Tag: soul

Throwback: Happy 83rd Birthday, Tina Turner!

JOVM’s William Ruben Helms celebrates Tina Turner’s 83rd birthday.

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Shares Cool and Funky “Blockhead”

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s recently released third album  A New Kind of Love feels and sounds like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by the band’s creative mastermind Seth Applebaum and a talented cast of collaborators and players that include Billy Aukstik (trumpet), Stephen Chen (baritone sax), Lo Gwynn (vocals), Romi Hanoch (vocals), James kelly (trombone), Megan Mancini (vocals), Michael Sarason (flute) and a list of others.

Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as Applebaum’s experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to soullessly recreate it. 

Thematically, the 12-song album sees Applebaum exploring the complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs. 

In the lead-up to the album’s release, I wrote about two A New Kind of Love‘s singles:

  • Scatter,” a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freakout of a solo. But if you pay close attention, the song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrously wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness and confidence that she deserves — and will get much better soon enough. 
  • Why” a spectral and slow-burning bit of psych soul with Latin-influenced percussion paired with powerhouse vocals. The song manages to capture curiosity, obsession and desire with an uncanny psychological realism. 

“Blockhead,” A New Kind of Love‘s third and latest single is narratively structured around a phone call between the song’s narrator — voiced by Megan Mancini — and an unheard listener, in which the narrator reminds their caller that their lover is absent, a virtual non-presence, who’s blowing it. And throughout, you can feel the narrator’s frustration with the other side of the phone call — with the narrator literally saying at one point, “what are you doing here?” Guaranteed, for most of us, this conversation should feel so familiar, that it scans simultaneously as advice and accusation. The song is built around a coolly funky and cinematic psych soul arrangement that’s roomy enough for some inspired and fiery soloing.

Directed by Ghost Funk Orchestra’s Seth Applebaum, and shot on glorious Kodak film, the accompanying video stars Megan Mancini as herself, on an old-fashioned landline and a lawn chair that she takes everywhere with her.

Deriving its name from the Spanish word for “kite,” JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim‘s fourth album Cometa was recorded between studios and domestic spaces throughout Texas, North Carolina, California and New York. Featuring contributions from Alex G. (piano) and Abe Rounds (drums), and collaborations with DJ Dahi, Helado Negro and Arto Lindsay, the 10-song album is a collection of romantic songs written through different lenses, guided by Hakim’s experience of falling in love that made him feel like he was floating. 

That dizzying, out-of-body sensation is the central theme that anchors the album’s material, with Hakim using the extreme distance between a kite and a comet as a metaphor for the depth of one’s love for someone else — and being humbled by it. “The key is to find that extremity of love for yourself,” Hakim says in press notes. “It’s about growing into someone you want to be; it’s about finding pure love within yourself when the world around us seems to be crumbling.”

For Hakim, the purpose of Cometa is less about constructing a narrative around romance and more about exploration through 10 complex compositions woven with aching metaphors throughout. Of course, while for Hakim there are special memories attached to each song, he prefers to leave them open to interpretation, offering the listener a comfortable space to develop their own connections to the material. “I think it’s nice to have love in your life and to have people that are sharing and wanting that,” Hakim explains. “It’s my interpretation of a really romantic way to express love in my own way.”

So far I’ve written about two of Cometa‘s single:

  • Centered around a sparse and unfussy arrangement of strummed guitar, bursts of twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and cymbal-driven percussion paired with Hakim’s breathily cooed delivery, “Happen,” sees the JOVM mainstay subtly pushing his sound and approach in a new direction while still maintaining the dreamy and earnest essence at the core of his work. But ultimately, the song evokes the sensation of weightlessness — and then gently floating away beyond your control. 
  • Vertigo,” a woozy song centered around a dusty, analog-like production featuring an arraignment of strummed guitar, skittering boom bap and layers of whirring synths paired with Hakim’s achingly tender vocals. The song depicts the dizzying sensation of trying to stay focused on someone when it feels like the world around you in spinning out of control.

Cometa‘s third and latest single, the DJ Dahi co-produced “M1” is centered around a breezy arrangement consisting of a skittering beat loop, choir-like synth stabs paired with wobbling low-end. The arrangement serves as a silky and ethereal bed for Hakim’s achingly plaintive and soulful falsetto. Interestingly “M1” is an easy-going laid back bop that captures Hakim having fun — while capturing the sweet, swooning ache of love.

