Tag: funk

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Currently comprised of Gilbert Elorreaga, Mark Gonzales, Greg Gonzalez, Josh Levy, Sweet Lou, Beto Martinez, Adrian Quesada, John Speice and Alex Marrero, the Austin, TX-based act Brownout was formed ten years as a side project featuring members of the Grammy Award-winning Latin funk act Grupo Fantasma, but interestingly enough, the project has evolved into its own as a unique effort, separate from the members’ primary gigs. Over the past few years, the act has garnered critical praise — they won their third Austin Music Award last year, while composing and arranging work that’s unflinchingly progressive while evoking the influences of WAR, Cymande and Funkadelic. Unsurprisingly, the members of Brownout have been a highly-sought after backing band,  who have collaborated with GZA, Prince, Daniel Johnston and Bernie Worrell, and adding to a growing profile, they’ve made appearances across the major festival circuit, including Bonnaroo, High Sierra Music Festival, Pickathon, Bear Creek Musical Festival, Utopia Festival, Pachanga Fest, and others.

Throughout the course of this site’s history, I’ve written quite a bit about the Austin-based act, and as you may know, the band has released five full-length albums: 2008’s Homenaje, 2009’s Aguilas and Cobras, 2012’s Oozy, 2015’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath and 2016’s Brownout Presents: Brown Sabbath, Vol. II — with their last two albums Latin funk interpretations and re-imaginings of the legendary work of Black Sabbath. Of course, during their run together, Brownout has released a handful of EPs, including 2017’s critically applauded Over the Covers, their first batch of original material in some time.

As a child of the 80s, hip-hop was a nothing short of a revelation to me and countless others. Every day after school, I practically ran home to catch Yo! MTV Raps with Ed Lover and Dr. Dre and BET’s Rap City and during the weekends I’d catch Yo! MTV Raps with the legendary Fab 5 Freddy  — all to catch Run DMC, LL Cool J, Big Daddy Kane, MC Lyte, Queen Latifah, Biz Markie, Das EFX, A Tribe Called Quest, X Clan and Public Enemy among an incredibly lengthy list. (Admittedly, I didn’t watch Rap City as much. Even as a kid, I hated their host and I found their overall production values to be incredible cheap. Plus, I really loathed how they almost always managed to either cut to a commercial or the end credits during the middle of a fucking song — and it was always during your favorite jam. Always.) 28 years ago, Public Enemy released their seminal album Fear of a Black Planet, and unsurprisingly, the album wound up profoundly influencing the future founding members of Grupo Fantasma/Brownout. The band’s Greg Gonzalez (bass) remembers how a kid back in junior high school hipped him to the fact that Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise” was built on James Brown samples. As a teenager, Beto Martinez (guitar) speaks fondly of alternating between hip-hop and metal tapes on his walkman (much like me). And Adrian Quesada remembers falling in love with Public Enemy and their sound at an early age. “When I got into hip-hop, I was looking for this aggressive outlet . . .,” Quesada says in press notes, “and I didn’t even understand what they were pissed off about, because I was twelve and lived in Laredo . . . but I loved it, and I felt angry along with them.”

So as true children of the 80s and 90s, the members of Brownout, with the influence and encouragement of Fat Beats‘ Records Joseph Abajian have tackled Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet — with their own unique take on the legendary material and sound. And although they were eager to get back to work on new, original material, they couldn’t pass up the opportunity to pay homage to one of their favorite acts. As Abajian says in press notes “I thought their sound would work covering Public Enemy songs.” He adds “it was good to know they were P.E. fans . .  We came up with a track listing and they went to work.”

Understandably, translating sample-based music to a live band turned out to be more challenging than everyone anticipated. Quesada tried to get into the heads of the legendary production team the Bomb Squad in order to reinterpret Public Enemy’s work. “Imagine the Bomb Squad going back in time and getting the J.B.’s in the studio and setting up a couple analog synths and then playing those songs.” And while some songs closely hew to the original, other songs use the breakbeats as a jumping-off point for Mark “Speedy” Gonzales’ horn arrangements, synth work by Peter Stopchinski and DJ Trackstar‘s turntablism. “Our approach is never in the tribute sense,” Adrian Quesada explains. “We’ve always taken it and made it our own, whether it’s the Brown Sabbath thing or this Public Enemy thing.”

