Tag: Mark Ronson

Earlier this year, I wrote about Charleston, SC-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Kyle Lacy, and with the release of the Squeeze meets Daptone Records-like “Hangin On,” the up-and-coming Charleston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist established a sound that draws from vintage rock and soul. Interestingly, Lacy’s latest single, the first official single off his forthcoming debut full-length debut Bad Days is the uplifting “Believe In Tomorrow” finds Lacy digging deep into the rock and soul sounds of his previous Dala Records single, but while finding his song leaning heavily towards Mavis Staples/The Staple Singers-like spirituals. Produced by Dala Records founder Billy Austik, best known for his work with Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Mark Ronson, Lacy’s latest single was written and recorded in just one day, while utilizing the old school, analog production approach the label has developed a reputation for.

Interestingly, the forthcoming full-length album reportedly finds Lacy delving deeply into soul and gospel — while affording the up-and-coming singer/songwriter much more freedom. “Now, I don’t have to think in terms of, ‘will people dance to this in a bar’, but I can actually say to myself, ‘would I listen to this song?’” Lacy says in press notes. Along  with that came a great deal of artistic and creative growth — in particular, the sessions that produced “Believe In Tomorrow” were the most formative for him. “It felt like we were all stepping out of the shadow of our fears, and collectively trying to tell a story of hope.”

 

 

 

 

Earlier this year, I wrote about the commercially and critically successful London-based soul and funk act The Brand New Heavies. And as you may recall, the act which is led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew was at the forefront of Britain’s late 80s and early 90s Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

With the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” through Chrysalis Records, the members of The Brand New Heavies began to make waves in their native UK. Eventually, the band signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around and conscious back in 1990, you’d likely recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash hit, “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of year — and to the act winning a MTV award for the track. As a result of the wild success of “Never Stop,” the album went on to becoming arguably the most commercially successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, the London-based funk and foul act’s full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential within hip-hop circles. In fact, the members of the band have wound up collaborating with an impressive array of the genre’s luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

Coincidentally, the acclaimed London-based funk and foul act have been a major influence on the equally acclaimed, smash-hit multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mark Ronson, who caught their first lineup and first show in New York in 1991. Ronson invited the members of the band to play at his 40th birthday party — and later began collaborating with the band on the first batch of new material in over five years, the disco-like groove “Getaway” which featured a horn line that hinted at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” and the soulfully sultry vocals of longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Acid Jazz, the band’s forthcoming Sir Tristan Longworth-produced album TBNH finds The Brand New Heavies carefully refining and reimagining the sound that won them international acclaim while featuring a variety of vocalists throughout the album — including longtime vocalists N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garret along with Beverly Knight, Angie Stone, current vocalist Angela Ricci and labelmate Laville. TBNH‘s latest single is a breezy, 70s soul-tinged cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s “These Walls” that features longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, a warm, Quincy Jones-like horn arrangement, twinkling Rhodes and a sultry hook — and while retaining the soulfulness and swagger of the original, The Brand New Heavies gently push the street banger into the lounge and into the club.

 

 

 

New Audio: Daptone Records Release an All-Star Collaboration to Celebrate Their 100th 45RPM Single

The renowned indie soul label Daptone Records was founded back in 2001 when its founders, Gabriel Roth and Neal Sugarman wanted to build a new home for their bands’ respective releases after Desco Records folded. Shortly, after label’s founding, Roth, Sugarman, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones and a collection of artists found an unassuming, beaten up, two family 19th Century brownstone in Bushwick, Brooklyn that would eventually become the home to their new label and their famed House of Soul Studios. And through the release of 50 full-length albums and about 100 singles on 45RPM, the Brooklyn-based soul label built a globally recognized reputation for its discerning tastes and uncompromising standards of quality, realizing exceptionally well-crafted and thoughtful soul records, made by a close family of musicians, who share a common musical philosophy, vocabulary and integrity. 

Since their formation, the label has sold over a million records from their roster of artists including JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, The Budos Band, Antibalas, Menahan Street Band, The Sugarman 3 and Naomi Shelton. Although many of the label’s artists have never quite achieved mainstream pop status, the label’s roster have managed to influence artists and labels around the world, including the likes of Amy Winehouse, who worked with The Dap Kings on her seminal album Back to Black, as well as Mark Ronson and Jay-Z, who have tapped the label’s sound for some of their biggest hits. 

Daptone’s 100th 45RPM release is slated for a June 28, 2019 release. And interestingly, the  A-side single “Hey Brother,” which is credited to the Daptone Family features a a historic and unprecedented collaboration of the label’s roster of incredible talent, including the late and beloved monarchs of the soul, Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones, as well as Saun & Starr, The Frightnrs, James Hunter, Naomi Shelton, Amayo and Lee Fields performing together for the first and only time on record. The single finds each of those artists singing a powerful and much-needed message of righteousness and brotherhood over a What’s Going On Marvin Gaye-era like groove played by members of The Dap Kings and Menahan Street Band. 

