Funk & Soul

New album: Paris Pick || Hope For The Best

Canadian singer/songwriter Paris Pick does everything a little differently than usual, and we can only applaud that. The way she uses her voice, how she mixes genres / instruments in her heterogeneous music and adds twists / contradictions in her honest lyrics: quirky and therefore interesting – somewhat similar to what appeals to me in the music of Jens Lekman. She just released her sophomore (digital) album Hope for the Best, for which she brought in some great musicians, who looked beyond guitar and drums. These are eight original soulful indie pop songs about growing-up, colorful and upbeat. Slightly different, but it makes me happy and isn’t that what music is all about?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: Jeb Loy Nichols || Jeb Loy

“Now I was born in the country // And I was raised in town // We came back up here looking for // A place to settle down // But it’s hard times in the hills // Dark clouds gather at our door,” Jeb Loy Nichols sings in We Gotta Work On It, one of the tracks on his new record. The fact that it’s titled Jeb Loy indicates that it has a personal character, just listen to the lyrics about his live experiences, relationships and moments on the road. The musician / writer / artist is born in America but now lives remote in the hills of Wales. He grew up with southern soul, bluegress, jazz and punk, and his first recording was a rap song called I’m A Country Boy (1980, unreleased), influences that came together nicely in his previous work. However, this new album is much more unambiguous: folk soul with gritty grooves and mellow melodies, carried by those recognizable, raspy vocals. The fact that the ten new songs were written and performed together with Timmion Records’ awesome rhythm section Cold Diamond & Mink makes for a tight and cohesive collection.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Timmion Records. Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: The Treetops || Rev It Up!

If you listen closely, you’ll hear a motor getting started in the opening seconds of the new Treetops album Rev It Up! The Florida band keeps that motor running throughout album opener Easy Street. It’s a fun pubrock’n’roll hit straight from the garage, and one of my favorites on the record. Hangin’ On is another fun old time rnr song, but The Treetops play a mixture of styles on Rev It Up!

The Treetops clearly are a band that in addition to rock-‘n’- roll, also love soul & disco (Something In The Air), blues, and boogie woogie. I think the lo-fi sound fits the band well, but ultimately, these songs likely are experienced even better in raucous live performances.


Add to wantlist: Bandcamp

New album: True Loves || Sunday Afternoon

Uplifting instrumental funk & soul on this sunny Sunday afternoon, anyone? The sophomore album by The True Loves is the ideal soundtrack for that moment. The eight musicians from Seattle know how to create a good mood with their instruments; it’s as if the guitar, bass, drums, two trombones, two saxophones, and percussion are talking to each other, complementing and amplifying the other players. Sunday Afternoon is out now digitally, on CD and blue vinyl LP via Color Red.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Color Red

New album: Robert Finley || Sharecropper’s Son

In my humble opinion, good music is all about emotion – you have to feel it. That’s probably why I don’t like electronic dance tracks. One person who knows how to convey emotion is 67-year-old American singer / songwriter Robert Finley, discovered – better late than never – thanks to America’s Got Talent. Oh man, his voice, so gritty, aged and heartfelt it almost hurts to listen to. On his third full-length soul & blues album Sharecropper’s Son, backed by experienced musicians and produced by Dan Auerbach, it’s sometimes a bit too much. You can hear the pain in Finley’s vocals, in the autobiographical lyrics about his life with cotton fields on the side and in the howling blues guitar, but at the same time it is very beautiful – majestic. Fortunately, when you see him smile and dance in the videos for his songs, it becomes clear that he really does enjoy his long-deserved success.

Out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Easy Eye Sound.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs || Easy Eye Sound

New album: Reigning Sound || A Little More Time with Reigning Sound

If I had to put together a top 10 of this century’s most acclaimed songwriters, Reigning Sound’s Greg Cartwright would be in it. If I had to put together a top 10 of my favorite albums of the last ten years, Reigning Sound’s Shattered would be in it (standout track Never Coming Home is one of the most beautiful songs ever). If I had to put together a top 10 of rockin’ covers of soul songs, Reigning Sound’s You Got Me Hummin’ would be in it (written by Isaac Hayes & David Porter, popularized by Sam & Dave). If I had to put together a top 10 of the most needed vinyl reissues, I would have to choose between Reigning Sound’s first two LPs.

