Tag: Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings

New Video: Miles Francis Returns with Slick Visuals for His Sinuous and Funky New Single

Miles Francis is a 26 year-old, New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter, who may be one of the city’s most best kept and accomplished secrets as best known as being a member of JOVM mainstays Superhuman Happiness, Antibalas and EMEFE, and as a working musician he has collaborated and performed with an impressive array of artists including Mark Ronson, Sharon Jones, Amber Mark, Angelique Kidjo, Allen Toussaint, TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe, Arcade Fire’s Will Butler and others. 

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of the past year or so, you’d recall that the New York-based multi-instrumentalist and singer/songwriter released his debut single “You’re a Star,” which featured mischievously complex and propulsive polyrhythm, bursts of jerky and twinkling, 8 bit Nintendo-like synths around a breezily infectious hook wrapped around hushed vocals. But interestingly, his debut single is a bit of departure from his previously released work — while clearly drawing from Afropop and Afrobeat, the song also seemed to nod at Fear of Music and Remain in Light-era Talking Heads.

Building upon a growing profile as a solo artist, Miles Francis debut EP Swimmers is slated for a February 2, 2018 release. Written in the back of our vans and various hotel rooms while on the road and then recorded in his basement studio, the material reportedly captures the mood and vibe of someone in their early to mid 20s figuring out themselves, the extremely complicated and ambivalent world they’re confronting as adults, how they fit into that world, their purpose and the meaning of their own lives. As Miles Francis explains in press notes, “These five songs captured a raw time for me, when life seemed to be coming to a head. I made an effort not to touch or edit them too much once I had recorded them. I wanted to keep that intimacy in there,” he says. Interestingly, the EP’s first official single “Take It” manages to pair a swaggering and self-assured arrangement featuring arpeggiated synths, a sinuous, funky bass line, boom bap-like drumming with one of the most infectious hooks I’ve heard so far; but ironically, the song’s narrator finds himself fighting through crippling self-doubt and uncertainty, which creates a tense, deeply conflicted vibe to the song. 

Directed by Charles Billot and shot at Brooklyn venue C’Mon Everybody, the recently released video was choreographed by Blake Krapels and features the New York-based singer/songwriter along with dancer Lukasz Zieba, whose movements evoke the song’s tense and conflicted nature — while being stunningly beautiful to look at. 

New Video: Visuals for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ “Searching for a New Day” Pay Tribute to the Late Soul Singer’s Life and Legacy

Throughout the course of this site’s almost eight year history, I’ve spilled a lot of virtual ink covering the multitude of artists on Daptone Records, including JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley. As you may recall, Sharon Jones died in 2016 after a three-year battle with pancreatic cancer and Charles Bradley died last year after a two-year battle with stomach cancer, and for fans of Daptone Records, of soul music, hell of music generally, their deaths were a 1-2 punch.

Now, as it turned out Jones and her Dap Kings managed to spent the better part of Jones’ last few months writing and recording what turned out to be the band’s final, full-length album together Soul of a Woman. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ famed House of Soul Studios, the album, which was released almost a year to the day of Jones’ death, found the band and their beloved frontwoman pushing the limits of their songwriting while arguably being among the most direct, honest and sophisticated material they had ever written together. Soul of a Woman‘s first single “Matter of Time,” was a lush and moody meditation on the nature of time that brought to mind Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary cover of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The album’s second single, the Jones penned and arranged “Call on God” focused on how faith can sustain you and guide you in the most desperate and uneasy times of your life. “Sail On!,” Soul of a Woman’s third album featured one of the world’s best horn sections blowing the doors down while a confident and brassy Jones tells a story about how revenge, karma and schadenfreude in which the song’s narrator decides to help an old friend, who did her dirty.

“Searching for a New Day,” Soul of a Woman’s fourth and latest single may arguably be one of their most ambivalent, if not emotionally complex songs they’ve ever released. While musically, the song is an upbeat, two step — the sort that the Dap Kings always excelled at, Jones’ vocals expresses the aching longing, hurt, pride and resolve of a woman, who struggled spiritually, emotionally and financially but bravely with dignity and a sense of humor and cool defiance.

