Tag: Nile Rodgers

Initially formed as an ambitious octet that played at the London Jazz Festival and other venues across London featuring founding member and creative mastermind Leo Appleyard (guitar, music), Agne Motie (vocals, lyrics), Duncan Eagles (soprano sax), Piers Green (alto sax), Hoagy Plastow (tenor sax), Paul Jordanous (keys) Holley Grey (bass) and Chris Nickolls (drums), the London-based act Urchin has evolved to become the solo recording project of its founding member and creative mastermind. 
Last year, Appleyard took a break from his life as a gigging musician and relocated to Melbourne, Australia, where he took in the city’s renowned music scene — in particular house, disco and modern jazz from the Fitzroy and Brunswick districts. Unsurprisingly, his most recent EP, Take Time, which was released earlier this year is a reflection of the time he spent in Melbourne, soaking up a new scene while drawing from the likes of acclaimed British acts like Bonobo, Maribou State and The Cinematic Orchestra. The EP’s latest single “Night Light” is a breezy and up-tempo dance floor friendly track centered around strutting Nile Rodgers-like guitar, a soaring and infectious hook, thumping beats and atmospheric electronics. Sonically, the song bears a resemblance to When the Night-era St. Lucia, as it’s indebted to 80s synth pop — but with a clean, modern sheen.

 

 

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New Video: Introducing the Dance Floor Friendly Sounds and Trippy Visuals of FORCES

FORCES is a new synth-based act, comprised of romantic couple and collaborative duo Jess and Dave. And although the project is a relatively new project, it’s centered around the 20+ year relationship and collaboration between its creative masterminds, who may be best known in their native Canada for their previous, long-term band Golden Dogs. Throughout The Golden Dogs’ run, Jess and Dave wound up collaborating with a virtual who’s who  of contemporary, Canadian indie rock, including the then-future members of Zeus, Wax Atlantic and Brave Shores, along with Taylor Knox and Stew Heyduk — while opening for the Sloan, Feist, Bloc Party, The Libertines, Kaiser Chiefs, Thurston Moore and Roky Erickson. 

In 2017, Jess and Dave went into the studio and began working on what they thought would be the next Golden Dogs album, although deep down they both admit that they kind of knew that it wasn’t. What they started working on was a decided and radical sonic departure from the driving rock sound they’ve long specialized in and were known for. In fact, they were increasingly drawn to the a number of different production styles — in particular, The Dead Pets, Liquid Liquid, New Order, The Cure’s Close to Me and Timbaland. As a result, the duo, which splits its time between Montreal and Toronto began to experiment with synths, beatmaking and funky rhythms. 

Along with that Jess increasingly stepped up as a frontperson, taking on a sultry vocal approach paired with layered, punchy female harmonies. Simultaneously, Dave began to primarily focus on guitar textures and melodies. And of course, the material was primarily based around metronomic loops and electronics instead of the drums-bass-guitar they had long relied on. The end result is their debut single as FORCES, “Stay On Me.” The self-recorded, Graham Walsh and Jose Contreras-mixed track is centered around a funky Nile Rodgers-inspired guitar riff, layers of arpeggiated synths, thumping beats, a propulsive club-rocking groove and Jess’ sultry vocals that builds up to a cathartic sense of release. 

“The key lyric in ‘Stay On Me’ — ‘everything we all focus on, we become’ — reminds us to turn away from mind games in favor of focusing on what matters most in our lives, whatever that means,” the duo says about their glittering, disco bop.

Featuring FORCES’ Jess in over-sized movie star-like sunglasses, the recently released video is full of vibrant, neon-like colors and glitchy footage timed to the propulsive beats of the song to create a visual that’s trippy and mesmerizing. Look for more from the Canadian duo as they plan to release a new single every few months with an accompanying video. 

Initially formed in 2007, as the solo recording project of Melbourne, Australia-based DJ and producer Benjamin Plant, Miami Horror eventually expanded into a full-fledged band with the addition Josh Moriarty (vocals, guitar), Daniel Whitechurch (bass, keys, guitar) and Kosta Theodosis (drums) and with their earliest releases — 2008’s Bravado EP  2010’s full-length debut Illumination and 2015’s sophomore effort All Possible Futures —  the Aussie act established their own sound, which drew from Prince, New Order, Todd Rundgren and Pink Floyd, as well as from house music and electro pop. Interestingly, the act’s most recent effort, 2017’s The Shapes EP was a decided change in sonic direction for the act with the material largely indebted to 80s neon-colored pop and New Wave.

