Tag: funk

New Video: Atlanta-born Artist Fusilier Releases Politically Charged Visuals for His Sultry Club Banger “Make You”

Starting his musical career as the bassist for the Boston-based indie rock band RIBS, an act that quickly rose to national prominence and opened for The Joy Formidable and Queens of the Stone Age, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer Blake Fusilier grew up having a similar experience that I did as a child, teenager and young adult — of not quite fitting in with your contemporaries. As a teenager while many of his peers aspired to sign to LaFace Records and SoSoDef Records, Fusilier picked up the violin, dreamt of being the black Itzhak Perlman and was obsessed with the work of Edgar Allen Poe. And of course, like odd teenagers everywhere — especially very odd, black teenagers — Fusilier quickly learned that when you’re a square peg, you can be equally hated and ridiculed. Around that time, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, singer/songwriter and producer had begun writing his own material.

As RIBS started to achieve national attention, someone asked Fusilier about his experience being black and gay, and at the time, the Atlanta-born artist began to realize two very important personal truths — that he had been running away from those questions for most of his adult life, and that the world’s perceptions and assumptions of him and about him were spiritually and emotionally exhausting. And from that point forward, Fusilier decided that he wanted and needed to make music that would not only drain those questions about his experience and those of others of their power, but to also make them permanently irrelevant. As Fusilier explained in press notes, “I have this theory that if people knew who we really were in their minds, we probably would all have a lot more respect for one another. This applies to everyone: friends and acquaintances and bandmates. I think it’s our duty to ourselves to make sure that those around us have a chance to allow others to see our glorious, true selves. I finally feel like I’m beginning to live by those words. The songs I’m wrapping up have been floating around for years. I had been anticipating the moment when people could actually hear even 20 seconds of my potential.”

The early response so far to Fusilier’s work has been wildly positive with one critic describing his sound as being a synthesis of James Brown and Nine Inch Nails — although his latest single “Make You,” immediately brings to mind the work of Prince, Jef Barbara, Boulevards, and Gordon Voidwell as Fusilier pairs his sultry and sensual cooing with a slick, hyper modern production featuring a sinuous and propulsive bass line, tambourine-led percussion bolstered by stuttering drum programming, arpeggio synth chords, a funky brass sample and a deeply infectious hook. And while being a sultry, club banger the song possesses an ironic and withering sociopolitical commentary that ridicules and obliterates racial stereotypes in a fashion similar to Sly and the Family Stone’s “Don’t Call Me Nigger, Whitey.”

Certainly, when we have a presidential administration that has emboldened supremacist and racist groups to flourish and be as hateful as they once were, having a wider variety of black voices, frankly discussing their unique experiences — and helping to tear down racist assumptions. But it also should serve as a powerful reminder that pop, dance music and funk have long been full of sociopolitical messages; after all, music, art and comedy are some of the best weapons against autocratic, power hungry governments.

As for the video, the Atlanta-born multi-instrumentalist, producer and singer/songwriter explains “I look at my body and what little I know of my family’s story and can’t help but think that I am a most American thing. I’m talking about the mixture of marriages and what I can only assume to be rapes amongst oppressors, the enslaved and the original inhabitants that gave me my coarse hair, jawline and skin and this name, ‘Fusilier.’ The ‘Make You’ video is a very public exorcism of my inner turmoil knowing that people will always see in me themselves and the other, friend and enemy, lust and aversion.”

Comprised of Greg and Jeremy Pearson, Thrillers is a Los Angeles, CA-based sibling duo that have received attention for a slickly produced, anthemic synth pop and dance rock-leaning sound that draws from 80s synth pop, funk and contemporary R&B and indie pop. The duo’s full-length debut Break Free is slated for an April 28, 2017 through Lights and Music Collective, the folks behind the nation-wide indie dance party, Dance Yourself Clean. The album features collaborations with renowned indie pop artist Twin Shadow and producer Back Talk — and the album’s first single “Can’t Get Enough” will further cement the Pearson Brothers’ growing reputation for crafting slickly produced, club bangers, reminiscent of JOVM mainstay Boulevards and St. Lucia, complete with anthemic hooks featuring sinuous bass lines and Nile Rodgers-like guitar, thumping beats and sultry vocals.

The Pearson Brothers will be touring with Dance Yourself Clean’s North American tour  for 14 dates, including a March 31, 2017 stop at Music Hall of Williamsburg. Check out tour dates below.

