Monday, June 29, 2009

The Crystal Method's new method

I can still remember first listening to Vegas when it came out. Flippin' incredible it was. While not completely revolutionary, it was something completely different for me, an electronic album with some serious bite. It's hard to believe that it's over a decade old and I still find myself listening to it and enjoying it just as much as I did ten years ago.

Just last month, The Crystal Method dropped their latest album, titled Divided By Night, and what really caught my eye was the list of collaborators on it. Since their smashing debut, the duo that makes up Crystal Method, Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, have gone beyond making electronic dance anthems to score a film (London), create some TV theme songs (Bones and Third Watch), get hit up by Nike to work on some running soundtrack series, auditorally appear in numerous commercials, blah blah, blah blah blah, blah.

On their latest album, they put out an all call and draw in some really talented artists from across the musical spectrum. You'll find New Order bassist Peter Hook, Matisyahu, Justin Warfield, hip hop up and comers LMFAO, Metric frontwoman Emily Haines, former Grandaddy frontman Jason Lytle, and singer / songwriter Meiko. As you might guess, such a wide talent pool results in a definitely non-Vegas album. While TCM isn't new to collaborations, the breadth of them here is certainly refreshing. You'll still find strictly electronic signature numbers here, but they're peppered amongst the line-up. Check out what is possibly the strongest cut on the album (or at least my favorite), Drown In the Now, which features your favorite Hasidic rapper, Matisyahu, by following the imeem link below (sorry, no download). Below that is a remix of one of the non-collaborator Crystal Method original tracks, Double Down Under, which you can take with you.






Visit their website and become their friend on MySpace.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Soul - One Sweet Love to Remember


came a time
and we met
a love affair

but you needed to trade me for another love
even though the love was there
sweet love affair
with all we want in life
sweet love affair
good times they come and go
sweet love affair
sometimes we are in love
sweet love affair
and sometimes no

sweet love affair
one sweet love to remember
one sweet love to remember
one sweet love to remember
remember


Roy Ayers - One Sweet Love to Remember : Vibrations


Become his friend on MySpace.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dillanthology 2

So I've been on vaca the last few days, hence the lack of new music around here. I was a little bummed because I had meant to post on Dillanthology 2: Dilla's Remixes For Various Artists, the second in the series from Rapster Records (read about the first here), before I headed out, but you know how it goes. It was slated to hit shelves on June 23rd, but lo and behold, much to my surprise today, only the digital version (missing a bunch of cuts) is out now, with the physical being pushed back to July 7th. So while I didn't get to post on it as planned on its release date, I actually get to give you a semi-sneak peak instead.

As I mentioned back in March, Rapster is doing their part to propel Jay Dilla's legacy into where it belongs, the musical history books. Their tool: a series of albums collecting some of his greatest work into one place that is easily accessible for listeners to check out and appreciate. The first album focused on his masterful production work, this second one gathers some of his remix work. One of the things that I like about this second volume is that while most of the artist names on the first were fairly recognizable (The Pharcyde, Common, Erykah Badu, etc...), many of the names on the latest are less so. Here's the supposed line-up for the hard copy:
1. De La Soul - Stakes Is High ft. Mos Def & Truth Enola (Remix)
2. The Pharcyde - Y? (Be Like That) (Jay Dee Remix)
3. Masta Ace - Sitting On Chrome (Ummah Remix)
4. Slum Village - Fall In Love (Remix)
5. Four Tet - As Serious As Your Life (Jay Dee Remix)
6. Busta Rhymes - Whoo Ha (Jay Dee Remix)
7. Artifacts - The Ultimate (Jay Dee Remix)
8. Moods - Secrets Of The Sand (Remix)
9. Spacek - Eve (JayDee Mix)
10. DJ Cam -Love Junkie (Jay Dee Remix)
11. Brother Jack McDuff - Oblighetto (J Dilla Remix)
12. Brand New Heavies - Sometimes (Remix)
The original versions of a couple tracks here show their faces on the first volume, but there is also a lot of different material here that's welcome to the ears. If you dug the first one, keep the spirit alive and pick this one up next month. It's a great showcase for his abilities dipping into not only hip-hop but a little bit of soul, and jazz as well. The man had the touch, for sure.




and the original:



Visit J Dilla's Myspace page and the comp's label Rapster Records.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

In Living Cover

Although I didn't say it then, I'll admit it now: Jay Brannan's album Goddamned was my favorite album of 2008. There, it's out. Even now, a year after writing about it, I still can't wear the goddamned thing out, either. I just don't get tired out it, it's that good. That being said, when I got wind of a new release from Jay, I was over the moon with excitement. That new release hits shelves, virtual and physical, on July 7th, but I was lucky enough to get my little mitts on a copy beforehand.

