Tag: New Orleans LA


Rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax RecordsMotown RecordsMuscle ShoalsNew OrleansPhiladelphia and San Francisco.

Over the past eight years, the members of the Lincoln-based act have been one of the Midwest’s hardest working bands, releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, which they’ve supported through several tours across the Continental US and two European tours. Adding to a growing profile, the act has opened for the likes of George Clinton, Charles BradleyBooker T. Jones, Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and an impressive list of others.

Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal’s Eddie Roberts-produced fifth album Natural Born Hustler is slated for release later this year through Color Red Records, and the album further establishes the act’s sound — music written for grown-ass folks by written-by grown-ass folks rooted in earnest and honest songwriting while sonically drawing from 70s funk and blues, doo-wop and psych soul with a modern twist.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Hustler,” Natural Born Hustler‘s third single was a strutting and defiantly upbeat bit of soul that seemed indebted to The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis. The end result was a track is one-part, much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one-part, much-needed rallying cry for our uncertain times.

“Sunday Lies,” Natural Born Hustler‘s fourth and latest single continues a run of coolly strutting, bluesy soul centered around twinkling organ, Hoyer’s Tom Jones-like crooning, wah wah pedaled guitar, twinkling organ, a looping and propulsive groove and a cinematic yet powerhouse horn line. But underneath the expansive song structure and cool strutting vibes is a simmering anger, as the song calls out the widening chasm between word and action when those in power corrupt their message. In fact, the song’s narrator makes the observation that for voters, the voter dynamic is often swayed when politicians co-opt their platforms with religious messages — and the willful blinders that sometimes inhibit the faithful from accepting the truth and reality: that they’re being cynically played by wanton hypocrites.

Brian J is a New Orleans-based multi-instrumentalist and Grammy-nominated producer, best known for his work as the bandleader and frontman of the party rock road warrior act Pimps of Joytime. He also has a Grammy-nominated country blues collaboration with Cedric Burnside. Interestingly, Brian J’s latest recording project Gitkin was conceived as a way for the Pimps of Joytime frontman and producer to “explore tonalities I’d never mess with,” as he puts it. Eventually,. the instrumental project became a release from “having to write lyrics or involve my voice,” Brian J explains.

With the release of Brian J’s 2018 Gitkin debut, 5 Star Motel, the Pimps of Joytime frontman, multi-instrumentalist and producer quickly established a style that he has dubbed “Outernational Psychedelic Twang.” Drawing from a wide range of sounds and styles including Peruvian Chicha, 60s Pakistani surf rock, 5 Star Motel‘s material was centered around expansive arrangements, featuring dynamic guitar playing and hand-clapping grooves. And with a backing band featuring an impressive collection of players, Gitkin has built up buzz playing exclusive and spirited shows in San Francisco and NYC.

Recorded at this New Orleans-based home studio, Brian J’s sophomore Gitkin album Safe Passage reportedly finds the multi-instrumentalist and producer expanding upon an already rich sonic palette with melodies informed by Greek and Middle Eastern modalities, Peruvian Chica and Tuareg Saharan guitar styles — with the end result being a mix of stomping blues and gritty funk. “Nosotros Tambien,” Safe Passages‘ latest single is a gritty and funky track featuring a looping and bluesy guitar lines, twinkling Rhodes, dense Afrobeat and Afro pop-inspired polyrhythm within an expansive, mind-bending arrangement. Centered around a dusty, unfussy yet deceptively anachronistic production, the cinematic composition sounds like a warm synthesis of Expensive Shit/He Miss Road-era Fela Kuti and Tinairwen.

Wonderwheel Recordings will be releasing Safe Passage on September 18, 2020.


