Tag: Earth Wind and Fire

I wrote quite a bit about  Raleigh, NC-based funk and soul artist and JOVM mainstay Jamil Rashad, best known for his acclaimed solo recording project Boulevards several years ago — and because some time has passed since I’ve personally written about him, I feel that it’s necessary for a bit of a refresher.

As the son of renowned jazz radio DJ, Rashad grew up in a musical household in which a passionate interest in music was fostered and encouraged. Unsurprisingly, a young Rashad listened to a wide variety of music including jazz, blues, R&B and funk. When the Raleigh-based JOVM mainstay was in his teens, he became a self-confessed “scene kid” and got into punk, hardcore and metal, which he admitted later influenced his solo production work.

After attending art school and playing in a couple of local bands, Rashad wound up returning to the sounds that first captured his heart and imagination — funk. Rashad began writing and recording what he has described as “party funk jams for the heart and soul to make you move.,” developing a reputation for a sound that’s heavily indebted to 70s and 80s funk that has helped add his name to a growing list of artists in a contemporary neo-disco/neo-funk movement that includes acts like Dam-Funk, Escort, Mark Ronson, and others through the release of two full-length albums — 2016’s Groove and 2017’s Hurttown, USA.

Slated for a June release, Rashad’s forthcoming, third Boulevards album YADIG! is reportedly a world-building effort that paints aural portraits of love found on the dance floor, nights you hope will never end and the adrenaline-meets-sleep-deprived in-betweens as the sun is rising. The album’s latest single “Take It To The Top” is a funky strut centered by a sinuous bass line, scorching blasts of psych rock meets Prince-like guitars, thumping beats and Rashad’s self-assured yet sultry crooning that sonically brings Rick James, Prince and others to mind.

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Camille Trust Releases a Sultry Bit of Funky Pop

Over the past few years of this site’s almost nine year history, I’ve written a bit about the up-and-coming Tampa, FL-born, New York-based soul/pop artist, Camille Trust. And as you may recall, Trust has publicly cited Janis Joplin, Lauryn Hill and Etta James as major influences — although from her live shows and raw, unvarnished honesty, her work strikes me as being much more indebted to Mary J. Blige.

Last year was big year for the Tampa-born, New York-based soul/pop artist as she released her long-awaited debut EP No Other Way, which featured the sultry “Freak,” a track that to my ears was part Gwen Stefani “Hollaback Girl” part Mark Ronson’s “Uptown Funk” part Rick James with an Earth Wind and Fire-like horn line. Sonically, the song was a strutting and swaggering bit of hook-driven funk paired within a brash and boldly feminist anthem in which, the song’s narrator openly and freely talks about lust and desiring raunchy, freaky sex from her object of affection.  Building upon the attention that she received for “Freak,” Trust’s latest single “Scandalous” continues in a similar vein — sultry and strutting, hook-driven funk with a sinuous bass line, a big horn line; but unlike its predecessor, the song sounds a bit more indebted to Prince and Carl Carlton’s “She’s a Bad Mama Jama” and The Gap Band, with a self-assured, come-hither performance from Trust. 

Directed by Dylan Perlot and featuring choreography by Camille Trust and Ivy Ledon, the recently released video for “Scandalous” continues from its predecessor, following Trust is a feverishly shot visual that features split screens, 80s styled Flashdance-like dance routines and some sultry strutting from Trust and her backing dancers — as expected. Much like the song it accompanies, it’s brash, self-assured and just a lot of fun, capturing a young vocalist, who I think we’ll be hearing quite a bit more from.

New Video: Stone Mecca’s Politically Charged and Heartfelt Visuals for “Boogeyman”

Stone Mecca is a Los Angeles, CA-based producer, singer/songwriter and self-taught multi-instrumentalist, who honed his own craft by listening to Jimi Hendrix, BB King, Parliament Funkadelic, Al Green, Prince, and Earth, Wind and Fire — and as a producer and musician, the Los Angeles-based producer and musician has played live with the aforementioned Earth, Wind and Fire, George Clinton, Wu-Tang Clan and RZA. Developing a reputation for easily navigating through a diverse array of musical genres and styles, Stone Mecca has contributed to the soundtracks for Django Unchained, The Main with the Iron First, Friday, Blade: Trinity, Soul Plane, Repo Men, Afro Samurai and Afro Samurai Resurrection. The Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist has also appeared on albums by Wu-Tang Clan, RZA, Kanye West, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg. And as a solo artist, Stone Mecca’s 2007 full-length debut First Contact featured the critically acclaimed song “A Walk,” a track that OkayPlayer said “in a fair world, music like this would be present all the tim eon prime time rotation in various radio markets.” 

