Tag: mp3s

Makaya McCraven is a Paris-born Chicago-based jazz drummer, beatmaker and producer, who has released a run of critically applauded, genre-defying and re-defining albums that includes 2017’s Highly Rare, 2018’s Where We Come From (Chicago x London Mixtape) and 2018’s Universal Beings through Chicago-based International Anthem Records. Highly Rare caught the attention of XL Recordings‘ Richard Russell, who recruited the acclaimed Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer to re-imagine Gil Scott-Heron’s I’m New Here.  

Released earlier this year, McCraven’s We’re New Again places the original I’m New Here sessions in a new context. using samples collected from McCraven’s improvised live sessions with new wave Chicago jazz musicians and vintage samples taken from the acclaimed Paris-born, Chicago-based drummer, beatmaker and producer’s parents’ recordings.  It’s meant to reconnect Scott-Heron with his birthplace and hometown, as well as a lineage of jazz and blues that perfectly compliments the Chicago-born legendary artist’s imitable voice.

Slated for a July 31, 2020 release through his longtime label home. Universal Beings E&F Sides serves as an addendum to the critically applauded 2018 effort of the same name — but while featuring fourteen new organ beat music compositions that were cut from the original sessions and prepared and produced by McCraven as a soundtrack to a documentary on the recording of the original album. (The physical album will see a September 25, 2020 release.)

The Mark Pallman-directed Universal Beings documentary follows McCraven as he travelled to California, Chicago, London and NYC in a behind-the-scenes look at the creation and recording of his breakthrough album, taking the viewer through the story of his life, his process and the community of musicians that brought the album’s material to life.

So to build up buzz for the new album and the documentary, McCraven and International Anthem have released Universal Beings Sides E&F‘s first single, the angular and percussive “Mak Attack.” Clocking in a little under two minutes, the breakneck composition is centered around complex and rolling polyrhythm, a sinuous bass line and twinkling bursts of keys.  The composition finds the musicians managing to walk a tightrope between chaos and order, free-flowing improvisation and structured composition and as a result, it explodes with a forceful and vital energy.

 

 

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Rising New York-based post-punk act Bootblacks — Panther MacDonald (vocals), Alli Gorman (guitar), Barrett Hiatt (synths) and Larry Gorman (drums) — derive their name from novelist William Burroughs’ description of the dark underbelly of New York. And it shouldn’t be surprising that the band’s surroundings have influenced their work both sonically and thematically. “It’s an energetic city and people have all the reasons in the world not to give you the time of day,” the band’s Barrett Hiatt says in press notes. “I think our music has been shaped by that in many ways.”

In 2012, the New York-based post-punk released their Jim Sclavunos-produced debut EP Narrowed. 2016 saw the release of their full-length debut Veins, which they supported with extensive touring. Interestingly, 2017’s sophomore effort Fragments found the band expanding their sound with the material becoming more synth-based, more atmospheric and much bigger than its immediate predecessors. Fragments received quite a bit of attention, which helped the band earn slots on a number of post-punk/New Wave/goth festivals including Cold Waves, Terminus, Absolution, Wave Gotik Treffen and A Murder of Crows — and the album landed on a lot of year-end lists.

The members of Bootblacks have played at every significant venue in the New York Metropolitan area, sharing stages with Clan of Xymox, Light Asylum, HEALTH and VOWWS. And along the way, they’ve managed to tour across North America and Europe. Of course, much like countless bands across the world, the rising New York-based post-punk act had hopes for a big 2020 pre COVID-19 quarantines: they were recently handpicked to open for Modern English during their North American tour this year. Unfortunately, that tour has been postponed.

But in the meantime, the band’s highly anticipated Jason Corbett-produced third album Thin Skies will be released through Artoffact Records and the album reportedly finds the band zooming forward where Fragments left off — with its nine songs meshing dance floor pulse and melodic, brooding post-punk with anthemic hooks. The album’s material also features backing vocals from ACTORS‘ Shannon Hemmett, SRSQ‘s and Them Are Us Too‘s Kennedy Ashyln.