New Video: Killer Whale Performs “Plenty of Time” at Downman Sounds Studios

New Orleans-based indie rock ‘n’ soul act Killer Whale is led by its frontman Thomas Johnson, who spent several years living and gigging in San Francisco before returning to Louisiana — and as a result, his work manages to infuse surf rock with the swamp, among other influences. The New Orleans-based act’s forthcoming album Tastes Like Yesterday is slated for a September 18, 2020 release though Devil In The Woods Records — and the album’s latest single “Plenty of Time” is a slow-burning track that’s one part old-school Muscle Shoals soul, one part breezy surf rock that’s centered around Johnson’s soulful crooning, an infectious hook, some jangling guitar work, some congo and simple backbeat. But at its core, the song manages to balance a wistful ache with a sobering realism: the song is about taking your time when you’re making the decision to stay with a lover or  move on. It ain’t an easy decision; it has a life altering implications for you and for the other person — and as a result, the song carries a profoundly heavy weight. 

Directed by Scott Lebell, the recently released video follows Killer Whale’s frontman as he travels to the studio to record “Plenty of Time” at Downman Sounds Studios. 

New Video: Video Age Releases a Playful Visual for Shimmering and Upbeat Anthem “Aerostar”

Over the past couple of months, I’ve written a bit about the New Orleans-based act Video Age, and with the release of their first two albums 2016’s full-length debut Living Alone and 2018’s sophomore album Pop Therapy, the band — founding members Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, along with Nick Corson and Duncan Troast — received attention for crafting hook-driven material with a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired sound.

Following the release of Pop Therapy, the band’s songwriting partners and co-founders Farbe and Micarelli were eager to write new material and continue upon the momentum they had just started to build up. The band convened at Farbe’s home studio to work on the band’s highly anticipated third album, Pleasure Line, which is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Winspear, who recently signed the band.

Inspired by a vast range of influences including Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, Pleasure Line finds the band crafting neon-bright 80s pop-like melodies to create an optimistic sound — with the material taking on a rosy hue.  “I’m often trying to create a more idealized version of the world I’m in,” Video Age’s Ross Farbe says in press notes. “In fact, some of that optimism may come as a result of both Farbe and Micarelli getting married this year — just a few weeks apart from each other. “We’re feeling the love,” Farbe says.

Written as a salve that protects against cynicism. the album’s material is meant to help the listener see and feel a world full of romantic potential. But the album isn’t centered around one-dimensional puppy love — it’s the sort of fulfilling love that’s complicated, confusing and never easy; but ultimately worth it. So far, I’ve written about two of the album’s singles — the dance floor friendly,  Tom Tom Club-like “Shadow On The Wall” and the slow-burning, Quiet Storm meets Prince-like “Pleasure Line.” 

Pleasure Line’s third and latest single “Aerostar” is a decidedly upbeat New Wave-inspired, bop centered around shimmering and squiggling synth arpeggios, propulsive four-on-the-floor, a sinuous bass line, angular guitar blasts and an infectious, dance floor friendly hook. Sonically, the track may remind some listeners of The Cars, Talking Heads, and others — but with playful references to cars and hitting the road with your buddies, playing tunes. “This song looks at the bright side of being on the road. We did a lot of touring for the last album and it’s something that really brought us closer together as a band,” the members of Video Age say in press notes. 

Directed by Zack Shorrosh, the recently released video follows the band and their adventures in their ’95 Ford Aerostar, shot in front of a green screen: we see the members of the band and the van as they travel throughout various locations, including the Grand Canyon, the desert and even space — and naturally, the video looks and feels as though it could have been released in 1985. “Once we found a green screen studio big enough to fit our ’95 Ford Aerostar, we hopped in and let the story unfold,” the band says. 

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.

New Audio: Video Age Releases a Slow-Burning and Shimmering New Single

With the release of their first two albums, 2016’s full-length debut Living Alone and 2018’s sophomore album Pop Therapy, the New Orleans-based act Video Age — founding members Ross Farbe and Ray Micarelli, along with Nick Corson and Duncan Troast — received attention for crafting hook-driven material with a decidedly 80s synth pop-inspired sound.

Following the release of Pop Therapy, the band’s songwriting partners and co-founders Farbe and Micarelli were eager to write new material and continue upon the momentum they had just started to build up. The band convened at Farbe’s home studio to work on the band’s highly anticipated third album, Pleasure Line, which is slated for an August 7, 2020 release through Winspear, who recently signed the band.

