Funk & Soul

New single The Courettes || Shake!

Not to be confused with the cover of Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, with which the fabulous Courettes ended last year, here’s their new (original) single Shake!, which is actually a lot more electrifying. Flávia & Martin Couri already have quite a few killer songs to their name, but this untamed floor filler is their biggest hit to date – irresistibly fuzzy, groovy and catchy. It’s a promising taster of the next album by the Brazilian/Danish garage rock duo, the follow-up to 2021’s Back In Mono, expected next September. B-side You Woo Me, not available online (yet?), is exclusive to this 45. Cool stuff!

Shake! c/w You Woo Me, produced by Søren Christensen & The Courettes, is out now digitally and on gold colored 7″ vinyl through Damaged Goods Records.

Add to wantlist: Damaged Goods

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New album: Omar Coleman || Strange Times

It was 2020 that rising blues star Omar Coleman flew from Chicago to Color Red in Denver to work with Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds) on an album. Then a pandemic broke out, so it’s not surprising that the result – finally out now – is called Strange Times. The video of the title track already made an impression about three years ago, the other eight songs appear to be just as strong. This is all about bluesy soul (or soulful blues) with a greasy funk sauce, taken to great heights thanks to Coleman’s gravelly vocals and heartfelt harp playing.

Strange Times, produced by Eddie Roberts, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Color Red. Performed by Omar Coleman, Eddie Roberts, Eric Benny Bloom, Dan Africano, Chris Spies, Cole Rudy, Carl Sorensen, Nick Gerlach, Kari Clifton and Adrienne Short.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Color Red

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Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of January 2024

Not all new music is really new, as many artists cover songs. Sometimes these are songs by their favorite artists, eg as a tribute to such a musical hero for a special reason, or they simply feel that a song deserves to be dusted and polished to reacquaint fans with great songs from the past. Other times, bands cover songs as a parody. Regardless of intent, some of those cover versions are so good or so much fun, we’d like to put a spotlight on them. Chosen from a wide range, here are – in random order – ten of our favorite covers from last month – links to the pages where you can add them to your wantlist included.

She Lied || Cover: Acumen || Original: The Rockin’ Ramrods
With their Mark VII LP on Rad Girlfriend Records, Carbondale, Illinois-based garage punk outfit Acumen finally make their debut on vinyl. Besides two originals. we get eight raw garage rock covers of nuggets from the psychedelic 60s, including this 1964 classic.

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New album: The Stiletto Shakers || Keep On Keeping On

It’s only been a few weeks that British roots rock duo The Stiletto Shakers delighted us with An EP, but they are already back at the front with full-length album Keep On Keeping On. Lewis West-Vimpany (guitar, vocals, keys, bass, drums) and John Vanek (keys, acoustic guitar, harmonica, melodica, vocals) deliver eight new songs (plus a bonus track with an alternative version) in which rock, blues, folk and soul merge. They give us fascinating stories, heartfelt vocals and memorable guitar melodies, with a warm sound and surprising twists and hooks. This is 43 minutes of fascinating music that could have gone on a little longer.

Keep On Keeping On, produced by Lewis West-Vimpany, is out now digitally (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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New album: The Hypos || The Hypos

When Scott McMicken (Dr. Dog, Raccoon, Scott McMicken And The Ever-Expanding) moved to Asheville, North Carolina a few years ago, it was a matter of time that he and Greg Cartwright (Oblivians, Reigning Sound, Compulsive Gamblers, The Deadly Snakes, The Detroit Cobras) would jam together. The legendary songwriters/singers/guitarists asked local musicians Kevin Williams (bass, organ, vocals), Krista Wroten (violin, vocals) and Evan Martin (drums, percussion, vocals) to join, and The Hypos were born (read more about that at Asheville Stages). On their self-titled debut album they synergize their experience and skills in ten Bob Dylan-esque songs in which folky rock, bluesy soul and a few Jamaican rhythms merge. The wealth and variety of unique singing voices and vintage instruments are continuously fascinating and atmospheric, the song textures are detailed and subtle (but functional), the lyrics are empathetic and melancholic, the sound exudes warm autumn colors. Is that the sun breaking through after days of rain?

The Hypos’ self-titled album, produced by Greg Cartwright and Scott McMicken, is out now digitally – vinyl LPs and cassettes will reportedly follow later.

Add to want list: Bandcamp

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Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Singles and EPs of 2023

By now you’ve probably seen our lists of favorite albums – here‘s Niek’s and there‘s mine – but 2023 also gave us lots of short format releases that were wantlist worthy. Below you can listen to the Top 50 singles and EPs that I enjoyed the most last year (note: individual songs are excluded). I would have liked to purchase some more physically, but that’s quite an expensive challenge with retail prices where 15 euros (16 USD) for a 7″ single and 40 euros (43 USD) or more for a six-track 12″ EP are no exceptions. Anyway, luckily there are other ways to hear them. Looking over the playlist, I guess that this music is a bit faster and wilder than that of my AOTY list – what is too exhausting for a full-length, works well for just a few songs. In my world you could have a fun dance party with this, including a few moments of rest in between to recover.

