Tag: Daptone Records

New Audio: Monophonics’ Kelly Finnigan Releases a Gorgeous and Soulful Christmas Song

Over the past year or so I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed West Coast-based soul outfit Monophonics — Austin Bohlman (drums), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), Max Ramey (bass) and Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys) – and since their formation, the members of the band have developed a sound and approach that continues in the tradition of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records. Much like their influences, the Bay Area-based soul outfit’s material is generally centered round a lush, cinematic sound that draws from classic soul, heavy funky and psych rock, recorded on vintage analog gear to give it that period specific sound. Naturally, they’ve paired that with a healthy amount of old-fashioned woodshedding, crafting 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 said in press notes.

Earlier this year, Monophonics released their third album It’s Only Us earlier this year. The album further cements their reputation for being an act that’s particularly keen to creating and playing a heavier and edgier take on classic soul, while revealing a band that gently refining their sound to incorporate some warmer textures. Thematically, the album’s material focuses son much-needed messages of unity in our fractious and divisive world and of strength, resilience and acceptance.

Capping off a very busy year, Monophonics’ frontman Kelly Finnigan will be releasing his full-length album Joyful Sound through Holly Berry Red (vinyl) and Colemine Records (digitally and CD) on November 24, 2020. Produced by Finnigan, the album will be the third album he’s helmed in the past two years, including his solo debut effort The Tales People Tell and Monophonics aforementioned It’s Only Us. Interestingly, Joyful Sound finds Finnigan crafting and production an album with the elements of a classic R&B record — but with a joyful, holiday spirit.

Featuring members of Durand Jones & The Indications, The Dap-Kings, Ghost Funk Orchestra, Monophonics, Thee Sinseers, Orgōne, Ikebe Shakedown, Jason Joshua & The Beholders, The True Loves, Jungle Fire, Delvon Lamar Organ Trio, The Jive Turkeys, The Ironsides, and The Harlem Gospel Travelers, as well as Ben Pirani, Neal Francis and Rudy De Anda among others, Joyful Sound is inspired by Atlantic Records’ Soul Christmas, Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift For You and Rotary Connection’s Peace.

“I want people to feel joy and hope. I want the music to remind them what they are thankful for,” Finnigan says in press notes about Joyful Sound. “The songs and mood of the music should spark a feeling that it is a special time of year but also that it can also be a very difficult time for others. Holidays are about bringing people together to celebrate and I want this record to be a soundtrack for those celebrating but also a reminder that a lot of people are still struggling regardless if it’s Christmas or not. Most Importantly, I want them to hear the love and passion that went into the music. I’m lucky to have some incredible musicians and artists on the record and I hope they can hear the joy that everyone put into their performance. There’s a feeling of magic and nostalgia that lives in those classic Christmas songs and I believe I was able to capture some of that on this record. Christmas has become a grand event in most places in the world but we all have to remember that the reason this holiday is special for most is because it brings people together and reminds us that our friends and family are what’s most important.”

“No Time To Be Sad,” Joyful Sound’s latest single finds Finnigan firmly establishing himself as key producer, songwriter and producer in the contemporary soul scene. Centered around a lush, Motown Records-inspired arrangement, complete with soaring strings and brooding horns paired with Finnigan’s achingly tender falsetto and a gorgeous melody “No Time To Be Sad” is a classic, make-up tune in which the song’s couple finds a way to make up and have a romantic Christmas — but interestingly enough, the song is the sort of makeup song that can be played almost any time because the sentiment at its core is so deeply universal and so heartfelt.


Rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax RecordsMotown RecordsMuscle ShoalsNew OrleansPhiladelphia and San Francisco.

Over the past eight years, the members of the Lincoln-based act have been one of the Midwest’s hardest working bands, releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, which they’ve supported through several tours across the Continental US and two European tours. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for the likes of George Clinton, Charles BradleyBooker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s Eddie Roberts-produced fifth album Natural Born Hustler is slated for release later this year through Color Red Records, and the album further establishes the act’s sound — music written for grown-ass folks by written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting while sonically drawing from 70s funk and blues, doo-wop and psych soul with a modern twist.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hustler,” Natural Born Hustler‘s third single was a strutting and defiantly upbeat bit of soul that seemed indebted to The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis. The end result was a track is one-part, much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one-part, much-needed rallying cry for our uncertain times.

