Funkalicious

Heavy, heavy funk & sweet, sweet soul

Review: Saun & Starr – Look Closer

 

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For anyone not familiar with the documentary “20 Feet From Stardom”, the film highlights how, despite being talented artists in their own right, backing vocalists seldom get the opportunity to come to the fore and showcase their own artistry. Fortunately this is not the case at Daptone Records as Saundra Williams and Starr Duncan Lowe, who as “The Dapettes” provide backing vocals for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings, have been granted such an opportunity as an act to step into the foreground with their debut album release.

Both grew up in the Bronx, NY and met at an open mic session in 1986, which led to the start of a firm friendship. When in 1990 they joined a professional function band, they were teamed with none other than Sharon Jones. Jones of course, would later go on to international success, fronting the Dap-Kings for New York’s Daptone Records and as the act and label grew, she called on the pair to provide BVs for the band’s 2008 album “I Learned The Hard Way”. Since then, their role has grown, firstly into the opening act for the label’s revue shows – and to now, as fully fledged artists in their own right with original material penned, backed and produced by the Dap-Kings.

They have grasped the opportunity with both hands and bring bags of enthusiasm, warmth, soul, professionalism and humility to the project. As expected, the Dap-Kings provide the solid-as-ever backing to the ladies’ versatile vocal and the sturdy production is the signature Daptone ‘House of Soul’ sound, employing a wealth of vintage methods to great effect. At times the stories are deep and heavy such as on “Dear Mr. Teddy”, the tale of a baker who cannot attend her cousin Betty’s wedding, as we learn that just days earlier she’d believed the eponymous groom to in fact be her man – and now in a twist of fate, she is charged with the task of preparing the wedding cake, something she does with quiet dignity. It’s classic heartbreak soul and handled with expertise all round. Never weighing too heavily, every deep moment is countered elsewhere with a sunny number. Very sunny in fact as there is such a good vibe to some of the proceedings that the good energy goes through the roof. “Sunshine (You’re Blowing My Mind)” is set to become a summer favourite; whilst “Big Wheel” will put feet on the dance floor at any party, especially as the lyrics entertain about the kind of guy who never should get an invite to said party, as he (Big Wheel) is always the one to get drunk early and run his mouth off. “Leave Big Wheel behind. He ain’t got no class at all”; “Roll on, Big Wheel” the ladies proclaim, in an irresistible style that would make Jean Knight proud. The fantastic backing on “Another Love Like Mine” is pure Isaac Hayes with The Bar-Kays, “Hot Buttered Soul”, dripping with poise and tension, shimmering guitar and heavy bass and drum accents; whilst “Look Closer (Can’t You See The Signs?)” and “Hot Shot” (the label’s best selling single to date) are both full strutting, uplifting grooves.

Adding another fine string to the Daptone bow, Saun & Starr glow on this well-crafted and charming album. For the pair, it has been a long time coming but now that it is here, it has been very well worth the wait, with huge measures of heart, soul and conviction, its a wonderful expansion to the soul universe.

 

saunstarr

daptonerecords.com

posted by Philster in Recommendations and have No Comments

Win 2 tickets to see Nicole Willis & The Investigators in London

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It has been a long time since Finland’s Nicole Willis & The Investigators have played a London show. This band have built up a solid reputation by playing vintage sounds inspired by 60s and 70s raw soul and funk with two highly respected albums under their belt and a slew of sought after 45s. This October, they will return with their much anticipated third album “Happiness In Every Style” and a show at London’s Rich Mix. To be in with a chance of winning a pair of tickets, simply like and share this Facebook post and a winner will be chosen at random which we’ll announce here on Friday 22nd May.

Soundcrash Presents: Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Live
Sunday 25 October 2015
7pm-11pm
Rich Mix
35-47 Bethnal Green Road
London E1 6LA

Tickets: Early bird: £17.50 / Advance: £19.50
Available from: http://www.soundcrashmusic.com/nicole-willis-soul-investigators-live/

Tickets available now!

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posted by Philster in Buzz,Recommended Gigs and have No Comments

Funkalicious: Friday 5th June

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Get down to White Horse Brixton on Friday 5th June for another round of kick-ass funk, soul, latin & breaks. Dance floor grooves that pack a real punch with DJs Philster & Mr Parker delivering the hooks.

Friday 5th June
9pm-3am
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
London SW2 1QN

http://www.whitehorsebrixton.com

posted by Philster in Funkalicious,Next Event and have No Comments

Review: Orgōne – Beyond The Sun

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L.A.’s mighty Orgōne return to the scene with new album “Beyond The Sun”. Connecting the dots as usual between soul, funk, rock and afro sounds, this album is their first to feature new vocalist Adryon de León who co-penned original material with the band.

“Don’t Push Your Luck” is the album’s opener and first single, which seems to be channelling Rufus on this feisty number and continues in the funk vein as de León delivers a sturdy vocal performance on top of a heavyweight groove from Orgōne, on this their seventh full album.