It's an EP titled In Living Cover, and it's an apt name as seven of its nine tracks are covers, some from the extrememly familiar (Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell), some not so familiar (Terra Naomi). Here's the line-up:
1. Beautifully (original song)
2. Say It's Possible (Terra Naomi cover)
3. All I Want (Joni Mitchell cover)
4. Blowin' In the Wind (Bob Dylan cover)
5. The Freshmen (The Verve Pipe cover)
6. Good Mother (Jann Arden cover)
7. Both Hands (Ani Difranco cover)
8. Zombie (The Cranberries cover)
9. Drowning (original song)
Some of the covers are fairly honest to the originals, others are pretty original interpretations (his cover of Blowin' In the Wind and Both Hands jump out), although all hold Jay's stamp to one degree or another. Quite honestly though, my favorite track here is the opening number Beautifully, one of the two songs written by Jay. It displays the dark insight that I loved so much in his album, an insight that isn't present in his covers of others songs. That being said, I do enjoy this collection as a whole, but I'll still be looking forward to another complete album of his own material sometime soon, hopefully!




and an older favorite:



Visit his website and become his friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Budos Band stings again

So for those of you out there who are Budos Band fans (which should be pretty much all of you), today is the day that the band dropped their self titled, seven track EP. And because the folks over at Daptone Records are good like that, it's available digitally as well as on CD and vinyl. Its seven tracks were recorded after The Budos Band I sessions but before their second full length (although one of the cuts, Mas O Menos ended up on the II), and help illustrate the direction the band was heading between the two albums. Here's one of the tracks from the EP, The Proposition, which had previously only been available on a 7".


The Budos Band - The Proposition : The Budos Band EP


Visit their website, their label Daptone Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

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Upcoming Tour Dates.

July 24 New York, NY @ Central Park Summer Stage (w/Bettye LaVette)
July 28 Buffalo, NY @ University at Buffalo South Campus
Aug 11 New York, NY @ City Winery
Aug 13 Washington, DC @ Black Cat
Aug 14 Asheville, NC @ Harvest Records 5 Year Anniversary

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Soul - Get Off


Yeah
Get off
Music may ease and end all discretion
So we can get off
We keep under the sheets with two lovelies
So we can get off

Said I hope that we get the promise, ladies
And make me get off
Take it from girls with our imagination
So we can get off


Foxy - Get Off : Get Off 7"

Foxy - You Make Me Hot : Get Off 7" B-side

Get the A-side on the compilation Let's Be Bad Tonight: Best of Foxy, and find the B-side on their debut album Foxy.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

CéU

So as the week comes to an end, I've got one more dash of Latin music to round it out. Completely reversing gears from yesterday's flashback to Panama in the 60's and 70's, let's fast forward to the present, Brazil, with the gorgeous Chanteuse CéU. Don't ask me how to pronounce it, but in Portuguese, céu can mean either sky or heaven, depending on the context. I'd lean towards heaven upon seeing her, and more importantly, listening to her music.

CéU first entered the spotlight in 2007, when her first, self-titled American album earned her a Latin Grammy nomination for best new artist and a regular (?) Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary World Music Album. Early next month, her next release is due out, titled Vagarosa, and I've been lucky enough to get a sneak listen to it for the last few weeks. It opens with Sobre o Amor e Seu Trabalho Silencioso, a number that could easily pass as an Astrud Gilberto song. It's got a very traditional feel to it that makes you expect an album of solid, yet staid new old songs. That expectation quickly gets tossed out the window during the album's next song, Cangote, when traditional instrumentation meets contemporary mixing with subtle, yet sharp results. Try out Bubuia below to see what I mean.

The real beauty of the album is the way is effortlessly straddles the divide between old and new. A comparison that almost immediately came to my mind was the bird and the bee, albeit with a Latin flair. It doesn't hurt that CéU's voice glides like honey, making it almost immaterial if you can't translate what she's saying.




and an older one from her debut:



Visit her label Six Degrees Records and become her friend on MySpace.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Panama!