Tour Dates
Feb 17 – Boston, MA – Middle East
Feb 18 — Austin, TX — Empire

Feb 24 — San Diego, CA — Music Box
Feb 25 — Phoenix, AZ — Crescent Ballroom
Mar 03 — San Francisco, CA — Mezzanine
Mar 04 — Vancouver, BC — Biltmore Cabaret
Mar 10 — Dallas, TX — Trees
Mar 11 — Chicago, IL — Double Door
Mar 17 — Washington, D.C. — Black Cat
Mar 23 — London, ON — London Taphouse
Mar 24 — Toronto, ON — Lee’s Palace
Mar 25 — Denver, CO — Larimer Lounge
Mar 31 — Brooklyn, NY — Music Hall of Williamsburg 
Apr 01 — Philadelphia, PA — Underground Arts

 

 

New Video: FYUTCH’s Hilarious Action Movie-based Take on Rejection

Harold Simmons II is a Gary, IN-born, New York-based (by way of a lengthy stint in Nashville, TN), emcee, singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who writes and records as FYUTCH (pronounced Fi-yoo-tch). Simmons can trace the origins of his musical and performing career to when he initially began to receive attention as a public speaker, who had given speeches at a number of impressive and major public events — including Gary’s Mayor Scott L. King’s campaign banquet and on the steps of Congress. When he turned 17, Simmons formed Legendary Biscuits and Gravy a band in which he played alto sax and contributed vocals with friends, Eric Sexton (keyboard), Brandon Holt (drums), Wesley Winfrey (tenor sax) and Brady Surface (bass). The quintet received regional acclaim as they were nominated for Southern Entertainment Awards’ Best Indy R&B Artist of the Year in 2007. And over the subsequent two year period, the band saw a rapidly growing profile as they’ve been on bills that included nationally and internationally recognized artists including The Pink Spiders, Sam and Ruby, as well as opening for Kanye West, GZA and Nappy Roots.

Simmons relocated to Nashville and while using the moniker Future the Artist, Simmons released his self-produced solo debut The Sci Fly EP, which garnered a Nashville Music Award nomination for Best Urban Recording of the Year, which he followed up with his Overnight Mixtape series in which he wrote and recorded six mixtapes — with each mixtape being recorded during an overnight studio session and then released as a free download the next day. The mixtapes caught the attention of renowned site, Nashville Scene, who praised Simmons’ work; in fact, thanks to the growing attention he received, the fourth mixtape of the series found Simmons collaborating with the likes of Bun B and GLC. Additionally, as a solo artist, he has opened for Wale, Pharrell Williams, Little Brother and Afroman.

By late 2012, Simmons changed his name to FYUTCH after discovering that there was another artist who also went by the name Future, who was receiving quite a bit of attention nationally — and internationally. And since changing his performing moniker, Simmons has released several efforts including Mr. Flattop, which was executive produced by DJ Rob “Sir” Lazenby and featured guest spots from Mike Stud, Futuristic, Mello Rello, Whitney Coleman and production by G-Pop, Wick-it the Instigator and The FANS; a psychedelic hip-hop concept EP Peace, Love and FYUTCH which was produced by G-Pop and featured deeply obscure samples and world music percussion. Interestingly, “Funked Up,” the first single off his Philosophy of Love EP was produced by Solar Shield — and the single is a Dam-Funk/Thundercat retro-futuristic -leaning jam featuring shimmering, arpeggio synths and wobbling low end paired with Simmons rhyming and singing a hilarious and very true tale about approaching an attractive woman, who’s been attracted to for some time or has noticed for a little bit and being cruelly rejected for his efforts. On one level, the song is about having the blind courage to risk being made a fool of and being rejected; on another level, the song is a tell off to someone, who in the narrator’s eyes doesn’t see what kind of man he is; but also, the song can be viewed as an admission of how stupid and vulnerable love can make us. And Simmons does all of this in a slick and funky as hell, dance-floor friendly song.

Filmed by Wesley Crutcher, the recently released video for “Funked Up,” is a mischievous take on action movies — in particular, movies like Jumper in which the main character travels through time; in this case, the future FYUTCH winds up traveling through time to see a younger FYUTCH get rejected by one of his first love interests, while the older FYUTCH gets rejected by a love interest, who was sitting near the younger FYUTCH. Trippy, right? But at the same time, it’s goofy and hilarious take on rejection.

