Wednesday, 7 December 2016

m1xtap6 (30 awesome songs for 2016)

We're in the frantic midst of preparing our Albums of the Year articles so I'm proud to unveil the first, of our usual three, in the form of our online mixtape featuring our picks for 30 of the best songs we heard this year.  Sure to enhance anyone's collection so hope you check it out...

'No Words' by The Bahama Soul Club
From the album Havana '58; Buyu Records

'Supernatural' [Extended Mix] by KING
From the album We Are KING; King Creative LLC

'Brother, I'm Hungry' by Snarky Puppy featuring Nigel Hall & NOLA International
From the album Family Dinner, Volume Two; GroundUP Music

'Midtown' by The Suffers
From the album The Suffers

'Baby Can We Start Again' by Nick Pride & The Pimptones featuring Beth Maccari
From the album 'Go Deep'; Legere Recordings

'High Heels' [Lack of Afro Remix] by Hidden Jazz Quartet featuring Omar
From the album Raw and Cooked; Agogo Records

'Let The Music Play' by Collective Peace
From the album Introducing Collective Peace

'Natural' by Stefania Dipierro
From the album Natural; Far Out Recordings

'La Humanidad' by Family Atlantica
From the album Cosmic Unity; Soundway Records

'Fall In Love' by Shola Adisa-Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quintet
From the album Lost Myself; Hot Casa Records

'Silence is the Way' by Robert Glasper featuring Laura Mvula
From the album Everything's Beautiful; Blue Note Records

'Take You Home' by Lack of Afro featuring Joss Stone
From the album Hello Baby; LOA Records

'No Turning Back' by E featuring Ishtar & The Mighty Mocambos

'Think of You' by Terrace Martin featuring Rose Gold & Kamasi Washington
From the album Velvet Portraits

'Waiting to Happen' by Bee Bakare

'Radio One' by Airelle Besson
From the album Radio One; Indigo

'All The Ways Love Can Feel' by Maxwell
From the album blackSUMMER'Snight; RCA Records

'Make 'Em Pass' by My Trippin' Mojo
From the album Edda's Garden; Resistant Mindz

'Cold Little Heart' by Michael Kiwanuka
From the album Love & Hate; Polydor Records

'Blood On Me' by Sampha

'Let Me Be Me' by Nite-Funk
From the EP Nite-Funk

'Stay Clear' by Black Violin featuring Kandace Springs & Robert Glasper
From the album Steroetypes; Decca Records 

'Open The Door' by Stefania Dipierro
From the album Natural; Far Out Records

'Fades' by ZuluZuluu
From the album What's The Price?

'Changes' by Charles Bradley
From the album Changes; Dunham Records

'A Fifth of Beethoven' [The Reflex Revision] by Henri-Pierre Noel
From The Reflex Revisions EP; Wah Wah 45s

'Giver' by The Suffers
From the album The Suffers

'Blue Chords' by Shola Adisa-Farrar & Florian Pellissier Quintet
From the album Lost Myself; Hot Casa Records

'All My Love' by Lack of Afro featuring Juliette Ashby
From the album Hello Baby; LOA Records

'Somebody Home' by Snarky Puppy featuring David Crosby
From the album Family Affair Volume 2; GroundUP Music

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Podcast #13: GetToKnow Questlove (part 2)

Welcome to Episode 13 of our 'GetToKnow: the producer' series showcasing the work of some of our favourite producers and musicians. This month we're revisiting the excellent production and drumming wizardry of Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson - we were brimming with leftovers for Episode #5 that we had to collect them all up, along with a few new discoveries, and present them for you good people here.