Earlier this year, I wrote about “Restless,” the first single from the acclaimed Aussie indie electro pop act in over two years, a single that found the project returning to its collaborative and production-based roots, as the act’s new incarnation. “The Shapes was always meant to be a one-off conceptual project, so once that was complete I began moving back towards the original creative process that Miami Horror started with; a simpler approach to production and a continued emphasize on outside vocalists.” Plant says. “For me, music has always been about completing a vision and trying to make something stand out. Allowing outside collaboration really opens me up to complete that vision without being restricted to my own skill set.”

Now, as you may recall “Restless” was a breezy and summery track centered around shimmering synths, Nile Rodgers-like funk guitar, tons of hi-hat and a plaintive and sultry vocal contribution Kevin Lavitt. And while retaining the slick, dance floor-friendly electronic production that has won Plant international acclaim, the song seems indebted to 80s Quiet Storm R&B — in particular Cherelle‘s “Saturday Love,” and Mtume‘s “Juicy Love” immediately come to my mind, as the song possessed a similar sophisticated sexiness to it. “Luv Is Not Enough” the acclaimed Aussie act’s second single of this year is centered around shimmering guitars, a funky, two-step inducing groove and Clear Morifee’s alluring vocals, presenting a romantic vision of empowerment and self confidence. While being in a similar vein as its immediate predecessor, Plant cites artists like The Internet, Kaytranada, Anderson .Paak and Calvin Harris‘ 2017 single “Slide,” which he says caused a big shift in perspective.

“We hadn’t really been into much new music. Everything was feeling dull and minimal,” Plant says of the writing of “Luv Is Not Enough.” “Then when I heard ‘Slide,’ it was a seemingly revelatory moment. It was refreshing to hear a song that was based around the simplicity of a good bass line and chords. It made me realize that maybe we’d been overthinking things, as those had always been two of our favorite and highest prioritized elements when we started out.”

Along with the single comes the announcement that the project will be releasing their highly-anticipated, third full-length album next year — and that Miami Horror will be embarking on a 17 date North American tour with an all-star lineup, a sextet that will include vocalists Reva Devito and TC Milan and Melbourne’s Queen Magic on guitar. The tour will include a November 27, 2019 stop at Webster Hall. Check out the tour dates below.

Tour Dates:
Oct 31: Vancouver, BC @ Fortune Sound Club
Nov 1: Seattle, WA @ The Showbox
Nov 2: Portland, OR @ Mississippi Studios
Nov 6: San Francisco, CA @ August Hall
Nov 8: Santa Ana, CA @ The Observatory
Nov 9: Los Angeles, CA @ Teragram Ballroom
Nov 13: San Diego, CA @ Music Box
Nov 14: Phoenix, AZ @ The Crescent Ballroom
Nov 16: Mexico City, MX @ Corona Capital Festival
Nov 20: Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
Nov 22: Chicago, IL @ Park West
Nov 23: Toronto, ON @ Velvet Underground
Nov 24: Montreal, QC @ L’Astral
Nov 26: Cambridge, MA @ The Sinclair
Nov 27: New York, NY @ Webster Hall
Nov 29: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
Nov 30: Philadelphia, PA @ The Foundry

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Release an Intimate Behind the Scenes Visual on the Making of a Vinyl Record

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowiedidn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a Friday release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Escape From Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work‘s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys— thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.

Directed by the duo, the recently released video for “Do This” was shot on 16mm film by Jesse Cain and follows the entire process of recording and making a vinyl album, from the recording sessions at James Murphy’s Plantain Studios, to mastering at Heba Kadry’s Brooklyn-based mastering suite, to cutting the master disk with Bob Weston in Chicago, to pressing and packaging at RTI Pressing and finally to Amoeba Records in Los Angeles. It’s a behind the scenes look at the entire process revealing the professionalism and dedication of dozens of hard-working people that’s actually inspired by the famous Sesame Street “Making Crayons” segment. Originally aired in the early 80s, the clip made a deep impression on the members of Holy Ghost! “We wanted to document the ancient and very special process of making vinyl, from recording and mixing all the way to packaging and store delivery,” Frankel explains.