“Sunday Lies,” Natural Born Hustler‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of coolly strutting, bluesy soul centered around twinkling organ, Hoyer’s Tom Jones-like crooning, wah wah pedaled guitar, twinkling organ, a looping and propulsive groove and a cinematic yet powerhouse horn line. But underneath the expansive song structure and cool strutting vibes is a simmering anger, as the song calls out the widening chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. In fact, the song’s narrator makes the observation that for voters, the voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages — and the willful blinders that sometimes inhibit the faithful from accepting the truth and reality: that they’re being cynically played by wanton hypocrites.

Rydell · Three Wise Monkeys

With the release of her debut single, Vienna-based singer/songwriter Kimberly Rydell, best known as Rydell, exploded into the international scene, as her debut received praise from Complex and The Line of Best Fit, as well as landing on Spotify’s Fresh Finds: The Wave playlist.

Building upon a rapidly growing profile, the Vienna-based singer/songwriter recently released GoodBrain-produced debut EP Stained Notes. The EP’s material came from a fluid writing process in which they committed each element straight to the final recording as soon as it was written. “Every idea led to another and another and another. It felt like the more dense it became, the better. What started with guitar and vocals, was then constructing and seating a new orchestra member every 15 minutes,” Rydell recalls in press notes. Additionally, the rising Vienna-based singer/songwriter paid particular attention to the way the material’s instrumentation influenced her thoughts and emotions, making sure that her lyrics were carefully intertwined with the arrangements.

The EP”s first single “Three Wise Monkeys” was coincidentally, the first song of the sessions that GoodBrain and Rydell wrote together. Starting off with Rydell’s soulful vocals and strummed acoustic guitar, the song slowly builds up intensity with soaring organ flourishes, a gospel-like backing choir, thumping and propulsive snare drum, the song is thematically centered around the old proverb of the three wise monkeys — hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. But at its core, the song is an earnest and urgent call to listeners to open their eyes, ears, months and hearts at a time of monstrous evil and inequality that sonically manages to nod at Daptone Records and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams and The Affirmations.
 

 

 

 

New Video: Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers and Brother GoodLove Follow Black Lives Matters Protests in DC

Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his off days, Evans would go into the studio and play guitar, eventually recording a collection of songs that he felt didn’t quite fit with Soulive that he wanted to release on his own — Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.

Last month, I wrote about “Good Thang,” a track that featured an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that included DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributed sultry vocals to a feel good, Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem.

Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers’ latest single “As Far As We Know” finds Evans collaborating with frequent collaborators Darby Wolf (piano), BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet) and Brian “BT” Thomas (trombone) and Cynthia Tolson (string) on a slow-burning and gentle old-school arrangement that recalls Curtis Mayfield. Stephane Detchou, a Montreal-born and-based, Cameroonian-Canadian singer/songwriter, who writes and performs as Brother GoodLove, a soul project that finds the Cameroonian-Canadian exploring his identity and sense of self and reflecting on the world at large while pushing for a future with peace through the understanding of others contributes the song’s hopeful and uplifting lyrics and vocals. Even when things seem bleak and uncertain, we can still hold on to the hope that a new paradigm and a new world may be just around the corner — it’s just a shame that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and countless other brothers and sisters, who pushed this country to live up to the ideals of its framers aren’t alive to finally see it.

“I originally wrote the music for ‘As Far As We Know’ back in May 2019 with another VLM project in mind,” Evans says of the latest Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers single. “”I knew that I wanted to have Stephane (Brother GoodLove) singing on this song from the beginning. I didn’t realize that Stephane would turn that working title into such beautiful and powerful lyrics—I was really blown away when he sent me the first demo of the vocal and couldn’t wait to get it into full production but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time. But once I had the idea for the new CrushedVelvet and the Velveteers album, ‘As Far As You Know’ being included was a no brainer. So during quarantine, Stephane cut the vocals and I called on my Vintage League Music family of musicians to fill out the song and the rest is history. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Directed by Samuel Hall, the recently released video for “As Far As Know” follows Stephane Detchou on a stroll through Washington, DC — and while capturing daily life in DC during the COVID-19 pandemic, the video primarily is focused around the city’s Black Lives Matter protests. The song and its accompanying video manages to capture the hope  for positive change and equality for all that we hope is coming soon. And in case you forgot: BLACK LIVES MATTER! 

Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his off days, Evans would go into the studio and play guitar, eventually recording a collection of songs that he felt didn’t quite fit with Soulive that he wanted to release on his own — Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.

Last month, I wrote about “Good Thang,” a track that featured an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that included DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributed sultry vocals to a feel good, Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem.

Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers’ latest single “As Far As We Know” finds Evans collaborating with frequent collaborators Darby Wolf (piano), BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet) and Brian “BT” Thomas (trombone) and Cynthia Tolson (string) on a slow-burning and gentle old-school arrangement that recalls Curtis Mayfield. Stephane Detchou, a Montreal-born and-based, Cameroonian-Canadian singer/songwriter, who writes and performs as Brother GoodLove, a soul project that finds the Cameroonian-Canadian exploring his identity and sense of self and reflecting on the world at large while pushing for a future with peace through the understanding of others contributes the song’s hopeful and uplifting lyrics and vocals. Even when things seem bleak and uncertain, we can still hold on to the hope that a new paradigm and a new world may be just around the corner — it’s just a shame that Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, John Lewis and countless other brothers and sisters, who pushed this country to live up to the ideals of its framers aren’t alive to finally see it.

“I originally wrote the music for ‘As Far As We Know’ back in May 2019 with another VLM project in mind,” Evans says of the latest Crushed Velvet and The Velveteers single. “”I knew that I wanted to have Stephane (Brother GoodLove) singing on this song from the beginning. I didn’t realize that Stephane would turn that working title into such beautiful and powerful lyrics—I was really blown away when he sent me the first demo of the vocal and couldn’t wait to get it into full production but for whatever reason, it wasn’t the right time. But once I had the idea for the new CrushedVelvet and the Velveteers album, ‘As Far As You Know’ being included was a no brainer. So during quarantine, Stephane cut the vocals and I called on my Vintage League Music family of musicians to fill out the song and the rest is history. Without a doubt, it’s one of my favorite songs I’ve ever written.”

Alan Evans is a songwriter, composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known for being the co-founder of acclaimed jazz fusion trio and JOVM mainstays Soulive. Back in 2008, while Soulive was on a break from touring, Evans spent his time producing, recording and mixing bands from around the world in his Western Massachusetts-based recording studio. On his days off, he would go into the studio and play guitar, recording a collection of material that he didn’t feel fit Soulive but wanted to release under his own name — Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers wound up becoming Evans’ guitar playing alter ego.

Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers’ latest single, the strutting “Good Thang” features an All-Star cast of funk and jazz musicians that includes DJ Williams’ Shots Fired‘s and Rubblebucket’s Darby Wolf (organ), The Curtis Mayflower’s Pete Aleski (guitar), Akashic Record‘s and BT ALC Big Band’s Brian “BT” Thomas” (trombone), ALC Funktet’s and BT ALC Big Band’s Alex Lee-Clark (trumpet), BT ALC Big Band’s Tucker Antell (alto and tenor saxophone) BT ALC Big Band’s Jared Sims (baritone sax) and Kim Dawson (vocals), who contributes sultry vocals to a Daptone meets Muscle Shoals-like anthem, complete with an enormous horn section and an even bigger hook.

“Crushed Velvet and the Velveteers is all about spontaneous creation for me and the very creative friends I get to call on to be a part of it. ‘Good Thang’ is a perfect example,” Evans says in press notes. “Initially I went into the studio, picked up the guitar and let whatever I was feeling come out without worrying about what kind of song it was.” He continues, “Before I knew it, I had a really great feeling bed of bass, drums and guitar laid down. From there, I asked my great friends Darby, Pete, Brian, Alex, Tucker, Jarad and Kim to take what I started and record exactly what inspired them to play. That is the best part of making music for me, creating something that will inspire people.”

The rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The Lincoln-based quintet have developed a reputation for being of the area’s hardest working bands: releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, the members of the rising soul act have played hundreds of shows and have made several tours across the Continental United States and two European tours, opening for the George Clinton,Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, and Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and others.

Further cementing their reputation as one of the Plain States’ hardest working bands, the members of the Lincoln-based soul act will be releasing their Eddie Roberts-produced fifth later later this year through Color Red Records. “Hustler,” the album’s cinematic, third and latest single is a strutting bit of soul, prominently featuring Hoyer’s soulful, Tom Jones-like vocals, a commanding horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous and rousingly anthemic hook. While seemingly possessing elements of The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis, the upbeat track manages to be one-part much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one part much-needed rallying cry for our unprecedented and uncertain moment, centered around the assuring yet forceful line “When the world wants you to sink or swim, I ain’t goin’ under.”