“I’ll never forget when Nick was opening up sessions he had previously been creating for the album and ‘M1’ was just a DJ Dahi drum loop, a choir synth take plus a sub bass sound with minimal editing,” producer Andrew Sarlo recalls. “It was an immediate head turner and we knew we had to mine it. Later that night Nick delivered an insane scratch vocal take that still gives me chills just recalling the first moment I heard him ascend melodically during the chorus refrain. We tend to have one song during the final stages of the album process that is a hard one to crack and the adrenaline rush of finishing ‘M1’ in time was very gratifying. It’s definitely solidified as one of my favorite Nick songs”

Cometa is slated for an October 21, 2022 release through ATO Records

Hakim has three album release shows in NYC (TV Eye), Los Angeles, and London to celebrate the album — and those three shows sold-out immediately. He also announced a headline North American tour throughout January and February 2023, and a headline European tour in March. 

The Winter North American tour features a January 21, 2022 stop at Brooklyn Steel. Tickets for all the dates go on sale Friday at 10:00am local time.

Live Dates

Album release shows

10/20 – Nick Hakim presents COMETA – New York, NY @ TV Eye (SOLD OUT)

10/24 – Nick Hakim presents COMETA – Los Angeles, CA @ Zebulon (SOLD OUT)

10/27 – Nick Hakim presents COMETA – London, England @ Avalon Café (SOLD OUT)

North America

1/20 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall

1/21 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel

1/22 – Washington D.C. @ Union Stage

1/24 – Philadelphia, PA @ World Cafe

1/27 – Atlanta, GA @ The Earl

1/28 – Nashville, TN @ The Blue Room

1/30 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall

1/31- Austin, TX @ Parish

2/01 – Dallas, TX @ Club Dada

2/03 – Phoenix, AZ @ Rebel Lounge

2/04 – San Diego, CA @ Casbah

2/05 – Pioneertown, CA @ Pappy & Harriets

2/07 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent

2/08 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency

2/10 – Portland, OR @ Doug Fir

2/11 – Seattle, WA @ Neumos

2/12 – Vancouver, BC @ Hollywood Theater

Europe

3/12 – Berlin, Germany @ Lido

3/13 – Amsterdam, Netherlands @ Melkweg OZ

3/15 – Paris, France @ Trabendo

3/16 – Brussels, Belgium @ Botanique Rotonde

3/18 – London, England @ The Forum

New Video: Nick Hakim Shares Woozy “Vertigo”

Deriving its name from the Spanish word for “kite,” JOVM mainstay Nick Hakim‘s fourth album Cometa was recorded between studios and domestic spaces throughout Texas, North Carolina, California and New York. Featuring contributions from Alex G. (piano) and Abe Rounds (drums), and collaborations with DJ Dahi, Helado Negro and Arto Lindsay, the 10-song album is a collection of romantic songs written through different lenses, guided by Hakim’s experience of falling in love that made him feel like he was floating. 

That dizzying, out-of-body sensation is the central them that anchors the album’s material, with Hakim using the extreme distance between a kite and a comet as a metaphor for the depth of one’s love for someone else — and being so humbled by it. “The key is to find that extremity of love for yourself,” Hakim says in press notes. “It’s about growing into someone you want to be; it’s about finding pure love within yourself when the world around us seems to be crumbling.”

For Hakim, the purpose of Cometa is less about constructing a narrative around romance and more about exploration through 10 complex compositions woven with aching metaphors throughout. Of course, while for Hakim there are special memories attached to each song, he prefers to leave them open to interpretation, offering the listener a comfortable space to develop their own connections to the material. “I think it’s nice to have love in your life and to have people that are sharing and wanting that,” Hakim explains. “It’s my interpretation of a really romantic way to express love in my own way.”

Last month, I wrote about Cometa‘s first single, “Happen.” Centered around a sparse and unfussy arrangement of strummed guitar, bursts of twinkling keys, atmospheric synths and cymbal-driven percussion paired with Hakim’s breathily cooed delivery. The song sees the JOVM mainstay subtly pushing his sound and approach in a new direction while still maintaining the dreamy and earnest essence at the core of his work. But ultimately, the song evokes the sensation of weightlessness — and then gently floating away beyond your control.

