Tag: The Arcs

Live Footage: Ruby Force Performs “Church and State” at Pheasant Studios

You may recall that earlier this month, I wrote about Erin McLaughlin, a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, whose solo recording project Ruby Force reportedly captures her personal journey of self-discovery through hard-fought and honest storytelling-based songwriting focusing on tales of love gained and lost and her own life. And with her soon-to-be released Ruby Force debut Evolutionary War, McLaughlin along with an incredibly accomplished backing band featuring  Elijah Thomson, who has played with Everest, Delta Spirit and Father John Misty; Richard Swift, who has played with The Black Keys, The Shins, The Arcs and Foxygen; Frank Lenz, who has played with Pedro The Lion; and Sean Watkins, who has played with Nickel Creek have written deeply personal yet accessible material based on a particular period of McLaughlin’s life; in fact, as she explained to Rolling Stone, “it strings together like a narrative essentially, about how I love.”  
“Cowboy,” which I wrote about a few weeks ago is a sweet, old-timey/honky-tonk-inspired country song, and the song’s narrator describes a hotly passionate yet dysfunctional, romantic relationship with a cowboy, who persistently and predictably breaks her heart; but she defiantly and proudly loves him because after all, they’ve been through everything and anything together. And although you’ve likely heard such a theme in countless country songs, McLaughlin delivers her lyrics with a beguiling mix of easygoing, self-assuredness, earnestness, flirtatiousness and self-effacing irony.

“Church and State,” Evolutionary War’s latest single, much like the preceding single was inspired by a deeply personal experience — and in this case, “a mystically transitional phase in my life when my best girlfriends and I were living in a tiny Victorian house on the literal corner of Church and State Streets in Redlands, CA,” McLaughlin explained to The Bluegrass Situation. “We were playing at the Martini Lounge on Saturday nights and singing harmonies in the church band on Sunday mornings. So, you know, the song pretty much used me to write itself.” While lyrically, the song reveals a novelist’s attention to detail — particularly the aging woman in a pink rocking chair, stomping her beat to a rhythm, the feeling of love and comfort the song’s narrator feels by being around her beloved friends and the woman who’s love and devotion saved a young cowboy from hell; but paired with a slow-burning and atmospheric arrangement that gives McLaughlin’s vocals room to stretch and roam. Interestingly, her vocals manage to channel Bonnie Raitt, circa “I Can’t Make You Love Me.” And from  this new single, I think that McLaughlin may arguably be one of country’s up-and-coming stars. 

New Video: The Earnest and Old-Timey Sounds of Up-and-Coming Country Artist Ruby Force Paired with Flirtatious Visuals

Erin McLaughlin is a Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, whose solo recording project Ruby Force reportedly captures her personal journey of self-discovery through hard-fought and honest storytelling-based songwriting focusing on tales of love gained and lost and her own life. And with her soon-to-be released debut album Evolutionary War, which features a rather accomplished backing band that includes Elijah Thomson, who has played with Everest, Delta Spirit and Father John Misty; Richard Swift, who has played with The Black Keys, The Shins, The Arcs and Foxygen; Frank Lenz, who has played with Pedro The Lion; and Sean Watkins, who has played with Nickel Creek, the album as McLaughlin explained to Rolling Stone “Evolutionary War is sort of a collection, like a box of photos you find from a certain period of life. It strings together like a narrative essentially, about how I love. If these songs can find their way into people’s hearts, not to mention playlists, I would feel like I’ve accomplished something of eternal value. It would also be wicked sweet if this record could bring something tangible back home: an audience, some discourse, that daily bread. Then I’d just do it again and again.” 

The album’s latest single “Cowboy,” is a sweet, old-timey/honky-tonk-inspired country song in which its narrator describes a passionate yet dysfunctional, romantic relationship with a cowboy, who persistently breaks her heart but who she defiantly and proudly loves; after all they’ve been through everything and anything together — and although you’ve likely heard such a theme in countless country songs, McLaughlin delivers her lyrics with a beguiling mix of easygoing, self-assuredness, earnestness, flirtatiousness and self-effacing irony that should make her one of contemporary country’s next big things. 

The recently released video follows McLaughlin and some girlfriends on the road and stopping by some little honky tonk, where they play pool and try to get the attention of some shy cowboys before turning into a late night outdoor party, creating a fittingly playful and flirtatious accompanying visual. 

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.