Below is the tracklist for the show and feel free to check out our other episodes:
'Old Songs' - Betty Wright & The Roots
'Lay Away' - Nigel Hall
'Too Much Love For Me' [Extended Mix] - Al Green
'The Charade' - D'Angelo
'Loving You' - Larry Gold featuring Carol Riddick
'Montara' [The Roots Remix] - Bobby Hutcherson
'What Kind of Cool' [Questlove Remix] - Cody ChesnuTT
'I Really Like You Girl' [Yezzirs Redux] / 'That Girl' [Yezzirs Redux] - Pharrell Williams
'Last Breath' [Questlove Remix] - Donn T
'So Have I For You' - Nikka Costa
'Goodbye Isaac' - Questlove

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

'Havana '58' by The Bahama Soul Club [Review]

The brand new release from the German-based Bahama Soul Club marks the impressive milestone of being their fourth full-length studio album.  Fans clearly can’t get enough of the band’s infectious bossa nova-infused rhythms established over their past releases, ‘Rhythms Is What Makes Jazz Jazz’ (2008), Bossa Nova Just Smells Funky’ (2010), ‘The Cuban Tapes’ (2013)… and now ‘Havana ‘58’ which continues in the legacy of incredible Latin Jazz stylings.

Prolific tourers and a band that’s accustomed to occupying spots on the German Club Charts and Jazz Charts, the Bahama Soul Club take their musical passion that little bit further by rooting their sound within more a more Afro-Cuban soundscape.  ‘Havana ‘58’ is very much a concept record: a celebration of the “hedonistic world of Rum, Rumba and Roulette” and a theme captured exquisitely through the video for the album’s first single, ‘No Words’, which features Brenda Boykin on vocals.  The video ingeniously uses footage from the 1964 film ‘I Am Cuba’, whose narrator in the film utters the line: "I am Cuba, the Cuba of the casinos, but also of the people" – which again acts as a wonderful introduction to the themes encapsulated within ‘Havana ‘58’.

The Bahama Soul Club are always able to boast a strong line-up of collaborators to their albums, having previously worked with Pat Appleton, Spanky Wilson, John Turrell and Danay Suarez.  This time round sees the band continue in this tradition, now able to tout the talents of the aforementioned Brenda Boykin (who appears on two of the album’s tracks), Cuban vocal group Sexto Sentido, as well as Olvido Ruiz and Arema Arega.

The Bahama Soul Club grow stronger with every release and this is a great one to jump into, not just for fans of the Bahama Soul Club, but also for fans looking to embrace and immerse themselves within the Cuban experience.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Sharon Jones: In Memoriam

Back in August 2013, I was very sad to post the news that Sharon Jones had been diagnosed with cancer – a move that forced Daptone Records to halt the imminent release of the band’s sixth album, but more importantly, it was something that had friends, family and fans praying for Jones’s speedy recovery and a return to fighting fit health.

Incredibly, it only took less than six months before Daptone Records felt confident in rescheduling the release of ‘Give The People What They Want’, and it was a further five months before Sharon Jones, who Binky Griptite of The Dap-Kings (during their gig at The Roundhouse 16th May 2014) introduced  as “the woman who kicked cancer’s ass”, was once again able to grace a Camden stage.

On that night, she HAD kicked cancer's ass.  Seeing Sharon Jones walk out led to an incredibly moving and genuinely joyous performance and, other than her hair which was starting to grow back then, there was no indication of the hellacious year 2013 would have been for her – if there was, then she left it backstage because as she swaggered out to met her fever-pitch audience, she sang better than she ever has and she performed better than she – or anyone else on The Roundhouse stage – ever has too!

That was in May 2014 though.  On 18th November 2016, cancer had caught up to her and at 60 years of age, she passed away.

Born in 1956 in Augusta, Georgia, Jones only made her breakthrough into the music business in her 40s and since aligning with Daptone Records, released her debut album with The Dap-Kings in 2002. Five studio albums and a compilation followed establishing the band as leaders in the soul and funk revival.

Seeing Sharon Jones live is practically a religious experience.  The most obvious comparisons to their stage show hark back to a James Brown or Tina Turner from decades previous which I understand can come off as a lazy comparison to make, and it also potentially discredits the charisma and personality which is quintessentially Sharon Jones and quintessentially Daptone.  While it can be said that had this group been making music together 40 years ago international superstardom would await and their name would roll off the tongues of anyone praising the greats like the aforementioned Brown and Turner, I actually think they’re served perfectly to provide a performance style and aesthetic to a generation that’s never experienced it and, quite frankly, are pretty hungry for it.