Things may be bleak right now but keep fighting y’all. There’s much hard and necessary work to be done.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rachel Huggins is an emerging London-based singer/songwriter, soul and R&B artist, who has had a lifelong passion for music. Although some of her earliest musical memories are of performing at school and at church, her roots in music may have even earlier origins: “My mother had a dream whilst she was pregnant with me,” Huggins explains in press notes, “and in it, she says that she remembers me being a baby, running across a large room to a white piano, where I started playing it. Perhaps this is why they wanted me to learn piano, who knows?”

Throughout her studies, the emerging London-based singer/songwriter, and soul and R&B artist performed across town, eventually founding a gospel choir. While studying music business and production and sociology at the University of Westminster, Huggins began to form her identity as a singer/songwriter and musician — and as a performer, with a stint as a backing vocalist for Billy Ocean and singing the National Anthem for Nelson Mandela.

Since then, Huggins has been extremely busy: she has been a two-time finalist in the BBC’s Gospel Choir of the Year competition, featured as a backing vocalist for DJ Vadim and Sola Rosa — and she has played at Glastonbury Festival, Green Man Festival, Kendal Calling and Secret Garden Party, while finishing up a Masters of Arts in Culture, Language and Identity in Education at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Huggins’ forthcoming EP Keep Dreaming is slated for release later this year. Inspired by and grounded in gospel, soul and jazz, Huggins’ solo work is centered around tales of love and aspiration, with the hopes of lifting and inspiring listeners. The EP’s first single “Take Control” was written after she made the decision to leave a stressful and unfulfilling day job to pursue her dreams. “It’s about acquiring freedom to express without inhibition,” the emerging London-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Sometimes we care so much about the thoughts of others we lose ourselves and momentarily become what others want or expect whilst suppressing who we really are.  I choose to fight and encourage people along the way.”

Keep Dreaming‘s second and latest single “Feels so Good” is a sultry, mid-tempo ballad, centered around a classic soul-inspired arrangement that’s roomy enough to let Huggins’ easygoing yet self-assured and soulful vocals guide the song forward. At its core, the song is a sweet and swooning, old-fashioned love song that sounds as though it could have been released during Motown‘s heyday — or on Daptone Records. “‘Feels So Good’ is an old-fashioned love story,” the rising London-based artist explains in press notes. “It’s an expression of love similar to that which would have been once shared in a love letter. Sometimes we admire people from a distance, and the other person never really knows how valued they are to someone else. If someone makes you feel good, tell them!”

 

 

 

New Audio: Monophonics Release a Swooning and Shimmering Ballad

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 an approach that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: much like their influences, the Bay Area soul outfit’s material is centered by an incredibly cinematic sound that draws heavily from classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock  recorded on vintage analog recording gear. This is paired with a healthy amount of old-fashion woodshedding, crafting 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 in press notes. 

Monophonics’ third full-length album It’s Only Us is slated for a March 13, 2020 release though Colemine Records. While the album will further cement their long-held reputation for being an act that’s keen to creating and playing a heavier and edgier version of classic soul, and for arguably being one of the Bay Area’s best classic soul-inspired acts, the album reportedly is a reflection of what the band sees as the current, troubling direction of our world. Thematically, the album touches upon much-needed messages of unity in a fractious and divisive world, strength, resilience and acceptance. Also, sonically, It’s Only Us reportedly finds the rising soul act gently refining their signature sound with a healthy dose of new and warmer textures. 

Last year, I wrote about “Chances,” It’s Only Us’ lush and uptempo bit of two-step inducing soul that sounds like a crate digger’s dream of stumbling across some obscure and dusty Northern soul or classic American soul from the mid 60s. But at its core, the song warned empathetic lovers to think twice about giving that straying lover another chance, making the song an aching and age-old tale of the difficulties of saying goodbye to a no-good lover — even when it’s absolutely necessary.  It’s Only Us’ second and latest single, album title track “It’s Only Us” is a lush and swooning track, centered around an achingly gorgeous brass line, shimmering keys and guitars, a sinuous bass line and Finnigan’s soulful and vulnerable crooning — and while being both subtly psychedelic and cinematic in a way that recalls Curtis Mayfield, Issac Hayes and others, the song, as the band’s Kelly Finnigan explains “is about the first time you tell someone you love them. It’s that moment in life so many of us have had where we make ourselves our most vulnerable. While on the outside, it has the qualities of a traditional love song, underneath it is an anthem for humanity. Right now, we are witnessing a time where so many people feel polarized and there is a divisive mood in the country. inside the story is a message of unity, trust and acceptance that goes beyond falling in love.”