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.

Thursday, 29 September 2016

'#bluenoteremixed vol.1' by Mark de Clive-Lowe

Mark de Clive-Lowe brings his unique style of jazz, nu-soul and house to the glorious catalogue of Blue Note Records with an improvised live remix mixtape reinterpreting classics by Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, Donald Byrd and Duke Ellington.

Along for the ride are rappers Bambu, John Robinson and Illa J as well as frequent collaborator Nia Andrews and bass legend Pino Palladino.

This awesome project is even available as a free download so click the below link and bask in its glory:
'Koko and Lee Roe' - Gene Harris
'Pot Belly' - Lou Donaldson (f/t Bambu)
'Tidal Wave' - Ronnie Laws
'Blacks and Blues' - Bobbi Humphrey
'Oliloqui Valley' - Herbie Hancock (f/t Pino Palladino)
'Flow' - Terence Blanchard
'It’s Your Thing' - Lou Donaldson (f/t John Robinson)
'A Night In Tunisia' - Sonny Rollins
'Black' - Joe Henderson (f/t Illa J)
'Blue Train' - John Coltrane
'Autumn Leaves' - Cannonball Adderley
'Basheer’s Dream' - Kenny Dorham
'Mode for Joe' - Joe Henderson (f/t John Robinson)
'Slop Jar Blues' - Donald Byrd
'Mystic Brew' - Ronnie Foster (f/t Nia Andrews)
'Oblighetto' - Brother Jack McDuff
'Short Story' - Joe Henderson (f/t Nomad Pendergrass)
'Free For All' - Art Blakey
'Caravan' - Duke Ellington
'Zoltan' - Larry Young (f/t Nomad Pendergrass)
'Three Way Split' - Hank Mobley
'Carribean Fire Dance' - Joe Henderson
'Jack Rabbit' - Herbie Hancock

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

5 Songs About: Record Kicks (Italian funk-soul record label)

'Waiting So Long' by Nick Pride & The Pimptones featuring Jess Roberts 
The album this song comes from ('Midnight Feast of Jazz') had a lot of songs to pick from but 'Waiting So Long' probably worked as the best introduction to the Sheffield-based funk and soul outfit.  Nick Pride told us a little about working with vocalist, Jess Roberts:
Jess Roberts is from the North East too but moved to London and is doing really well now.  She asked The Pimptones to be her backing band on some recordings recently so I said how’s about if you sing a Pimps’ track in return.  This was the track which really got us noticed, Jess is great to work with and she did an incredible job on that song.

'Work it out' by Hannah Williams & The Tastemakers
'A Hill of Feathers' is nothing short of a gem of an album and picking just one song seems something of a disservice to the project.  Filled with soul-drenched and string-filled ballads, Hannah Williams brings an aching authenticity to a beautiful backdrop painted by The Tastemakers.

'Give Me One More Chance' [Lack of Afro Remix] by The Diplomats of Solid Sound 
Lack of Afro remixes are typically beautiful things but he may very well have outdid himself on this one.  This mix was something of an exclusive to the Record Kicks compilation 'Mo Record Kicks Act 2', curated by Smoove from Jalapeno Records' Smoove & Turrell.

'Snap Back' by The Baker Brothers
The Baker Brothers are truly an iconic funk and soul outfit for the UK to be proud of.  This pick from the band's seventh album ('Time to Testify') comes courtesy of bass player, producer and band vocalist, Chris Pedley:
I would recommend they listen to ‘Snap Back’ from ‘Time to Testify’ (our latest album) as this song has all the main ingredients of The Baker Brothers: killer horns, riffs and rhythms.

'Rags to Riches' by The Liberators 
The 10-track debut album from Australian afrobeat and funk band, The Liberators, boasted this number as their lead single.  Percussionist and guitarist for the band, Nathan Aust, took some time to tell us a little about the making of the video:
The idea came from Bari sax play Andrew and his then house mates, the guys at Don't Look Back Pictures.  I'm guessing it was conceived during a late-night poker session.  I had no involvement in the shooting of the clip as my wife was having our second child at the time but I heard it was fun but hard work.  We had a lot of support from the actors.  I did the intro music in my kitchen.

Wednesday, 14 September 2016

'Blood From A Stone' by Eric Krasno [Review]

We nearly covered a song from this album in last week's 'What I'm listening to... (October)' article but thought we could squeeze an extra word or two about it to form a full-fledged review instead.

While fans wait patiently for the new album from Soulive (of which Krasno makes up one-third of), guitarist Eric Krasno found time to unveil his second solo album within a 12 months that saw him deliver 'Crush' as a member of funk band Lettuce, produce his long-time friend and label-mate Nigel Hall's 'Ladies & Gentlemen...' album, and further develop his record label, Feel Music.

...That's definitely a mouthful.  How he's been able to be a part of so much music over a short span of time is reflective of his passion.  As fans, we can only bask in the results.

Krasno - and in fact Soulive - started as very much as a jazz band: signed to Blue Note Records, their albums 'Doin' Something' (2001) and 'Next' (2002) were contemporary jazz wonders that were progressive and hip-hop inspired.  'Break Out' in 2005 however shifted the band's sound to a more funk and soul aesthetic, and, now, with 'Blood From A Stone', Krasno has shifted that little bit further embracing an edgier side of blues and psychedlic rock, much like he did with The London Souls album 'Here Come the Girls'.

