Tag Archives: funk

Sweat Out the Jams with Our New Playlist!

Check out our new playlist, featuring current faves (per usual, only the ones we could find on soundcloud – others to be shared). Enjoy!

The (Soul Train) Line Forms Here – “Street Level”, from Galaxians, Bumps

Galaxians, ‘Street Level’ (Youth Club Sounds)

Hailing from Leeds, UK, Galaxians are Jed Skinner (synthesizers, programming) and Matt Woodward (acoustic drums, more programming), together with vocalist Emma Mason.  They’ve been releasing records since 2012, and I feel a bit disappointed in myself, to be honest, to have only just discovered them, courtesy of storming new joint, “Street Level”.

Released as part of a collaboration between Leeds-based label, Youth Club Sounds, and promoters, Super Friendz, “Street Level” is a movin’, groovin’, burning 80s throwback r&b/electro-disco jam.  Like a riposte to the classic D-Train track, “You’re the One for Me”, Mason roars the opposite while standing on the shoulders of greats like Evelyn ‘Champagne’ King and Teena Marie (the group’s site also references Gwen Guthrie…we can dig it).  Behind and all around her, a driving beat, slippery bass and squishy leads – the arrangement is fantastically dense.  It’ll put a smile on your face after a hard day, even if you’re a weekend girl or guy (look it up, young’uns).  Get up and dance…dance, I said.

“Street Level”, as well as other Galaxians cuts, can be found on the Super Friendz/Youth Club Sounds “Collaborationz” (so many zeds!) mixtape, which can listen to here and purchase on the Galaxians’ bandcamp page (where you can also check they’re upcoming live dates).  Hail Galaxians on fbook and the twitt.

John Dwyer Returns as Damaged Bug with New Track, “Bog Dash”, and New Album, “Bunker Funk”

Damaged Bug, “Bog Dash” (Castle Face)

Damaged Bug, the solo alter ego of Thee Oh Sees’ front man John Dwyer, returns with the the wigged-out funk of “Bog Dash”.  It’s a dialogue over analog:  b-movie aliens setting their laser blasters to ‘stun’ as ‘devoidoffunk’ backup yelps are devoured in a haze of dial-up modem blurps, a ‘last splash’ bassline and funky drummer drum loops.  In the middle of it all, Dwyer’s voice slinks lascivious, spitting enigmatic couplets as the aliens form a Soul Train line.  This is surely the tune running through James Brown’s mind as he sped down that lonely highway (reference for the kids).

“Bog Dash” is taken from the forthcoming Damaged Bug release, “Bunker Funk”, due March 10 from Castle Face.  Check for more on fbook.

“Fire Dance” Brings Together Members of Wall, Parquet Courts and Merchandise

“Fire Dance” 7” (Wharf Cat)

Sam York, Austin Brown and Carson Cox (of WALL, Parquet Courts and Merchandise, respectively) have joined under a groove to bring us “Fire Dance”.  York’s dead-eyed vocals ride a churning rhythm that calls to mind the downtown, honky punk-funk of Liquid Liquid (the break during the second half reminded me, at least, of the sample from “Sing Sing Sing” used in Mantronix’s “Big Band B Boy”, but that’s prolly just me), while layer upon layer of squelching synth leads worthy of early Cabaret Voltaire and Art of Noise launch the track into overdrive.  Described as Cox’s “ode to downtown New York”, it seems both an ode to the city as it was – searching for “lost memories” of things that “came before”, even though you’d “hoped for more” – and a call to break free of such nostalgia and “search for more”.  Fantastic.

What might, back in the day, have come out on a label like Celluloid now sees the light courtesy of the reliably great Wharf Cat Records, who will release it January 6.  You can pre-order the vinyl here, and/or a digital copy here and on iTunes.

Track Review: Nite-Funk, Let Me Be Me

Nite-Funk, “Let Me Be Me” (Glydezone)

G-funk maestro DâM-FunK (Damon Riddink) and new romantic Nite Jewel (Ramona Gonzalez) collaborate as Nite-Funk [see what they did there?].  Last year, the duo let loose “Can U Read Me” into the world, then fell silent.  Now, they’ve announced plans to release a self-titled ep on July 1.  “Let Me Be Me” is a taster track from that release, and it’s great.

Where “Can U” veritably oozed 80s electro quiet storm romance – think Loose Ends, SOS Band and the Gap Band in full mack mode – “Let Me Be Me” bumps.  It’s a perfect twining of early 80s, electro-disco and g-funk hooks – new wave ch-chang guitars and glassy synth chords, a doggedly atomic bassline and funky keyboard solos that would make Roger drool.  Like Control-era Janet riding a D-Train groove.  The bright neon lights, big mauve city vibes given off by the ep’s cover (below) perfectly suit the track’s mood.

NITE-FUNK

Nite-Funk’s self-titled ep will be released on Riddink’s Glydezone Recordings label.  Get down on it – the soul train line forms here.

New Track: Thundercat, Them Changes

Thundercat, “Them Changes” (Brainfeeder)

The insanely talented Thundercat returns, with an assist from FlyLo, on this bittersweet-flavored funk/soul/space/jazz ear candy.

Coils of rubber banded bass try to tell you something good over a beat that tiptoes in the dark.  A smooth piano overlay matches wits with Thundercat’s sweet tenor and falsetto musings; a true detective arriving at the scene of his own love crime (“nobody move, there’s blood on the floor/and i can’t find my heart”… “it must have fell/when I lost my mind”).  At the 1:20 mark, a transcendent, spacey free jazz odyssey that would be unexpected for anyone but TC.  Love never hurt so good.

This jam…is…

“Them Changes” is taken from a new mini-album, The Beyond/Where Giants Roam, due out Monday on Brainfeeder.  Check out the track on the Brainfeeder Soundcloud page and, if you haven’t already, do yourself and favor and check out Thundercat’s earlier releases.

Review: Nao, February 15 ep

Nao, February 15 ep (Little Tokyo Recordings, 05/01/2015)

Sophomore release from the London-based singer/writer/producer, released on her own Little Tokyo Recordings label.

Nao is another in a line of new artists putting modern production touches over largely 80s-indebted r&b workouts.  Her voice, much like AlunaGeorge’s Aluna Francis, inhabits a perky, helium-fueled upper register – yes, there will be pitch shifting, but it doesn’t get too distracting.  While not a thundering, break the glass diva á la Mary J. or a soft, come hither crooner like Sade, her voice slinks in, around, and through a groove, still commanding attention through weight of charisma.

The arrangements here walk a fine line between the poppier, hook-laden dance music of AG and Disclosure and the more esoteric, narcotic r&b of artists like Kelela, SZA and Jessy Lanza.  There’s lots going on in these tracks including, notable to these two ears, the use of “natural” instrumentation in the mix (check the Sade-meets-Rick James bass line in “Golden”); more recently, the province of neo-soul revivalists. Each song clocks in at a very radio friendly run time, but there are open spaces throughout which leave room for interpretation – whether live or via remix – that make them more than merely ear candy.

Highlights include the transmogrified Zapp/Roger electrofunk (complete with what sounds like electric cowbell!) of “Inside/Outside” and the psychedelic soul of Prince-infused “Apple Cherry” (the name alone…).  For my money, though, the gold to mine from this particular vein is found in lighter tracks, including lovely ballad “It’s You” and, er, “Golden”.

The February 15 ep is available now on iTunes, and gets a vinyl release July 6, courtesy of Dummy Records.

Check out Nao on Facebook, her site and Soundcloud.