Directed by Mel Rodriguez III, the recently released video takes place in a local bar that’s hosting a listening party for Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ Soul of a Woman, and as the  unseen DJ plays the album, in front a crowd of fans, friends and others, the bar shows footage of Sharon and her Dap Kings performing live.  And while clearly being nostalgic, bringing memories of a tremendous performer, who in her brief stint in the limelight left such an enduring presence, the video begins to tell a a story of a young woman, who becomes enthralled and inspired by Sharon, suggesting that the beloved soul artist’s work will inspire a new generation of performers. Oh and while we’re at it, representation fucking matters. And being a young black woman, seeing a strong, older black woman tearing a stage up with a mischievous and warm smile must be a powerful thing, indeed.

New Video: Daptone Records Posthumously Release a Mediative Gospel Song off Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings’ Last Album “Soul of a Woman”

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its seven year history, you’ve come across a number of posts featuring Daptone Records recording artists and JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley, and as you may recall, Sharon Jones died late last year after a three year battle with pancreatic cancer and Charles Bradley died earlier this year after a two-year battle with stomach cancer. 

As it turns out, Jones and her Dap Kings spent the better part of her last few months writing and recording what is now known as the band’s final, full-length studio album, Soul of a Woman, which is slated to be posthumously released on November 17, 2017 through Daptone Records. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ Bushwick, Brooklyn-based House of Soul Studios, the album finds the band and their beloved leader pushing the limits of their songwriting and sound to create what some have said may arguably be some for he band’s rawest and most sophisticated material they’ve ever written.  

Earlier this month, I wrote about Soul of a Woman’s first single “Matter of Time,” a lush and moody meditation and the nature of time that struck me as being inspired by Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary coverof Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as Jones and company seem to suggest that with everything there’s a season and a purpose; that the pursuit of peace, justice, freedom and equality are frequently part of a necessary, lifelong struggle; and that one day, that struggle will result in a peace, brotherhood, sisterhood and understanding for all. But perhaps, because we now know that Jones died  as the band was finishing the material on the album, the song manages to also possess the profound and sad wisdom of the dying — that ultimately, all things are fleeting and impermanent. 

The album’s second and latest single “Call on God” was originally written in the late 1970s for E.L. Fields’ Gospel Wonders, a choir she sang with throughout most of her life at the Universal Church of God, here in New York; but interestingly enough, Jones recorded with her Dap Kings during the 100 Days, 100 Nights sessions — and much like “Answer Me,” which made the album, Jones accompanied herself on piano with the band playing behind her, frequently providing specific instructions on how she wanted everything to sound. Though she always provided input on every song, Jones taking full charge was uncommon; however, the band found the experience to be so inspiring that they made a pact with Jones to record a gospel album with her taking the helm. As it turns out “Call on God” was set aside for that eventual gospel album but sadly, the song and the album was never completed. 

On December 18, 2016, E.L. Fields’ window, Pastor Margot Fields presided over Sharon Jones’ memorial service in Brooklyn, which was attended by several of the original members of the Gospel Wonders, who had come in from different parts of the country to celebrate Jones and her life. Together again for the first time in many years, they performed a moving tribute to Sharon as part of the service. As the story goes, Bosco Mann and the Dap Kings invited the Gospel Wonders, all who were longtime friends of Sharon’s back to the Daptone Records’ House of Soul Studios to finish “Call on God” with them. And at the studio, the members of the choir put on headphones and heard Sharon Jones’ voice signing the song she wrote for them almost 40 years earlier. Interestingly enough, Jones always wanted to add background vocals to the song and everyone knew that she would have been thrilled to know that some of her oldest and dearest friends had stopped by to sing with her one last time. 
As for the single, is a meditative and slow-burning song focusing on how faith can sustain you in the most desperate and uneasy times of your life — and although I’m an atheist, I can say that the God that Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley believed in, seems like the sort of God you’d want to worship and have in your corner. 

Featuring footage by Matt Rogers with additional camera work by Jessica Glass, the recently released video is a revealing and intimate look into the studio with Sharon Jones    playing piano and earnestly singing the song as the Dap Kings play with her. 

