Tag: soul

Earlier this year, I wrote about Charleston, SC-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Kyle Lacy, and with the release of the Squeeze meets Daptone Records-like “Hangin On,” the up-and-coming Charleston-born, New York-based singer/songwriter and guitarist established a sound that draws from vintage rock and soul. Interestingly, Lacy’s latest single, the first official single off his forthcoming debut full-length debut Bad Days is the uplifting “Believe In Tomorrow” finds Lacy digging deep into the rock and soul sounds of his previous Dala Records single, but while finding his song leaning heavily towards Mavis Staples/The Staple Singers-like spirituals. Produced by Dala Records founder Billy Austik, best known for his work with Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, Mark Ronson, Lacy’s latest single was written and recorded in just one day, while utilizing the old school, analog production approach the label has developed a reputation for.

Interestingly, the forthcoming full-length album reportedly finds Lacy delving deeply into soul and gospel — while affording the up-and-coming singer/songwriter much more freedom. “Now, I don’t have to think in terms of, ‘will people dance to this in a bar’, but I can actually say to myself, ‘would I listen to this song?’” Lacy says in press notes. Along  with that came a great deal of artistic and creative growth — in particular, the sessions that produced “Believe In Tomorrow” were the most formative for him. “It felt like we were all stepping out of the shadow of our fears, and collectively trying to tell a story of hope.”

 

 

 

 

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New Audio: Acclaimed Canadian Act BADBADNOTGOOD Releases a Cover of a Slow-Burning 80s Soul Classic

BADBADNOTGOOD, the Toronto-based jazz-inspired act, currently comprised of founding members Chester Hansen (bass), and Alexander Sowinski (drums) with Leland Whitty has received attention for a sound and compositional approach that draws from hip-hop, electronica, jazz and prog rock — and for jazz based interpretations of hip-hop tracks, which have allowed the act to collaborate with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Tyler The Creator, Earl Sweatshirt, Denzel Curry, Danny Brown, Mick Jenkins, Ghostface Killah and others. (It shouldn’t be surprising that the act can trace its origins to the band’s founding members bonding over a mutual love of hip-hop — in particular MF Doom and Odd Future.)

As the story goes, the band’s founding members, which also included Matt Tavares played a piece based on Odd Future’s music for a panel of their jazz performance instructors, who  sadly didn’t believe it had much musical value. But after they released the composition as “The Odd Future Sessions, Part 1,” the track caught the attention of Tyler the Creator, who helped the video go viral. 

The Canadian act followed that up with the 2011 release of their full-length debut BBNG, which featured interpretations of A Tribe Called Quest, Waka Flocka Flame and Odd Future. Building upon a growing profile, the members of BADBADNOTGOOD recorded a live jam session with Tyler The Creator in Sowinski’s basement, with videos from the session amassing more than a million views each.

2012’s sophomore effort BBNG2 was recorded over the course of a ten-hour studio session and featured Leland Whitty (saxophone) and Luan Phung (electric guitar) and featured their own original material, as well as renditions of songs by Kanye West, My Bloody Valentine, James Blake, Earl Sweatshirt and Feist. That year, the band was the official Coachella Festival house band, backing Frank Ocean and Odd Future over the course of its two weekends.

2013 saw the release of III, which featured “Hedron,” a track that was also featured on the compilation album Late Night Tales: Bonobo; “CS60” and “Can’t Leave the Night,” which was released with the B-side “Sustain,” and they were involved on the soundtrack for The Man with the Iron Fists, assisting with the production and composition.

2015 saw the release of the band’s fourth, full-length album Sour Soul, and the album which is more of a hip-hop album that nods at jazz found the Canadian act collaborating with Ghostface Killah. They ended the year with covers of a handful of holiday standards, including “Christmas Time Is Here” with Choir! Choir! Choir!

Leland Whitty joined the band as a full-time member in early 2016, and the band quickly went to work producing “Hoarse” off Earl Sweatshirt’s full-length debut Doris and “GUV’NOR,” a remix, which appeared on JJ DOOM’s Keys to the Kuffs (Butter Edition). By the middle of that year, BADBADNOTGOOD released their fifth full-length album IV, an album that featured guest spots from Future Islands’ Sam Herring, Colin Stetson, Kaytranada, Mick Jenkins and JOVM mainstay Charlotte Day Wilson, and was named BBC Radio 6’s #1 album of the year.

