Funk & Soul

New album: Trey Batts || About Time

A lost and found funk treasure from the nineteen-seventies? That’s what I thought when I came across About Time by Trey Batts. It turns out to be a brand new release. Batts, who calls himself a child of the 70’s and 80’s, acknowledges that his sounds are heavily influenced by the artists of the era: ‘Groovy, hooky, warm, familiar and a bit quirky. Think Sly Stone, Frank Zappa, and Kenny Loggins high on Moon Pies back in 74 with a DJ kinda thang.’ This album is a culmination of ideas and musical experimentation meticulously woven together over the better part of the last decade. All songs are written, performed, produced, and engineered by Batts himself. Many hours to capture his soul into sounds, with influences ranging from psychedelic rock, funk, soul, R&B, hip-hop, fusion, and more. Listening to the result is a mind altering trip. This could just become an overlooked funk treasure, good to have discovered it already.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Elizabeth King || Living In The Last Days

Easter weekend feels like an appropriate time to share some fine “Sacred Soul” music. Here’s gospel veteran Elizabeth King’s full length solo debut Living In The Last Days, released today on Good Friday. She joined Memphis’ Gospel Souls in 1969 after seeing them in concert, and stayed 33 years with them. Songs from that period have recently been collected on The D-Vine Spirituals Recordings (2019). At the age of 77, King is back, with a line up of seasoned, Memphis session musicians, to bring recordings of early D-Vine material back to life. It sounds exactly like you hope it sounds: a mighty voice that calls on Mighty Good God and covers the traditional You’ve Got To Move beautifully. The title track stands out. Out now through the Bible & Tire Recording Co. (Big Legal Mess Records, distributed by Fat Possum Records).

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Bible & Tire

New album: Miko Marks & The Resurrectors || Our Country

About 15 years ago, Miko Marks was considered “Nashville’s Hottest New Country Star”, loved by the audiences but not so much by the music industry, which reportedly struggled with a black woman in country music. Disillusioned, a long overdue hiatus from music followed, but fortunately the singer-songwriter is back. With co-producers Steve Wyreman and Justin Phipps (Founder of Redtone Records) she wrote songs reflecting hard truths and the expansive emotions they were all feeling, which she subsequently recorded with Redtone’s house band The Resurrectors. This new LP, Our Country, is out now through Redtone Records and streaming across all platforms. A strong collection, rooted in sounds from country, blues, soul, and roots music, which fits Miko Mark’s distinctive vocals well. Below the official performance video for the track Hard Times. Maybe album closing track Not Be Moved is even better.

‘This album is overall a heartfelt prayer for honesty and reflection. I hope it evokes a sense of urgency around systemic racism, injustice and economic disparity that plagues the underprivileged in our country. I hope the message of compassion and unity rings true and encourages listeners to identify, digest the fullness of the music in a transformative way.’ – Miko Marks

Add to wantlist: Miko Marks Shop

New single: Ruffin Harris || I Dig You / Bright As The Sun

Reno Bo is not only a songwriter, musician, and producer (listen to Lessons From A Shooting Star for example), this year he also founded the new record label Diddy Wah Records, devoted to the continuation and preservation of rhythm & blues, girl groups, doo wop, soul and garage rock music. An initiative that we really appreciate! Diddy Wah will produce new artists and release new material on a monthly basis. Their third single is out now: I Dig You / Bright As The Sun by Ruffin Harris, two great soul / rhythm & blues songs for fans of Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave. The mighty voice you hear belongs to Jason Eskridge, he’s assisted by Ashley Wilcoxson (background vocals), Doc Marshall (drums), and of course Reno Bo himself (bass, guitar & organs). Let’s hope more like this follows.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Har Mar Superstar || Roseville

Sean Tillman aka Har Mar Superstar is one of those beloved illustrious artists who make the music business so entertaining. Anyone who has attended one of his many sweaty over-the-top live shows will never forget him. Although he has been performing for over 20 years and has recorded several albums, I have only been a fan since Bye Bye 17 (2013), with the awesome soul single Lady, You Shot Me. Seventh studio album Roseville has just been released, a career-defining culmination of life and musical experiences, influenced by ’70s stars like Todd Rundgren, Elton John, Carole King, Hall & Oates, and ELO, to name a few (it’s a combination of soul, r&b, and pop – some new songs also remind me of Stevie Wonder, Prince and even The Beach Boys). It’s the first true collaborative effort of the whole touring band: Sean Tillmann (vocals, piano, bass), Aaron Baum (synths, organs, cello, guitar), Ryan Mach (drums, guitar, keys), Nelson Devereaux (clarinet, flute , whistle, bass, sax), Jake Baldwin (trumpet, mellophone, flugelhorn), Adam Hurlburt (bass, synths), Ethan Elseth (guitars, piano), accompanied by various guest musicians. ‘Destination was a place to hide // But somehow you got yourself inside my head instead,’ Har Mar Superstar sings in Where We Began, and that’s what happens with these songs when you listen to this mature and coherent trip.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Har Mar Superstar Webstore

New EP: Sanya N’Kanta || These Are The Days

Every now and then the personal “Discover Weekly” playlist that Spotify automatically generates makes you turn up the music, then you discover something that you haven’t heard before but is worth your attention. Such is the case with Waste My Time, a beautiful song from Sanya N’Kanta‘s new (digital) EP These Are the Days. Accompanied by an acoustic guitar, the Jamaican born artist / producer sings with his great falsetto that ‘the hard lesson to learn in life is that some friends come and go’ and you can’t help but cry along with the person being addressed.

New single: Los Yesterdays || Nobody’s Clown

And here’s another great soul 45 on Daptone’s Penrose Records. After two great singles in 2020, Los Yesterdays are back at an even higher level with Nobody’s Clown. Be sure to check out below the fantastic video directed by actionfigureologist / filmmaker David “toyraider” Brocca, starring El Triste – the saddest puppet in Los Angeles – by Puppetmaster213. This is a great example of how film and sound reinforce each other. The single, with Give Me One More Chance on the B side, will be released on March 5. In the Fall a full album should follow.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Daptone

New song: Acantha Lang || Lois Lang

Acantha Lang’s first single He Said / She Said was one of my favorite tracks from last year. That song came out on October 28, just before we started this website. So I was not able to share that with you here then, but I have waited for the day when more music would appear so that I could write about it. Today is that day: here’s Lois Lang, a tribute to Acantha’s mother: ‘It tells the story of her life growing up in New Orleans, a young girl living during segregation, bringing up 4 kids as a single mother, losing everything in 3 major hurricanes.’ Given the subject, this song is less exuberant than the debut, but just as impressive.

“Her name is Lois Lang // But she ain’t have no superman”

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New post: Hoodna Orchestra || Alem Alem

And now for something complete different. Hoodna Afrobeat Orchestra is a 14 piece Afrobeat group from Tel Aviv (Israel). They describe their music as a blend of free flow Afrobeat riddims and heavy dance-floor Afro funk. Their new EP Alem Alem is a tribute to Ethiopian Jazz legends Mahmoud Ahmed, Tilahun Gessesse and Alemayehu Eshete. I would describe it as five swinging instrumental funk tracks by a great group of skilled musicians. Out now digitally trough Agogo Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New reissue: Al ‘Man’ Muntzie And The Embraceables || Die Happy

This great soul / funk song was originally released in 1976 and was the only release on S.B. Moon Records. For those who do not want to pay 100+ euros for the original Die Happy single, MR BONGO has now released a reissue on black or red vinyl. I didn’t know the track for the past 44 years, today I can’t live without it. RIYL Curtis Mayfield.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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