Posts tagged ‘Soul’

Los Angeles by Memoir


Let’s start off the new year with one of the songs I fell in love with at the end of the old year.  “Los Angeles,” by Memoir, who hail from the song’s namesake, launches us into 2014 with enough soul to last us until 2016.  Memoir is the kind of band you wouldn’t be surprised to find playing at a smoky bar in NYC’s seediest neighborhood or under the red glow of some secret Hollywood club.  There’s a shadowy nostalgia to “Los Angeles” as the band bittersweetly embraces the pains and the pleasures of the past.  Dena Deadly adds gravity to the track with a voice as confident as any that has pumped through a set of speakers.  Frontmen be damned.  Enjoy.

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Manhattan by Gallant


L.A. singer, Gallant, isn’t being subtle about using his music to try to throw us back to the 80s and 90s.  On his recent R&B single, “Manhattan,” Gallant sings of tape decks and VCRs, but there’s little else that is a throwback.  Every component of the song, whether it’s the guitars or his voice, is incredibly soft, and other than a handclap, there is no percussion.  This is modern R&B at its finest, shedding itself of the overwhelming need to be groove-heavy or bass-blasting to evoke the need to dance.  “Manhattan” is perfect for the times when you’re just…existing.  Enjoy.

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Little Bit More by Bo Saris


Looking for your next soul music fix, look no further than Netherlands-born, UK-living Bo Saris.  Throwback soul is one of the hotter genres these days and Saris does way more than just blend in.  Think of Bo as a Fitz without the Tantrums.  He resurrects the 60s Motown swagger with ease, crooning like the big timers, especially on his recent single, “Little Bit More.”  This is Saris’ third single and his first dancehall ready entry. With music this good, a little bit more just ain’t enough.  Enjoy.

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Paradise by ESTA.


Beats don’t get much smoother than those crafted by SoCal producer, ESTA.  The hip-hop and soul instrumental artist…well, mostly instrumental…is like your typical digital-based musician, with more albums than letters in his name.  He’ll probably have two more under his belt before you finish reading this post.  But it’s all good because each album showcases his mastery of soul music, southern rap beats, rhythm and blues and just about every other genre.  A perfect example of this DJ’s skill is “Paradise,” off the album of the same name.  One of the rare tracks with a vocalist – the irresistible Alina Baraz – “Paradise” is a slow, thumping groove that should help you escape the brutal winter approaching and take you to, well, paradise.  Enjoy.

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Julia by SZA


The indie world knew it would only have SZA for a few moments.  After releasing an album and a few EPs of insanely catchy, unique R&B tracks, SZA was scooped up by Dr. Dre’s Aftermath offshoot, Top Dawg Entertainment.  SZA’s most infectious single, “Julia,” off her EP Z, (her first EP was S and I have a feeling the next EP may just be called A) has such strong R&B hooks and a wildly sexy delivery, that it is elevated at least three atmospheres above its traditional pop elements. SZA just appeared with fellow labelmate Kendrick Lamar this Sunday on the AMAs…I guess the secret is out on this R&B songstress.  Enjoy.

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Hold You (feat. Atu) by Sango


Part instrumental, part lyrical, all R&B and soul, Michigan-based solo artist Sango‘s debut album, North, is finely crafted slow jam after slow jam.  It’s no surprise that North is on Soulection, the same record label as fellow instrumental artist, IAMNOBODI.  Where IAMNOBODI at times can lean more towards the hip-hop element, Sango is dedicated solely to that late night, “awww yeah” kind of music.  “Hold You,” featuring indie R&B artist/producer, Atu, has layers of ethereal tones, spattering electronics, piano, echoing vocals, but still feels simplistic, never overproduced and always seductive.  As I said earlier, awww yeah.  Enjoy.

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Maputo Dance by IAMNOBODI


To make an electronic instrumental album that is engaging from start to finish is no small feat.  IAMNOBODI, the pseudonym for German artist, Joe Kay, easily accomplishes this task with his album, Elevated.  Each song on Elevated has its own unique flavor while still flowing into the next with tranquil beats and melodies that can serve as the backdrop for any R&B/soul track that’s come out since the 90s.  “Maputo Dance,” the third track on Elevated, is just about as smooth and seductive as any soul track is allowed to be by law.  So make sure to have some ice cubes handy because you’re going to need something nearby to cool you down after “Maputo Dance” fades out.  Enjoy.

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At Your Touch by Joe Hertz


London based artist and producer, Joe Hertz, gives old school R&B a heavy synth redux with his debut single, “At Your Touch.”  Electronics rarely sound organic so it’s all the more impressive that this newcomer is able to soften up each blip and pulse to create a computerized track that feels as natural as breathing.  Hertz’s production is clean while still being complex, melding R&B with neo-soul and house, a twangy bass with lush melodies, and seductive verses with emotionally charged choruses.  The way these competing styles absorb into one another makes “At Your Touch” sound like your ipod at a swingers party.  Enjoy.

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River by The Belle Game


It seems that the best way to guarantee a quality track is to just put the word “river” in the title.  Some examples you ask?  “I Follow Rivers” by Lykke Li, “Rivers of Babylon” by Brent Dowe, and yes, I will admit it, “Cry Me a River” by Justin Timberlake.  Canada’s The Belle Game keeps the streak flowing with “River,”one of the most impressive tracks so far this year.  “River” is an unearthly dark pop track loaded with enough heartache and soul to level buildings.  Andrea Lo’s stirring, inviting vocals provide the sweltering heat that gives the track its sultry edge and a funk/blues instrumental in the song’s latter half injects a smoky, underground nightclub feel.   This is about as good as pop music gets.  Enjoy.

And an amazing live version:

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Magic City Hippies by the Robby Hunter Band


Labor Day Weekend may have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean the summer celebrations have to end.  If it did, it would be an awful waste of the best summer party soundtrack, Magic City Hippies, the debut album from the Robby Hunter Band.   Basking in the Miami sun, the indie funk trio serves up an album scorched with hip-hop, R&B, funk, and soul.  Each of the 12 tracks on Magic CIty Hippies has its own unique identity, but all of them are inspired by the chill beach lifestyle filled with parties and love affairs that last about as long as the sunset.  It’s not easy singling out any one track, so here are three that should inspire you to sneak out of work in search of a sunburn and a hangover.  Enjoy.

“Corazon” – a flow like a sped up Slick Rick and a De La Soul-influences chorus, this is the ultimate throwback rap track.

“Book I Never Read” – Exotic beats covered with an R&B flow, this track should be playing on every flight to any tropical location.

“BUST” – a more seductive R&B track about um…um…just listen to the lyrics and I think you’ll understand.

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