New Video: Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings to Posthumously Release Last Studio Album: First Single a Meditation on Time

If you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its seven year history, you’ve likely come across a number of posts on Daptone Records recording artists Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and Charles Bradley — both who I think were among some of the finest soul artists around. Now, as you may recall, Sharon Jones died after a three year battle with pancreatic cancer, and Charles Bradley died late last month after a two year battle with stomach cancer. Sadly and unsurprisingly, people die; it’s what people do, but there are some people, who seem larger than life and utterly incapable of dying — and somehow I always wanted to believe that Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley could never die. Shit, considering the abysmal state of the world, we could use a few more Sharon Joneses and Charles Bradleys to spread joy and love to countless others around globe.

As it turns out, Jones and her Dap Kings spent the better part of her last few months writing and recording what would be the band’s final studio album Soul of a Woman, which is slated to be posthumously released on November 17, 2017 through Daptone Records. Recorded on eight-track tape at Daptone Records’ Bushwick, Brooklyn-based House of Soul Studios, the album finds the band and their beloved leader pushing the limits of their songwriting and sound to create what some have said may arguably be some for he band’s rawest and most sophisticated material to date.

Soul of a Woman’s first single “Matter of Time” is a lush and moody mediation on the nature of time that strikes me as being equally inspired by Ecclesiastes and The Byrds’ legendary cover of Pete Seeger’s “Turn, Turn, Turn,” as it seems to suggest that with everything there’s a purpose and a season, and that there will be a time for peace and understanding, but along with that, it brings up the idea that life, the pursuit of peace, justice, true freedom and fairness are the result of necessary struggle.  Perhaps because we now know that Jones died within a few short months of finishing the recording sessions, the song manages to possess the profoundly sad wisdom of the dying — that ultimately, most things in our lives are fleeting and impermanent. And in an age of superficiality, of dotards, madmen and fools, of hate and division, of growing strife and unease, of seemingly impending nuclear annihilation, we could use love and wisdom.

The recently released video filmed and edited by  Jeff Broadway and Cory Bailey captures Sharon, her Dap-Kings and Charles Bradley both performing and behind the scenes while touring Europe, and naturally it captures Daptone Records beloved duo in the very fullness of their lives while revealing why those who knew them and loved their music feel their losses so very deeply.

RIP Charles Bradley

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the course of its almost 8 year history, you’ve likely come across a number of posts featuring the Brooklyn-based soul singer and JOVM mainstay Charles Bradley, who won over the blogosphere and the hearts of fans across the world with the release of his three full-length albums 2011’s No Time For Dreaming, 2013’s Victim of Love and last year’s Changes, a powerfully heartfelt live show and a documentary about his life Charles Bradley: Soul of America. Sadly, the “Screaming Eagle of Soul” passed away after battling cancer on Saturday and his loss among fans, critics and industry professionals has been deeply felt, as he was a universally beloved figure, who constantly preached about love and inclusion — and as a critic and fan, I wanted to pay tribute to arguably one of the greatest soul singers of the past generation.  And considering the divisive and hateful nature of Donald Trump, the world needs a lot more Charles Bradleys, Sharon Joneses and others, who bring joy and love. Rest in power Charles! We all miss you so much. 

Live Footage: Brooklyn-based JOVM Mainstays NØMADS Release Buzzing Synth-based Mediation on the Fear of Loneliness

Over the past couple of years, I’ve written quite a bit about the Brooklyn-based JOVM mainstay act NØMADS. And if you’ve been frequenting this site you’d recall that the duo, primarily comprised of Nathan Lithow  (vocals, synths, bass) and Garth Macaleavey (drums) spent the better part of last year writing writing and recording the material that would eventually comprise their sophomore album PHØBIAC, a concept album in which each song focuses on a different phobia, approached in an abstract, almost clinical fashion. Naturally, the material captures and evokes the innermost thoughts and anxieties of someone in the grips of a deeply crippling fear; but at its core, is a cautionary message for our heightened and uncertain times — that whenever we succumb to the irrationality of our fears, chaos and self-destruction will be the result.  