 

Now if you’ve been frequenting this site for a while, you’d know that the past couple of years have been incredibly productive and prolific for the critically applauded and renowned bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay artist Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as he made guest appearances on two critically and commercially successful albums  — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, and arguably one of of 2015’s best albums, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, an effort which further cemented Bruner’s reputation for being  a dexterous bassist and mischievous songwriter, as the material off that album possessed a retro-futuristic sound that nodded at Steve Wonder‘s legendary 1970s output, complete with wobbling and propulsive bass lines, arpeggio synths and Bruner’s sultry and plaintive falsetto.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Brainfeeder and the album will be an epic 23 track journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and the effort finds him collaborating with an All-Star list of collaborators including frequent collaborators and friends Kamasi Washington, Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,” one of my favorite tracks off The Beyond/Where The Giants RoamDrunk’s first single “Show You The Way” was a soulful, 1970s jazz fusion-leaning track in which shimmering arpeggio synth lines, stuttering drums, Bruner’s incredible bass work and sultry falsetto with the legendary vocal work of Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald that interestingly enough reminded me of  Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near).”

Although Valentine’s Day has passed, Drunk‘s latest single is an Anti-Valentine’s Day anthem in which the song’s narrator complains about a love interest, who has not only friend zoned him, but continually plays games with him and his feelings. And throughout the song, the song’s narrator builds up the courage to tell the object of his attention that he’s had enough of having his emotions and heart fucked with — and instead of being friend zoned by an asshole, he would be better off by himself. Sonically, the song continues along a similar vein of the album’s preceding single as shimmering, arpeggio synth lines, a wobbling and propulsive bass line and four-on-the-floor drums paired with Bruner’s dreamy falsetto; however, unlike “Show You The Way,” “Friend Zone” is full of the bitter recriminations and frustrations of cruelly unrequited love.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The past two years were incredibly productive and prolific years for the critically applauded and rewound bassist, vocalist and JOVM mainstay  Stephen “Thundercat” Bruner as he made guest appearances on two critically and commercially successful albums — Kendrick Lamar‘s Grammy Award-winning album, To Pimp A Butterfly and  Brainfeeder Records labelmate, Kamasi Washington’s The Epic, as well as one of 2015’s best albums, The Beyond/Where the Giants Roam, which further cemented his reputation as a dexterous and playful bassist and songwriter, with material that sonically channeled Stevie Wonder’s incredible 70s output, as it possessed a retro-futuristic sound as wobbling and propulsive bass lines were paired with arpeggio synths and Bruner’s sultry and plaintive falsetto.

Now, as you may remember last year, I wrote about “Bus In These Streets,” the first bit of music from the renowned bassist and vocalist in over a year, and the single was a comedic and playful ode to our reliance and dependence on technology in which Thundercat’s dexterous and sinuous bass lines with Louis Cole (keys, drums and programming) contributing shimmering and twinkling keys and propulsive drum programming and frequent collaborator Flying Lotus contributing more programming and editing in a song that evokes a dreamy, distracted  self-absorption as the song’s narrator spends their time staring at their smartphone, not noticing the world pass him by — or the inherent danger he might be walking into as he stupidly stares into his phone.

Bruner’s third, full-length effort Drunk is slated for a February 24, 2017 release through Brainfeeder and the album will be an epic 23 track journey into the bizarre, hilarious and sometimes dark mind of the singer/songwriter and bassist — and the effort finds him collaborating with an All-Star list of collaborators including frequent collaborators and friends Kamasi Washington (a Brainfeeder labelmate), Kendrick Lamar, Wiz Khalifa and Pharrell Williams, along with Michael McDonald and Kenny Loggins. While the album will feature fan favorites “Bus In These Streets” and “Them Changes,” one of my favorite tracks off The Beyond/Where The Giants RoamDrunk‘s first single “Show You The Way” is a sleek and soulful jazzy  track in which shimmering arpeggio cascades of synths, stuttering drums, Bruner’s imitable bass lines are paired in an incredible collaboration that features Bruner’s sultry falsetto with the imitable vocals of Kenny Loggins and Micheal McDonald. Sonically speaking the song is an uncanny synthesis of Michael McDonald’s “I Keep Forgettin’ (Every Time You’re Near)” and Bruner’s signature funky, retro-futuristic jazz fusion.