Light In The Attic  Records has started a an exclusive vinyl and digital cover series — and the latest installment of the series features the acclaimed Toronto act collaborating with vocalist Jonah Yano on a cover of Majestics’ 1982 slow jam “Key To Love (Is Understanding).” Interestingly, while Jonah Yano and BADBADNOTGOOD finds the acclaimed Canadian act crafting a lovingly straightforward and soulful cover but with a subtle personal twist and a slick production. The BADBADNOTGOOD and Jonah Yano cover along with the Majestics original are available now for streaming through your favorite digital producer and will be released on “Majestic Pink” 7″ vinyl on February 21, 2020 release.

“As lovers of old soul, funk and rare recordings, ‘Key to Love’ has always been a song that has had an impact on our heart and ears,” the acclaimed Canadian act said in a statement. “We hope our version relays how special this song is and gives it some new listeners and a second life […] It’s an incredibly beautiful song that deserves to be heard, and we hope to play a small part in that.” They add, “We had met Jonah Yano about a year ago and we started to jam and make demos. After some really fun recording sessions we asked him if he would help us with the cover and we smashed the whole song out in a week.”

“It is a pleasant surprise,” Donald Cooper of Majestics said upon hearing BADBADNOTGOOD’s version of the song. “They did a good job and it was well done with their own slight personal twist […] [it’s] an honor to be recognized.”

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Black Pumas Release an Intimate and Gorgeously Shot Visual for “Colors”

Over the course of this past year, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the Grammy Award-nominated Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstays released their self-titled, full-length debut earlier this year, and since its release the had has rapidly built up a national profile and following through a relentless touring schedule that has included three separate New York stops this year:   The Knitting Factory, back in May; Mercury Lounge, back in July; and Brooklyn Bowl in September. 

Album single “Colors” exploded nationally when a live version of the song amassed over 4 million YouTube views — and since then, the song has become the most added song to Adult Album Alternative (AAA) radio. None of that should be surprising as the song is a decidedly old school singer/songwriter soul-inspired track centered around a looping 12 bar blues guitar line, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-like backing vocals and Burton’s incredibly soulful and expressive vocals, which manage to express hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. As Burton, Quesada and company explained to The Fader by email, “‘Colors’ was written while the sun was going down on a rooftop in New Mexico. Finding inspiration in the multicolored hues of the night sky. The song is a message of togetherness, but there’s awareness of mortality mixed in . . .”

Directed by Kristian Mercado, the recently released video for “Colors” is an intimate and profoundly empathetic look at a young and very beautiful Black family — mother, father and son — who hit hard times, and wind up homeless. It’s a heartbreaking and seemingly lived-in display of how easily and quickly one family can lose everything for no fault of their own but the main takeaway from the video is that while they’ve lost material things  and are struggling to survive, they have each other, their essential decency and their humanity.  

New Audio: JOVM Mainstay Rhythm Scholar Takes on a Beloved Motown Classic

Throughout the course of this site’s nine-plus year history, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the ridiculous prolific New York-based producer, DJ, remixer and longtime JOVM mainstay Rhythm Scholar. During that same period, the JOVM mainstay has developed a reputation for crafting slickly produced, funky as hell, crowd-pleasing mashups and remixes of classic soul, funk, hip-hop, New Wave and a growing list of  other genres and styles. 

Rhythm Scholar’s latest remix finds him tackling the beloved and classic Temptations tune “Just My Imagination.” Perhaps unlike his other remixes, this particular one reveals a subtle yet deft touch: while retaining the original’s memorable and gorgeous melody and the legendary soul act’s impeccable harmonies, the JOVM mainstay’s take manages to gently push the song up about a decade by adding some lush Rhodes, a soulful horn line, some conga and a soaring string arrangement — all of which gives the material a dreamy, gossamer-like air. 

New Video: Rising British Pop Artist Jordan Mackampa Releases a Symbolic Visual for “Parachutes”

Jordan Mackampa is a rising London-born and-based Congolese-British singer/songwriter. With the release of “Under” earlier this year and 2016’s Physics EP, and 2017’s Tales From The Broken EP and Live from the Grand Cru EP, Mackampa has received critical praise from NME, The 405, The Line of Best Fit, Clash, Indie Shuffle, Wonderland and others — with all of his previously released material amassing over 50 million Spotify streams.

Mackampa’s work is inspired by his Congolese roots and his mother’s love of legendary soul singers like Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers and Curtis Mayfield. And much like his influences, Mackampa has a developed a reputation for pairing an old school singer/songwriter soul-like vocal delivery with earnest songwriting and catchy melodies with a modern approach. Building upon that momentum, Mackampa’s highly-anticipated full-length debut Foreigner is slated for a March 13, 2020 release. Along with that the rising Congolese-British artist is currently on tour opening for Amber Run  and he has been confirmed to play at next year’s SXSW.

