commercially successful sophomore album Whitey Ford Sings the Blues, which featured smash hits “What It’s Like” and “Ends,” and for his Grammy Award-winning collaboration with Carlos Santana “Put Your Lights On.” 

Everlast’s seventh full-length album Whitey Ford’s House of Pain was released last month through the Valley Stream-born, Los Angeles-based artist’s own label Martyr-Inc.. The album is the first batch of new material since 2011’s Songs of the Ungrateful Living and the album’s latest single “Don’t Complain” is centered by his imitable gruff and raspy vocals and a bluesy production featuring strummed acoustic guitar and boom bap drumming — and much like the bulk of his solo catalog, the single is a searing indictment of the phoniness and douchebaggery of Instagram culture, in which everyone hides their misery and discontent with all the cool shit they’re doing, all the cool shit they own and so on.  As Everlast says in press notes,  the song is “about some Hollywood cats I find humorously douchey,”

The recently released video follows a greedy and cynical talent agency, who picks a homeless man off the street to make him famous, only to drop him back on the street a few months later. Throughout the video subtly points at what happens to this man’s soul as he’s becomes a celebrity of sorts, drinking, drugging and womanizing with some influence and power — to cruelly lose it. 

New Video: Introducing the Gorgeous and Brooding Sounds and Visuals of Quietwater

Comprised of  classically trained cello Michelle Elliot Rearick  who has collaborated with a diverse list of acclaimed artists including Adele, Nas, Erykah Badu, and H.E.R. and producer and drummer Colin Ingram, who has worked with Living Legends’ Luckyiam, Terra Lopez and Vast Air among others, the California-based duo Quietwater write moody and ethereal compositions featuring classical cello arrangements over hip-hop like breakbeats. The duo’s debut, self-titled EP is slated for a November 16, 2018, and the EP’s latest single “Overcast,” is a cinematic track that will further cement their reputation as its centered around a gorgeous and melancholy cello arrangement and boom bap-like breakbeats that brings the Detroit-born, Los Angeles-based beatmakers and Chilly Gonzales’ The Unspeakable to mind. 

As the duo’s Colin Ingram says of the song and its inspiration, “I was improvising with a couple friends. One friend on guitar, one friend on drums, I was playing a synth. We recorded it. My friend Cory who was playing drums always talked about how much he loved the song. Cory decided to end his life when he was faced with an overwhelming amount of life’s let downs and depression. When I met Michelle the first thing I wanted to do was remake this song we had recorded and honor Cory in a more complete and cinematic way. This song means so much to me and it gives Cory eternal life as far as I’m concerned.”

Interestingly, the recently released video features cinematically shot landscape footage superimposed with psychedelic imagery that manages to emphasize the song’s brooding nature. 

Throughout the past summer, I’ve written quite a bit about the Glasgow, Scotland-based synth pop act Free Love, and since their formation back in 2014 under the name Happy Meals, the act which is comprised of Suzanne Rodden and Lewis Cook quickly established themselves as one of Scotland’s most acclaimed, contemporary electronic music acts; in fact, their 2015 full-length debut Apero received a Scottish Album of the Year nod. And adding to a growing profile. the duo has opened for Liars and The Flaming Lips, and played sets at festivals in Austin, TXMoscow, and Bangalore.

With the release of “Synchronicity,” a track that may remind some listeners of Nu Shooz‘s “I Can’t Wait,” and New Order‘s “Blue Monday” and “Bizarre Love Triangle, the duo further cemented their reputation for crafting utopian-leaning and brainy dance pop centered around shimmering analog synths. As the duo explained in press notes, the song is breaking free from the binds of culturally dictated self-limitation, coupled with the vertigo of complete freedom. The Scottish synth pop duo released two more singles, the ecstatic Giorgio Moroder and New Wave-like “Pushing Too Hard,” and the acid-house-like “July,” which brought Come With Us-era Chemical Brothers and Tweekend-era Crystal Method to mind. The duo’s forthcoming EP Luxury Hits is slated for a November 9, 2018 release and the EP’s latest single “Playing As Punks” will further cement the Scottish duo’s reputation for crafting 80s inspired synth-based New Wave — in this case, much like “Synchronicity,” taking its cues directly from early New Order and early house music as the track sonically is centered around arpeggiated synths, industrial clang-like drum programming and an soaring yet infectious hook; but underneath the dance floor friendly vibes, the song focuses on being here in this very brief moment with the understanding and acceptance of the fact that it won’t last.