We are treated to percussive grooves and some heavy guitar and bass on the instrumental portions of the album, while vocals are featured on 9 of the album’s 12 cuts. Mostly taking on the heavy funk vibe, there is also some lightness of touch such as the uplifting, sunny groove “People Beyond The Sun” with an earthy vibe and infectious quality. Also very infectious, “Take You Higher” is a wonderful late seventies sound. Fittingly, the album also features a cover version of the aforementioned Rufus, on a terrific cover of “I’m A Woman (I’m A Backbone)” which really showcases de León’s vocal prowess to the full.

Orgōne are really on fine form here, hitting full stride from the get-go. And with the addition of de León, have finely focused their sound over the 12 tracks presented here in a mostly high energy set that is as raw as it is tuned. Take a look at the video for “Don’t Push Your Luck” below and get down with Orgōne.

 

orgoneband

http://shanachie.com/music/2465-orgone-beyond-the-sun/

posted by Philster in Recommendations and have No Comments

45: Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators – Paint Me In A Corner

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Nicole Willis & The Soul Investigators are back with this gem, ahead of their forthcoming third album “Happiness In Every Style”, set to be released in late 2015. Having turned in two, sure footed albums, I have no doubt they can strike a third time. The mood here may be heavy – but the sweetness of the groove is light. Do I detect a concept for the album here?

http://www.timmion.com

posted by Philster in Recommendations and have No Comments

Boogaloo Latin – Friday 1st May

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For May’s DJ party, we are extremely excited to bring you a latin music special “Boogaloo Latin”. Latin has been a popular part of our sets for a long while and so it is about time we explored it in more detail with a full-on night of party music, centred around New York’s boogaloo and salsa scene that was a strong fusion of American R&B with Puerto Rican, Cuban and many other flavours from around the world in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. We’ll also be pulling in other flavours from elsewhere including Brazil, Colombia and Peru. Add to this some Chicano rock and latin funk and we have an explosive dance floor party of incendiary music waiting to happen! Check out our promo video above and tell your friends, your neighbours, your mama! Just don’t miss this one.

Musica De La Libertad!

“Boogaloo Latin”
Friday 1st May
9pm-3am
White Horse Brixton
94, Brixton Hill
London SW2 1QN

http://www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Funkalicious: Friday 3rd April

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Join us for a thrilling bout as champions ‘heavyweight funk’ and ‘supersweet soul’ clash head-on.

The soulful sounds from then to now – packing a serious dance floor punch. Funkalicious!

Friday 3rd April
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
London
SW2 1QN

9pm-3am
£FREE!

www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Funkalicious: Friday 6th March

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Superheavy funk, soul, breaks and latin – aimed at the feet!

Friday 6th March
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
Brixton
London
SW2 1QN
9pm-3am
FREE!

www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Funkalicious: Friday 6th Feb

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Calling all funkateers!

Join the Funkalicious party for your dance floor dose of heavy, heavy funk and sweet, sweet soul, with a healthy side of latin and breaks too. From the 60’s all the way up to now, we got the the grooves if you have the moves.

Friday 6th February
White Horse Brixton
94, Brixton Hill
London
SW2 1QN
See it on Google Maps
9pm-3am
FREE!

http://www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Funkalicious: Friday 2nd January

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Now how to start 2015 off right? Get up to get down with us, as we celebrate the start of the year in dance floor party style. Superheavy funk, soul, breaks and latin grooves, with your host DJs Philster and Mr Parker. Come get some real soul.

Friday 2nd January
White Horse Brixton
94 Brixton Hill
Brixton
London
SW2 1QN
9pm-3am
FREE!

www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Funkalicious: Friday 5th December

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From hard driving dance floor funk, uplifting soul and with explosive latin, breakbeats and old school hip-hop on the side – the Funkalicious party continues to bring the good groove to the people on the good foot. Join Djs Philster & Mr Higgs as we deliver another payload of dance floor dynamite.

Friday 5th December
The White Horse
94 Brixton Hill
Brixton
London
SW2 1QN
9pm-3am FREE!

www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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Review: Emma Donovan & The PutBacks – Dawn

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Upon hearing “Dawn” for the first time, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was the fourth, or fifth album from Emma Donovan & The PutBacks, so seasoned is the sound – and so harmonious is the pairing of the considerable vocal talents of Donovan, with Melbourne funk soul instrumentalists, The PutBacks. While it is apparent that all involved are experienced in their own right, the synergy on their coming together for this, their debut, makes the quality of their sound all the more impressive.

Recorded in a single room for the instruments and a separate vocal booth, The PutBacks play a solid, unfussy, studied groove that is as clean as it is raw, funky, bluesy, cinematic, airy. Donovan’s voice is authoritative yet friendly, gritty, versatile, warm and honest, full of texture and character. Each listen led me to study, listen out more for the detailed intonation and inflection of her voice. It’s certainly an album you listen to intently rather than background music – and the quality of Donovan’s voice is good enough reason to keep returning to this set again and again. In addition, the excellent backing from The PutBacks add punch when required to match her rousing vocal. At other times, they deftly step out of her way so her voice can shine. There is such fine balance to the weight of music versus voice. You’d really only have to wait for the first few bars of this album for it to start to soar. Both the music and Donovan’s voice flex some considerable prowess, yet it is all presented and produced so tastefully and so beautifully timed.

