Tag: Leeds UK

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In 2004, Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought the Leeds-based funk act The New Mastersounds to the States as an opener for Greyboy All-Stars for what would be the acclaimed British act’s first Stateside tour. And as the story goes, Vandenberg took The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader and producer Eddie Roberts out to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on Chicago’s West Side on Roberts’ first night in town to catch local blues legend Omar Coleman, who had been playing Rosa’s for decades. Interestingly, almost two decades later, Roberts would wind up producing Coleman’s forthcoming album Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times.

Slated for release this summer through Roberts’ own Color Red Music, the album’s title is an ode to The New Mastersounds 2001 debut, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds — and in many ways Coleman’s album finds Roberts, an acclaimed musician, bandleader and producer taking on the role of curator and influencer, championing and supporting artists he believes should be heard and love, essentially paying Keb Darge’s support forward to a worthy act.

Earlier this year, I wrote about album title track “Strange Times,” a strutting and gritty synthesis of The Payback-era James Brown funk and Chicago blues featuring a looping bluesy guitar line, bursts of shimmering strings and a funky bass line that would Bootsy Collins‘ proud paired with Coleman’s powerhouse, soulful vocals. Lyrically, the song’s origins can be traced to a series of conversations Coleman had with Roberts during the album’s recording sessions about the bizarre, infuriating and tragic state of America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the exchange between the two kept turning back to the fact that we were all living in very strange times. Coleman took that and ran with it, immediately scribbling out incisive and fiery lyrics that accurately describe life in our very moment with the song talking about the abject poverty, desperation and uncertainty that hardworking and decent folks everywhere face. As the old saying the rich get richer while the poor get sicker.

“Chicago,” Strange Times‘ latest single is a fiery song that hews to Chicago’s beloved blues tradition while brashly refusing to be pigeonholed. Much like its predecessor, it’s a bit of synthesis of Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf-like blues and James Brown-era soul featuring an enormous horn line, a blazing harmonica solo and a strutting grove paired with Coleman’s soulful wailing. Starting with Coleman proudly announcing that he’s from Chicago’s West Side, the song talks about the things I love about that city: its a town inhabited by tough, hardworking people, who like countless people across the world are struggling to survive to keep their dignity intact, despite the despair, shittiness and inequity and inequality thrown in their path.

For the album, Roberts recruited an accomplished backing band that features himself, Ghost Light’Dan Africano (bass), Matador! Soul Sounds‘ Chris Spies (keys and organ), Dragondeer’s Carl Sorenson (drums), Lettuce‘s Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Michal Menert‘s Nick Gerlach (sax), Adrienne Short (viola) and Kari Clifton (violin) to help him with a sonic approach that would combine classic blues with funkier blues. And to capture the rawness and immediacy of the material, they recorded it straight to tape on Color Red Studios’ Tascam 388. “I hear Omar’s voice as a cross between Muddy Waters and Charles Bradley,” Roberts says. “I tried to reflect those qualities in music approach and songwriting as well as the way we recorded the album and built the instrumentation of the tracks.

Back in 2004, Chicago-based producer David Vandenberg brought the Leeds-based funk act The New Mastersounds to the States as an opener for Greyboy All-Stars for what would be the acclaimed British act’s first Stateside tour. As the story goes, Vandenberg took The New Mastersounds’ guitarist, bandleader and producer Eddie Roberts out to Rosa’s, a legendary blues club on Chicago’s West Side on Roberts’ first night in town to catch local bluesman Omar Coleman, a local blues legend, who had been playing Rosa’s for decades. 17 years later, Roberts wound up producing Coleman’s forthcoming album Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times.

Slated for release this summer through Roberts’ own Color Red Music, the album’s title is an ode to The New Mastersounds 2001 debut, Keb Darge Presents: The New Mastersounds — and in many ways Coleman’s album finds Roberts, an acclaimed musician, bandleader and producer taking on the role of curator and influencer, championing and supporting artists he believes should be heard and loved.

