Tag: Marta Ren and The Groovelets

Comprised of founding member, singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Mathew Ajarapu, Khayle Hagood (bass), Khori Wilson (drums) and Cam Cunningham (guitar), the Chicago, IL-based soul outfit The Devonns (pronounced De-Vaughns) can trace their origins to when  Ajarapu dropped out of med school, and found himself unemployed and aimlessly drifting through his life. As the story goes, at the time, Ajarapu was listening to music constantly and found himself drawn to the classic soul sounds of the late 1960s-early 1970s, best known for steady grooves, carefully crafted songwriting, impeccable production and gorgeous arrangements.

While sonically and aesthetically drawing influence from the work of The Impressions, Leroy Hutson, The Bar-Kays, Carole King, Raphael Saddiq and Jamie Lidell, the band’s primary focus was on exploring the elements of songwriting, arrangement and production made popular from about 1965-1973 or so. The act’s debut single “Come Back” was released earlier this year through Italian soul label Record Kicks Records — the label home of Hannah WIlliams and the Affirmations, Marta Ren and the Groovelets an others, and was reportedly written in 10 minutes on a $300 Danelectro singlecut guitar. Recorded at Chicago’s Kingsize Sound Labs, the track features arrangements by Paul Von Martens, who has worked with Mavis Staples, Paul McCartney, and Elton John, and the guitar work and percussion of multi-instrumentalist Ken Stringfellow, who has worked with R.E.M. “Come Back” received attention across soul music circles, and building upon a growing profile, the Chicago-based soul act’s latest single “Think I’m Falling in Love,” is breezy and up beat track centered around a gorgeous string arrangement, a bluesy guitar line and a classic horn line, and while the song and its arrangement is heavily y indebted to Smokey Robinson, The Impressions and Leroy Hutson, the song also will remind some listeners of Mayer Hawthrone. According to the band’s Mathew Ajjarapu, “The song actually came to me pretty quickly; I was driving to work one day and suddenly the entire guitar lead riff popped into my head, along with the bass line and chords. I instantly knew it was kind of special.”

Currently, the band is in the studio with Paul Von Martens working on their highly anticipated full-length album, which will also be released through Record Kicks next winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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New Video: Amsterdam’s The Tibbs Release Film Noir-like Visuals for New Single “Lies”

Comprised of Elsa Bekman (vocals), Henk Kemkes (guitar), Michael Willemsen (bass), Bas de Vries (drums), Paul Jonker (Hammond), Berd Ruttenberg (baritone sax), Coen de Vries (tenor sax) and Siebe Posthuma de Boer (trumpet), the Amsterdam, The Netherlands-based soul act The Tibbs formed in 2012 and within their first couple of years together, they developed a reputation nationally as one of their country’s finest soul acts; in fact, they self-released an attention grabbing demo, which was followed by a 45rpm vinyl release through German funk label Tramp Records, and their full-length debut Takin’ Over, which was released by Italian soul and funk label, Record Kicks Records, the label home of Hannah Williams and the Affirmations and Marta Ren and the Groovelets among others. Adding to a growing profile, the band has played the North Sea Jazz Club and have a live performance on Dutch national Radio 6 (since renamed NPO Soul and Jazz). 

“Lies,” the Dutch soul act’s latest single was officially released today as a 45rpm vinyl and digital download through Record Kicks, and the single will further cement Record Kicks Records as purveyors of the some of the Europe’s — if not the world’s — finest soul acts. And naturally, the single prominently features Bekman’s incredibly soulful, pop star belter vocals paired with a backing band, much like the aforementioned Affirmations could give the Daptone crew a run for their money. Thematically and lyrically, the song is  a classic soul-inspired torch burner that focuses on a narrator, who is desperate to break out of an oppressive and deeply frustrating routine, and recognizing that in order to do so, requires an almost superhuman resolve, strength and sense of independence; and that worse yet, that while necessary for her, it’ll be painfully lonely. 