Throughout the course of the year, the duo have released new singles off PHØBIAC every month but recently the duo announced that they’d be splitting the album into two separate EPs — the organic instrumentation-driven PHØBIAC Part 1 and the synth-driven PHØBIAC Part 2. Last month’s single “Phasmophøbia” featured drummer Brian Wolf, who’s best known for his work with David Byrne, St. Vincent and the legendary Dap Kings, and focuses on the fear of the paranormal and of ghosts — both literal and figurative. Recorded live in Pittsburgh in the murky shadows of an abandoned Catholic school’s furnace room in one full take with no edits, “Phasmophøbia”  consists of a fast and loose, improvised jam-like arrangement featuring swirling and twisting synth chords paired with boom-bap hip-hop-inspired drumming which evoke a sweaty, nauseating paranoia. That shouldn’t be surprising as the song focuses on an ex-lover, who perpetually haunts the street of the paranoid narrator’s daily world; and in fact, the song’s narrator recognizes that his past is sickeningly inescapable.

PHØBIAC Part 2’s latest single “Autophøbia” focuses on what may arguably be the most prevalent and shared fear of all clinical phobias — the fear of being alone or isolated, as though you may be the last person on earth or being so misunderstood that you can’t find any common ground with anyone. Certainly, the fear of being alone influences our behavioral patterns, our relationships and our concept of what constitutes a happy, organized, successful life. Continuing the group’s ongoing collaboration with Brian Wolf, the track features twisting and turning synths paired with rolling and propulsive drumming while lyrically, the song’s young narrator gazes into the future through a picture of himself a lonely old man, who knows that death is imminent and unavoidable and while tinged with an underlying sense of regret, there the creeping realization that his worst nightmare will come true — that he’ll die alone, forgotten and obsolete. 

Much like the previous single, “Autophøbia” was recorded live and in one full-take with no edits within the murky shadows of an abandoned Pittsburgh area Catholic school furnace. 

New Video: Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Return with the Achingly Devastating Visuals for “Late Night and Heartbreak”

Hannah Williams is a Bristol, UK-born and based singer/songwriter and soul artist, who can trace the origins of her own musical career to growing up in an extremely musical family; Williams’ father was a musician and minister at the local church, and her mother, recognizing that she had some talent, allowed Williams to join the church choir when she was 6. Unsurprisingly, like a a lot intensely musical homes, Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words. 

With the release of her 2012 full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams exploded into the both national and international scenes, thanks in part to the success of album single “Work It Out,” which received attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the US, Australia and the European Union; in fact, at one point, “Work It Out” was the most downloaded song in Greece, and according to her label, Record Kicks Records, the video has — as of this point — received over 1.5 million plays on YouTube. Adding to a growing international profile, Williams has played sets at some of Europe’s biggest festivals including Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival,as well as some of Europe’s well-known clubs including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, Cat Power, and Charles Bradley. 

Williams’ sophomore effort Late Nights and Heartbreak, which was produced by  The Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, and marked both the first time Williams has worked with Catto, as well as the first recorded output with her backing band, the Bristol-based soul unit, The Affirmations, comprised of 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 as you may recall, the album, which featured singles like the fierce, Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and psychedelic soul rendition of “Dazed and Confused” that managed to draw from equally from the original version written by Jake Holmes, Led Zeppelin’s legendary cover and The Temptations’ “Papa Was A Rolling Stone” as well as some of the most personal and heartfelt material I came across last year, was one of my favorite albums in 2016, decidedly taking the top spot on last year’s Best of List. 

Recently, the Bristol-born and-based soul artist and her backing band have received greater international attention after renowned, smash hit producer NO I.D. convinced Jay-Z to use the hook of album title track “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for the superstar artist’s album title track “4:44,” making his track a personal statement of his infidelity in response to Beyonce’s Lemonade. Of course, as you hear on Williams’ “Late Night and Heartbreak,” the song focuses on infidelity but also on the narrator’s crippling and confounding inability to figure out their own desires, their fears of vulnerability and heartbreak and their deception both to themselves and their partner. But at the core of the song is something that the song’s narrator and the most people don’t want to readily admit — that it’s difficult to face yourself  and your own life with the sort of unflinching honesty that you may have for others. And as a result of the song coming from a deeply personal and lived-in place,  it packs an unexpected and devastating wallop, especially if you’ve been on either side of a troubled, deception-filled relationship. 

Directed by Nick Donnelly, who has worked on videos for the Wu-Tang Clan, Martha Reeves and Akala and DJ Khaled, the recently released video for “Late Nights and Heartbreak” was filmed in Williams’ hometown and focuses on the sort of deeply troubled relationship at the heart of the song. As Williams explained to Complex, the video “depicts the realisation that sometimes the most burning love is for ones’ own passion, and when a human relationship gets in the way it will lead to heartbreak.”