Unsurprisingly, the album continues the band’s long-held thematic concerns: the loneliness of city life. “Most of the lyrics on the album are about loneliness,” says Hiatt. “Looking back on the lyric writing process there seems to be some connective feeling of isolation and distance present in all of the songs… I’m always hoping that a listener personalizes the song, that’s why the songs never have a narrative but try to embody a feeling.”

Centered around reverb-drenched guitars that recall The Unforgettable Fire and The Joshua Tree-era U2, shimmering synth arpeggios, a relentless motorik groove, an enormous and MacDonald’s plaintive vocals, Thin Skies‘ first single “Traveling Light” may arguably be among the most dance floor friendly yet brooding songs Bootblacks has ever released, as it evokes sweaty nights on the dance floor, meeting some one who captures your attention and dreams — and eventually heading home alone to obsess over what you should have done.

HHBTM Records · Wesdaruler – Fuck Trump America

 

Wesdaruler is an emerging  Athens, GA-based producer, beatmaker and emcee. His latest single “FUCK TRUMP AMERICA” finds the Athens-based artist teaming up with Linqua Franqa, Dope KNife, and Louie Larceny on a fiery, anti-Trump anthem: each emcee spits defiant and boldly pro-Black verses that tell Trump and his supporters to go fuck themselves over a minimalist production around a swinging double bass line and boom bap beats. Every day I feel this way — and you should too: Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Trump America!

“We didn’t push for any big exclusives or anything like that,” the Athens-based artist explains. “This track just needs to be shared and posted. The message is loud and clear in the lyrics, no statements need, the track is the statement.”

 

 

San Antonio-based duo The Holy KnivesNew Orleans-born, San Antonio-based siblings Kyle and Kody Valentine — derive their name from a combination of two of their favorite works of art: Alejandro Jodorowsky’s The Holy Mountain and Frank Stanford’s The Singing Knives. Both works — although in very different media — conjure a flood of beautiful, thought-provoking imagery while centered around a fearless quest for truth through the irrational that the duo strive to capture in their own work.

Inspired by Portishead, Leonard Cohen, Arctic Monkeys and Timber Timbre, the San Antonio-based duo specializes in an eerily cinematic sound featuring Western-inspired soundscapes and downtempo grooves to create a sound that sounds as though it could be part of an episode of Twin Peaks or True Detective. The duo’s latest EP Always Gone was released as a series of singles earlier this year — and the band will continue to release a song a month for the remainder of the year.

Recently, The Kills‘ Jamie Hince remixed, the brooding EP single and title track “Always Gone” — and his touch manages to be subtle: it retains the song’s brooding atmospherics, and sonorous baritone but while gently pushing the pace up a bit with some subtly industrial-like boom bap beats and an extra layer of shimmering reverb. Interestingly, both the original and the remix manage to remind me of Daughn Gibson’s work — eerie, brooding and seemingly haunted by lingering, old ghosts of regret and despair.

Sam Valdez · Clean

Sam Valdez is a rising,  Nevada-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and guitarist, who specializes in an immersive and cinematic sound that draws from elements of shoegaze, Americana, indie rock and pop that’s largely informed by her childhood growing up in the Nevada desert and her formative musical experiences as a child violinist: her work is generally centered around atmospheric and dreamy textures, abstract yet deeply emotive lyrics and classical-inspired arrangements.

So far Valdez’s work has received praise from the likes of Clash Magazine, Consequence of Sound and Earmilk— and she has received regular rotation from KCRW. Adding to a growing profile,  Valdez has opened for Stella Donnelly, Cayucas and Giant Rocks among others.

