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Curtis Harding

20 May

My first introduction to Curtis Harding’s soul stylings was his cover of the Velvet Underground’s “Here She Comes Now”, from Burger Records’ tribute cassette to White Light/White Heat. His take on the VU classic left me wanting for more. That want is over as Harding just released his debut LP, Soul Power, with Burger Records. It’s 12 songs of funk-soul-garage-pop goodness will keep you spinning the album over and over again.

Check out the funk-fueled, toe-tapper “Keep On Shining” (below) his first single from the LP. Soul Power is out now, and available on vinyl (highly recommended) and cassette from Burger Records.

Curtis Harding – Keep On Shining from Soul Power (2014)

DMA

13 May

After the dissolution of his previous band, Jookabox, Indianapolis’ own DMA (aka David “Moose” Adamson) dashed off an album of self-described “crust funk” tracks that mostly defied listening. I say “mostly” because DREM BEB (as in “Dream Babe”) yielded “Riding Holiday”, an altered state take on the classic rock highway jam that wormed its way into my ear last summer with its hypnotic beat and headstrong chorus.
Now DMA is back with a follow-up called The Boardwalk which is far more gentle and refined in its approach. Waves of warped melodies wash over dubby pulses, beats, and clicks. Every so often DMA’s deadpan vocals wander through the soundscape, soaked in reverb, serving as yet another layer of instrumentation. Kind of like listening to Orbital after taking a handful of Sudafed.
DREM BEB was released as a limited-edition cassette and it appears that The Boardwalk is only available for streaming on Bandcamp. Not the most user-friendly distribution strategy, maybe it’s all part of the mystique.

Riding Holiday from DREM BEB (2011)

http://www.joyfulnoiserecordings.com
dmanaptown.bandcamp.com

Tune-Yards

22 Apr

 

Two days ago I had no knowledge of Tune-Yards. I stumbled upon them while searching through the webs looking for something new. I came across a description on Pitchfork.com of their music, calling it a mixture of folk, R&B, funk, Afro-pop, and rock. That combination of genre’s peaked my musical curiosity. I had to check them out.

Tune-Yards newest album, W H O K I L L, is even cooler than I imagined, and the song, “Bizness” is a great example of the album as a whole. The song is full of layers, like a musical trifle if you will. Layers of saxaphone, drums, background vocals, and what I think is a keyboard, but can’t tell for sure. All those components are held together by a driving bass line, from new member, Nate Brenner, that really moves the song along. Singer (and sole member before the addition of Brenner) Merrill Garbus seems to strain as she sings/yells/almost raps at times the lyrics. This is a great song to put on repeat while in the car and blast it for all the passers-by to enjoy with you.

 

Tune-Yards – Bizness

3some: Too Hot to Trot

21 Sep

Hopefully this 3some will become a regular feature here. That’s the plan. The idea is to share more music more often and to do so in fun party packs, organized and gathered around some similarity, theme, sound, or anything else our pea-brains might dream up. First up, three takes on flames, fire and heating up, which the weather in L.A. threatens to do again this week, just as the Station fire is about to be contained. Inevitably, and regrettably, such weather brings out murderous kooks and their matches.

Burn It Down [MP3, 4.4MB, 160kbps]
by The Dynamites featuring Charles Walker
Available now on Outta Site Records

Chromeo

10 Jul

Four years later (look how short our posts used to be back then…) and Chromeo are still making us feel touched for the very first time with their naughty ’80s dance funk. Their latest release offers their sophomore album, Fancy Footwork, plus a bonus disc of greatest hits, videos, and remixes (though there are at least twice as many still floating out there in clubland). Get your tight white pants on for this action.

Previous post (from 6/21/04):
A faithful homage to ’80s processed funk phenomena (Jesse Johnson’s Revue, Timex Social Club, Oran “Juice” Jones, et al), “Needy Girl” could be my not-so-guilty pleasure of the summer. (This post updated on 09.16.04 with a couple of swell “Me & My Man” remixes.)

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C.O.C.O.

