Tag: soul

New Video: Hannah Williams’ Stomping Feminist Anthem

I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years, and as you may recall Williams can trace some of the origins of her musical career to growing up in a extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. Williams learned how to read music before she could actually read words, and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to Motown and Bill Withers, which transformed her life. Along with that, Williams’ mother encouraged her to join the church choir when she recognized that her daughter had talent. 

 With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly 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. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed 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; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others 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 backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations, which is currently 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 the album which featured the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused” was one of my favorite albums that year. 

The following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received 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 growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for an October 18, 2019 release through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take. 

“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single is a strutting and explosive stomp stomp that sonically is one part Ike and Tina Turner classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others, in which its narrator has finally had enough with the bullshit, and one part Daptone Records-like soul. But unlike their previously released material, the song has a loose, jam-like vibe, centered around Williams’ crooning and shouting with a take-no-prisoners, take-no-shit attitude. 

Directed and filmed by Nick Donnelly, the recently released video is set in a decidedly English pub, where we see Williams and her bandmates hanging out and chatting over a few pints. Nearby an older lady is dancing her ass off and having herself a good time, much to Williams delight. Interestingly, the video makes a point of reminding the viewer that “50 Foot Woman” is a contemporary, feminist anthem. 

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Live Footage: JOVM Mainstay Yola Performs “It Ain’t Easier” at YouTube Space NYC

Throughout the bulk of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the rising Bristol, UK-born, London-based singer/songwriter and guitarist Yola. And as you may recall, the JOVM mainstay’s extraordinary personal life have inspired her Dan Auerbach-produced full-length debut Walk Through Fire, which was released   earlier this year through Easy Eye Sound.

2019 has been a breakthrough year for the Bristol-born, London-based singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay: she made her New York debut earlier this year at Rockwood Music Hall, played an attention-grabbing SXSW set and has opened for Kacey Musgraves, Lake Street Dive and Andrew Bird on a select series of US tour dates, which has included stops at the Newport Folk Festival, Hollywood Bowl, Austin City Limits Festival, Lincoln Center Out of Doors and Brandi Carlile’s Girls Just Wanna Weekend in Mexico. She played Mavis Staples’ traveling, 80th birthday celebration tour — and made her national TV debut on CBS This Morning: Saturday Sessions performing several songs off Walk Through Fire. 

Additionally, the JOVM mainstay performed an intimate set at YouTube Space, which was simultaneously filmed for later distribution across the internet. During that set, she played one of my favorite track off the album, “It Ain’t Easier,” a carefully crafted and earnest love song centered around the concept that love always takes effort and care to survive. 

Live Footage: Black Pumas Cover a Beatles Classic at Arlyn Studios Austin TX

Throughout the course of this past year, I’ve written quite a bit about the acclaimed Austin, TX-based soul act, Black Pumas. And as you may recall, the act which is led by Grammy-winning producer, songwriter and guitarist Adrian Quesada and 27 year old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and features a cast of collaborators can trace its origins to when Burton, an attention-grabbing street perform busked his way to Los Angeles to Austin, where he met Quesada.

Black Pumas released their self-titled debut effort earlier this year, and building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding them. the act has been relentlessly touring, winning fans and critics over with a powerhouse live show. Interestingly, The Beatles “Eleanor Rigby” has become both a staple of their live set and a fan favorite — and while their rendition turns the song into an expansive bit of bluesy, psych soul, it plumbs the depth of the original’s existential despair. 

New Audio: Melbourne’s Karate Boogaloo Takes on an 80s Synth Soul Classic

Featuring the rhythm section of the acclaimed, Melbourne-based soul act The Cactus Channel, Karate Boogaloo have quickly developed a reputation for sitting in a their own lane, a lane they’ve proudly and defiantly created: when it comes to creating material, they follow their own rules; frequently recording and mixing on tape with no plugins and no edits, with the material released exclusively in mono. And they do so not because of an adherence to anachronism but about a specific creative manifesto — one in which they abide by a chosen set of limitations to force a specific outcome. 