Inspired by a vast range of influences including Janet Jackson, David Bowie and Paul McCartney, Pleasure Line finds the band crafting neon-bright 80s pop-like melodies to create an optimistic sound — with the material taking on a rosy hue.  “I’m often trying to create a more idealized version of the world I’m in,” Video Age’s Ross Farbe says in press notes. “In fact, some of that optimism may come as a result of both Farbe and Micarelli getting married this year — just a few weeks apart from each other. “We’re feeling the love,” Farbe says. 

Written as a salve that protects against cynicism. the album’s material is meant to help the listener see and feel a world full of romantic potential. But the album isn’t centered around one-dimensional puppy love — it’s the sort of fulfilling love that’s complicated, confusing and never easy; but ultimately worth it. Earlier this year, I wrote about “Shadow On The Wall” a decidedly  80s synth pop track — i.e., Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads and early Madonna — with a subtle hint of 70s AM rock. But while the track is superficially dance floor friendly, it manages to hint at something much darker under the surface. Pleasure Line’s second and latest single, album title track “Pleasure Line” is a slow- burning Quiet Storm meets Prince-like track centered around shimmering synth arpeggios, a sinuous bass line, twinkling keys, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and an infectious hook. Interestingly, the song manages to be thematically about a restless anxiousness that eventually turns into possibility and love; of making comfort out of discomfort.  

New Audio: Montpelier France’s JayJayBrass Band Releases a Party Friendly New Single

Formed in 2018 and  led by its founding member and bandleader JayJay (trumpet), the Montpellier, France-based brass act JayJayBrass Band specializes in a modern take on the classic brass band sound — one that features elements of hip-hop and funk. Last year, the band went into the studio to record their debut effort, which was released earlier this year and  features 9 original compositions and a cover of an Anderson .Paak song, as well as guest vocals from local emcee Loïs Hammel. 

The album’s “Radio Funk” is a swaggering and strutting bit of New Orleans-styled brass centered around some Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, swinging saxophone and trumpet lines, some muscular low end from the sousaphone within a dance floor friendly composition with big hooks. Loïs Hammel contributes a few party friendly rhymes on an already party friendly track. Considering how bleak things in our world are at the moment, a few moments of levity seem necessary. 

The rising Lincoln, NE-based soul and funk act Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal — Josh Hoyer (vocals, keys), Blake DeForest (trumpet), Mike Keeling (bass), Benjamin Kushner (guitar) Harrison El Dorado (drums) — formed back in 2012, and since their formation, the act, which features some of the Lincoln area’s most acclaimed musicians, has received attention nationally and internationally for a boundary crossing sound inspired by the sounds of Stax Records, Motown Records, Muscle Shoals, New Orleans, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

The Lincoln-based quintet have developed a reputation for being of the area’s hardest working bands: releasing four, critically applauded albums, including last year’s Do It Now, the members of the rising soul act have played hundreds of shows and have made several tours across the Continental United States and two European tours, opening for the George Clinton,Charles Bradley, Booker T. Jones, and Muscle Shoals Soul Revue and others.

Further cementing their reputation as one of the Plain States’ hardest working bands, the members of the Lincoln-based soul act will be releasing their Eddie Roberts-produced fifth later later this year through Color Red Records. “Hustler,” the album’s cinematic, third and latest single is a strutting bit of soul, prominently featuring Hoyer’s soulful, Tom Jones-like vocals, a commanding horn arrangement, a sinuous bass line, shimmering organ arpeggios and an enormous and rousingly anthemic hook. While seemingly possessing elements of The Payback-era James Brown, 70s Motown, Muscle Shoals, Daptone and Memphis soul in a seamless yet period specific synthesis, the upbeat track manages to be one-part much-needed proverbial kick in the ass and one part much-needed rallying cry for our unprecedented and uncertain moment, centered around the assuring yet forceful line “When the world wants you to sink or swim, I ain’t goin’ under.”

Things may be bleak right now but keep fighting y’all. There’s much hard and necessary work to be done.