New Video: El Michels Affair’s Soulful and Cinematic Take on the Wu-Tang

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels Affair is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned, locally-based acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. And interestingly enough, touring with the members of the Wu inspired the El Michels Affair’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the material off Wu-Tang’s seminal debut Enter the 36 Chambers.

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has proven to be the band’s most commercially successful album to date, introducing the band to a much wider audience. It’s been several years since the band has released new material, as the members of the band have been extremely busy with their primary gigs, they had some time to reconvene to write and record Return to the 37th Chamber, their breakthrough sophomore effort’s long-awaited follow up. And much like its predecessor, the material will further cement the band’s reputation for soul music interpretations of the Wu Tang’s material for a live band, while paying homage to RZA’s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals and guest spots from Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise. Essentially, while being a tribute to one of hip-hop’s most interesting, challenging producers and artists and his sound, the album finds the members of El Michels Affair picking up on and expanding the cinematic aspects of RZA’s production.

Of course, while Enter the 37th Chamber paid tribute to Enter the 36 Chambers, the El Michels Affair tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” Now, as you may remember earlier this month, I wrote about Return to the 37th Chamber’s first single “Tearz.” And that single, which featured guest spots from the aforementioned Lee Fields and Shannon Wise managed to sound as though it paid equal respect to the Wendy Rene original song from which the song’s backing sample came from as it did to the Wu Tang’s own use of the sample — but with subtly psychedelic flourishes.

Return to the 37th Chamber’s latest single “Iron Man” is a cinematic reworking of “Iron’s Theme (Interlude)” off Ghostface Killah’s Supreme Clientele, that expands upon the original’s groove to make it a full-length song — but with martial arts and psychedelic film sound effects.

Directed by artist El Oms, who met Leon Michels though The Arcs and has become a fan of the El Michels Affair, the animated video is a fittingly a martial arts, revenge saga, complete with a couple of trippy flashbacks and a shit ton of bloody mayhem — and I bet it would be make Quentin Tarantino proud. As El Oms explains in press notes “Making this video really brought me back to my younger days. I grew up watching martial art movies and listening to Wu-Tang and when I heard El Michels Affair’s Enter The 37th Chamber I was blown away by the way the album captured those elements and still sounded original. So being able to work on Return To The 37th Chamber was truly amazing. I try to capture those same elements on the ‘Iron Man’ video and give it this originality but still have the old traditional martial arts movie feel to it.”

Comprised of founding member, bandleader and primary arranger Leon Michels (saxophone), Homer Steinweiss (drums), Nick Movshon (bass), Thomas Brenneck (guitar), Sean Solomon (guitar), Tobias Pazner (keyboards), Michael Leonhart (trumpet) and Todd Simon (trumpet), the El Michels AffairT is a Brooklyn-based All-Star, instrumental soul act featuring members from several renowned acts including The Arcs, Menahan Street Band, The Shacks, Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and Lee Fields and the Expressions. After the release of their 2005 debut Sounding Out the City, the band was paired with Raekwon for a concert organized by Scion  and it eventually led to a tour that featured several members of the Wu-Tang Clan. Interestingly, touring with the members of the Wu-Tang led to the band’s sophomore effort Enter the 37th Chamber, an effort that consisted of soul-based, instrumental interpretations of the Wu-Tang Clan’s influential debut Enter the 36 Chambers. 

Unsurprisingly, Enter the 37th Chamber has introduced the band and its members to a much wider audience, while being their most commercially successful effort to date. Although the members of El Michels Affair had been busy with their primary gigs, they reconvened to record Return To The 37th Chamber, the highly-anticipated follow- up to Enter the 37th Chamber — and reportedly while reinterpreting and arranging Wu-Tang songs for a live band, Return to the 37th Chamber also pays homage to RZA‘s imitable, hazy production; in fact, Michels in his role as producer, recorded the album straight to analog tape, sometimes hitting six generations of tape before it was ready for mixing. Adding to the album’s overall sound, the material possesses the occasional psychedelic flourish, John Carpenter-like synths, power chord-friendly guitar work, the enormous horn sections and traditional Chinese instrumentation in place of most of the vocals — or in other words, the material balances RZA’s imitable and influential aesthetic with El Michels Affair’s burgeoning reputation for cinematic and swaggering soul.