Look for the Dutch act’s highly-anticipated sophomore effort, which will include “Lies” sometime in 2018 — but in the meantime, the recently released film noir-like video, directed by the band’s Ekman, features her as a bored and dissatisfied wife, who recognizes that if she doesn’t break out of a dreadful, soul sucking routine, she’ll die doing the same exact thing as she’s always done; and from the moment the performance sequences begin Ekman goes from meek and compliant to a stomping, force of nature that demands your attention.  

Live Footage: Marta Ren and the Groovelets Performing an Acoustic Version of Album Track “Smiling Faces”

Perhaps best known for being the frontwoman of the renowned Portuguese breakbeat outfit The Bombazines with whom she recorded and released two full-length albums, as well as contributing her vocals to a number of nationally known acts across Portugal, the Porto, Portugal-born and based vocalist Marta Ren has been a part of her homeland’s music scene since the mid-1990s. However, Ren has long been inspired by the funk and soul sounds of the 60s and over the past couple of years, she decided that it was time for her to go solo and front her own soul and funk-based project under her own name, before eventually hooking up with her backing band The Groovelets.

Now, if you had been frequenting this site over the last few months of last year, you’d recall that Ren and the Groovelets’ debut effort Stop Look Listen was released to critical praise and received airplay from from BBC Radio 6′s Craig Charles, Radio France‘s Francis Viel. Adding to a growing international profile Acid Jazz Records‘ Eddie Piller has also championed Ren and her Groovelets. “So Long” Stop Look Listen’s barn-burning third single was a visceral bit of soul that balanced fury and sensuality with a decided late 60s/early 70s psychedelic feel — in some way nodding at Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and James Bond soundtracks.

The Portuguese soul act recently recorded an acoustic rendition of the slow-burning and sensual album track “Smiling Faces” for French radio — and although the live, acoustic rendition leans slightly towards a hushed, jazz standard-like arrangement, the song which features a swaggering, Thelonious Monk-like bass line, some bluesy guitar playing, gentle drum tapping and some ethereal yet soaring organ while allowing room for Ren’s aching vocals, which simultaneously express the longing and profound loneliness of a deeply lovelorn narrator, who recognizes how difficult love can be, especially when they are incredibly unlucky in love — and others seem to constantly stumble upon it.

New Video: The Sultry and Explosive Soul Sounds of Portugal’s Marta Ren and The Groovelets

Arguably best known for fronting Portuguese breakbeat outfit The Bombazines with whom she recorded and released two full-length albums, Porto, Portugal-born and based vocalist Marta Ren has been a vital part of the Portuguese music scene since the mid-1990s as she’s also lent her vocals to a number of nationally known acts in her homeland and played at some of the country’s most renowned clubs and festivals. However, Ren has a long passion for the deep funk and soul of the 60s and she decided that it was time for her to go solo and front her own project under her own name, eventually hooking up with backing band The Groovelets.

Marta Ren and The Groovelets’ debut effort Stop Look Listen was released to critical praise earlier this year and has received airplay from BBC Radio 6’s Craig Charles, Radio France’s Francis Viel. Adding to a growing international profile Acid Jazz Records’ Eddie Piller has also championed Ren and her Groovelets.

Stop Look Listen’s third single “So Long” is a viscerally emotional, furious, sensual, barn-burning track in which Ren’s soulful and aching wailing with the tight and soulful Groovelets who emphasize the ache and fury in Ren’s vocals with warm, explosive blasts of horns, shimmering bluesy, guitar chords and a propulsive backbeat with a decided psychedelic-leaning. And much like fellow Record Kicks Records labelmates Hannah Williams and the Affirmations, Ren and her Groovelets are set to take over the world, as they pair a powerhouse vocalist with a backing band that can seriously compete with the world famous Dap Kings — while in the case of Marta Ren and the Groovelets’ “So Long” thematically and sonically nods at Nancy Sinatra’s “These Boots Are Made For Walking” and James Bond soundtracks.

Filmed and directed by Marco Olivera, the recently released music video manages heavily nod at Quentin Tarantino films as Ren is superimposed over black and white stock footage of cities and city traffic at night, 40s big bands and other footage, which further emphasizes the retro feel and sound.