Comprising entirely of original material, with soulful stories of life, loss, ups, downs, reality and redemption, every track here sounds wonderfully classic. A particular highlight of the set, the title track “Dawn”, sounds like a “Fresh” period Sly, musically – sung with such beautiful sweetness and showing Donovan’s considerable control of range. Another highlight “Keep Me In Your Reach” starts out already high in the stratosphere and then somehow builds further into a place I could only best describe as something akin to Mavis Staples sparring with The M.G.’s – truly wonderful stuff – and when it ends it is somehow matched in brilliance by “Come Back To Me”. This soaring build of energy clearly a strength of this outfit as they work together to build a high. The punchy “Black Woman” bursts out of a serious strut; “Voodoo” is a straight-up Curtis style groove with a terrific organ line; first single “Daddy” is a super hip slice of cinematic cool; while the closing “Over Under Away” is a magically timed, percussive groove where everything interlocks so finely, the vocal floating superbly atop, it all finishes so abruptly, yet perfectly, satisfactorily. Each track is handled in a very different style from the last, yet it all segues so wonderfully together. Feisty funk meets Sunday soul, meets urban soul cinema, bluesy ballads and a healthy dose of road trip rock influences. In fact this album would serve very well indeed as a road trip sound track.

A truly remarkable album from Emma Donovan & The PutBacks, and instantly classic from the start to finish. Easily one of the best soul records you will hear this year and timeless enough to sit proudly in your collection for decades to come. Its performance and production show considerable flair, timing and humanity – and indeed another score for Melbourne’s Hope Street Recordings. More of this, please! Time to listen to that title track one more time.

Download the first single, “Daddy” for free here:
hopestreetrecordings.com/dawn

putbacksband

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Funkalicious: Friday 7th November

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Bringing you the best in heavyweight funk and raw soul with a pinch of latin, reggae and breaks.

Friday 7th November
The White Horse
94 Brixton Hill
Brixton
London
SW2 1QN
9pm-3am FREE!

www.whitehorsebrixton.com

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45: Smith & The Honey Badgers – The Honey Badger Strut

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The Honey badger is a curious animal. Its apparent fearlessness means it quite often gets into some pretty serious scrapes as it takes on all types of dangerous situations in order to grab a meal. There’s a pretty hilarious YouTube video here if you haven’t seen it already.

With a name and first single inspired by this tough little beast, London band Smith & The Honey Badgers are taking a no-mess approach to funk and soul too – lots of gusto and a great sound that’s really together. Catch them live on Friday 17th October at the New Cross Inn and grab a copy of the single before it inevitably sells out, at their Bandcamp site:

honeybadgerband

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Review: Jungle Fire – Tropicoso

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Mongo Santamaria, Joe Bataan, Mandrill, Nico Gomez – just some of the great names to blend latin, afro and funk into an explosive cocktail. With far reaching influences from Colombia, to Nigeria and even Belgium (in the case of Gomez). Some of the most potent afro latin funk was of course heated in the melting pot of the USA. In New York, Fania was the king of Spanish Harlem and there was a killer Chicano scene in California too, producing exotic fusions of rock with bands like El Chicano and Santana, of course. So it is no great surprise that a new strain of fusion would now come out of Los Angles, the stomping ground of Jungle Fire.

Members of Jungle Fire have previously played in Breakestra, Orgone, Ozamatli and The Lions to name but a few of the contemporary acts on the Los Angeles funk soul scene. You could say a common theme that runs between all of those fine bands, is a sound that has firm roots in the 60s and 70s but with a very modern update. Jungle Fire’s take is faithfully authentic but perhaps the secret of their particular blend is a definite post hip-hop b-boy sensibility. After all, “Apache” is still very much a definitive b-boy anthem and a strong dance floor winner. So it is the clubs as well as the block parties that will work for Jungle Fire’s brilliant debut, Tropicoso.

They first got together as a one-off project and ended up recording two 45s on Ohio’s Colemine Records that hit hard. At live shows, the feeling they were getting from the crowd convinced them that the project should be expanded into a fully fledged act. Booking a run of shows in the UK meant the band had to grow their repertoire for a full night’s action and believe me, the London show was one of the very best shows of last year. Recording an EP for Colemine to sell at the shows meant the band stretched further towards an album, that was completed when they returned from the UK.

After a brief intro, the album launches off with the incendiary “Comencemos (Let’s Start)” a dynamic retelling of Fela Kuti’s mighty “Let’s Start”. Another fiery cover comes courtesy of “Los Feligreses” but the band’s own original material is just as good as these classics. “Firewalker”, “Tropicoso”, “Culebro”, “Village Hustle” and “Chalupa” all hit hard with a heady mix of latin afro funk, that really delivers on the funk part in a new way – setting them apart from other acts on the scene. Terrific stuff.

junglefiremusic.com/

Heavy live show and interview: http://www.meltingpotblog.com/2014/09/29/be-our-guest-jungle-fire-on-kpfks-melting-pot/

junglefireband

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