New Audio: JOVM Mainstays Holy Ghost! Releases a Funky Two-Step Inducing Single

I’ve written quite a bit about the New York-based electro funk/neo-disco production and artist and longtime JOVM mainstays Holy Ghost! over the years, and as you may recall, l, with the release of the their first three full-length albums — 2011’s self-titled debut, 2013’s Dynamics and 2014’s remix album Work For Hire — the duo, which is comprised of Alex Frankel and Nicholas Millhiser received attention nationally and internationally. Building upon a growing profile, the duo have remixed the work of Katy Perry, LCD Soundsystem, Moby and a lengthy list of others; made national TV appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live! and The Late Show with David Letterman; toured with the legendary New Order; and played sets at some of this country’s and the world’s biggest festivals including Coachella, Outside Lands, Primavera Sound and Bonnaroo.

Work, the duo’s first batch of new, original material in over five years reportedly finds Frankel and Millhiser attempting to revisit the freedom of expectations that was suffered through their earliest recorded output — and interestingly, the proverbial return to form partially stemmed from circumstances: the duo dismantled their basement Brooklyn studio and relocated to a small room that a few musician friends of theirs were renting about a doctor’s office (coincidentally, the same address where they mixed their full-length debut). Because of the room’s limited space, they pared their extensive gear collection down to two synths — a Yamaha CS-80 and a Mini Moog. “Not necessarily the bare necessities, but what would make for the most interesting limited palette,” says Millhiser. “David Bowie didn’t have every fucking synthesizer on earth to make Low. He had two. And that’s one of my favorite synth records of all time.”

Slated for a June 21, 2019 release through West End Records, the forthcoming album’s material will continue the duo’s long-held reputation for crafting each sound from scratch with an unapologetic, exacting precision — and it’s their analog approach to electronic music that heavily informs the songwriting, production and sound of the album. Interestingly, album single “Los Angeles” was centered by shimmering and arpeggiated synths, a motorik groove, ethereal crooning, thumping beats and a sinuous yet infectious hook — while seemingly indebted to From Here to Eternity . . . And Back-era Giorgio Moroder and Kraftwerk. Interestingly, Work’s latest single “Do This” is another straightforward club banger that meshes early hip-hop, house music and disco in a way that recalls Sugarhill Gang, Nile Rodgers and Pet Shop Boys– thanks in part to arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, a two-step inducing hook and plaintive vocals.  

New Video: JOVM Mainstays ESCORT Team Up with NYC Disco Legend Fonda Rae on a Glittering and Joyous Club Anthem

Throughout this site’s almost nine-year history, I’ve written a lot about the New York-based electro pop/dance music act and longtime JOVM mainstays ESCORT. Initially founded by production team Eugune Cho and Dan Balls and featuring powerhouse vocalist and bassist Adeline Michele as a core members of an act that routinely expanded from anywhere from 5 to 17 members, the acclaimed pop act have received attention across the blogosphere and elsewhere for a sound that draws from classic disco, house music, soul and funk. Adding to a still-growing profile, the members of ESCORT have played across North America’s festival circuit, including sets at Sasquatch Festival, Okeechobee Festival Montreal Jazz Festival, Full Moon Festival and others — and have shared stages with The Internet, Charles Bradley, Digable Planets, De La Soul and Cody ChesnuTT.

Since the release of the longtime JOVM mainstays last single “Josephine,” the group has gone through a major lineup change with the act’s longtime vocalist Adeline leaving to pursue a solo career, and eventually being replaced with new vocalist Nicki B, who contributes both lead and backing vocals. Unsurprisingly, ESCORT’s long-awaited album City Life, which is slated for an April 12, 2019 finds the acclaimed electro pop act may arguably be their most expansive and collaborative album they’ve worked on and released to date, as the album features guest spots from longtime Gil Scott-Heron collaborator Brian Jackson; NYC disco and soul legend Fonda Rae, best known for her classic single “Over Like a Fat Rat;” renowned dub producer Lone Ranger; and their long-time vocalist Adeline, who appears on several tracks. Sonically speaking, the album reportedly finds the band attempting to evoke the kinetic and frenzied energy of New York — with the album’s material drawing from dub, house music, Brazilian pop and disco made for turning up with your headphones while commuting or while burning up the club. 