So how did such a high-powered collaboration come about? Thundercat has publicly mentioned his love of Loggins and his work during interviews to promote both The Beyond and the tour for the album — and it lead to his keyboardist Dennis Hamm introducing Bruner to Loggins. According to both Bruner and Hamm, Loggins then suggested bringing in Michael McDonald on the track. And as Bruner adds in press notes “I think one of the most beautiful moments of it was realizing how amazing Michael McDonald was. He would go through so many ideas and have so much to offer.” As for the song, Bruner says “That song to me is about going down the rabbit hole, taking you to another place . . . On the edge of dark, there’s the brightest light. It means a lot to me in the sense of . . .the experience that I’ve had growing up with friends and people that I’ve been around where it’s inventing them into where I come from emotionally. Sometimes it’s a pretty intense thing. The point is how weird things can get. ”

 

 

Pocket Dragon is a London-based neo-soul/jazz fusion/fusion funk quintet, who since the release of their 2015 EP, the act has received a growing profile as they’ve played at Cheltenham and Cambridge jazz festivals. And adding to a growing profile,  they’ve opened for Lola’s Day Off. The band’s sophomore EP Borderless is slated for release sometime this year, and their latest single “Vagabond Capulet” is the double A side of their “35º”/”Vagabond Capulet” single,  and as you’ll hear on “Vagabond Capulet,” the London-based band specializes in an angular and stuttering groove and complex yet propulsive polyrhythms paired with soulful vocals that’s reminiscent of Hiatus Kaiyote, complete with a prog rock-leaning, expansive song structure in which the song’s three different sections are held together by the angular and stuttering groove introduced earlier on wishing the song.

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of 1969’s Hot Buttered Soul, the legendary Isaac Hayes quickly developed a reputation as being one of Stax Records‘ boundary pushing, bleeding edge funk and soul stars. At a time when most soul, R&B, pop, and rock songs were an extremely radio-friendly three minutes or less,  Hayes crafted expansive, mind-altering and epic compositions that bridged psych rock, funk, soul, early disco, rock and jazz — and routinely captures him and his backing band catching and holding onto a groove and taking it as far the groove would take them. Just as a few examples for those not familiar, the aforementioned Hot Buttered Soul consists of only four tracks with album closer “By The Time I Get To Phoenix” clocking it at 18:42; “I Stand Accused” and “Something” off 1970’s The Isaac Hayes Movement clock in at just under 12 minutes; and “The Look Of Love” off 1970’s . . . To Be Continued clocks in at a little over 11 minutes.  And this was before Hayes accepted the unique assignment of writing the beloved soundtrack for the seminal and canonical Blaxploitation film, 1971’s Shaft.

However, “Do You Thing” off the two LP Shaft soundtrack may have arguably been the longest song he ever wrote, as it actually took up most of the second LP’s B side, as the expansive groove before ending with the overdubbed sound of a record player needle violently scratching across a vinyl; however, interestingly enough, Hayes and his backing band The Bar-Kays had recorded an additional improvisational 13 minutes that sonically possessed elements of free jazz, jazz fusion and psych rock that had been consigned to the vaults  . . . that is until the folks at Now-Aagin Records stumbled upon it and decided that they needed to release the full 33 minute version of the song, from the 2-inch tape masters on the greatest day of all for audiophiles — Record Store Day.

Including with the vinyl release is a booklet detailing the history of the never-heard-before version of one of Hayes’ most famous and beloved songs. To celebrate the upcoming release of the 33 minute vinyl check out a 22 minute version of “Do Your Thing” that ends with wild peals of discordant noise featuring feedback, strummed guitar chords eventually played through wah wah pedal, shimmering and soaring organ chords with musician studio chatter before a quick fade out.

 

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So last evening, the folks at Speak Into My Good Eye (SIMGE) in partnership with The Footlight had the first of a monthly series dubbed Blox Cord in which three other Tri-State area-based writers/editors/bloggers are invited to curate a live showcase of locally-based indie music. And each writer/editor/blogger did a short DJ set in between sets.

Sponsored by Narragansett Beer and Austin Eastciders, the inaugural lineup included:

SLONK DONKERSON // (SIMGE)
Fruit & Flowers // (CoolDad Music)
Leland Sundries // (Elmore Magazine)
The Vaughns // (The Joy of Violent Movement)

And there was a there was a happy hour with  Narragansett and Austin Eastciders drink specials and giveaways that was DJ’d by up-and-coming producer DJ DeModa.

Check out some of the songs that I wound up playing as part of my showcase, as well as a bunch of shows I would have loved to play if I had more than my allowed time.