The biggest surprise though is that "guitarist" Eric Krasno, for this project, perhaps is better referred to as "guitarist and vocalist" seeing as he tackles lead vocals on all tracks for the very first time.  The story goes that the songs were initially intended to feature other vocalists but who better to sing your own songs than yourself?!  So he did.  And it's good.  The aforemention Nigel Hall appears on a handful of tracks playing a mix of piano, organ and backing vocals, Alecia Chakour (who we did cover in last week's 'What I'm listening to... (October)' article) appears on 'Wicked This Way' and Soulive's Alan Evans and Neal Evans appear on a song each near the album's closing.

Speaking of Alan Evans, on a slightly separate note, I not too long ago picked up 'Merkaba' (2013), officially by the Alan Evans Trio and thought this project would also be worth a mention.  Evans sees himself hooking up with guitarist Danny Mayer and organist Beau Sasser, and as the album’s writer and producer (and drummer), he takes us on a cosmic and space-age, jazz-tinged and funk-filled trip.  Like Krasno, Evans so rarely showcases his own vocals which is a shame as the standouts on ‘Merkaba’ are when he does take centre-stage: ‘Givin’ To You’, ‘Life Is Harder To Live’ and ‘Who Dare Knock’.  (For other songs featuring Alan Evans on vocals, check out ‘Kim’ from Soulive’s ‘No Place Like Soul’ album (2007) and ‘Tonight’ from their 2009 album, ‘Up Here’.)

The continual expansion of the Soulive dynasty continues so I would urge readers to get your hands on some of the aforementioned projects referenced throughout this review.  Both 'Blood From A Stone' and 'Merkaba' are available to purchase now.

Monday, 5 September 2016

What I'm listening to... (September 2016)

'Like You Me' by Alecia Chakour
I’ve been seeing this name surface a lot recently – Chakour’s appeared as a guest vocalist on Nigel Hall’s album last year (‘Ladies and Gentlemen...’), Lettuce’s album ‘Crush’ and Eric Krasno’s recently released ‘Blood From a Stone’.  So, she’s a new vocalist? Not at all, Chakour’s been around for years as her 2010 digital release ‘Loomi’ indicates.

'Let Me Be Me' by Nite-Funk
Here’s an excellent number from the four-track EP ‘Nite-Funk’ by Nite-Funk: the group is comprised of Nite Jewel on vocals and Dam-Funk on production.  The charm of this one lies in the 1980s-inspired backdrop – reminiscent of those soundscapes infamously laid out by Terry Lewis and Jimmy Jam.

‘Seamonster’ by The Steve McQueens
A quirky and eclectic soul band from Singapore called The Steve McQueens.  Let every part of that sentence sink in for a moment.  Now listen to the title track from their debut album and tell me you’re not now hooked...

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

'Raios Do Sol' by Resolution 88 [Single review]

Splash Blue Music – home to The Steve McQueens and Joao Caetano – is proud to present brand new music from the UK four-piece, Resolution 88.

The band’s take on jazz–funk comes with a nice dab of broken beat thrown into the mix and the new single takes even further inspiration incorporating Brazilian rhythms as well.  ‘Raios Do Sol’ is the perfect teaser for Resolution 88’s second album, ‘Afterglow’ (due to be released 9th September), but if that’s not enough to whet your appetite, let’s see if we can entice you further…

The single and album is mastered by Bob Power, who, if you know your contemporary soul, then you know of his work with India.Arie, Erykah Badu, Macy Gray and D’Angelo’s seminal ‘Brown Sugar’ album, plus Dan ‘JD73’ Goldman (famous for his work with Morcheeba and The Haggis Horns) tackles mixing duties for the project.

And if you needed more of an incentive to check this out then you should know that ‘Raios Do Sol’ is available as a free download on Bandcamp so check it out...

'Raios Do Sol' is available to download now and 'Afterglow' is available 9th September from Bandcamphttp://resolution88.bandcamp.com/

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Podcast #12: Get to Know... Stevie Wonder

Welcome to Episode 12 of our 'GetToKnow' series showcasing the work of some of our favourite producers and musicians, and this month, we visit the artist who was more than likely the inspiration to every artist we've ever showcased in this series... Stevie Wonder.

Our all-encompassing show features songs written by Stevie Wonder for other artists, other artists featuring Stevie Wonder, other artists covering Stevie Wonder, and other artists remixing Stevie Wonder. It's as all-encompassing as it gets!

Below is the tracklist for the show and we hope you enjoy the show:
'Visions' (The Randy Watson Experience Remix) - Stevie Wonder
'Expressions of Love' - Raul Midon f/t Stevie Wonder
'Girl Blue' - Mario Biondi
'Bring Your Sweet Stuff Home to Me' - The Pointer Sisters
'All I Do Is Think About You' - Tammi Terrell
'Never Give You Up' - Raphael Saadiq f/t Stevie Wonder & CJ Hilton
'Get Lucky' (2014 Grammies Live) - Daft Punk f/t Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams & Nile Rodgers
'I Can't Help It' - Gretchen Parlato/Soul Cycle/Esperanza Spalding
'So What The Fuss' (Mario Winans Remix) - Stevie Wonder f/t Q-Tip
'Never In Your Sun' - Khari Cabral Simmons f/t India.Arie
'Perfect Angel' - Minnie Riperton
'Cold Chill' (Prince Remix) - Stevie Wonder