City Life’s first single, album title track “City Life” features the legendary Fonda Rae teaming up with the act’s new vocalist Nicki B on the glittering disco banger. Centered around glistening and shimmering arpeggiated synths, a sinuous bass line, Nile Rodgers-like guitar, stuttering drum programming and a motorik-like groove, the track sonically may remind some listeners of a seamless synthesis of Fonda Rae’s classic tunes, Chaka Khan and Rufus’ “Ain’t Nobody,” 80s synth funk and classic house music — with a hedonistic thump. “We tried to put something together evoking the feeling of Fonda’s records,” Eugene Cho says in press notes, about collaborating with Fonda Rae. “We were nervous to send it to her—here’s something that’s inspired by you!—but she was totally into it. It was great.”

Directed by Bridget Barkan, the recently released video captures a night out with Escort’s Nicki B that includes meeting up with a buddy, goofing off as you ride the subway to meet the rest of the crew and heading to your favorite club to shake your ass all night to some dope DJs, followed by a stop at the diner (inevitably in this case, Kellogg’s Diner in Williamsburg) and a sleepy yet satisfied subway ride back home. It captures a wild night on the town, full of fun and possibility. 

With the release of their critically applauded debut single “Blue & The Green” back in 2016, the Brighton UK-based collective LOYAL, comprised of James Day, Laurence Allen and Alex Cowen, quickly emerged into the national scene, receiving regular rotation on BBC Radio 1. The act’s lineup began to expand with the release of “House For You,” which found the then-trio collaborating with fellow Brighton-based artist Beth Molly Moore — and as result of that successful collaboration, the act eventually expanded to a septet.

Interestingly, over the course of an expanding catalog, the band has increasingly moved from standard house music songwriting approaches and digital production towards a disco-influenced sound, focusing on groove and analog production and instrumentation, at points drawing influence from R&B, indie rock pop and funk. Now, as you may recall, I wrote about the Nile Rodgers and Chic and Daft Punk-like  “Everything (She)” off the collective’s forthcoming Patterns That Fall EP, a track that featured a wobbling synths, a soaring hook, a funky bass line and guitar line, making it a winning combination of anachronistic vibes, old-timey production and sound and club-banging grooves.

Centered by twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, soaring strings, a choral-like vocal delivery by the act’s lead and backing vocalist and an infectious, dance floor-friendly hook, the EP’s latest single “Crave It Still” manages to bring Nile Rodgers and Chic, Escort and Studio 54 to mind, but with subtle electronic flourishes that include arpeggiated blasts of synth and a thumping, muscular kick. Much like its preceding singles, the track is a slickly produced, anachronistic synthesis of 70s disco and funk, electro pop and contemporary neo-disco. “Lyrically, ‘Crave It Still’ started as a poem, a stream of consciousness about craving nothing in particular; maybe a lost love, a drug, a partner you shouldn’t be with but can’t help going back to. We held the poem in our back-pocket for a while, then eventually fashioned the New York disco sound while we were on our first-ever writing trip to the city itself. We recorded in a beautiful studio tucked away in an industrial park in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, alongside some fantastic local writers and musicians. They laid out a killer foundation, all New York, and we built from there.”

Look for LOYAL’s Pattern That Fall on April 26, 2019.

New Video: Introducing the Soulful Honky Tonk of London’s Yola

Yola is an up-and-coming London-born and-based singer/songwriter, who has led a rather remarkable life. She grew up extremely poor, and as a child was actually banned from making music. The up-and-coming British singer/songwriter has also overcome being in an abusive relationship, stress induced voice love and literally being engulfed in flames in a house fire, which inspired her Dan Auerbach-proudced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which is slated for a February 22, 2019 release through Easy Eye Sound. 