Mackampa’s latest single, “Parachutes” is a breezy yet deliberately crafted track centered around a radio friendly and loose arrangement of twinkling keys, shimmering guitars, a sinuous bass line and propulsive drumming. But the star of the show is Mackampa’s easygoing and expressive vocals — in this case, Mackampa’s voice evokes the soaring high of being in love and the embittering low of heartache and betrayal within the turn of a phrase.

“‘Parachutes’ encapsulates those situations with people you’ve come across in life; who aren’t who they pretend to be and the person they are with you, isn’t someone you want to be around,” Mackampa explains in press notes. “However because you love them, either platonically or romantically, you’re conflicted by your feelings for them until it gets to a point where you don’t want to be hurt anymore… Nobody is perfect, but if you were trapped in an airplane with them and they had a parachute but you didn’t you would jump out regardless, because any pain you would experience afterwards, won’t be as bad as what you’ve already gone through.”

Directed by Tom Ewbank, the recently released and deeply metaphoric captures the psychological and physical battles of any relationship — essentially saying that sometimes other people can be hellish and torturous. “I wanted this video to capture the mental, and sometimes physical battles we go through in relationships, whether they are platonic or romantic with people in our lives,” Mackampa explains in press notes. “It can sometimes feel as though you’re dealing with two different people, but no one else sees the other person you encounter who brings you pain and hurt, rather than joy. You become inwards within yourself until you can’t take it anymore and have to walk away from them, even if it’s hard.”

November will be a rather busy month: I was just in Syracuse for a wedding — and in 10 days I’ll be in Montreal for the M for Montreal Festival. So I’ll be doing the best I can while on the road with posts. But in the meantime, let’s get back to the work at hand: Kyshona Armstrong is a Nashville-based singer/songwriter, who writes and records under the mononym Kyshona. The Nashville-based singer/songwriter can trace the origins of her musical career to her day job as a music therapist. Initially writing some of her first songs with her patients — the students and inmates under her care, Armstrong felt the need to write independently and find her own creative voice. This endeavor led her to Nashville’s songwriting scene — and since then, the Nashville-based singer/songwriter has learned how to balance her music career with her passion to heal the hurting.

The Nashville-based singer/songwriter’s latest album, the Andrija Tokic-produced Listen is slated for a February 28, 2020 release. Recorded at Tokic’s studio, The Bomb ShelterListen finds Armstrong pairing a sound that effortlessly meshes roots, country soul, country, soul, roots music, rock, R&B and folk with lyrics specifically meant to do two things: uplift the marginalized and to bring awareness of the plight of the marginalized to the masses.

Co-written with her brother Kelvin Armstrong, Listen‘s latest single “Fear” is a strutting, swampy and slow-burning  12 bar blues centered around Armstrong’s effortlessly soulful, powerhouse vocals, twinkling keys, strummed acoustic guitar, blasts of shimmering slide guitar and an enormous hook — and while being both radio friendly and carefully crafted, the song features an overwhelmingly positive and uplifting message.

“Fear is that boogieman that sits quietly in the corner of our minds that can paralyze us the moment confidence enters the picture,” the Nashville-based singer/songwriter says in press notes. “Rather than listen to that voice that’s telling you why change isn’t possible, call it out. Recognize the fear and move past it. It’s just another wall to be knocked down. We can’t let fear rule our every move. Fear is what has kept us so divided.”

 

 

New Audio: Marcus King Releases an Effortless and Soulful Ballad

Marcus King is a young, rapidly rising, Greenville, SC-born, Nashville-based singer/songwriter and guitarist. The Greenville-born, Nashville-based is a fourth generation musician, who followed in his family’s footsteps. Playing professionally since he was 11, King was discovered after a video of him performing at Norman’s Rare Guitars went viral. At 23, King has been performing for the past 15 years, establishing himself as a world class guitarist and vocalist. 

Since 2015, King has been relentlessly touring with his backing band The Marcus King Band — Jack Ryan (drums), Stephen Campbell (bass), Justin Johnson (trumpet, trombone) and Dean Mitchell (sax, still guitar) — playing 140 dates live shows over the course of the past year. Adding to a breakthrough year, King and his backing band have played on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, made his debut at The Grand Ole Opry — and he recently opened for Chris Stapleton during his last US arena tour, playing in front of 17,000 people every night.  