We'll miss the immeasurable talent of Sharon Jones and her incredibly infectious persona that, if you had the chance to see her live, you'll remember always.

Friday, 11 November 2016

My Trippin' Mojo: "From Edda's Garden to the World" [Interview]

Following the runaway success of Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back to Black’ album in 2006 there was a huge number of artists and bands who embraced the “retro soul” aesthetic: Raphael Saadiq and Mayer Hawthorne scored big with their respective projects (‘The Way I See It’ and ‘A Strange Arrangement’) but there was also the rise of bands like Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings (the architects of the revival), Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators, Dojo Cuts, amongst many others.

What many of these bands have cottoned on to is that continuing in this tradition of soul music isn’t about replicating styles from the 1960s and 1970s with the benefit of digital touch-ups – as Daptone Records’s Gabriel Roth once put it to Sound On Sound: “sometimes mistakes are what make a track sound great. Music should not be perfect or correct. When we play and when we record, we're looking to find what makes us feel good.”

And now adding to this legacy of authentic and “feel good” soul music, we head to Leipzig, Germany, and the sounds of My Trippin’ Mojo.  Formed in 2014, this relatively young band have already delivered an exceptional debut album that is on par to seeing them positioned with the aforementioned names and torch-bearers for contemporary soul music.  Inspired by the achievements of the current crop of soul sensations like Sharon Jones, Lee Fields and Charles Bradley, ‘Edda’s Garden’ draws its passion from late-60s and early-70s funk and soul with an incredible vocal talent in Sabrina Bormann that breathes the full range of tenderness and fire into the band’s brilliant soundscapes.

So many of the songs boast super rich sweet mid-tempo grooves like ‘Unconditional Love’, ‘Think Twice’ and the first single ‘Make ‘Em Pass’ while songs like the instrumental ‘Nice Girls With Cool Cars’ and ‘Desire’ features the band practically oozing their funk-filled swagga all over the record.  This isn’t just a good record, it’s a great record and in a year with a lot to choose from this is definitely an album you should own.

We were thrilled to catch up with My Trippin' Mojo bass player, Johannes Riedel, to discuss the new album, the significance of the album's 'Edda's Garden' title and the influences that brought them to the dance.

IMRAN MIRZA: How did the members of the band come together to form 'My Trippin Mojo'?
JOHANNES RIEDEL: Marcus [Unger, saxophone and rhodes], Christoph [Mengel, guitar], Manuel [Loschner, trumpet] and I played some years together in the freestyle combo Mengoolious Funk. As I started to build up my studio, we started focusing on writing songs and spent a year searching for a voice. Luckily we met Sabrina [Bornmann, vocalist], so we kept on fine-tuning the songs and the sound became what it is now.

Which artists would you cite as having the biggest influence on the band's overall sound?
We are all big fans of Charles Bradley and, personally, I am addicted to the old, raw tape sound. That's how I came to Daptone [Records] and especially Gabriel Roth’s idea of doing recordings in that kind of way. One day I found that article how to do a rough 45“ record written by Roth and his phrase "shitty is pretty" became a mantra for me. So I would say beside all vinyl records, and very inspirational artists out there this might be one of the biggest influences on our sound.

Is there any significance behind the album's title?
Yeah there is. We spent two marvelous weeks at Edda’s garden house – she is the grandma of our saxophonist Marcus. It’s a very nice spot, surrounded by nothing but woods and almost nobody around. That’s where we collected the songs and worked on them in a very focused atmosphere. It was also a good set-up to tighten the band and to get on point. It was the best workspace we could imagine.

How would you say the creative process of writing, producing and recording new music usually works for the band?
There are certain ways how this works in our band. Most of the songs come from Marcus or myself and we produce a sketch of it. Then Sabrina chooses from those sketches and adds the melody and lyrics, so we can put things together, arrange and rearrange. However sometimes we might just have a session and some ideas start to become a real song and we are almost done. Most of the time this happens in the studio, where we can record the sketches and work them out till the song finds its final form. Since we are done with practicing we play the songs on tape two or three times and choose the best take for Sabrina. Sometimes there might be more over-dubs of some additional instruments like percussion, strings or for a big pack of horns.