Fear of a Brown Planet comes on the heels of several Brown Sabbath tours, and while being an incredibly tight and funky band, the members of the band are incredibly psyched to bring revolutionary music to the people, especially in light of both the current   social climate and that they’re not particularly known for having an overt political agenda. “If there’s any way that we can use the already political and protest nature [of P.E.’s music], we would like to try,” Beto says. “The album’s title, Fear of Brown Planet is definitely a relevant idea today and we’re not afraid to put it out there, because we want to speak out.”

Fear of a Brown Planet‘s first single is Brownout’s take on “Fight the Power,” and while retaining the breakbeats that you’ll remember fondly, their instrumental take is a funky JB’s meets Booker T-like jam, centered around an incredible horn line, bursts of analog synth and sinuous guitar line. As a result, Brownout’s take is warmly familiar but without being a carbon copy; in fact, they manage to breathe a much different life into the song without erasing its revolutionary sound or its righteous fury. Check out how it compares to the original below.

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Currently comprised of founding duo Soulive‘s Alan Evans (drums) and The New Mastersounds’ Eddie Roberts (guitar), along with Chris Spies (keys), Kevin Scott (bass), who’s a member of Jimmy Herring‘s backing band, Adyron de Leon (vocals) and Pimps of Joytime’s Kimberly Dawson, Matador! Soul Sounds can trace their origins to when Evans and Roberts were touring together with their respective main gigs, and as Roberts explains in press notes, “The idea came about one night while we were drinking wine in a bar in DC, when I turned to Alan and asked ‘can we start a band together?’ Alan obviously shared the same sentiment, as we are here today launching the debut album!”

Interestingly, the band is loosely centered around the concept of Spanish bullfighting. A common American misconception of bullfighting is that it’s the feat off one man versus one bull; but rather, bullfighting is largely a team effort in which the matter is backed by his cuadrilla, his team, his corner — and its actually much more like boxing. Additionally, the band’s name is partially a nod at Grant Green’Matador, which both Evans and Roberts had liked immensely. Sonically, Matador! Soul Sounds approach draws from its founders shared musical passions including jazz, funk and soul, but in a subtly different fashion than the individual band leader’s previous work.

The act’s latest single  “Theme for a Private Investigator” finds the act drawing from crispy, Southern fried funk, soul and blues in a way that may remind some listeners of Matthew Stubbs and the Antiguas, as Matador! Soul Sounds nods at the work of Booker T and the MG’s, as well as Muscle Shoals and The Meters while possessing an incredibly cinematic, 70s TV theme song like quality; in fact, you can probably picture the show’s protagonist and his wise-cracking sidekick strutting to their badass car, fighting bad guys, saving the girl and what not to the song, and it makes perfect sense.

The All-Star act’s full-length debut Get Ready is slated for release next week — both digitally and on vinyl, and they’ll be embarking on a national tour to support the album, which will include a March 17, 2018 stop at Brooklyn Bowl. Check out the rest of the tour dates below.
Tour Dates
3/15 @ Rex Theatre – Pittsburgh, PA – tix
3/16 @ Union Stage – Washington, DC – tix
3/17 @ [Pacifico Presents] Brooklyn Bowl – Brooklyn, NY – tix
3/18 @ Fairfield Theatre Company – Fairfield, CT – tix
3/19 @ Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA – tix
3/21 @ The Ardmore Music Hall – Ardmore, PA – tix
3/22 @ Martyr’s – Chicago, IL – tix – tix
3/23 @ Cervantes’ Other Side – Denver, CO – tix
3/24 @ Fox Theatre – Boulder, CO – tix
3/26 @ Great American Music Hall – San Francisco, CA – tix
3/28 @ Jack London Revue – Portland, OR – tix
3/29 @ Nectar Lounge – Seattle, WA – tix

Like countless other musicians, multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Knox White relocated to Los Angeles to pursue a music career — and to support himself, White began working as a bartender. In a serendipitous turn of fate, Lionel Ritchie was one of his regulars, and after some time, Ritchie became a kind of mentor to the aspiring musician, giving advice and sharing stories about being on the road. The one thing that struck a deep chord with White was when Ritchie told him “Don’t sell your soul to the devil to get success in the music business. Stay humble and treat everyone like they are your friend.” On another night, Paul McCartney stopped by, and McCartney told him stories about The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix. Towards the end of the night, McCartney told him that a musician with an incredible live show is a musician with super powers, and the legendary Beatle told him, “Get amazing first, and everything else will fall into place.”