21 Sep

C.O.C.O. play funky dance music, as does their lumberjack-soulman-boss Calvin Johnson, with an unselfconscious swagger that wears its anti-hipster lameness like a faded black t-shirt, not to mention on instruments that won’t be rendered useless when the power goes out at the house party (although their propensity for dub fadeouts might get lost with the lights out). Olivia Ness and Chris Sutton are a rhythm section in no need of melodies. It’s what all the Olympia kids are dancing to these days, and with any luck these rhythms will sweep the nation and set basement parties afire from coast to coast.

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Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings

11 Jul

Don’t get me wrong, I really like the arrhythmic bobbing of one thousand hipster heads at, say, a Menomena show outside in the summertime. Equally pleasing is the boho hippie happy love vibe and patchouli smell rising like steam above an Amadou and Mariam or Manu Chao show. But I’m not talking about hippies or hipsters here… I’m talking about the hot. sweaty. funk. Sharon Jones has been bringing the hot sweaty funk for years now and as soon as the band starts playing–hips WILL be swaying, arms WILL be flailing, and, yes, booties will be shaking, because Sharon and her million person band of 3-piece-suit-wearing talent consistently brings it. These songs may not be brand spanking new, but when the music is classic, who needs them to be?

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PostPrior

23 Dec

As my friends and family will attest, I’m a big fan of Christmas-y songs — new and old, classic and offbeat. So I’m always thrilled when I hear a new entry in the genre, such as this ditty from PostPrior (Midwest Product’s Ben Mullins and drummer/descendent-of-circus-acrobats Michael Kuzmanovski). PostPrior’s Touched Pilot EP is an icy cool treat in its own right, with its intricately composed and delightfully goofy new wave soul. But, for now, the lyrics to “Snow Orge” so you can sing along on the way to Grandma’s house:

“Confusing Scientists
With Conscious thought and moving limbs
The sun comes out and then he melts
Only to re-form again

Avoiding Mobs and cops
Because they know not what he does
Cause this his life ’twas forged in ice
And so misunderstood

GO SNOW OGRE, POUND YOUR FISTS AND ROAR
GO SNOW OGRE, A FINE AMBASSADOR
GO SNOW OGRE, LET THE SNOWFLAKES FALL
GO SNOW OGRE, THE ICE CONSUMES US ALL

Mom and dad, are just a lab, he has no place, of residence
Alone on Christmastime

Speeding Sleds, Gingerbread, Hyper kids, packages
Rotate through his mind

In the snow, he built a fort, with fine decor and even more
The Ogre trims the tree

Down below, warmer homes, throw a bone, and telephone
Say Ogre PLAY WITH ME.

Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, go snow ogre go!
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, pound your fists and roar
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, go snow ogre go!
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, a fine ambassador
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, go snow ogre go!
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, let the snowflakes fall
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, go snow ogre go!
Go snow ogre, go snow ogre, the ice consumes us all”

Happy holidays, one and all :)

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Aloe Blacc

6 Dec

I’m ashamed to admit I would have passed this guy up if I had to gone on name alone. Not to be a jerk, but Aloe Blacc?? Are we really running out of stage names? What’s wrong with Nathanial Dawkins? But, after taking in his magnificient R&B gem “I’m Beautiful” for the first time, I got over my prejudice real quick. This guy’s voice is pure enough to invoke comparisons to Motown legends. His debut, Shine Through has just the right amount of polish (despite being recorded in a makeshift bedroom studio) and draws from a rich array of musical influences, old and new. If most Stones Throw releases reek of chronic (not that I’m complaining, mind you), this joint’s a breath of fresh air. Inhale.

Stones Throw took down the “I’m Beautiful” MP3, but you still get a lovely B-side from the single.

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Spearhead

28 Aug

Michael Franti is the one of those rare singers whose boomin’ growl can start a party as quickly as it can a protest (probably about time for him to update his 1992 cover of “California Uber Alles“). His latest Spearhead joint comes on the heels of his self-booked trip to Iraq, which is documented on the DVD I Know I’m Not Alone. His experience, which included performances for U.S. soldiers and Iraqi families alike, clearly shaped the album’s compassionate (“I Know I’m Not Alone”) and passionate (“Yell Fire”) flavors of rebellion.

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