Stone Mecca’s latest album Alienman was released last November, and the album finds the Los Angeles-based producer and multi-instrumentalist stripping down his sound to the rawest form possible — and while pairing tweeter and woofer rocking hip hop beats, funky bass lines, bluesy guitars and soulful melodies, his sound generally blurs the lines between hip-hop, soul, blues, funk and roots rock. Alienman’s latest single is the sultry and swaggering “Boogeyman.” Centered around thumping beats, some blazing guitar work and a G-funk era bass line, the track features some politically charged and righteous lyrics that subtly recall the great Curtis Mayfield and JOVM mainstay Cody ChesnutT, as the song touches upon hypocrisy and challenges media-driven fear-mongering, stereotyping and racism. 

Directed by Alex Von Kurkendall and based on a concept by Stone Mecca and Von Kurkendall, the recently released video further emphasizes the politically charged nature of the song as it reminds the viewer that with every group there are villains and heroes — and that most important, we live in a society in which the dignity and decency of entire groups of people are being ignored. 

New Video: Camille Trust Returns with a Swaggering, Feminist Anthem

Throughout the past handful of years, I’ve written a bit about Camille Trust, an up-and-coming Tampa, FL-born, New York-based soul/pop artist. And as you may recall, Trust has cited the likes of Janis JoplinLauryn Hill and Etta James; however from with her energetic, dynamic stage presence and raw, unvarnished honesty, her work to me, seems much more indebted to Mary J. Blige.

2018 has been a big year for the Tampa-born, New York-based soul/pop artist, as she released her long-awaited debut EP No Other Way. Trust closes out the year with the release of “Freak,” a sultry track that draws from both classic soul, contemporary pop and hip-hop simultaneously as its centered by a Gwen StefaniHollaback Girl” meets Mark Ronson‘s “Uptown Funk” meets Rick James-like performance from Trust, handclap-led hook, a horn arrangement reminiscent of Earth Wind and Fire. But more important, the song is a brash, boldly feminist anthem in which the song’s narrator talks about wanting and needing raunchy, nasty, freaky sex from her object of affection.

Directed by Tanima Mehrotra and featuring choreography by Camille Trust and Ivy Ledon, the recently released video features Trust and a series of different backing dancers shot in a series of dressed in bold, bright colors in front of equally bold, bright backgrounds — before pulling out to reveal the behind the scenes, with Trust taking off earrings and getting ready for a successive video. Much like the song, it’s brash, sensual, playful and captures the artist’s swaggering and undeniable confidence and presence.

Raymond James Mason is a Long Island, NY-born, Brooklyn-born trombonist and singer/songwriter. As the story goes, Mason picked up the trombone at a very young age, and as a teenager, he studied classical performance and jazz studies at my alma mater NYU, where he studied with Brian Lynch, Lenny Pickett, Alan Ferber and Elliot Mason. Upon graduating, Mason quickly became an in-demand musician, playing across a wide variety of genres; but he’s best known for being a member of renowned local Afrobeat act Antibalas, which eventually led to him becoming a member of the Daptone Records/Dunham Records in-house band, playing with the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band, Lee Fields and the The Expressions and many others. Additionally, Mason has performed and or recorded with the likes of Alicia Keys, David Byrne, Randy Newman, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Arcade Fire, Ed Sheeran, Janelle Monae, Lukas Graham, Nile Rodgers, Tame Impala, Maren Morris, Earth Wind and Fire, Mark Ronson and and more. Unsurprisingly, he very busy Mason learned from these artists while honing his own compositional and vocal skills, patiently waiting for his moment to step out in the spotlight.