Eventually, White relocated to New Orleans, arguably one of the country’s richest musical environments — and unsurprisingly, he immersed himself in the city’s music scene, playing everything from gospel to jazz; in fact, as the story goes, White was immediately hired to play guitar at the Household of Faith Church, playing alongside some incredibly accomplished musicians, who took him under his wing, introduced him to other musicians, which lead to ton of gigs.  He found himself playing at clubs across the city playing and mastering gospel, blues, calypso, jazz and contemporary fare until the early morning. And naturally, while exhausting, White felt reinvigorated, returned to Los Angeles, where he began collaborating with producer Josh Legg, best known as Goldroom, and began writing fusing the skills and knowledge he gained while in the Crescent City and his influences — Prince, Michael Jackson, Jimi Hendrix and Tame Impala.

White’s self-titled, debut EP is slated for release in July, and the EP’s first single “You’ve Been My Girl” is a sleek and slickly produced track that owes a tremendous debt to 80s synth funk  (i.e., Oran “Juice” Jones‘ “The Rain,” Cherelle’s “Saturday Love” and others) and Prince, thanks to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics throughout; but interestingly the song finds the narrator calling out a love interest for being indecisive and playing with his emotions. Certainly, we’ve all been there before.

 

New Video: Soulive Returns With Soulful and Psychedelic Genre-Defying Composition from Forthcoming Film Soundtrack-Inspired EP

Consisting of Eric Krasno (guitar) and siblings Alan Evans (drums) and Neal Evans (Hammond B3 organ, bass keys, clavinet), the renowned genre-defying funk/jazz New York-based trio Soulive can trace their origins back to when the Evans Brothers began performing in a number of regionally known acts including the jam band Moon Boot Lover and a brief stint with rap act The Elements, which featured Edreys, a.k.a. Billy Drease Williams before they began looking to start a traditional jazz organ trio. And as the story goes, in March 1999, the Evans Brothers invited their high school pay Eric Krasno to jam and record some tracks with them at their home studio in Woodstock, NY, and those sessions wound up comprising their debut EP Get Down! 

Shortly after the release of Get Down! the newly formed band hit the road touring to support it. During that first tour, the trio recorded their full-length debut Turn It Out and the effort, which was released in 2000 through Velour Recordings featured and impressive array of guest musicians including renowned jazz guitarist John Scofield, multi-instrumentalist Oteil Burnbridge, best known for a lengthy stint in the Allman Brothers Band, and saxophonist Sam Kininger, who has collaborated with Lettuce, Dave Matthews Band and others. For an independent act, their full-length debut went on to sell over 65,000 copies, which quickly established the members of Soulive as one of contemporary jazz and funk’s most exciting, new acts. By the fall of 2000, Soulive had signed a record deal with Blue Note Records, with whom they released their sophomore effort Doin’ Something, which featured horn arrangements by the legendary Fred Wesley; their third, full-length album Next, which featured guest spots from Dave Matthews, Amel Larrieux, Talib Kweli and Black Thought. They also collaborated with singer/songwriter Goapele Mohlabane.
Building upon a growing profile, Soulive went on five national tours over the next three years, opening for The Rolling Stones, Dave Matthews Band, The Roots, Common, John Mayer and others, while making appearances at Monterey Jazz Festival and Bonaroo, as well as tours across Japan and the European Union; in fact, one of their Japanese tours wound up becoming their eponymous and highly acclaimed, self-titled live album, released in 2003. And before leaving Blue Note Records, the members of Soulive released the Turn It Out Remixed album, which featured Jurassic 5, DJ Spinna, DJ Krush, J-Live, Wordsworth and The Beatnuts.

2005’s Break Out, the New York-based jazz/funk act’s first album with new label Concord Music Group found the band experimenting with their sound and approach, as they eschewed extended and free-flowing jams for beat-driven instrumentals; but along with that, they collaborated with the legendary Chaka Khan, Ivan Neville, Living Colour’s Corey Glover, Robert Randolph and comedian and multi-instrumentalist Reggie Watts. 2006’s Stewart Lerman-produced No Place Like Soul featured Boston, MA-based reggae/soul artist Toussaint as their lead vocalist; however, after that tour the band decided to return to being a trio. In fact, 2009’s Up Here was something of a return to form for the band with the material mainly being instrumentals with the members of Soulive collaborated with The Shady Horns — the aforementioned Sam Kininger (alto sax) and Rashawn Ross (trumpet) — and Nigel Hall.