The Exciters and Miss Soul

Visit the Soundway Records' website and you'll almost immediately see the tagline "Unveiling forgotten chapters from some of the world's most vibrant musical cultures." And that's exactly what you'll get when listening to Panama! 2: Latin Sounds, Cumbia Tropical and Calypso Funk on the Isthmus 1967-77. The last few days I've been writing about Latin music that draws upon older traditional styles and melds them with newer production techniques and western music. Well, this release is all about taking it back old school.

Just as with the first volume, released three years ago, all twenty of the tracks here were pulled from vinyl dusted off from the treasure troves of radio stations in Panama, and while sound clarity might not be perfect, it's easy to overlook in exchange for getting such a raw and varied collection of music probably never heard outside of Panama. While discerning ears will hear shades of influences from beyond the borders of Panama, of American jazz, R&B and R&R, much more front and center is the influence of Central American countries closer to Panama, such as Costa Rica and Cuba. This is genuine Latin music for Latin listeners - not westernized for commercialized purposes. And it cooks.

As the albums title suggests, contained within is a wide range of music, even if it does all come from one thin country. The twenty tracks are all upbeat numbers, which makes this a perfect summer album to throw on for a barbecue while drinking down some cold beverages. And if you happen to be in the San Francisco area, make sure to check out the official album launch party on July 3rd (more info here) where you're guaranteed to have a good time with DJ Beto (who culled the cuts on the album) spinning some Latin goodness.

Here's a couple track to wet your whistle for the album. The first, Mi Bella Panama, kicks out some salsafied rhythms that will get your body moving for sure. The second, Juck Juck, is an amusing reggae stoked number with some Englishfied lyrics you can sing along with. New Bag, the last song here, comes from the first volume released in 2006, and is all about paying some homage to good old James Brown, from it's very title, to its horn lines and funk. Along with the twenty great tracks on the album, you'll find some liner notes that provide a brief overview of the country's history, culture, and musical development. All in all, a well put together package.




and one from the first volume:



Thursday, June 18, 2009

Los Amigos Invisibles

On Tuesday day I wrote about The Revolution, a project that blended the old and new, with musicians rooted in different scenes coming together to form something new. Today, I've got something completely different for you. While a lot of their music sounds like it owes a lot to 70's funk and disco and early 80's pop, Los Amigos Invisibles put together a crazy sound that stands out in my music library. I actually mentioned them last month (back here), when I wrote about Luaka Bop's (their label) latest release, a compilation of songs from their twenty one years in existence. The band owes a lot to David Byrne (the label's founder), as he helped them reach beyond the borders of Venezuela (their home country) with their music to a global audience.

The band just released their latest album, Commercial, earlier this month, and it's a ton of fun. As mentioned above, the band has a sound that feels like they were big fans of 80's music, with healthy doses of funk, disco, and Latin rhythms thrown in to get things a little crazy. It seems like it's got all the trappings of cheesy lounge dance music, but somehow the group is able to pull it off and make it really enjoyable. As with the last album, the majority of songs here are in Spanish, although there is a smidgen of English as well. From what I've heard (although I don't have any direct experience), they put on a killer show, so check the tour dates below to see if they're swinging by anywhere near you.





Visit their website, their label Nacional Records, and become their friend on Myspace.

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Upcoming tour dates

6/20: Washington, DC @ 9:30 Club
6/23: New York, NY @ Nublu (CD Release Show)
7/10: Brooklyn, NY @ Prospect Park (LAMC/Celebrate Brooklyn)
7/12: Philadelphia, PA @ World Café Live
8/5: Anaheim, CA @ House of Blues
8/6: San Diego, CA @ House of Blues
8/7: Los Angeles, CA @ House Of Blues Sunset Strip
8/8: San Francisco, CA @ The Fillmore
10/2: Austin, TX @ Austin City Limits Festival

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Talkin' 'bout a Revolution




"For all us UK and U.S. city-types that came to make the album, it's safe to say that Cuba left more of a mark on all of us, than we left on Cuba. Though we sometimes wrestled with her, Cuba’s spirit penetrated every element of this album and influenced every stroke of creativity you will hear on this record, though we sincerely hope that we left an indelible entry in the cultural visitors book of Cuba that people remember fondly."