New Video: Righteously Protest with Old School Soul Legend Lee Fields in the New Visuals for “Make The World”

Now, if you’ve been frequenting this site over the past few years, you’ve likely come across a handful of posts featuring Lee Fields and The Expressions — and you might recall that Fields can trace the origins of his almost 50 year music career back to his earliest recorded efforts, released in 1969. And although he’s toured with several renowned funk and soul acts, including Kool and the Gang, O.V. Wright, Hip Huggers, and others, Fields has toiled in a bit of obscurity to most; however, he has been long known to obsessive and completetist record collectors, deep soul fans and those seeking ridiculously obscure yet funky grooves.

Interestingly, over the past 10-15 years or so, the classic soul sound has seen a remarkable resurgence with the likes of Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, the late, great Chuck Brown and others receiving the fame and attention that had up until recently proven to be elusive. And of course, along with that, there have been an increasing number of contemporary acts all over the world that have been employing that classic and beloved sound. In fact, with the release of 2009’s My World, 2012’s Faithful Man and 2014’s Emma Jean Fields joined by his latest backing band The Expressions won both the attention of the blogosphere and new fans, while pushing their sound and lyrics in new directions; in fact, Emma Jean featured a gorgeous and soulful cover of Leon Russell’s “Out In The Woods,” which also managed to evoke Fields’ own experience of arriving in the NYC area as a 17 year old with only $20 in his pocket and a desire to make a name for himself at all costs.

Fields’ fourth album with The Expressions, Special Night was released last November through Big Crown Records, and the album’s first single “Make The World,” is a stomping, early 70s James Brown-indebted bit of funk with a powerful and positive message that says we need to start getting our acts together, and uniting towards one purpose — getting things right or else we’ll be marching blindly towards our self-destruction. As Fields explains in press notes “The world was designed to last indefinitely. And we’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.”

Directed by Kate Cunningham, the recently released video for “Make The World” begins with Fields and a small group of backing musicians, as well as a couple of subway performers performing the song at the Bedford Avenue L train stop while waiting for the train. We then see Fields and his band of musicians marching through the 14th Street and 6th Avenue and 14th Street and 7th Avenue stations with a directed and forceful purpose — they’re heading uptown to the Trump International Hotel and Tower at Columbus Circle, to join the President’s Day demonstrations, where they remind the protestors of why they’re there in the first place — to come together and change the world while making eerie parallels to the protests and demonstrations of the 1960s.

Live Footage: Chicano Batman Perform “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” on Conan

Comprised of Eduardo Arenas (bass, vocals), Carlos Arévalo (guitar), Bardo Martinez (vocals, organ, guitar) and Gabriel Villa (drums, percussion), the Los Angeles, CA-based quartet Chicano Batman have developed a reputation for specializing in a sound that draws from Brazilian tropicalia, psychedelia and classic soul — and for a growing national profile, as they’ve opened for Jack White, Alabama Shakes, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Gogol Bordello and others. Adding to that, the band has played at several of the country’s biggest music festivals, including Coachella and Bonnaroo among others.

Interestingly, the band’s latest album Freedom Is Free finds the band leaning heavily towards a classic soul and classic R&B-leaning sound. And in order to achieve that goal, the band enlisted the assistance of Leon Michels, who is best known for specializing in that classic soul sound with his work with El Michels Affair, The Arcs, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Black Keys and The Menahan Street Band. Additionally, Michels has had his work sampled in songs by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah.

“Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” is the latest single off Freedom Is Free and as you’ll hear the song draws from slow-burning, classic soul and R&B while nodding at the sound of The Who Sings My Generation and A Quick One-era The Who and The Kinks — but if they added an organist and a handful of backing vocalist. And as a result, the song consists of a soulful, old-school, shuffling two step and a deceptively simple nature, as the song lyrically and thematically speaks of the complex and complicated nature of friendship. Throughout the song, the narrator openly recognizes that while human relationships are absolutely pleasurable and necessary if they forge a deep understanding and companionship; but they can also be frequently fraught with misunderstanding, bitterness, heartache and betrayal.

Recently, the members of Chicano Batman made their national television debut with an appearance on Conan, where they played a loose and fiery version of “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm) off their latest full-length effort.