Tag: Ghost Funk Orchestra

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 Video: Brooklyn’s Ghost Funk Orchestra Releases a Trippy Visual for “Queen Bee”

Founded and led by composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebaum, the New York-based psych rock/psych soul act Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi recording project in 2014. And since their formation, the project has grown into an 10 member unit that has become a forceful and up-and-coming presence in the city’s psych rock and soul scenes as a result of unique sound that draws from salsa, surf rock, Afrobeat and several others.

Last year, the act released their full-length debut A Song for Paul last year. Conceived as a tribute for Seth Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, a figure, who who played an immense role in the Ghost Funk Orchestra’s founder and bandleader’s life. And although the song don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction were meant to convey what Anish’s presence felt like for Seth — a tough but kind, old-school, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him, forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and overall sound much further than anything he had done up to that point, including writing more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.

The New York-based psych soul act’s sophomore album An Ode to Escapism is slated for a Friday release through Karma Chief Records, an imprint of Colemine Records. Sonically, An Ode to Escapism continues and further expands upon the sound they’ve developed on their full-length debut: the arrangements are more intricate and centered around odd time signatures, the drums are heavier and vocal harmonies soar over it all. Thematically, the album touches upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image — and is specifically meant to invite to listener to close their eyes, while listening and delve into their subconscious, if they’re not too afraid to do so.

An Ode to Escapism‘s first single is the cinematic and expansive “Queen Bee.” Featuring a looping, bluesy guitar line, a soaring string arrangement, the song is centered around an unusual song structure that finds the band defy maneuvering three wildly different time signatures to convey someone digging themselves out of a self-flagellating pit and finding their swagger.

“‘Queen Bee’ is a song about finding strength in not caring what people think of you,” the band’s Seth Applebaum explains. “It’s about digging yourself out of a pit of self-consciousness and strutting your stuff however it may come across. Led by Megan Mancini, this tune has been a staple in the live repertoire for a while, but it was also one of the most difficult songs to conquer in the studio. As the first song that was written and recorded for An Ode To Escapism, ‘Queen Bee’ set a high bar for difficulty as its challenge was to find a way to move seamlessly between three very different feeling time signatures (3/4, 10/8, and 4/4). On the surface it feels like a pop song, but in true GFO fashion, there’s a lot to be discovered beneath the surface.”

Directed by the band’s Seth Applebaum, the recently released video for “Queen Bee” was shot on 16mm film and follows the various folks, who worked on Ghost Funk Orchestra’s An Ode to Escape into their homes,. where they’ve been riding out the pandemic, like most of us. There’s also some more over-the-top sequences that features the album’s three vocalists performing on an old-fashion stage, complete with a choreographed movements and handclaps. It’s playfully old-fashioned and a bit of a reminder of the things I miss so much — and hope that we can get back soon.

“The concept for this video was simple: run around with a 16mm camera and visit the folks who worked on the record at their homes where they’ve been riding out the pandemic,” Ghost Funk Orchestra’s Seth Applebaum explains in press notes. “For the more specialized shots we had the pleasure of taking over the back room at The Footlight, a Ridgewood venue that GFO spent a lot of time playing early on. We sought to juxtapose the dryness of everyone’s current living situations with the over-the-top production value of the live music experience we’re all missing so dearly right now.“

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.

Founded and led by composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebaum, the New York-based psych rock/psych soul act Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi recording project in 2014. And since their formation, the project has grown into an 10 member unit that has become a forceful and up-and-coming presence in the city’s psych rock and soul scenes as a result of unique sound that draws from salsa, surf rock, Afrobeat and several others.

Last year, the act released their full-length debut A Song for Paul last year. Conceived as a tribute for Seth Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, a figure, who who played an immense role in the Ghost Funk Orchestra’s founder and bandleader’s life. And although the song don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction were meant to convey what Anish’s presence felt like for Seth — a tough but kind, old-school, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him, forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and overall sound much further than anything he had done up to that point, including writing more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.

The New York-based psych soul act’s sophomore album An Ode to Escapism is slated for a November 13, 2020 release through Karma Chief Records, an imprint of Colemine Records. Sonically, An Ode to Escapism continues and further expands upon the sound they’ve developed on their full-length debut: the arrangements are more intricate and centered around odd time signatures, the drums are heavier and vocal harmonies soar over it all. Thematically, the album touches upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image — and is specifically meant to invite to listener to close their eyes, while listening and delve into their subconscious, if they’re not too afraid to do so.

An Ode to Escape‘s first single is the cinematic and expansive “Queen Bee.” Featuring a looping, bluesy guitar line, a soaring string arrangement, the song is centered around an unusual song structure that finds the band defy maneuvering three wildly different time signatures to convey someone digging themselves out of a self-flagellating pit and finding their swagger.

“‘Queen Bee’ is a song about finding strength in not caring what people think of you,” the band’s Seth Applebaum explains. “It’s about digging yourself out of a pit of self-consciousness and strutting your stuff however it may come across. Led by Megan Mancini, this tune has been a staple in the live repertoire for a while, but it was also one of the most difficult songs to conquer in the studio. As the first song that was written and recorded for An Ode To Escapism, ‘Queen Bee’ set a high bar for difficulty as its challenge was to find a way to move seamlessly between three very different feeling time signatures (3/4, 10/8, and 4/4). On the surface it feels like a pop song, but in true GFO fashion, there’s a lot to be discovered beneath the surface.”


New Audio: Ghost Funk Orchestra Latest Single and Video Evokes the Awkwardness of Having a Crush

Founded and led by composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebaum, the New York-based psych rock act Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi recording project in 2014. Since their formation, the project has grown into full-fledged, 11 member unit that has become an up-and-coming prescience in the city’s psych rock and soul scenes — and that shouldn’t be surprising, as their sound draws from an eclectic array of sources including salsa, surf rock, Afobeat, stoner rock and others. 

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Colemine Records, the up-and-coming soul acts forthcoming full-length debut, A Song For Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, a figure, who played an immense role in the Ghost Funk Orchestra founder and bandleader’s life. While the songs reportedly don’t address Paul Anish directly, the creative process for the album and the decisions made during it were meant to convey what Anish’s presence felt like for Seth — a stern yet loving, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing his grandfather’s essence meant expanding the arrangements much further than what he has done in the past, including crafting more comprehensive horn arrangements, as well as working with a string section for the first time in his career. 

A Song For Paul’s latest single “Seven Eight” is an angular and awkwardly lurching song that’s centered around an unusual time signature (7/8 time), a looping Tropicalia-like guitar line, ethereal vocals, an explosive and expressive horn arrangement, which gives the song a quirky yet cinematic air. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Radiohead’s “15 Step” and to Gorillaz “5/4,” the song evokes the drunken swoon of having a crush. As the band’s Seth Applebaum explains “Seven Eight is a song about having a crush. When writing the song, we chose an awkward time signature because having a crush will make anyone feel a little awkward.” 

Starring Romi Hanoch, the recently released video for “Seven Eight” relies heavily on found footage from old medical films, liquid light projections from Drippy Eye Projections thrown into a visual that has a decidedly film noir-ish feel. “The music video relies heavily on found footage, specifically pulled from old medical films that depict the beauty and chaos of the human body and its internal functions,” Seth Applebaum explains. “In addition, we were fortunate enough to have our friends at Drippy Eye Projections provide us with some incredible liquid light visuals to further the narrative of chemistry.”