As far as the material on the new album, the renowned instrumental soul act tackles some of the Wu’s beloved classics such as “4th Chamber” and “Wu Tang Ain’t Nuthin ta Fuck Wit,” as well as deeper cuts like Ol’ Dirty Bastard‘s “Snakes,” Raekwon’s “Verbal Intercourse,” and Wu-Tang’s contribution to St. Ide’s legendary early 90s ad campaign, “Shaolin Brew.” And unlike the previous album, the band invites some of their Big Crown Records labelmates to contribute guest spots; in fact, the first single off the “Tearz”/”Verbal Intercourse” 7 inch — and first single off the forthcoming album features Lee Fields and The Shacks’ Shannon Wise contributing vocals for the El Michels Affair rendition of “Tearz,” a rendition that pays as much homage to the Wendy Rene sample as it does to the Wu Tang while being subtly psychedelic.

 

 

 

New Video: Chicano Batman Covers the Strange and Conflicting Feelings that Friendship Inspires in Their Most Soul-Leaning Song to Date

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 played a number of this country’s major music festivals including Coachella and Bonnaroo, as well as opening for a number of renowned acts such as Jack White, Alabama Shakes, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Gogol Bordello and others. However, with the band’s forthcoming album Freedom Is Free — slated for a March 3, 2017 through ATO Records — the band reportedly decided to lean heavily towards a classic soul and R&B leaning sound. And in order to achieve that goal, the band enlisted the help of Leon Michels, best known for El Michels Affair, The Arcs, has played with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, The Black Keys and The Menahan Street Band and has had his work sampled by Jay-Z and Ghostface Killah.

Freedom Is Free’s latest single “Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)” clearly draws from slow-burning, classic soul and R&B but has a subtle bit of rock ‘n’ roll at its heart as it dimly nods at early The Who and The Kinks — if they had employed the use of soaring organ chords and backing vocalist. And as a result, the song possesses an old school, shuffling two step. Interestingly, the song lyrically and thematically speaks to the complex and complicated nature of friendship, with its narrator recognizing that human relationships while pleasurable and necessary, can frequently be fraught with bitterness and betrayal. As the band’s Bardo Martinez explains in press notes “This is a song of betrayal in the most mundane sense. It’s about the trials and tribulations of friendship but a personal reflection on the painful realities of human relationships.”

Directed by Alan Del Rio Ortiz, the recently released music video follows a series of relationships that highlight how quickly a relationship can go from being the best thing that could ever happen to you, to quickly souring and leading to some sort of betrayal — sometimes minor but quite frequently deeply heartbreaking.

Led by its founding member Toby Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; and featuring Dave Guy, a member of the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon Band and The Dap-Kings; Leon Michels, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Nicholas Movshon, a member of The Arcs, Lee Fields and The Expressions and El Michels Affair; Homer Steinweiss, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Arcs; Michael Leonheart, Steely Dan‘s musical director and a member of David Byrne‘s backing band; Neal Sugarman, a member of The Dap-Kings and The Sugarman 3; Aaron Johnson, a member of Antibalas and El Michels Affair; Evan Pazner, a member of Lee Fields and The Expressions, The Olympians are a Daptone Records All-Star band who can trace their origins to when founding member Toby Pazner recruited a bunch of New York’s finest soul musicians during the 2008 Summer Olympics to record material that would comprise the collective’s first 45, which was released through Truth and Soul Records.

However, as the story goes, it wasn’t until a few years later, when Pazner was touring Greece and the Greek Islands when his true vision for the project materialized. After playing the Acropolis and swimming in the Aegean Sea, Pazner had a series of recurring dreams in which he was visited by an ancient, toga-clad, curly-haired Greek man, who told him to return home and build a “Temple of Sound.” And in that temple, Pazner was to retell the tales of Ancient Greece through music. Of course, considering the strangeness of those dreams, Pazner initially ignored them but since they were recurring and so vividly forceful, Pazner began to feel a decided urgency. When Pazner finished the tour, he returned to New York with a singular focus on completing The Olympians’ full-length debut and he immediately went to work acquiring the best studio equipment he could get his hands on. He then promptly followed that up by recruiting his Daptone Records friends  to help him flesh out the material that would comprise the collective’s self-titled album, slated for an October 28, 2016 release.

The self-titled album’s latest single “Apollo’s Mood” is a smooth, old-school soul inspired composition featuring the Daptone horn players, some of the best, contemporary horn players in the entire world paired with a twinkling, twisting and turning organ chords, a slow-burning and sinuous bass line, and a steady back beat. And although contemporary — in the sense that the musicians who composed and recorded the song are contemporary — the song sounds and feels as though it could have been recorded in 1963.