Back in October 2016, Mason reached out to Daptone Records house band member, longtime friend and Dala Records founder Billy Aukstik to set up at a casual recording session. At the time, Aukstik was recording out of an old East Village brownstone basement, equipped with only a Tascam 388 8-track tape recorder and a few old ribbon microphones. Aukstik and Mason assembled an all-star squad of local soul musicians, including Alex Chakour, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Freddy DeBoe, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Joe Harrison, who has played with Nick Hakim and Charles Bradley; and Morgan Price, who has played with Antibalas to record a couple of Mason’s compositions — two of which wound up becoming the A and B sides of Mason’s solo debut, “Back When”/”No Clue.”

A side single “Back When” is a strutting and swaggering bit of a soul pop centered around an arrangement of Arp Omni bass synth, fuzzy guitar lines and a steady backbeat — and while thematically the song is a universal tale of lost opportunity and what could have beens, it’s a decidedly contemporary take on the Dala Records sound, as it nods at contemporary soul, hip-hop and psych pop in a way that brings Tame Impala, Nick Hakim and others to mind. “No Clue,” the B side single is centered around fuzzy power chords and a garage rock vibe, while thematically the song focuses on a dysfunctional and confusing relationship. Both singles reveal an an up-and-coming artist, who’s actively and earnestly pushing the sonic boundaries of soul.

 

 

Q&A with Kainalu A.K.A. Trent Prall

Trent Prall is a Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter whose solo recording project Kainalu derives its name for the Hawaiian word for “ocean wave,” and interestingly enough the music Prall has created over the past decade or so draws from psych pop, psych rock, dream pop, Tropicalia, synth pop and funk and from childhood trips to Oahu, Hawaii visiting his mother’s family to create a breezy and retro-futuristic sound that he’s dubbed Hawaii-fi, as a homage to his Hawaiian roots and their influence on him.

“Love Nebula” Prall’s latest single immediately brings to my mind Tame Impala, Toro y Moi,  Shawn Lee’s Synthesizers in Space, AM and Shawn Lee’s La Musique Numerique and Lee’s split album with Tim “Love” Lee New York Trouble/Electric Progression as the song is centered around shimmering analog synths, a sinuous bass line and copious amounts of cowbell; but underneath the breezy and summery groove is a bittersweet yearning both for a sense of belonging – and for someone.

I recently chatted with the up-and-coming, Southern California-born, Wisconsin-based producer, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter via email about how much Hawaii has influenced him and his music, his musical influences, the new single and more. Check out the Q&A below.

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WRH: How did you get into music? And when did you know it was your calling? 

TK: Both of my parents are creatives/musicians so I was surrounded by instruments for longer than I can remember. My dad always tells this funny story about how he would put some headphones onto my mom’s stomach while I was in the womb and blast Earth Wind and Fire haha…. I don’t know if that did anything but I still love EW&F …

WRH: From what I understand, you were born and raised in Hawaii and are now currently based in Wisconsin (which probably is one of the biggest cultural shifts I can think of while still being in this country). How was it like growing up in Hawaii? And how much have your formative years in Hawaii influenced your sound and overall aesthetic?

TK: I wasn’t actually born in Hawaii, I’m from Southern California but my mother’s family, extended and all, lives in Hawaii and so I would spend the majority of my summers there. I moved around the country a lot in my formative years and so I didn’t have a real “home base” growing up. The only constant was Hawaii. Those summers really had a lasting influence on me and the music I write. I was introduced to Hawaiian music early… a popular genre of music in the islands is called Jawaiian music which is a fusion of reggae and Hawaiian sounds, very groove-centric.

However, I think the ocean and the peace I feel with it is the biggest influence on my music. The ocean really feels like home to me… playing and later relaxing on the beaches of Oahu are my most cherished memories. I would grow each year but the beaches never changed, I’m not sure why but I love that concept, it’s very tranquil to me and I try to capture that feeling with Kainalu. Kainalu actually means ocean wave in Hawaiian

WRH: You’ve dubbed your sound “Hawaii-fi.” What does that comprise of? And how does that differ from say, dream pop or psych pop?

TK: I honestly am not a fan of naming genres because in my mind every artist is unique in their own way. From the point of view of describing the music to other listeners I understand why genre names exist, but I think it forces preconceived ideas on the listening experience. So I honestly just made it up because the music was heavily influenced by my love of Hawaii and my memories there. More specific, I think tropical psych music is Hawaii-fi. But yeah, it could very well be psych pop or dream pop, I think people who enjoy the music should decide how to describe it and I’ll gladly take the tag that’s given.