Eddie Roberts Presents Omar Coleman: Strange Times‘ latest single, album title track is a strutting and gritty synthesis of The Payback-era James Brown funk and Chicago blues within a classic 12 bar blues structure featuring a looping bluesy guitar line reminiscent of B.B. King, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters, an enormous horn line, bursts of shimmering strings and a funky bass line that would make Bootsy Collins‘ proud paired with Coleman’s powerhouse, soulful vocals. Lyrically, the song’s origins can be traced to a series of conversations Coleman had with Roberts during the album’s recording sessions about bizarre, infuriating and tragic state of America during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, the exchange between the two kept turning back to the fact that we were all living in very strange times. Coleman took that and ran with it, immediately scribbling out incisive and fiery lyrics that accurately describe life in our very moment with the song talking about the abject poverty, desperation and uncertainty that hardworking and decent folks everywhere face. As the old saying the rich get richer while the poor get sicker.

Roberts’ recruited an accomplished backing band that features himself, Ghost Light’s Dan Africano (bass), Matador! Soul SoundsChris Spies (keys and organ), Dragondeer’s Carl Sorenson (drums), Lettuce‘s Eric “Benny” Bloom (trumpet), Michal Menert‘s Nick Gerlach (sax), Adrienne Short (viola) and Kari Clifton (violin) to help him with a sonic approach that would combine classic blues with funkier blues. And to capture the rawness and immediacy of the material, they recorded it straight to tape on Color Red Studios’ Tascam 388. “I hear Omar’s voice as a cross between Muddy Waters and Charles Bradley,” Roberts says. “I tried to reflect those qualities in music approach and songwriting as well as the way we recorded the album and built the instrumentation of the tracks.”

New Video: Tallinn Estonia’s Lexsoul Dancemachine Release a Wild Action Movie-Inspired Visual for Swaggering “Carambola Jelly”

Formed back in 2013, the Talinn, Estonia-based funk sextet Lexsoul Dancemachine — Condor (vocals, congas), Jonas Mattius Sarapuu (keys), Kristen Kütner (keys, guitar, cowbell), Caspar Salo (drums, percussion). Jürgen Kütner (guitar) and Martin Laksberg (bass) — have developed reputation for turning venues into sweaty dance parties across Estonia and the other Baltic States with an infectious, feel good take on funk centered around thumping and propulsive bass lines, syncopated rhymes, infectious dance floor friendly grooves and soulful vocals.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Estonian funk sextet self-produced their debut effort, 2015’s Deus Lex Machina, which went on to receive praise from DJs and listeners alike — with “Beef Grinder” receiving airplay on Craig Charles’ BBC 6 and BBC 2 Funk & Soul Show and then being included on the compilation Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4. Building upon a rapidly growing profile. the act spent the following year extensively touring with key sets at some of the region’s biggest festivals including Talinn Music Week, Positivus, Funky Elephant and Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival.

Mid 2016 saw the release of “Coconuts,” a tropical disco-influenced, funky tune that received attention globally while topping local radio charts. And as a result of the enthusiastic response to the single internationally, the members of Lexsoul Dancemachine were encouraged and continued onward with their new sonic direction,. In 2017, the Estonian funk act went on their first UK tour, playing successful shows in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds with a sold-out Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club show at Band on the Wall. Further encouraged by a growing international profile, Lexsoul Dancemachine wrote and recorded their sophomore effort 2018’s Sunny Holiday in Lexico, which was released through Funk Embassy Records.

The rapidly rising Tallinn-based outfit is currently working on their third album — but in the meantime, their latest single “Carambola Jelly” is an infectious and swaggering, funky disco-tinged, club banger centered around a propulsive bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Condor’s self-assured and sultry vocals. But peel back the layers a bit, and you’ll discover a song that playfully nods at Latin funk, tropicalia, jazz, and Larry Levan house within an expansive, jammy song structure.

Directed by cult Ugandan low budget action movie director Nabwana I.G.G., the recently released video for “Carambola Jelly” is set in the slums of Kampala. While telling a Taken-like tale of a woman being abducted and her loved ones desperately searching for her, we see some surrealistic yet gorgeous moments of profound joy — in which we see people captured by the groove in the middle of action movie tropes. There’s also cameo from the band, too. Of course, the video ends with a happy ending with a romantic reunion of the video’s central couple.