How was the video for 'Make em Pass' to shoot and what made you decide on that song for the lead single?
Actually we had chosen ‘Unconditional love’ as the lead single but changed our mind as ‘Make 'Em Pass’ is the tightest song on the album, we think. So we needed something to catch the vibe of the song and didn’t want to make a story of it but something with a deep impression. Our man on the cam, Rene, knew this location in our hometown and it perfectly fit into our vision.

Who would be a dream artist for you to collaborate with in the studio or on stage?
Actually this could be any dope artist presenting good music to the world. In the studio, I would really love to spend a day with Shawn Lee or the Rufolo Brothers but also Gabriel Roth would be a big deal! I guess a dream on stage would be someone like Lee Fields, Marta Ren or Charles Bradley.

Wednesday, 26 October 2016

5 Songs About: Unlikely cover versions

'Woo Hah!! Got You All In Check' by Setenta
Let's start off with one that will grab you right off the bat... this worlds apart contrast pits Busta Rhymes and his debut single with the imagination of The Latin Soul Band from Paris.  You may have to pinch yourself while listening to this - infinite points for creativity on this one...

'Smells Like Teen Spirit' by Robert Glasper Experiment
Taken from the first album that fell under the 'Robert Glasper Experiment' moniker ('Black Radio'), this track sees the group's saxophonist and vocoderist, Casey Benjamin, take centre-stage with a little help from the equally always awesome Lalah Hathaway on backing vocals.  This track is one of the gems in an already 5-star album...

'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' by Gizmo
The brilliant and bold talents of bassist/vocalist/producer Gizmo are on full display here with his complete re-imagining of Cyndi Lauper's 'Girls Just Want To Have Fun' which you can pick up from his EP 'The Middle'...

'C.R.E.A.M.' by El Michels Affair
Truth & Soul's El Michels Affair deliver an excellent presentation of this Wu Tang classic on their album dedicated to the seminal release by the Wu Tang Clan ('Enter The 36 Chambers')...

'Lose Yourself' by Kellylee Evans
Another take on a hip-hop classic, this time by soul/jazz vocalist, Kellylee Evans, as she tackles Eminem's '8 Mile' theme, 'Lose Yourself'.  Wholeheartedly recommend Evans' album 'I Remember When' which sees her also tackling John Legend's 'Ordinary People'...

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

'Afrokraut' by David Nesselhauf [Review]

If you consider yourself a fan of musical creativity and gravitate to artists offering you that little something distinctive and unique, then hopefully the recent efforts of David Nesselhauf won't be wasted on you.

As far as musical creativity goes, it's fair to say that Nesselhauf's new album, 'Afrokraut', ranks up amongst the most distinctive thing we've heard in quite some time.

Before we get to the album itself, if the phrase 'krautrock' is new to you then some background would probably help in this situation... Krautrock is a term used to describe a short-lived genre of music that thrived in Germany in the late-1960s: the music drew from a variety of genres including psychedlic rock, avant-garde electronic music, funk, jazz and world music styles, and was popularised by bands like Faust and Tangerine Dream.  So fast-forward to a little over some forty years and David Nesselhauf's inspiring efforts to revisit and build on an experimental fusion of African music and German rock.

The producer, composer and multi-instrumentalist delivers thirteen tracks through Legere Recordings that push the boundaries of what you thought contemporary funk could deliver: Kinga Lizz and Kabul Atassi appear on the album stealer 'Open Up!' but highlights slso come in many of the songs including the album's first single, 'Come Along Bintang Bolong' featuring Amadou Bah on vocals.

It's exciting that 'Afrokraut' could birth like-minded projects from Nesselhauf or even other artists that are inspired by the music here.  Either way, there's a truly exciting project to be heard here and worthy of your time.