Funk & Soul

New album: Herman Hitson || Let The Gods Sing

In 2022, not many artists can claim to have collaborated with Jimi Hendrix, James Brown, Joe Tex, Bobby Womack, Wilson Pickett, Jackie Wilson, Sam Cooke and many other big names, let alone release a new album more than 50 years after their debut. But look: American guitar player and singer Herman Hitson aka Hermon Hitson has survived a wild life – his biography calls him a recovering heroin addict, one-time inmate and snake-clearer armed with a flamethrower – and recently in two days he recorded the nine songs of Let The Gods Sing, unstoppable as if he were at the beginning of his career, although his unique dark voice betrays longevity. The experienced pioneer plays here alongside The Sacred Soul Sound Section – Will Sexton (guitar), Mark Stuart (bass), Will McCarley (drums/percussion), Al Gamble (organ) and Art Edmaiston (horns) – forcing everybody to get loose and then tight. The LP captures the adventurous musical spirit of Hitson, with a wicked groove and a mix of funk, rhythm & blues, soul, hard blues, all layered with psychedelia, all raw and authentic. You’ll hear new performances of some of Hitson’s best-known R&B tunes, like Suspicious (an original Hitson song attributed to Jimi Hendrix at the time), and he also re-covers Bad Girl (featuring garage rock legend Jack Oblivian on guitar and Marcella Simien on vocals), written by his longtime bandmate Lee Moses. The record colors wildly outside the lines, takes you on an exciting trip, and leaves you in awe.

Let The Gods Sing, produced by Bruce Watson and Will Sexton, is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Big Legal Mess Records.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Big Legal Mess

New album: DeWolff & Dawn Brothers || Double Cream

If you walked into a record store and heard this album for the first time, you’d probably think it’s a compilation of rare soul, R&B, funk and doo-wop nuggets from 1960s America. Remarkably, it turns out to be a brand new Dutch collaboration between psychedelic southern rock band DeWolff and roots rock band Dawn Brothers. Musically and fashion-wise, both bands have one foot in the rock and roots past, and we already knew that they are great musicians, but making a classic soul record is a different story. The fact that they pull up original(!) material – with apparent ease – that revive the heyday of Sam Cooke, Otis Redding and The Coasters, proves how good these guys are. The 14 songs here are the result of 5 sessions of 1 day writing (by Bas van Holt (Dawn Brothers) and Pablo van de Poel (DeWolff)), 1 day recording (everything you hear is recorded live on analog tape, with 6 to 11 people together in one room; the two bands were reinforced with a horn section featuring Lauran Neerincx on trumpet, Richard Wevers on baritone saxophone and Kasper Rietkerk on alto saxophone) – and 1 day mixing. The tunes are diverse and surprising (the artists from different backgrounds and skills complement each other well), with powerful vocals and an instrumentation full of details, and the sound is rich and uplifting (the enthusiasm of the band members is clearly audible). A rare find indeed.

Double Cream is out now on CD and vinyl LP through Suburban Records.

Add to wantlist: Suburban Records

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of August 2022

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.

In August we heard A Tribute to Lifted by Bright Eyes, a 15-minute version of Planet Caravan (Black Sabbath) by Psychic Temple, Borrowed tracks by Grey DeLisle, More Cover Songs from Guards, and cover EPs from Valerie June and Kid Chameleon, but there were some tunes that were even more special than that. Be prepared for an eclectic selection.

Another Saturday Night || Cover: M.U.T.T. || Original: Sam Cooke
“How I wish I had someone to talk to // I’m in an awful way.” There are several ways to sing the lines from Another Saturday Night. In 1963, Sam Cooke did it soulful with an amused undertone, and countless artists followed him in that (Gene Vincent, Lou Rawls, Cat Stevens, Sam & Dave, etc.). But in 2022, Californian four-piece M.U.T.T. (a continuation of Culture Abuse) gives it an intensity that actually fits the lyrics much better. The punk band’s version is dangerous and catchy at the same time, as a Saturday night should be. Out digitally via Quiet Panic.

New EP: Dead Chic || Bastion Session

If you like intense music full of emotions, you definitely should listen to new French outfit Dead Chic. Initially it was a project of Andy Balcon (Heymoonshaker) on lead vocals / guitar and Damien Félix (Catfish) on guitar / backing vocals, now they are joined by Rémi Ferbus (Kimberose) on drums / backing vocals and Mathis Bouveret-Akengin (Catfish) on keyboards / backing vocals. They adequately describe their music as heavy soul, but you also hear garage rock fuzz, spaghetti western frivolity and indie rock guitar outbursts. In January this year the skilled four-piece recorded and filmed a live session at Le Bastion (Besançon, France), of which 3 tracks – Ballad Of Another Man, Good God and my personal favorite Too Far Gone – now have been officially released. Impressive, raw and dark songs with a clear sound, clever poetic lyrics and awesome gritty vocals, that hit me hard and give me goosebumps. I’m an instant fan and really want more of this.

“In all my letters // I’ll sign off my name // As the one who robbed freedom from the fame of the indecent and bastard child of pain // Who swapped patriotism for culture without thought or shame.”

The Bastion Session EP is out now digitally and on CD through Upton Park, including a studio version of Too Far Gone.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Upton Park

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of July 2022

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.

A little later than usual, due to vacation, but there was too much fun music to skip this post. Elsewhere enough has been written about She & Him’s Melt Away tribute to Brian Wilson, the new Minions soundtrack, Easy Eye Sound’s John Anderson compilation and the countless Running Up That Hill covers – we heard some other highlights.