Now, I personally became familiar with Soulive with 2010’s Rubber Soulive, an effort that comprised of jazz and funk-inspired renditions of the Beatles catalog — and their annual multi-week residency Bowlive, which featured the band collaborating with an incredibly diverse and dynamic array of artists. Interestingly, the members of the band have been busy with their respective projects — in particular Soulive’s Eric Krasno has been with Lettuce, an increasing production load and his own solo work; however, the members of the band reconvened at Alan Evans’ Iron Wax Studios in late 2017 with a few loosely-sketched ideas and no overarching concept in mind, and began fleshing out ideas as a band. “We trust each other to bring our voices to each other’s ideas,” says Alan Evans, while Krasno adds, “I think Soulive creates our best material using that method.”

The end result is the trio’s long-awaited Cinematics, Vol. 1 EP, which the band will be releasing through their own label Soulive Music on February 23, 2018. Although it’s the first new material from the renowned act in over six years, as you’ll hear on the EP’s first single “Kings March,” Soulive further cements their reputation for a genre-defying sound — in this particular case, the composition draws from 60s funk, psych pop, psych rock, hip-hop and jazz and it finds the band doing so in a fashion reminiscent of El Michels Affair and Wu Tang Clan; but with an incredibly cinematic fashion, as though it could have been part of the soundtrack of a rainy, spy thriller set in Eastern Europe and Miami.

Reportedly, the cinematic quality of the music arose from the trio’s collective instincts writing and recording together. “We didn’t have to talk about anything,” Alan says. “It all unfolded as we were working on it; one song influences the direction of the next, and soon you find yourself going down this path. We want this music to take people on a little journey.” Adds, Eric Krasno, “A cinematic piece of music creates a mood. Film composers like Jerry Goldsmith, David Axelrod, Ennio Morricone and Melvin Van Peebles were all influential in the concept for Cinematics. The idea is to use soundscape and melodic interplay to enhance the feeling and sentiment of a visual and to amplify the emotion that it’s relating.”

The recently released video features rather black and white intimate footage of the band, along with some appropriately psychedelic imagery. 

New Audio: Finnish Pop Trio Beverly Girl Returns with a Sleek and Sultry Cover of 80s Hit

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you may recall that with the release of “Contagious” the Helsinki, Finland-based trio  Beverly Girl received national and international attention for a 80s-inspired synth funk/electro pop/electro pop/R&B sound reminiscent of I Feel For You-era Chaka Khan, Cherrelle, The Gap Band, Cameo, Atlantic Starr and a lengthy list of others, but with a highly contemporary take that brings the likes of  Rush Midnight, St. Lucia, Dam-Funk and others to mind.

Interestingly, the Finnish trio’s latest single is a cover of Millie Scott’s “Automatic,”  and while their version is fairly straightforward, retaining the original’s swooning sultriness, it possesses a heftier bass line and sharper, arpeggiated synths, all of which will further the act’s growing reputation for crafting sleek, dance floor friendly tunes. 

Akuba Records is a new label, whose mission is to bring listeners the very best deep, cosmic, soulful and funky disco music out of their Africa, and their debut release is a split release between He’s The Man and Atik-A. The A side single He’s The Man’s “Squeeze  Me Tight” is an old school club banger, reminiscent of Parliament Funkadelic, Heatwave and oddly enough 45:33-era LCD Soundsystem, as the track features propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line, an enormous brass section, soulful Lou Rawls-like vocals, complete with a sultry backing section, arpeggiated keys and trippy analog effects — with the end result being something both tribal and cosmic.

 

Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Performs Three Songs from Latest Album on NPR’s Tiny Desk

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past three or four years, you’ve likely come across a growing number of posts featuring the critically applauded bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner. And as you may recall, the past two years or so have been incredibly busy for the renowned artists, as he’s collaborated with Kendrick Lamar  on Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, which he promptly followed up with one of my favorite releases of 2015, the mini-album The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort that further cemented his growing reputation as one of this decade’s most unique, genre-defying artists. 
Drunk, Bruner’s third, full-length effort was released earlier this year and the album was written as an epic journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and it features an All-Star list of collaborators including some of his go-to collaborators Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. As you know, the album features a few, previously released fan favorites like  “Bus In These Streets” but it also features the bitterly hilarious, Anti-Valentine Day/fuck being friend zoned track, “Friend Zone,”  “Them Changes,” a song that focuses on a heartbroken and dazed narrator trying to piece his life back together after a romantic relationship has ended, and the shimmering and slow-burning “Lava Lamp,” among a number of others. 