“Clean,” Valdez’s latest single is a slow-burning, brooding and atmospheric track centered around reverb-drenched guitar, gently padded guitars, a soaring hook and Valdez’s achingly plaintive vocals. And while bearing a resemblance to Slow Air-era Still Corners, the track is a subtle twist on the prototypical love song. “‘Clean is a love song in a way but it’s more about being drawn to self-destruction,” Valdez says. “It’s about finding comfort in uncertainty and appreciating the darker qualities in someone as well as the good.”

 

 

Lucias Tadini is an Italian-Brazilian singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist based in Los Angeles, where’s he best known for his solo recording project Tadini. The Italian-Brazilian singer/songwriter and musician, studied at Boston‘s Berklee College of Music— and after completing his studies, he wound up playing in a number of bands and projects, which have allowed him to hone his skills as a singer, keyboardist and guitarist, as well as producer and arranger.

Upon graduation, Tadini relocated to Los Angeles, where he started crafting arrangements centered around guitar, a collection of Moog synths, a Mellotron or two and a theremin that drew from Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and the rhythms and melodies of his native Brazil in a genre-blurring fashion. That material wound up becoming the Brazilian-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer’s forthcoming, full-length debut Collective Delusion. 

Last month, I wrote about “The Arsonist,” Collective Delusion‘s first single. Centered around explosive power chords, thunderous drumming and a rousingly anthemic hook, the song is full of arena rock friendly bombast and swagger paired with an incredibly self-assured performance that belies his relative youth. Written as he was relocating from Boston to Los Angeles. the song is a message about accepting and embracing change as a universal part of life. Continuing upon a similar vein as its immediate predecessor, Collective Delusion‘s second and latest single “Welcome Back to Freedom” is a slow-burning, bluesy dirge, centered around an enormous, power chord-driven hook, thunderous drumming and some explosive guitar soloing. Sonically, the song will likely draw comparisons to The Blue Stones,  Reignwolf and several others.

“‘Welcome Back to Freedom’ is  a song about surpassing your inner struggles (mental health) to win back your freedom, and the message is delivered through electrifying guitar riffs, a wall of synths and an arena ready catchy chorus, ” the emerging Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist explains in press notes.

 

 

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based soul singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams. Williams can trace some of the origins of her music career to growing up in an extremely musical household: her father  was a musician and  minister. Interestingly, the acclaimed British singer/songwriter and soul artist  learned how to read music before she could read words —  and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to  Motown and Bill Withers, which wound up transforming her life. As the story goes, Williams’ mother quickly recognized that Williams had a natural gift and encouraged her to join the church choir.

With  “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. At one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece with the video amassing over 1.5 million streams on YouTube.

Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; and Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe with the likes of JOVM mainstays  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her current backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations — currently, James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) — and the album further established Williams’ growing profile across the international soul scene.

Over the course of the following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received even greater international attention, after smash hit-making producer  NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of  “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a  result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.

With even more attention on them, Williams and company were determined to make the record of their lives. The end result was their Shawn Lee produced effort, last year’s  50 Foot Woman. The album finds the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — white further establishing a sound that generally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.

Much like countless other bands across the world, Williams and her Affirmations have been enjoying connecting with their fans and followers in a whole new way during the past few months of COVID-19 imposed quarantines and lockdowns. Putting some of their musical direction in the hands of their loyal following for the first time, the band put a cover song choice to a vote — and the result was the challenge of covering Nirvana’s classic, smash-hit “Heart-Shaped Box.”

Naturally, because the acclaimed JOVM mainstays operate in a completely different genre and style than Nirvana, they craft a slow-burning, horn-driven take on the grunge rock classic that retains the brooding and uneasy quality of the original — while putting the song into a contemporary context. Of course, what the Hannah Williams and The Affirmations cover should remind the listener of a fundamental fact: great compositions and great songs can translate across different genres and styles if embraced and adapted with care, so that the intent and purpose of the original isn’t messed with or altered too much.