Since then, Yola opened for the James Brown and joined renowned trip hop act Massive Attack before traveling to Nashville to work with Auerbach and a backing band that features musicians, who have worked with Elvis and Aretha Franklin.  Adding to a growing national and international profile, the up-and-coming British artist has received praise from NPR, Rolling Stone, Wall Street Journal, The Tennessean, Refinery 29, Billboard, American Songwriter, BrooklynVegan, Nashville Scene, Paste and Stereogum. Additionally, she will be appearing on BBC’s Later . . . with Jools Holland New Year’s Eve edition, where she’ll be performing alongside Michael Buble, Jess Glynne and the legendary Nile Rodgers

Walk Through the Fire‘s latest single, “Ride Out in the Country” is a Muscle Shoals-like take on honky tonk country that recalls Sandra Rhodes’ under-appreciated Where’s Your Love Been as its centered around twangy guitar chords, lap steel guitar, some Rhodes electric organ, a soaring hook and Yola’s easy-going soulful vocals. However, at its core the song is an achingly sad breakup song, written from the prospective of someone reeling from a devastating breakup, complete with the recognition that your former partner has moved on and maybe you should too, even if it’s profoundly difficult. Of course, the song’s narrator feels she has only one option — to get into the car and drive, and experience some of life’s small pleasures: having the wind in your air, of being out in open space with your thoughts, memories and regrets. 

Directed by Reid Long and Kip Kubin, the recently released video stars Yola driving through the country in an old Ford truck — but to eventually bury the bodies of two people in a shallow grave. On one level, the video’s main character is essentially burying a part of her past in an attempt to quickly move on. 

Raymond James Mason is a Long Island, NY-born, Brooklyn-born trombonist and singer/songwriter. As the story goes, Mason picked up the trombone at a very young age, and as a teenager, he studied classical performance and jazz studies at my alma mater NYU, where he studied with Brian Lynch, Lenny Pickett, Alan Ferber and Elliot Mason. Upon graduating, Mason quickly became an in-demand musician, playing across a wide variety of genres; but he’s best known for being a member of renowned local Afrobeat act Antibalas, which eventually led to him becoming a member of the Daptone Records/Dunham Records in-house band, playing with the likes of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, Charles Bradley and the Menahan Street Band, Lee Fields and the The Expressions and many others. Additionally, Mason has performed and or recorded with the likes of Alicia Keys, David Byrne, Randy Newman, Erykah Badu, The Roots, Arcade Fire, Ed Sheeran, Janelle Monae, Lukas Graham, Nile Rodgers, Tame Impala, Maren Morris, Earth Wind and Fire, Mark Ronson and and more. Unsurprisingly, he very busy Mason learned from these artists while honing his own compositional and vocal skills, patiently waiting for his moment to step out in the spotlight.

Back in October 2016, Mason reached out to Daptone Records house band member, longtime friend and Dala Records founder Billy Aukstik to set up at a casual recording session. At the time, Aukstik was recording out of an old East Village brownstone basement, equipped with only a Tascam 388 8-track tape recorder and a few old ribbon microphones. Aukstik and Mason assembled an all-star squad of local soul musicians, including Alex Chakour, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Freddy DeBoe, who has played with Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones; Joe Harrison, who has played with Nick Hakim and Charles Bradley; and Morgan Price, who has played with Antibalas to record a couple of Mason’s compositions — two of which wound up becoming the A and B sides of Mason’s solo debut, “Back When”/”No Clue.”

A side single “Back When” is a strutting and swaggering bit of a soul pop centered around an arrangement of Arp Omni bass synth, fuzzy guitar lines and a steady backbeat — and while thematically the song is a universal tale of lost opportunity and what could have beens, it’s a decidedly contemporary take on the Dala Records sound, as it nods at contemporary soul, hip-hop and psych pop in a way that brings Tame Impala, Nick Hakim and others to mind. “No Clue,” the B side single is centered around fuzzy power chords and a garage rock vibe, while thematically the song focuses on a dysfunctional and confusing relationship. Both singles reveal an an up-and-coming artist, who’s actively and earnestly pushing the sonic boundaries of soul.