Tag: Daptone Records

New Video: Thee Sacred Souls Share Slow-Burning and Sun-Dappled “Easier Said Than Done”

Rising San Diego-based soul act Thee Sacred Souls — founding members and multi-instrumentalists Alex Garcia and Sal Samano, along with Josh Lane (vocals) — can trace some of their origins back to simpatico that Garcia and Samano felt while cutting bedroom recorded demos of rhythm tracks that weaved elements of Chicano, Philly, Chicago, Detroit and even Panama soul, which the pair grew up listening to and loved.

When Garcia and Samano connected with Lane, the newly constituted trio quickly settled upon their sound: Lane’s tender falsetto ethereally floating over Garcia’s and Samano’s old-school, two-step inducing rhythms.

Their first live set caught the attention of bassist and Daptone Records co-founder and producer Gabriel Roth, who was so impressed by what he had seen that he invited the band to stop by his Riverside, CA-based studio, Penrose Recorders, where they started putting their first notes on tape. Back in 2020, Daptone Records imprint Penrose Records released the San Diego soul outfit’s debut single “Can I Call You Rose?”/”Weak For Your Love,” a single which caught attention across both the national and international soul scenes.

Building upon a growing profile, Thee Sacred Souls released “Give Us Justice,” a song written in response to George Floyd’s murder. “Give Us Justice,” caught the attention of multi-Grammy Award-nominated JOVM mainstay act The Black Pumas, who mentioned the song as their  “The song that will define 2020 for me” in Rolling Stone. Proceeds from the track were donated to organizations that promote and advocate for the freedoms, rights and well-being of Black people, beginning with the Movement for Black Lives.

Last year, the band released “It’s Our Love,” a slow-burning and swooning, old school-like ballad, featuring soaring organ chords, glistening guitar, shuffling rhythms paired with Lane’s achingly tender falsetto and an enormous hook. The song talks about love in sweetly old-school terms: the deep bond and affection between a romantic couple that’s in it for the long haul. Lucky and rare are those to find it.

Thee Sacred Souls will be releasing their highly-anticipated Gabriel Roth-produced self-titled, full-length debut through Daptone Records on August 26, 2022. The album reportedly sees the San Diego-based soul outfit proudly continuing in the tradition of beloved Daptone Records artists like Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley — both on album and live.

The self-titled album’s latest single, the slow-burning, sun dappled ballad, “Easier Said Than Done” will further cement the act’s growing reputation for effortlessly putting down tight grooves paired with glistening guitar licks, Lane’s achingly plaintive vocals and their unerring knack for infectious hooks. Lyrically, the song captures the fact that love is difficult and requires constant work — both individually and as a couple.

Directed and cinematically shot by Casey Liu, the accompanying video for “Easier Said Than Done” is equally sun dappled, as it follows the trio and their live band through some gorgeous Southern California scenery.

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.”


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 HendrixPaul 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. 

New Audio: Acclaimed Act Innov Gnawa Releases a Gorgeous and Hypnotic Single

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 African — 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. Featuring unique instruments that are often handmade — including the lute-like sintir, the 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 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.

Clocking in at 13.51, Lila’s latest single “Chorfa” is a centered around an expansive arrangement featuring the double bass-like guembri, the hypnotic polyrhythm of the qarqaba and the call and response vocals led by the collective’s Ben Jafaar. The song, much like the rest of their work finds the act tapping into a deeply spiritual and universal longing for freedom, clarity, peace and healing that’s seemingly older than time with a gorgeous, heartfelt sincerity.

Lila is slated for an April 30, 2021 release through Daptone Records.

New Video: San Diego’s Thee Sacred Souls Release a Heartfelt and Old-Timey Ballad

Building upon a growing profile, the trio released “Give Us Justice,” which was written in response to George Floyd’s murder. Multi-Grammy Award-nominated, JOVM mainstays The Black Pumas shouted the song out as “The song that will define 2020 for me” in Rolling Stone — and the proceeds from the track were donated to organizations that promote and advocate for the freedoms, rights and well-being of Black people, beginning with the Movement for Black Lives.

Thee Sacred Souls begin 2021 with “It’s Our Love,” a slow-burning, old-school inspired ballad, centered around soaring organ chords, shuffling drumming, shimmering guitars and Lane’s tender falsetto singing lyrics about the love and connection between a romantic couple. Yes, it’s the sort of song you’d nervously do a slow dance to at your prom — and you’d remember the awkward yet special moment for the rest of your days.

Directed by David Lampley, the recently released video for “It’s Our Love” was shot on grainy textured Super 8 film is split between intimate footage of the band performing the song in the studio and of the band hanging out in various locations in and around San Diego. Unsurprisingly, the video captures the sweet, old-timey-ness of the song, and the band’s chemistry together.

New Audio: Monophonics’ Kelly Finnigan Releases a Strutting and Funky Christmas Tune

Kelly Finnigan (vocals, keys) is best known for being the frontman of the acclaimed West Coast-based soul outfit Monophonics. And since their formation, the act which also features Austin Bohlman (drums), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), and Max Ramey (bass) has developed and honed a sound and approach that continues the traditions of early Motown Records, Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records.

Earlier this year, Monophonics released their third album It’s Only Us and the album further cements their reputation for being an act that’s particularly keen on crafting and playing a heavier and digger take on classic soul — but while revealing a band gently refining their sound to incorporate warmer textures. Thematically, It’s Only Us may arguably be the hardest hitting of their catalog as it touches upon desperately needed calls for unity, understanding, resilience and acceptance in our fractious and divisive world.

Capping out what has been a busy year, Finnigan’s sophomore album Joyful Sound sees its official release today through Colemine Records digitally. (Holly Berry Red will be releasing the vinyl on December 11, 2020). Produced by Finnigan, Joyful Sound is the third album he’s helmed in the past two years — his solo debut, last year’s The Tales People Tell and Monophonics’ It’s Only Us. While continuing Finnigan’s growing reputation for specializing in the classic R&B and soul production and sound, the new album is imbed 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.”

Last month, I wrote about the lush Motown Records-like “No Time To Be Sad,” a classic make-up song that finds the song’s narrator pleading to his lover that they should stop their quarreling and make it a romantic Christmas — because that’s not the season to be bitter or breakup. “Santa’s Watching You,” Joyful Sound’s latest single finds Finnigan giving a strutting gospel burner by The Sacred Four “Somebody’s Watching You” a playful Christmas take in which Santa is now looking at all of us in judgement of our behavior, actions, words and deeds. So you better get your act straight and fly right — or Santa will make sure you get coal and fiery, eternal damnation.

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.