-from the liner notes for The Revolution

So for the remainder of this week I've got some spicy syncopated Latin goodness to lay on you in celebration of summer, because nothing screams sweaty and sexy like some laid back (or juiced up) Latin grooves. Even if you don't speak Spanish or Portuguese, there's just something about Latin music that is irresistible. Even with the language barrier, those rhythms just activate your muscles like a musical remote control, making it next to impossible for your body not to think it knows how to rumba, samba, salsa, and just plain move downright sexy.

To open up my Latin week is a really intriguing project put together by Zack Winfield and Ado Yoshizaki named simply, The Revolution. The two traveled to Cuba and held an open audition in Havana, inviting local musicians, both young and old, to come in and show their chops. They then brought six heavy hitting all-star producers, including Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim), Rich File (UNKLE), Poet Name Life (Black Eyed Peas), Guy Sigsworth (Bjork), Marius De Vries (Sugarcubes), and Cameron McVey & Jan Kybert (Massive Attack), to work with the Cuban musicians in producing a blend of Cuban artisanship (itself a blend of traditional elemants and young blood) with some western production skills and styles.

The resulting twelve tracks (two from each of the producers above) come together for an incredibly diverse, yet amazingly coherent album that will appeal to western listeners while still retaining its Cubanness. The producers do a great job of integrating their own ideas with the musicians skills without pounding flat the style that everyone brings to the table. If you haven't already, check out the video above for a great overview of the project.

And to give you an aural fix of what I'm talking about, try the two tracks below. The first, Siente Mi Ritmo, features our man Norman Cook and in rhythm, instrumentation, and flavor leans towards the more traditional end of the spectrum, but Cook sneaks his presence in with some electronic effects that would let you pull this song into a contemporary mix. The second, 14Me, goes the other way, with a more modern dancehall banger build that features Cuban hip hop act Orishas laying down some rhymes. And for those leery of the language barrier, this album is a nice way to dip your toes in, as it has some songs in English as well.





Visit the Rapster Records website and the project's official website.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Touch This

Here's a sneak peak of an album that comes out tomorrow from Kim Lenz and the Jaguars. It's titled It's All True, and it's full throttle rockabilly fun. Seriously, this album is a full serving of swingin' fun, and if you haven't heard Lenz sing before, you're missing some serious girl power attitude. The twelve tunes here feel like they're straight out of the 50's and could have been cut at Sun Records. Consider her a disciple of the great Wanda Jackson, keeping rockabilly alive and kickin in the 21st century.

While I can stand country in small doses (unless it's Johnny Cash, in which case I could take a week straight), there's just something about rockabilly that's just plain infectious fun. Whether it's the galloping drums and guitars or the leaping, drawling vocals, it's just impossible not to tap your foot and get your whole body boppin'. And when Lenz slows things down for I Break A Heart Every Night, it makes you feel like you should break out some moonshine and drown your troubles away.

This is a great album to spin for the summer. Below is the lead off track, Touch Me, which will hopefully convince you how much fun Kim Lenz and crew are.







Visit her website, her label Riley Records, and become her friend on MySpace.

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Wanda Jackson - Fujiyama Mama : Rockin' with Wanda!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Sunday Soul - She Is My Lady


I've learned to live for the sound of her laughter
Her sunny smile is my only light
To love her now is the sole thing that I'm after
I'll make her melody my life
She came to me when I knew I'd lost the meaning
Lifted the shadow from across my way
She touched my heart with the sweet song she was singing
Brought back the sun into my days

Ooooh she is my lady
I'm a witness to the wonder of her ways
Oooh she's my lady
The solitary reason for my days


I picked up this record a little while back in and it's been patiently waiting for me to give it a spin. I finally did, and it's beautiful. Donnie's voice is so plaintive, so genuine. It's too bad we lost him so early.


Donny Hathaway - She Is My Lady : Donny Hathaway

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Summer Time



Because it's finally starting to feel like that time of year, here's Summer Time, a cut from the upcoming album Pulse of the People, the third installment of Dead Prez's Turn Off the Radio series, which is dropping on the 23rd and sports an album long collaboration with The Evil Genius DJ Green Lantern. In the process of making your summer CD? This one is a must have to throw in the mix.