 

Fold is a Leeds-based collective currently centered around its core quartet Seth Mowshowitz (beats, keys), Kane Rattray (drums), Ben Walsh (bass) and Sam Hutchinson (guitar) with contributions from collaborators like Emma Johnson (saxophones), Simon Dennis (trumpet), Rosie Nicholl (trombone) and Kieran O’Malley (violins). The act’s sound is informed and influenced by hip-hop, trip-hop, downtempo, soul, Brazilian and funk and others — and as a result, they employ as many organic instruments as possible, avoiding the use of click tracks or pre-sequenced material in any context.

The act explores different ways in which narrative and poetry can be interwoven into music — with the aim of honestly reflecting out contemporary world, to speak truth clearly and to represent diverse perspectives across space and time, encouraging a sense of empowerment, understanding and unity among listeners. Focusing on diverse voices and perspectives has allowed the rising British collective an opportunity to collaborate with an eclectic array of emcees, poets, vocalists and historical figures. Since their formation, the act has quickly developed a reputation as a rising act in England: BBC 6 Music‘s Lauren Laverne chose the collective to represent Leeds and the region for a special Record Store Day eve broadcast at Huddersfield‘s Vinyl Tap Records

Fold’s forthcoming album is a concept album that pays tribute to Civil Rights activist and acclaimed playwright Lorraine Hansberry. Hansberry is best known as the author of A Raisin in the Sun — and as the first Black woman to have her work performed on Broadway. As a result, Hansberry’s voice and ideas is the heart and core of the album’s material. Featuring some old-school turntabilism and scratching, a sinuous bass line, stuttering boom bap-like drumming, soulful horns played through delay and reverb, the  track is centered around Hansberry’s husky voice imploring the listener to use their cognitive gifts to steer themselves towards the light. But perhaps more important, as the band notes, Hansberry reminds us that in order to progress — hell, even to survive at this point — that we must always be adaptable. Sonically, the track reminds me a bit of Makaya McCraven‘s bold reimagining of Gil Scott-Heron‘s We’re New Here but with a J. Dilla-like swagger. Both efforts put each visionary’s voice and work in a new and very different context but while reminding contemporaries that their work is even more vital and necessary than they could have ever imagined.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comprised of Joel Johnston (vocals, guitar), Jof Cabedo (drums) and Alessio Scozzaro (bass), the Leeds, UK-based indie trio Far Caspian exploded into the national and international scene with the release of their debut EP Between Days, an effort that established a lo-fi sound and aesthetic that the band has dubbed melanjolly. Interestingly, the band’s latest single, the self-produced “Astoria” manages to continue their on-going melanjolly approach, centered around shimmering guitars, a slow-burning, wistful groove and soaring hooks — but paired with a subtle 80s production sheen, as a result of the addition of atmospheric synths that find the band pushing their sound in a direction that recalls JOVM mainstays Yumi Zouma

The band’s forthcoming and highly-anticipated sophomore EP, The Heights is slated for a June 11, 2019 release through Dance To The Radio Records, and as the band’s Joel Johnston says of the song,  “‘Astoria’ is the song on the EP that kind of sums up the feeling we wanted to put across, embracing the good things in your life when things aren’t so good. 

“Before we had started writing any of the songs I had already decided that there would be a track with this name. It’s a town in Oregon where The Goonies was shot. The Goonies has been my favourite movie since I was no age, and I’ve always wished I lived in that neighbourhood – this is me trying to emulate what I heard in my head when I pictured the town.

“Me and Alessio were lying in the living room hungover when we wrote the chorus for the song. It came from nowhere and we just went with it.”

 

 

Comprised of Lucy Jowett (vocals), Joe Clarke (guitar) and Jacob Marston (drums), the up-and-coming Leeds, UK-based art punk trio Dead Naked Hippies formed back in 2016 and since their formation they’ve received praise from BBC Introducing, KCRWDIYClashDORK Magazine, Metro and PRS Magazine for a face melting take on art rock and art punk centered. Adding to a growing profile, the Leeds-based trio have shared stages with Dream Wife, IDLES, Queen Zee and DZ Deathrays, and have played at Live at Leeds and last year’s Leeds Festival.