Through countless back and forth with their mixing engineer and rapid advancements to each of their home recording setups, the band managed to record and sculpt the song despite lockdown restrictions. And it was done in a way that sounds as though the band were all in the studio together.

“This release is an ode to the world and its struggles” the band says, “a nod to the past but also a move into the future, and most of all a tribute to all the amazing people who continue to not only support our band but also all the important messaging and movements we try to encourage through our art and influence.”
 

 

 

 

 

 

With her recently released debut EP La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil, the emerging Lille, France-based singer/songwriter Julia quickly establishes her sound and approach  — a slick synthesis of jazzy neo-soul, hop-hop inspired beats paired with the French singer/songwriter’s  powerhouse vocals singing and rhyming lyrics in her native French and English.  “I’m just trying to make you feel my  feelings. The rest is all yours,” the Lille-based singer/songwriter says in press notes.

EP title track and opener “La fille aux cheveux coleur soleil” is a swaggering and slow-burning, neo-soul track with twinkling Rhodes, thumping beats, atmospheric electronics and Julia’s effortlessly soulful and sultry vocals. The EP’s second single “Hangover” is a hip-hop soul-like track featuring some more twinkling Rhodes, boom-bap beats, a sinuous bass line and Julia singing in a jazzy and seductive French. Seemingly inspired by Erykah Badu, Jill Scott and others, with a Quiet Storm vibey-ness, these two tracks — to my ears, at least — reveal a young superstar in the making. The EP’s two singles possess a remarkable self-assuredness and confidence with the material being ambitious, accessible — and centered around earnest, lived-in experience.

 

 

LutchamaK · Back To Finland

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the past six or seven months or so, you’ve seen a handful of posts covering the rising French electronic music artist, producer and JOVM mainstay LutchamaK. The French JOVM mainstay grew up as a voracious music listener and fan with eclectic and wide-ranging tastes that includes hip-hop, rock, techno and countless others. As a solo artist, LutchamaK’s work is deeply influenced by and generally draws from techno — but while reflecting his lifelong devotion to eclecticism: his first two EPs, which he managed to write during lunch breaks at his day job featured material that possessed elements of techno, house and EDM among others.

Over the same period of time that I’ve been covering him,  the rising French electronic music artist and producer has developed a reputation for being remarkably prolific, frequently releasing new material through an increasing number of EPs and singles. “Back to Finland,” the prolific French producer’s latest single is a club banger centered around layers of shimmering synth arpeggios, skittering, tweeter and woofer rocking beats, distorted and vocodered vocal samples and industrial clang and clatter.  Interestingly, “Back to Finland” may arguably be the most straightforward techno track he’s released to date, as it sounds as though it could have been played during Limelight’s heyday.

 

 

 

 

Tomode is an emerging Swedish funk act founded by Carl Leanderson and Viktor Westerberg. Interestingly, the act can trace its origins to Leanderson’s and Westerberg’s mutual love of funk and disco. After spending a couple of years developing and honing their sound, the Swedish duo’s debut single “Destiny, No. 20” firmly establishes their sound and approach: featuring Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, shimmering synths, a sinuous bass line and shuffling four-on-the-floor, and an enormous hook, “Destiny, No. 20” will command comparisons to Daft Punk‘s “Get Lucky,” and Chic’s “Good Times.” And much like those songs, the song is centered around a wistful and aching desire to escape — in nostalgia, as much as it is to escape to the dance floor.

“We want to make music that can act as a remedy to the slight despair we all feel, living
through the 2020’s,” the members of the emerging Swedish funk pop act say in press notes. ” Destiny No. 20 opens the door to everything we love – it’s got vibrant
drums, pulsating arpeggios, disco guitars and a funky bassline. It’s as much ‘Good Times’ with Chic as it is ‘Dancing On My Own‘ with Robyn. Hopefully it ignites a spark somewhere out there in the darkness.”

The band plans to release material throughout the summer — with their debut EP slated for release during the fall.