As you can imagine, I’m a little excited about the release of this new record, A Little More Time with Reigning Sound, twelve new garage rock songs with a lot of soul, out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Merge Records. It’s dedicated to the memory of Norton Records’ Billy Miller. As you’ve probably already read elsewhere, the album is a reunion of “the original Memphis line-up”, in which Cartwright (vocals / guitars / percussion) plays together with Jeremy Scott (bass), Greg Roberson (drums), and Alex Greene (awesome on keyboards). Coco Hames came by for some additional vocals. The result is as good as expected, no more, but also no less than that. The 12 new songs again contain witty lyrics, which are sung sincerely and with an edge, the sound of the band is warm and intimate. We’ll have to wait a little more time before we know if the album ends up in the top 10 of the Music Year-End Lists of 2021.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Merge Records

Gimme 5! Marc Ribler (Little Steven & The Disciples Of Soul) Shares 5 Records That Influenced His Upcoming Record The Whole World Awaits You

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

I started reading Twilight Of The Gods this week, a book in which Steven Hyden explores the past, present and future of classic rock. Early in the book, Hyden calls classic rock a finite resource: “One day, it will disappear. Bands break up. Albums go unplayed and are eventually forgotten. Legends die.” Hyden has a point of course. Time does not stand still, albums are losing out to playlists, fewer and fewer bands sell out stadiums and it’s unlikely that current and future rock bands will come anywhere close to the lasting cultural impact of the classic bands from the ’60s and ’70s. But is that necessarily a bad thing? They’ve been saying that punk is dead since the late seventies, but to agree with that statement you essentially admit that you haven’t been paying attention. Ultimately,  there will always be musicians that will carry the torch of guitar music into familiar and unfamiliar territory. Which brings us to this week’s Gimme 5! which features an artist whose music celebrates the power of classic rock and soul.

Marc Ribler is a musician and producer who in recent years has been Steven Van Zandt’s right hand man in The Disciples Of Soul. Ribler also shared the stage with many Hall-Of-famers including Carole King, Elvis Costello, Bruce Springsteen, Darlene Love, and Paul McCartney. On July 9th, Ribler will release a new solo record called The Whole World Awaits You (pre-order here). Busy as Ribler is with producing, performing and writing songs and jingles for others, it is a record that’s been long in the making – some of the songs were written as early as 2005. Little Steven became excited after hearing some of the early mixes and offered to co-produce the record and release it on his label Wicked Cool Records. Based on the early singles, it’s easy to see why: Shattered and Who Could Ask For More (watch the video here) are excellent throwbacks to the heyday of rock and soul, and both songs were picked as ‘coolest song in the world’ at the Underground Garage radio station. Not only that, these songs make my speakers sound better than ever – this is some well produced, mixed and mastered music. Below Marc Ribler shares five classic albums that he drew influence from in writing the songs for The Whole World Awaits You. Enjoy reading and listening!  [post continues below]

New album: Fabulous Heydays || Ladies & Gentlemen

Mitch Ryder! Little Steven! The Sonics! If you’re looking to update your rock’n’roll dance party collection, give The Fabulous Heydays a chance. It’s all there in the bandname: This is throwback garage/rock’n’soul that aims to celebrate the genre, not reinvent it. The band, with members from Australia, the Netherlands and Greece, does so with complete conviction and it makes for an exciting and much fun record. It also makes me curious to see this band live. Out now on Soundflat Records.

Add to bandcamp: Bandcamp || Soundflat Records

New single: Jo Ann Hamilton and The Kevin Fingier Collective || September b/w I Love Without A Love

Good soul records that honor the 60s sound just keep on coming. After the success of the instrumental double sider Latin Dynamite / El Basement by The Kevin Fingier Collective, which sold out 15 days before the release date, this is Jo Ann Hamilton’s debut single with this band. The A-side presents the Northern Soul track September (if you listen to the lyrics, you’ll realize this title is not misplaced in May), the B-side contains the funky R&B song I love Without A Love. Out now digitally and on 7″ vinyl through Acid Jazz Records subsidiary label Fingier Records.

Jo Ann Hamilton was part of the disco scene in the mid 70s and now, almost 50 years later, the Argentinian producer Kevin Fingier has discovered her great voice. And we are happy with that, right?

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

New album: W.R.D. Trio || The Hit

Anyone who likes instrumental, organ-driven funky jazz (or jazzy funk), like that of Medeski, Martin and Wood for example, should pay attention now. The Hit is the debut album by WRD Trio: acclaimed musicians Robert Walter (The Greyboy Allstars) on Hammond B3 Organ, Eddie Roberts (The New Mastersounds) on electric guitar, and Adam Deitch (Lettuce) on drums – W.R.D. does not stand for ‘weird’ but are the first letters of the surnames of those involved (their music is also not weird, but quite good). These eleven raw, natural songs are the result of refined musical synchronicity and reveling in vintage straight-to-tape recording techniques. The ‘supergroup’ embraced the immediacy of metamorphosing short demo songs into consummate arrangements with no headphones, minimal overdubs, and live recording. From the classic sound to the cinematic cover art, it all fits – authentic and groovy. The album is out now digitally, on CD and vinyl LP through Color Red Music.

Add to wantlist: Bandcamp || Discogs

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