The trio’s latest single “Rare” will further cement their growing reputation for crafting blistering and furious punk rock centered around a pummeling and angular guitar line, thumping and forceful four-on-the-floor drumming, and a shout along in a sweaty mosh pit worthy hook; but at the core of the song is a rebellious and cathartic rallying yell. As the band’s Jowett explains in press notes, It is a song about self love. I think we’re quick to judge the term & deem it laughable or irrelevant in fear of being arrogant, or weird. But if you take a hard look at the society we live in, it’s clear to see why so many people struggle to feel content in their own minds and their own bodies. I’ve always struggled with myself and it sickens me to think that so many other people feel the same. It needs to change.

“We’re used by advertising companies, so they can make money out of our discontentment. Bombarded with images of fake realities, only to make us feel like ours isn’t enough. We’re made to feel like our creativity and passion will never be as important as serving a functional purpose in society. It’s dull, boring and I’m fucking mad about it. Most importantly, I want people to know that they’re not alone.”

With the release of recent singles “Holding On” and “Let’s Go Outside” receiving attention across the blogosphere, opening slots with Her’s, Indoor Pets, and whenyoung, and a forthcoming set this month’s Leeds Festival, the up-and-coming Leeds, UK-based trio Far Caspian, comprised of Irish-born, Leeds-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Joel Johnson, Leeds-born and-based drummer and backing vocalist Jof Cabedeo and Leeds-born and-based bassist and backing vocalist Alessio Scozarro have developed a reputation for crafting material centered around Johnson’s transition to life in a new country and the upheavals that ensue paired with their unique take on atmospheric pop, influenced by Real Estate, Grizzly Bear and Band of Horses.

“The Place” off the up-and-coming Leeds-based trio’s forthcoming debut EP slated for release this fall through Dance To The Radio is a jangling and atmospheric track, rooted to percussive and angular drumming, shimmering guitar chords and sinuous hooks — and in some way, the song sounds as though it draws from Vampire Weekend and others but with a breezier, summertime vibe. As the band says in press notes, “We wanted to have a track on the EP that was based more on intricate rhythms but instead we went for a pretty stripped back arrangement so it made sense alongside our other tracks. The song itself is about overthinking things in social situations and feeling like you aren’t contributing enough to conversation because you’re feeling awkward.”

New Video: Introducing the Wiry Post-Punk of Up-and-Coming Leeds-based Trio Drahla

Led by Luciel Brown (vocals, guitars), the Leeds, UK-based trio Drahla have received national and international attention for meshing anxious and wiry post-punk with krautrock-inspired experimentation, featuring angular guitar chords and propulsive and hammering bass, the track is centered by Brown’s half-spoken/half-sung vocals as you’ll hear on “Twelve Divisions,” the band’s Pink Flag-era Wire-like Captured Tracks Records debut.

The recently released video is fully of erratic jump cuts, flickering lights and flickering imagery, the video is full of absurd and at times repetitive imagery and action.   As Brown says of the video, “The video is an abstracted representation of process and routine. This is depicted through the recreation of the cover artwork and repetitive nature of the content used.”

New Video: Moaning Releases Amorphous and Dada-esque Visuals for Slow-burning Album Single “Misheard”

Over the first couple of months of this year, I wrote about the Los Angeles, CA-based indie rock trio Moaning, and as you may recall, the band comprised of Sean Solomon, Pascal Stevenson and Andrew MacKelvie have spent the past few years crafting  and refining a moody and angular post-punk sound that manages to draw influence equally from shoegaze and slacker rock. During that same period of time, the band has received attention both nationally and internationally from a number of major media outlets including The Fader, The Guardian, DIY Magazine,Stereogum, and others.

The trio’s highly-anticipated, self-titled, full-length debut was released earlier this year through  Sub Pop Records, and album singles like the Joy Division/Interpol/Preoccupations-like “Artificial” and the moody and shimmering “Tired,” further cemented their reputation for moody post-punk with enormous, arena rock-like hooks. Unsurprisingly, the mid-tempo ballad “Misheard” continues in a similar vein, as it features angular guitar chords and enormous hooks but finds the band decidedly pushing their sound towards shoegaze and 120 Minutes MTV-era alt rock, centered around lyrics that vacillate between self-loathing, confusion and regret — all familiar emotions that are engendered in the aftermath of an equally confusing and embittering relationship.

Directed by Steve Smith, the recently released video for “Misheard” continues the band’s string of accompanying their songs with surreal visuals — this time with some amorphous, neon-colored imagery that’s like a Dada-esque nightmare.