Visit Dead Prez's website and become their friend on MySpace.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Time Out - Out Again

Some albums deserve to be in every music listener's collection, no matter their age, their typical listening preference, their shoe size, or whether they preferred the Munsters or the Adams Family (I fall in the latter category). Time Out easily fits the bill. It's a jazz masterpiece that even jazz illiterates can joyfully appreciate, and as a result, one of the best selling jazz albums of all time.

Recorded in 1959, the album was Dave Brubeck's crowning masterpiece to a career that is still alive today. It's name comes from the fact that in its seven unique tunes, Brubeck and his quartet played with the very foundation of jazz music at the time. They skillfully moved beyond the standard 4/4 and 3/4 time signatures (time signatures are the numbers of beat per measure that are played) that were so prevelant and explored unconventional meters that even with their complexity were warmly received by the listening public while simultaneously dismissed by critics. Take Five, the album's third track, was in fact the first million selling jazz single.

And now, 50 years later, Columbia Records has released a Legacy Edition of the album which, besides containing the album's original seven tracks on one disc, also includes a second disc with eight previously unreleased live recordings from the Newport Jazz Festival from 1961, '63, and '64, AND a third DVD disc with an interview with Brubeck on the making of the album, some performance footage of the group, an animated photo gallery, and an animated piano demonstration. Packaged along with the discs are some phenomenal liner notes on the band and the history of the album.

So, in other words, IF you don't already have this timeless album, here's your chance to check out what you've been missing. Already have the album? There's enough here to warrant picking it up again.





Visit his website and the re-release's label Legacy Recordings.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

What Haven't You Done, Naomi?

Although normally associated with soul and funk, Brooklyn based Daptone Records dipped into the origins of their favorite music with the release of Como Now last year (read about it here if you missed it then). They've done it again with the release of What Have You Done, My Brother?, which while the debut full length release from Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens, is far from their first foray into making music.

Naomi Shelton first started singing in her church's choir at age six, and has been singing a mix of gospel, soul, and R&B ever since. In her early twenties (in 1963), Naomi moved to New York City, where she met Cliff Driver, the phenomenal organ player you'll hear on this album. The two worked together for several months, then went their own ways, only to come back together again in 1999, when the two formed Naomi Shelton and the Gospel Queens. The band took to the road, playing in club settings, and then cut a 45 on Desco Records (the forerunner of Daptone Records) as Naomi Davis and the Knights of Forty First Street, and when Gabriel Roth went on to form Daptone, he asked Naomi to contribute some vocals for Sugarman Three's first record for the new label on their track Promised Land (under the name Naomi Davis). It wasn't until several years later, in 2005, that the Gospel Queens decided to put together an album of their own, and now, four years later, it's finally here!

The album is well worth the wait, too. It clearly shows off Naomi's 60+ years of singing, and it strongly pulls from the early days of soul, when it was still taking birth as it shifted away from its gospel roots. Think Sam Cooke (who by the way she covers on the album's last track, A Change Is Gonna Come), both with his work with the Soul Stirrers and his initial forays into secular music, or Ray Charles and his exploration of soul versions of gospel tunes. In other words, this is the real deal. There's nothing neo- about this album. It's 100% genuine soul shaking gospel at its finest.




and an older one:



Visit their label Daptone Records and become their friend on MySpace.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Everything She Wants


I'm not too proud to say that I owned this album back in the 80's. Not too proud at all. Check out that Bromance going on above. Tell me there wasn't a tighter duo making sugar pop for listeners to fluff out on. That's why I can listen to this cover version of Everything She Wants by Philly soul group The ReBel Yell (who by the way, are dropping their new album Love & War in August) and appreciate it for the fine work of art that it is.


The ReBeL Yell - Everything She Wants (Wham! cover) : Unreleased

Wham! - Everything She Wants : Make It Big


Visit The ReBel Yell's website, their label Rapster Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Someone to Kiss


and now be honest with what you're going to miss
then we're back to someone you used to kiss
and i know what i did wrong
is it real that anyone could fall in love at first sight?

if i have to i'll work every single day
if i have to i'll set hills on fire to light your way

let's go find a part of you that was lost
i have no concern whatever the cost
here we are in a goldmine
let's take what we need and leave the rest of it behind

if i have to i'll work every single day
if i have to i'll light hills on fire to light your way


Here's a short little ditty that will tug on your heart-strings. It reads so sweet, yet it's also a little melancholy, leading you to wonder if it's more of a plea than a celebration, a quite desperation trying to put on a hopeful face. And I love the brief clarinet (?) punctuations.