WRH: Who are your influences? 

TK: [I] live for psych rock and Motown. So Tame Impala, Toro y Moi, Unknown Mortal Orchestra on one side and Stevie Wonder, Earth Wind and Fire, Marvin Gaye, etc. more recently though I’ve been taking a deep dive into bossa nova, Joao Gilberto and Stan Getz are getting to me in such a good way.

 WRH: What is the influence behind your latest single? 

 TK: “Love Nebula” was written because I wanted to write a heavy bass driven song. I started on the piano but bass is my favorite to play. Once I had the instruments laid out I wanted to write the lyrics about wanting to be wanted. Through middle and high school, I was bullied a lot about my race, it’s kind of fucked up… it made my cultural identity confusing as a child. This song was written to be a sort of reclaiming of my identity and confidence… but the reclaiming comes in the form of wanting to be desired by a love interest

WRH: What’s next for you?

TK: I’m about half way done with my next release, once it’s done I’m ready to tour.

 

New Video: The Trippy 80s-Inspired Visuals for Park Hotel’s “Going West”

Centered on its founding and primary songwriting duo Tim Abbey and Rebeca Macros-Roca, the London, UK-based post-electronic dance act Park Hotel have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes neo-disco and dance punk with off-kilter, downtown art scene-based songwriting — and unsurprisingly, the duo’s sound has been favorably described as a joyfully communal face-off between LCD Soundsystem, Earth, Wind and Wire with flashes of Talking Heads and a sprinkle of Steely Dan. Along with that, they’ve developed a reputation for a live show in which the project expands to a sextet featuring three-way vocal harmonies, rhythm and lead guitar, drums and lots of cowbell.

Produced by Eliot James, mixed by Nathan Boddy and mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound, the act’s debut single “Gone as a Friend” was recorded after playing a number of critically applauded, buzz-worthy shows across London before officially releasing it earlier this year. And building upon their growing buzz, the act’s latest single “Going West,” is an off-kilter, dance floor-friendly track that sounds inspired by Tom Tom Club‘s “Genius of Love,” Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy,” Miami Horror‘s “Leila” and The Rapture‘s “House of Jealous Lovers” as the song possesses an infectious, ear-worm worthy, hook paired with boy-girl harmonizing, shimmering synths, a Nile Rodgers-like guitar line and an even funkier bass line, but they manage to do so in a fashion that feels like a fresh and mischievous take on a familiar, crowd pleasing fashion.

Collaborating with mononymic artist Henry, the recently released video for “Going West” manages to draw from two different eras  — 60s psych pop and early 80s pop and rock videos, as we follow the members of Park Hotel on a rooftop with neon bright backdrops featuring Basquiat-like art and expansive and trippy blue skies. 

Centered on its founding and primary songwriting duo Tim Abbey and Rebeca Macros-Roca, the London, UK-based post-electronic dance act Park Hotel have developed a reputation for a sound that meshes neo-disco and dance punk with off-kilter, downtown art scene-based songwriting — and unsurprisingly, the duo’s sound has been favorably described as a joyfully communal face-off between LCD Soundsystem, Earth, Wind and Wire with flashes of Talking Heads and a sprinkle of Steely Dan. Along with that, they’ve developed a reputation for a live show in which the project expands to a sextet featuring three-way vocal harmonies, rhythm and lead guitar, drums and lots of cowbell.

Produced by Eliot James, mixed by Nathan Boddy and mastered at New York’s Sterling Sound, the act’s debut single “Gone as a Friend” was recorded last year and after playing a number of critically applauded, buzz-worthy shows across London before officially releasing their debut single earlier this year. Building upon their growing profile, the act’s latest single “Going West,” is an off-kilter, dance floor-friendly track that sounds inspired by Tom Tom Club‘s “Genius of Love,” Talking Heads’ “Making Flippy Floppy,” Miami Horror‘s “Leila” and The Rapture‘s “House of Jealous Lovers” as the song possesses an infectious, ear-worm worthy, hook paired with boy-girl harmonizing, shimmering synths, a Nile Rodgers-like guitar line and an even funkier bass line, but they manage to do so in a fashion that feels like a fresh and mischievous take on a familiar, crowd pleasing fashion.