Oh Oh I Love Her So || Cover: Jesse Malin || Original: Ramones
New York singer-songwriter Jesse Malin followed up last year’s album Sad And Beatiful World with the sensitive single Keep On Burning. On the flipside, the BPM goes up for a catchy, danceable version of Ramones’ Leave Home song (1977). Out on vinyl 7″ via Wicked Cool Records.

New EP: Senseless Optimism || It Gets Better

Good vibes in hard times, that’s the motto of Massachusetts-based singer-songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Brittany Tsewole. With her indie pop project Senseless Optimism – featuring Nate Leavitt (bass, guitar), Dan Cederholm (drums), Easmond Hoansi (keys), Matt Odabashian (keys), Brian Murphy (horns) and Dan Nicklin (percussion) – and their debut EP It Gets Better, she spreads a message of positivity, hope and overcoming obstacles. However, life is not without worries: the five tracks here span a lyrical spectrum across the various stages of grief, from denial (Give Me Time), to anger (Hater), to depression (Couped Up), and finally to acceptance (Nothin’ To Me and standout lead single Leave You Behind). They are basically pop songs, but with influences from jazz, rock, soul, R&B and psych. Groovy and warm music, wonderful vocals – the future is bright.

It Gets Better is out now digitally (self-released). Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Ornament || Rock Solid

Based on the album title and cover art, you might expect hard rock music here, and the title track with which this LP opens tries to keep that idea alive. But then the musicians take a turn that goes more towards acid jazz than towards solid rock, with songs more like Corduroy than Deep Purple. Quite different from what we usually write about, but it’s done so well that we recommend you to give it a try anyway.

We’re talking about Rock Solid, the new full-length of Ornament, the musical vehicle of Will Mann and Ryan Donoho. The duo from Nashville, Tennessee wrote, arranged and produced the twelve tunes here, as well as taking care of the vocals and most of the instruments (guitars, bass and drums, but also sax, cowbell, triangle, woodblocks, tambourine, handclaps and lots of keys). This is warm quality music, hooky, detailed and funky, with strong vocals and lovely melodies, from creative wizards who know what they are doing. You can call that rock solid, right?

Rock Solid is out now digitally, on CD and cassette via Ornament Records & Tapes.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

Dusted || The 10 Best Cover Songs Of June 2022

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.

In June we heard some covers on the soundtrack of Baz Lurhmann’s biopic film ELVIS, The Routes’ did a surf rock Kraftwerk tribute, Elvis Costello celebrated Paul McCartney’s 80th birthday, a project of Disclotch Records contained 27 home recordings to pay homage to Daniel Johnston, and previously we wrote about releases from Thee Escapees, Mikey Erg, Reverendo Band, Runaway Lovers and Townies with some successful cover versions. Below we list the 10 best that we haven’t mentioned yet.

Hound Dog || Cover: The Record Company || Original: Big Mama Thornton
The iconic rock ‘n’ roll track Hound Dog was written by Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller, first released by blues singer Big Mama Thornton (1953), and made famous by Elvis Presley (1956). The ELVIS soundtrack features an honorable cover by Shonka Dukureh, but as a fan of American roots rock band The Record Company, it’s their version that you see here (not related to the movie). It’s not a Thornton or Presley imitation: as always The Record Company gives it its own twist. In case you don’t know: they previously worked on Beastie Boys’ So What’Cha Want, still one of my favorite covers ever.

New album: The Soul Jacket || KICK Radio

Spanish funk rock outfit The Soul Jacket have released their new full-length album, an entertaining concept album that gives the feeling of listening to an American FM station for 35 minutes, while you’re on the road in the late 60’s. Somewhat similar to Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time In Hollywood soundtrack, but by one band. And with success: KICK Radio plays some pretty good music!

The LP is a fitting vehicle for the six musicians of The Soul Jacket to demonstrate their mastery of styles such as southern soul, funk, acid jazz, garage rock, reggae and Tex-Mex – the whole is varied, but coherent. Given the concept, the idea is that you listen to the album – eleven upbeat tracks – from start to finish without pausing, shuffling or skipping. This is possible via all streaming services, but below is a taste of what to expect: first single Scratch My Back is a funky party anthem, Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Was In) is a cool, more than six minutes long cover of the 1967 psych classic – written by Mickey Newbury – that is also reminiscent of Another Brick In The Wall. Tune in!

KICK Radio is out now digitally. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New EP: Cosmit || It’s Cosmit

Two years ago, Bristol’s (UK) scrappiest and poppiest punkrock band Cosmit entered the scene with a three-song single – I liked it so much it made my singles of the year list. Its follow up, the five-song It’s Cosmit EP, is finally here.

Two years and 8-songs in, I’ve yet to hear a Cosmit song I don’t like. Go Go Go alone makes this EP worth the purchase. On the song, Cosmit sounds like the Northern Soul version of Marked Men, and their harmonies provide an absolute dopamine rush. Or what about Bad Luck, a song that sounds upbeat with sweet backing choirs, but actually is kinda dark. “I’ve seen it all before || It never rains it pours || If it wasn’t for bad luck i wouldn’t have any luck at all.”

In addition to Northern Soul, Cosmit cites Motown and ’60s pop as major influences on their brand of punk rock. This could have resulted in a mess in less capable hands, but in the case of Cosmit (featuring members of RVIVR, Austeros, Toodles & The Hectic Pity, and the co-owner of Specialist Subject Records) it’s an exciting blend of HITS! HITS! HITS!




Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

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