Bruner with a backing band featuring Dennis Hamm (keys), Justin Brown (drums) and Miguel Atwood Ferguson (violin) was recently on NPR Tiny Desk to perform the aforementioned “Lava Lamp,” “Friend Zone” and “Them Changes” and from the footage, a Thundercat performance seems to an almost otherworldly experience of trippy funky — with a mischievous bent. Enjoy, catching what may be the most inventive and interesting bassist since the late, great Jaco Pastorius. 

New Video: Introducing the Funky Sounds and Gritty Visuals of Up-and-Coming, Singer/Songwriter, Bassist, and Producer Alissia

Alissia is an up-and-coming bassist, singer/songwriter, producer and beatmaker, who has   already collaborated with an impressive and legendary array of artists including Anderson .Paak, Khalid, Mobb Deep’s Havoc and Q-Tip as well production, arrangement and bass playing on the legendary Bootsy Collins’ forthcoming album World Wide Funk, which will feature guest spots from Kali Fuchs, the late and great Bernie Worrell, Big Daddy Kane, Doug E. Fresh, Musiq Soulchild and others.  Interestingly, Alissia’s latest single “Get Away” finds the up-and-coming talent boldly stepping out into the forefront as a artist with a effortlessly slick and seductive sound that bridges 70s and 80s funk, boom bap era hip-hop and contemporary electro pop, giving a familiar and beloved sound a fresh, modern take that manages to nod at JOVM mainstay Thundercat and his frequent collaborator Flying Lotus.

Directed by Bo Mirosseni, the recently released video features the up-and-coming talent confidently strolling through some of NYC’s grittiest neighborhoods, composing beats wherever the inspiration hits her, and hanging out at what I presume is her NYC area studio The Spaceship.

New Video: JOVM Mainstay Thundercat Returns with Sunny and Redemptive Visuals for Collaborative Single with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past couple of years, you’ve likely been made familiar with the he critically applauded  bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner, and as you may recall, within the past three years or so, Bruner has been remarkably prolific as he’s made attention-grabbing guest appearances contributing his imitable bass and vocals to Kendrick Lamar’s Grammy Award-winning To Pimp A Butterfly and Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic. Bruner followed that up by releasing what arguably best may have been one of the best releases of 2015, The Beyond/Where Giants Roam. 

Last year, Bruner teased us with some more new material, including “Bus In These Streets,” a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Bruner collaborated with the renowned producer, beatmaker, electronic music artist and filmmaker Flying Lotus contributing programming and Louis Cole contributing keys and programming. And as you know, Bruner’s third, full-length album Drunk was released earlier this year, and the album was written as a journey deep into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes very dark mind of its creator, who collaborated with an impressive array of friends and guests including the aforementioned Kamasi Washington and Kendrick Lamar, along with a few other folks you may have heard of, like Wiz Khalifa, Pharrell Williams, Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. 

Drunk’s first official single “Show You The Way”is a smooth and soulfully jazz-like pop track in which arpeggiated synths, stuttering drum programming and Bruner’s dexterous bass lines serve as a shimmering and silky bed over which Bruner, Kenny Loggins and Micheal Donald trade soulful vocals to create a song that feels like a polished and effortless synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

Directed by Katarzyna Sawicka and Carlos Lopez Estrada, the recently released music video for “Show You The Way,” follows the characters and the storyline the directors began with the surreal and darkly comic visuals they created in “Them Changes,”  and while that video ended in a grim note with an armless and heartbroken protagonist, “Show You The Way” is a sunny contrast, offering a semblance of redemption, healing and love for our armless protagonist.  

Currently comprised of Leeds, UK-born, Toronto, ON-based founding member Gareth Parry along with Sebastian Buccioni, Jon Hyde, Sly Juhad Kyle Sullivan, the Toronto, ON-based funk act Gareth Parry and The Out of Towners initially was initially conceived as an old-school boogaloo funk trio playing after-hour dance parties back in Leeds and Manchester; however, since then the band’s founder has helped drive the band’s sound, pushing their sound away clear cut genre boundaries, with their sound drawing from deep house, space rock, blues rock and funk — and “The Post That Hurts The Most,” the first single off the band’s soon-to-be released debut effort Skronk is decidedly influenced by the deep fried Southern rock grooves of The Allman Brothers and The Meters, as well as contemporaries like Lettuce and The Texas Gentlemen, complete with a raw, you-were-there, immediacy.