Building upon a rapidly rising profile, King’s highly-anticipated, Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut El Dorado is slated for a January 17, 2020 release through Fantasy Recordings. Continuing their previous successful collaboration together, “How Long,” King’s full-length debut was co-written with Auerbach over three days at his Easy Eye Sound studio — and reportedly, the album is a contemporary sonic exploration of classic rock, blues, southern R&B and country soul.

“Marcus is known by so many as a phenom guitar player, and rightfully so,” Dan Auerbach says of his time working with Marcus King. “He’s regularly the best player in the room, hands down. I was equally blown away by the way he can sing — so effortless, so soulful, straight to the heart. He’s a naturally gifted writer too, which was clear right away. Everything for him is so innate — that’s why he can always go right to the heart of a song and connect in a deeper way. He’s really one of a king and I’m proud I got to work alongside him on this record.” 

Interestingly, El Dorado’s second and latest single “Wildflowers and Wine” is a slow-burning track that’s one part Muscle Shoals soul, one part Southern rock, one part R&B and one part classic blues centered around a lush arrangement of twinkling keys, a soulful backing vocal section and a sinuous bass pair line paired with King’s vocals. And while being clearly indebted to 70s AM radio, the song manages to be a carefully crafted and self-assured bit of soulful pop, which manages to belie King’s relative youth while being a perfect vehicle for a his blues-tinged guitar work and his exceptional and effortlessly soulful vocals. 

 

Since their formation, the Bay Area-based soul outfit Monophonics — Austin Bohlman (drums), Ian McDonald (guitar, backing vocals), Ryan Scott (trumpet, backing vocals, percussion), Max Ramey (bass) and Kelly Finnigan (lead vocals, keys) –have developed a approach that continues in the classic and beloved tradition of Stax Records, Muscle Shoals, Daptone Records and Dunham Records: an incredibly cinematic sound that draws from classic soul, heavy funk, psych rock and classic American song craft, recorded on vintage analog recording gear. Along with that there’s a healthy amount of old-fashioned woodshedding and McDonald’s and Finnigan’s late night overdubs and studio work. We’re from the same school as the producers from the studios we love. We use the tools that we have to make the best records we can,” the band says.

Simultaneously known as an act that’s keen to create a heavier version of classic soul, and as one of the best contemporary purveyors of the classic soul sound by those in the know, the Bay Area-based act’s  third album It’s Only Us is slated for release next year through Colemine Records. Reportedly, the album is a reflection of what the band sees as the current direction of the world while thematically touching upon messages of unity, strength, resilience and acceptance. Sonically, the album finds the band gently refining their signature sound with a healthy dose of new and warm textures.

“Chances” It’s Only Us‘ first single is a lush and uptempo bit of two-step inducing soul that’s one part deep, crate digging Northern soul and classic American soul, centered around a propulsive drumming, a sinuous bass line, fluttering vibraphone, shimmering guitar, bold and lustrous horns. Out in the front of the mix, Finnigan and background vocalists the Soul Mates sing lyrics warning empathetic lovers to think twice about giving that straying lover another chance, making the song an aching and age-old tell off about the difficulties of saying goodbye — even when it’s necessary.

 



New Audio: Midnight Hour Releases a Quiet Storm-Inspired New Single

Led by A Tribe Called Quest’s Ali Shaheed Muhammad and Adrian Younge, a Los Angeles-based composer, arranger and producer, the team behind the score for the acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage, the 10 member ensemble The Midnight Hour also features multi-instrumentalists and vocalists Loren Oden and Angela Munoz and guitarist Jack Waterson. Last year, the ensemble released their self-titled debut, which established their sound: jazz and orchestral inspired soul and hip-hop heavily inspired by David Axelrod, Quincy Jones and Jazzmatazz-era Gang Starr.

Since the release of their full-length debut, the ensemble has been rather busy: Linear Labs has released Jack Waterson’s psych rock solo album Adrian Younge Presents Jack Waterson earlier this year with full-lengths from the ensemble’s Oden and Munoz slated for release in the coming months. And as you may recall, the ensemble’s long-awaited sophomore album is also slated for release early next year. 

Midnight Hour 2’s first single is a mesmerizing and gorgeous, Quiet Storm meets neo-like bit of soul, centered around an enormous sounding Barry White/Curtis Mayfield-era arrangement, complete with shimmering strings and the like. And yet, the star of the show is Oden’s plaintive vocals, which express an aching vulnerability and yearning — the sort that comes from being madly and passionately in love. As Muhammad and Younge note, the song “is a song for those that have felt a special spark of love, in the moment.”