“Vertigo,” Cometa‘s woozy second single is centered around a dusty, analog-like production featuring an arraignment of strummed guitar, skittering boom bap and layers of whirring synths paired with Hakim’s achingly tender vocals. Interestingly, “Vertigo” was the first song recorded for the album — and is inspired by Stevie Wonder, with Hakim layering synths on top of each other to depict the dizzying sensation of trying to stay focused on someone when it feels like the world around you is spinning.

Directed by Asil Baykal, the accompanying video for “Vertigo” was shot in Bosnia-Herzegovina and sees Hakim sitting in a rotating house built by Vojin Kusic, who created the space for his wife, so that she had the ability to change her view at the flip of a switch.

“The making of the video spanned over a transformative year, and our collaborative friendship with Nick became the center of the journey,” Baykal explains. “Initially, Nick showed me a video of a Tuxedomoon performance from Downtown 81. It was filmed in the studio where the camera was spinning in the middle.” She adds, “That idea gave life to the lyrics ‘ Spinnin’, fast as hell can’t tell if it’s me or the room that’s moving’. The room evolved into a moving house by a man who built it for his wife. Love is dizzying with multiple spins.”

Cometa is slated for an October 21, 2022 release through ATO Records.

New Video: Ghost Funk Orchestra Share Trippy and Cinematic “Scatter”

Founded and led by multi-instrumentalist, composer, arranger and producer Seth Applebuam, rising New York-based psych rock/psych soul outfit Ghost Funk Orchestra initially began as a lo-fi, solo recording project back in 2014 with a unique sound featuring tape-saturated drums, spring reverb, surf rock guitar, Latin-styled percussion, odd time signatures and Spanish language female vocals. Since then, the project has become a full-fledged band featuring as many as 10 members — while still featuring a unique sound that draws from even more diverse sources including salsa, Afrobeat, classic soul, film soundtracks and more.

Ghost Funk Orchestra’s full-length debut, 2019’s A Song for Paul was conceived as a tribute to Applebaum’s late grandfather Paul Anish, who played an immense role in his life. Although the album’s songs don’t address Paul Anish directly, the album’s creative direction specifically conveys what Anish’s presence felt like — and was — for Seth, a tough but kind, music obsessed, native New Yorker. For Applebaum, accurately capturing what his grandfather’s essence meant to him forced him to expand the band’s arrangements and sound further than anything he had done to that point, including writing much more comprehensive horn lines and working with a string section.

Their sophomore album, 2020’s An Ode to Escapism saw the band further expanding upon the sound developed on A Song for Paul: The album’s material featured much more intricate arrangements, unusual time signatures, rapid tempo and time signature changes within songs, heavier drums and vocal harmonies that soar over the entire affair. Specifically written as an invitation to the listener to close their eyes and delve deep into their own subconscious while playing the album, if they weren’t too afraid to do so, the album thematically touched upon isolation, fear of the unknown and the fabrication of the self-image.

Written during pandemic-related lockdowns, Ghost Funk Orchestra’s third album A New Kind of Love reportedly feels like the soundtrack from an imaginary movie — with the album’s songs easily being part of the score of a romantic drama, an action thriller or a modern twist on film noir: Spare, cascading vocals accentuate the lush instrumental arrangements composed, arranged, performed and produced by Applebaum. Sonically, the album’s material draws from mid-20th Century exotica, 60s and 70s orchestral pop, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and Antibalas among others, as well as his experiences as a young filmmaker. Sonically speaking, the end result is an album that encompasses a loving reverence for the past without attempting to recreate it.

The 12 song album sees Applebaum exploring a complicated, confusing and conflicting realm of love, with the album’s songs capturing the emotional notes of love going well and love gone sour, as though manifesting love songs based in ghostly affairs.

A New Kind of Love‘s first single “Scatter” is a cinematic affair that pairs Romi Hanoch’s sultry and ethereal delivery with an expansive, lush and downright trippy arrangement that’s one-part film-noir-like spy movie, one-part classic rom-com, one-part Blaxploitation — with a wild late-period John Coltrane-like saxophone freak out of a solo. But pay close attention, y’all. The song captures a narrator reeling from a love gone disastrously wrong but with the knowing self-assuredness that she deserves — and will get better.

Directed by Greg Hanson and shot on Kodak film, the accompanying video for “Scatter” stars singer/songwriter and musician Romi Hanoch in a gloriously cinematic fever dream that includes a debonair, fish man boyfriend, an underwater party, doppelgängers, and a saxophone playing creature that nods at nouveau vague and others.