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Music Year-End List || Dennis’ Favorite Albums of 2023

While Taylor Swift emerged as the top artist of 2023 (26+ billion global streams on Spotify alone), I mainly sought refuge in the long tail of the continuous stream of releases (not a favorable position: from 2024 tracks must have reached at least 1,000 streams to get royalties from Spotify’s money grubbers – all the more important that we’ll support these artists in other ways). Of the 2,600+ new albums I listened to, I added 130 to my longlist of wantlist-worthy releases – the ones I liked and played the most are in the Top 50 below. What struck me? Besides the usual themes – life and death (and the search for meaning), love and loss (and longing), fun and sadness (and anger), sex and drugs (and rock ‘n’ roll) – songwriters seem to struggle with time and place more than before. There is a kind of conflict going on in society between people who want to move forward or want to hold on to the past, but many songs reflect the realization that we live in the here and now. Tristan Peach from The Small Intestines dreamed that George Harrison and Tom Petty were on motorcycles circling one of the huge roundabouts in Canberra (Australia), their long hair blowing as they sang “You can’t hide in time” – it became the title from their debut album. It’s just one of the many references to this intriguing theme in my favorite albums from last year. Floodlights’ On The Television, one of the standout tracks from their Painting Of My Time LP, probably puts it most powerfully: “The time is now!” Let’s listen.

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New album: The Helltones || Medusa

Californian rock ‘n’ soul outfit The Helltones return with full-length Medusa, which sounds more charming, subdued and polished than you would expect based on the band name and cover art. The music may have a warm appearance, but the theme is quite dark: “As with the mythical Medusa, this album is about taking your demons, chopping their heads off, and using their severed heads to turn your other demons into stone.” Primary songwriter Darwin Siegaldoud and his band break through the pain and hard times by making themselves vulnerable without losing sight of the necessary fun. Although the thirteen songs are labeled as garage rock, that rough character is put in the shadows by sunny influences of soulful Americana, cool rhythm and blues, psychedelic surf and vintage doo-wop. The pleasant vocals and perfectly orchestrated instrumentation make this an engaging listen. Standout tracks include opening track Mike and Laura (back from the 2018 Poltergeist LP), epic love ballad Nothing Compares to You (not a cover) and floor filler Don’t Waste My Time (sung by Victoria Sepe).

Medusa, produced by Darwin Siegaldoud, is out now digitally (self-released). Featuring Darwin Siegaldoud (guitar, vocals), Victoria Sepe (organ, vocals), Nathan Moody (guitar, vocals), Cairo McCockran (drums, vocals), Shane Lawton (bass), Kristin McReddie (vocals), Jamie Duncan (guitar ) and Michael Booker (saxophone).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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New album: ISTA || ISTA

ISTA is the New York-based ‘psychedelic disco-rock’ five-piece featuring songwriter Rex Costello, Oliver Hart, Diona West, Theadora Curtis and Evan Eubanks. Last month they released their self-titled debut LP, and it sounds more attractive than you would expect based on its designation as ‘psychedelic disco rock’. Probably ‘groovy neo-psychedelic indie garage rock with a touch of post-punk’ better describes what you’re going to hear? It is mean guitar riffs, pulsing rhythms and electrifying harmony vocals – not atmosphereless electronics – that predominate here, and they pour wild and funky rock ‘n’ roll over us in thirteen danceable songs with a 70s feel. Their combination of eclecticism and enthusiasm is as infectious as can be.

ISTA’s self-titled album, produced by Sam Cohen, is out now digitally, on cassette, CD and vinyl 2LP (self-released).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Ista Sound

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Gimme 5! Jack Droppers Shares Five Albums That Inspired His New Album ‘Scooter’

With ‘Gimme 5!’ we take a peek into the collections of artists we admire. The premise is simple: artists WE like share five records THEY love.

Two years after their year-end list-worthy Dad Rock LP, Jack Droppers & The Best Intentions return with their fourth album, named Scooter (after the nickname given to the frontman on account of the red Vespa-inspired pajamas he wore nightly the year he split his lip), their first on a label (Bird Fight Records). It’s a memoir-like record that explores what we tell about ourselves in both past and future tenses: “A coming-of-age story, a confessional, an investigation into nicknames, a spiritual memoir, a pondering about death, and ultimately a celebration of still being alive.” After the short but exciting intro tune (Hey!), we get ten roots rock songs of the refined kind. On the outside, humor and nonchalance seem to predominate, but a tear is never far away in the relatable lyrics, tasteful performance and pure vocals.

Another strong performance from the Grand Rapids, Michigan-based band, and a good reason to ask singer/songwriter/guitarist Jack Droppers what he likes to listen to himself.

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