Written and recorded by The Frightnrs, “Hey Brother (Do Unto Others)” initially appeared on their acclaimed full-length debut, Nothing More to Say. With the band’s Dan Klein tragic death from ALS just before the album’s release, the label and its artists felt it would be both a thank you to the label’s deeply devoted fans and a fitting tribute to Klein to re-imagine the track as a soulful, All-Star team-like collaboration. Sadly, in the aftermath of the deaths of Charles Bradley, Dan Klein, Cliff Driver and Sharon Jones, the single has become a meditative and loving tribute to all of the artists they’ve lost in a tremendously short period of time. 

“Everybody seemed to really love the idea of being together on a record like that,” Gabriel Roth recently told Billboard. “Every one of those singers that I asked, after I explained what we were trying to do. they really jumped through hoops to try to make it happen.” 

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.

 

 

 

Led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalists Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew, the commercially and critically successful London-based soul act The Brand New Heavies were at the forefront of Britain’s emergent Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

The act began to make waves with the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” which was released through Chrysalis Records. The London-based neo-soul act eventually signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around in 1990, you may recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash-hit “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of a year — and to the act winning an MTV award for the track. And unsurprisingly, the album may arguably be the most successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, The Brand New Heavies’ full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential in hip-hop circles, and as a result the members of the band have collaborated with an impressive array of hip-hop luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

As a result of their massive commercial success in the UK, the band led by Levy and Bartholomew have been lauded by Mark Ronson, who invited the band to play at his 40th birthday celebration. Interestingly, the act’s first bit of new material in five years, “Getaway” finds the act returning to their longtime label home Acid Jazz Records, as well as collaborating with longtime collaborator, vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Centered around a warm, disco-influenced groove, a horn line that hints at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” a massive hook, and Davenport’s soulfully sultry vocals, the track is a dance floor friendly escapist fantasy, expressing the desire of getting away from the world and its stresses and routines with a love-interest/lover, and to simply enjoy the moment.

The Brand New Heavies will be playing a number of dates across the UK over the next few month with more dates to be announced soon; but in the meantime, check out the recently announced tour dates below.

TOUR DATES

 

May 24-26 – Upton on Severn, UK – Mello Festival

May 31 – Bedford, UK – Corn Exchange

July 05-8 – Lewes, UK – Love Supreme Festival

July 12-14 – Moseley, UK – Jazz Funk & Soul Festival

July 12-14 Caversham, UK – Readipop Festival

Sept 07 – London, UK – Electric Soul Festival @ 02

New Video: Miles Francis Releases a Cinematic and Surreal Video for EP Single “I Could Use Your Love”

Throughout the course of this site’s almost nine history, I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter Miles Francis, who has had stints as a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness and Antibalas, and as the frontman of Afrobeat/Afropop-inspired collective EMEFE. The 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter has also collaborated with an impressive and diverse array of artists including Arcade Fire,  Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others — all before stepping out on his own as a solo artist. 

Now, as you may recall, Miles Francis’ debut EP Swimmers was released last year, and the album which was written in the back of tour vans and hotel rooms while on the road. Eventually recorded in his basement studio, the EP’s material thematically captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid-20s, attempting to figure out themselves and the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’ll continually confront as an adult; how they fit into that world; and the struggle to figure out the purpose and meaning of their own lives. Interestingly, Swimmers put the New York-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist on the local and national map for crafting hook-driven, left field pop inspired by Bowie, Sly Stone, J. Dilla, Talking Heads, D’Angelo, Paul McCartney, Fela Kuti and Prince among others. 

Self-recorded with Francis recording each instrumental part in an organic, old school-inspired fashion in his basement studio and released last week, Miles Francis’ sophomore solo EP Doves finds him continuing to craft hook-driven, left field pop — but with a wider emotional palette. And while each song on the EP has its own unique sound, they manage to fall under an overall thematic and creative umbrella of sorts. The EP’s latest single, “I Could Use Your Love” is centered around a breezy and infectious hook, twinkling blasts of guitar, buzzing bass synths, stuttering beats and Francis’ plaintive and sultry vocals. Sonically, the song sounds like a slick and seamless synthesis of late period Beatles, Talking Heads, Prince and Afropop, but with a post-modern sensibility. Much  like the rest of the EP is based around the inner dialogue that we all have on a daily basis that brings up and down — in this case, evoking the desperation and longing inspired by profound loneliness. 

Directed by long-time collaborator Charles Bidet, the recently released video for “I Could Use Your Love” continues a run of cinematically shot and surreal treatments — with Francis surrounded by shadowy figures, who perform with him in a gorgeous performance space. In one way, the shadowy figures can be seen as a representation of the protagonist’s neurotic fears, doubts and loneliness. 

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: 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.