It's the first track from the four song EP In A Goldmine, from Charlie Wadhams. Things pick up with track two and get a little honky-tonk with the third, Blind as a Bat. Get a further listen on Charlie's MySpace page.







Visit his website, his label Sargent Records, and become his friend on MySpace.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Royal Family Get Down

I know it's ages away, but if you live anywhere in the Northampton, MA area, mark your calendars folks for September 12th - you've now got plans. It's the date for the first Royal Family Get Down, a brand new festival put on by the folks over at Royal Family Records, with their band Soulive headlining the whole shebang. Also pumping out tunes for the day will be John Scofield, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, the Charlie Hunter Trio, Nigel Hall, with more artists to be announced. Can we say "killer line-up?" It's all going down at the Pines Theater at Look Park, and as anyone who's been there before can attest, it's a beautiful venue.

And speaking of Soulive (yes, that's them above), they released the digital version of their latest album Up Here back in April, with a physical release (both CD and vinyl) coming up next month on the 7th. And of course, as you'd expect from the group, it's nine tracks of gritty, hard funkin' soul power harnessed in forty minutes of jamming. These guys know how to keep it tight and in the pocket, and as typical with their albums, there's a mix of thick instrumentals and a few tracks featuring guest vocals (including Nigel Hall, who'll be at the festival, coincidentally!). A couple tracks of note include a bluesy guitar licks rich number titled PJs, a nod to the Hardest Working Man in Show-Biz on Tonight, and an Outkast cover (Prototype) to close the album.

So like I said, pencil the 12th in on your calendars now, because even with just the acts they've already announced it should be one great set after another. Check out the new album's opener, Up Right, below, a meaty number that comes in loud and kickin'. And then since I wrote about Stephanie McKay just the other day, I added a cut from one of their older albums with features her lovely pipes. And THEN, to sweeten the deal even more, a few songs from the other artists playing the festival. Enjoy.




and an older one:



Visit their website, their label Royal Family Records, and become their friend on MySpace.

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some festival acts

Nigel Hall - Don't Be Shy : The Face of Things to Come

Grace Potter and the Nocturnals - If I Was From Paris (live)
: Live in Pittsburgh, PA 5-29-09

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Sunday Soul - the Great American Soulbook

You're probably familiar with the term the Great American Songbook, the body of songs, primarily written between the 20's and 60's, that form the cannon of standards that singers of that period heavily drew upon. It's composed of songs written by such songwriters as Irving Berlin, George and Ira Gershwin, Cole Porter, Rodgers and Hart, Rodgers and Hammerstein, and others, and if you look at any albums from the big acts of the day, you'll find all sorts of credits to them. Ella Fitzgerald even recorded a series of eight albums in the 50's and 60's titled The Complete Ella Fitzgerald Song Books.

Today's post is about none of those artists, writers, or songs. Instead, it's about the Great American Soulbook. Haven't heard of it? Well Tower of Power wants to change that with the release of their album of the same name. While talking about their live album The East Bay Archives Last December (back here), I had hinted that they were coming out with an album of soul covers, and now it's here, twelve prime cuts of soul goodness. Here's the line-up:
1. You Met Your Match (Stevie Wonder cover)
2. I Thank You (feat. Tom Jones) (Sam & Dave cover)
3. Loveland (Watts 103rd St. Rhythm Band cover)
4. It Takes Two (feat. Joss Stone) (Marvin Gaye & Kim Weston cover)
5. Me & Mrs. Jones (Billy Paul cover)
6. Star Time ( Tribute To James Brown ) - "It's New Day""Mother Popcorn,""There It Is"&"I Got The Feelin"
7. Mr.Pitiful (feat. Sam Moore) (Otis Redding cover)
8. Heaven Must Be Missing An Angel (Tavares cover)
9. Since You've Been Gone (Baby, Baby, Sweet Baby) (Aretha Franklin cover)
10. (Heaven Must Have Sent) Your Precious Love (feat. Joss Stone) (Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell cover)
11. 643-5789 (feat. Huey Lewis) (Wilson Pickett cover)
12. Who Is He (And What Is He To You)? (Bill Withers cover)
While admittedly all of these cuts aren't necessarily the definitive soul songs of all time, they're still pretty darn good. On top of that, you might have noticed some guest vocalists adding their star power to the project, including Tom Jones, Joss Stone, Sam Moore (a genuine soul star of Sam & Dave fame), and Huey Lewis (maybe not the first, or 300th, name that comes to mind when talking about soul music, but he does an admirable job covering Wilson Pickett).