Their KBs Mixtape No. 1: songs that were sampled into your favourite hits was a cult success in their native Melbourne. Building upon the rapidly growing profile, the much-anticipated follow-up to KBs Mixtape No. 1, KBs Mixtape No. 2: songs from the 80s that were sampled into your favourite hits! expands upon the theme developed from the first mixtape — while further developing their unique sound and approach. Mixtape 2’s latest single finds the Aussie funk act taking on the Mtume’s oft-sampled, slinky synth funk classic “Juicy Fruit.” While Karate Boogaloo’s version is purely instrumental take, they retain the song’s slinky melody — but while turning into a breezy mid-tempo bop with shimmering and wobbly synths and bluesy slide guitar. 

Live Footage: Black Pumas Perform “Colors” at Arlyn Studios

Over the past few months I’ve written a bit about Black Pumas, an acclaimed Austin, TX-based soul act, comprised of Grammy-winning producer and guitarist Adrian Quesada,  27-year-old singer/songwriter Eric Burton and a cast of collaborators. The act can trace its origins to when Burton, a street performer, who busked his way from Los Angeles to Austin, where he met Quesada. 

Building upon the rapidly growing buzz surrounding them, the Austin-based soul act released their self-titled debut earlier this year. And as you may recall, album single “Colors” is ad decidedly old-school singer/songwriter soul-inspire track centered around an anachronistic arrangement and production featuring a looping 12 bar blues guitar, twinkling Rhodes, some gospel-tinged backing vocals and the superstar of the show — Burton’s soulful vocals and incredible vocal range, as his vocal delivery in “Colors” evoke hurt, yearning, pride and awe simultaneously. The act recently spoke to the folks at The Fader by email, explaining that “‘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 . . .” 

The band has been relentlessly touring over the past months and recently, they had an opportunity to spend a few days in Austin’s legendary Arlyn Studio, where they decided to run through a handful of songs that have become fine-tuned as a result of being on the road for the past few months. Amos David McKay shot the live session with a noir-ish sensibility, and during that session they performed a jam-like and sprawling rendition of “Colors” that retains the song’s soulfulness and message, while being an accurate representation of their live sound. 

New Audio: Ghost Funk Orchestra Latest Single and Video Evokes the Awkwardness of Having a Crush

Founded and led by composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebaum, the New York-based psych rock act Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi recording project in 2014. Since their formation, the project has grown into full-fledged, 11 member unit that has become an up-and-coming prescience in the city’s psych rock and soul scenes — and that shouldn’t be surprising, as their sound draws from an eclectic array of sources including salsa, surf rock, Afobeat, stoner rock and others. 

Slated for an August 23, 2019 release through Colemine Records, the up-and-coming soul acts forthcoming full-length debut, A Song For Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, a figure, who played an immense role in the Ghost Funk Orchestra founder and bandleader’s life. While the songs reportedly don’t address Paul Anish directly, the creative process for the album and the decisions made during it were meant to convey what Anish’s presence felt like for Seth — a stern yet loving, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing his grandfather’s essence meant expanding the arrangements much further than what he has done in the past, including crafting more comprehensive horn arrangements, as well as working with a string section for the first time in his career. 

A Song For Paul’s latest single “Seven Eight” is an angular and awkwardly lurching song that’s centered around an unusual time signature (7/8 time), a looping Tropicalia-like guitar line, ethereal vocals, an explosive and expressive horn arrangement, which gives the song a quirky yet cinematic air. And while bearing an uncanny resemblance to Radiohead’s “15 Step” and to Gorillaz “5/4,” the song evokes the drunken swoon of having a crush. As the band’s Seth Applebaum explains “Seven Eight is a song about having a crush. When writing the song, we chose an awkward time signature because having a crush will make anyone feel a little awkward.” 

Starring Romi Hanoch, the recently released video for “Seven Eight” relies heavily on found footage from old medical films, liquid light projections from Drippy Eye Projections thrown into a visual that has a decidedly film noir-ish feel. “The music video relies heavily on found footage, specifically pulled from old medical films that depict the beauty and chaos of the human body and its internal functions,” Seth Applebaum explains. “In addition, we were fortunate enough to have our friends at Drippy Eye Projections provide us with some incredible liquid light visuals to further the narrative of chemistry.”