You can tell that the group is having a good time while performing these tracks, the first time really that TOP has devoted to covers. Overall, the songs are presented in a jazzed up, polished manner that are reminiscent of what was done with the Commitments soundtrack - a an updated, modern shine that simultaneously pays homage while bringing a new feel to the table. Below are a couple of tracks in which you can see what I mean. The first features Tom Jones singing a Stax track, I Thank You. The second is a medley of James Brown songs deftly woven together into an original arrangement, Star Time.




Visit their website.

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the originals

Sam & Dave - I Thank You : I Thank You

James Brown - Mother Popcorn : 20 All Time Greatest Hits!

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Telling It Like It Is

I know this album isn't new, and I've been sitting on it for a while now, but I still felt the need to post on it 'cause it's just that damn good. I've honestly been spinning it for months now, but for whatever reason (I can come up with a whole list of excuses if you want them), it's taken this long for me to share it with you all. It's the second album from Bronx born Stephanie McKay, but her first album to be released state-side. Originally, Tell It Like It Is was released a few years ago overseas, but it wasn't until March of this year that it was available to us here in the States.

What makes that fact especially hard to believe is that McKay has been slaving away behind the microphone for other groups since the early 90's. Over that period of time, she's worked with artists such as the Brooklyn Funk Essentials, Kelis, Talib Kweli, Mos Def, Roy Hargrove’s RH Factor, Amp Fiddler, and many others. Finally, in the last few years, she's been able to strike out on her own and record an album with her front and center, instead of as a secondary contributor. I'll be honest with you, her name didn't stand out in my mind before listening to this album, but since I have, I've tracked down her work with many of the musicians listed above.

So anyway, this album does a fine job of presenting Stephanie front and center with all of her vocalistic intensity. It mixes soul, R&B, and hip-hop in a filling recipe that burns right through from beginning to end without a hiccup. I think one of the things that I like most about it is her confident sass, regardless of the material or the style. You can tell she's a girl who isn't afraid to stand up for herself or her friends, hence the title of the album. She's equally confident celebrating the summer in the hip-hopesque Jackson Avenue, a true throw-back jam that gives a shout out to all that summer's about (and which should appear on any summer mix-tape you plan on assembling), as when things slow down with the soulful Where Did Our Love Go?, which also features Anthony Hamilton providing some backing male counterpoint to her sensualness.

The bottom line is that this album grooves deep, and should be on your list of to buy immediately.




a collaboration:



Visit her website, her label Muthas Of Invention, and become her friend on MySpace.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Cruel World


"That's life for you. All the happiness you gather to yourself, it will sweep away like it's nothing. If you ask me I don't think there are any such things as curses. I think there is only life. That's enough."


Monday, June 01, 2009

mo' NOMO

For those of you who read my Favorites of 2008 List, you might remember seeing NOMO's album Ghost Rock on the list. Well, less than year after originally posting on it (back here), the band is back with another full length album titled Invisible Cities. It was recorded during the Ghost Rock sessions and tours, but don't let that fool you - by no means are these cast-offs, b-sides, or noodle sessions.

As with their previous release, there are nine tracks here of instrumental goodness, and while it shares some characteristics, it also has some subtle differences. Of course present are some killer horn section work as well as curious sounds created from instruments invented by the band, something they love to do. To my ears, the album sounds a little more intricately textured though, with more subtle layers building upon each other, almost having a orchestral effect at times. There also seems to be less of an electronic feel to it compared to the last album and more of a natural flow very reminiscent of a mix between the tribalness of the Congotronics series and the raw funkiness of Fela Kuti.

The entire album is certainly cohesive, and even coming less than a year after its predecessor claims an identity of its own. Check out the album's opener, the title track, below.



and an older one:



Visit their website, their label Ubiquity Records, and become their friend on MySpace.