Having already won praise from Sharon Jones, Craig Charles and Jazz Cafe/Freestyle boss Adrian Gibson, it's fair to say that London nine-piece Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers are among the hottest-tipped outfits on the revivalist soul scene. This debut album confirms their quality. Boasting a deep soul sound and vintage production, A Hill of Feathers is in many ways a British take on the formula developed by the Daptone label. Williams, who previously worked with D&B loon John B, is a perfect front woman. Her gritty, urgent vocals perfectly compliment the Tastemakers stomping soul sounds. The result is a strong debut album that should be essential listening for soul enthusiasts the world over.
Home to the likes of the Baker Brothers and Baby Charles, Record Kicks have made a name for themselves as experts in rare groove, funk and soul. Here though, they have really outdone themselves, sourcing and licensing two of the rarest tropical funk records ever made. These two tracks have virtually never been heard beyond their origins in the Caribbean's St.Vincent and St.Maarteen islands until now. "The Little You Say" is a lithe soft funk groover, while "It's A Feeling" is more upbeat with excellent vocal harmonies, brass sections and an irresistible bassline.
Here we see the eagerly awaited debut album from Third Coast Kings, an eight-piece deep funk and soul outfit from Detroit/Ann Arbor, Michigan. Their eponymously titled debut set is packed tight with a dozen deep funk nuggets brimming with soul, with tracks like "Give Me Your Love" and "Roughneck" showcasing the band's outrageously good horn and rhythm section. Expect highly-charged lashings of drums, trombone, bass, saxophone and trumpet to seep into every pore upon listening to this album. Highly recommended.
A cut from the Aussie Afro-funk band's self-titled debut LP, "Let It Go" features Dojo Cuts' Roxie Ray on vocal duties, not to mention a rocksteady bassline and some of the smokiest funk guitars imaginable. Wrapped around an 8-bar riff that sounds as expansive as the Mojave desert, the raw drums and free-flowing solos are an expertly produced joy, as are the swooping Fela-like brass motifs on "Crisis Point" - also included on the release and an uptempo counterpoint to the slow and assured title track.
In anticipation of their forthcoming Power Struggle LP, here we have a twinkling two-track teaser (try saying that after a few) from Australia's numero uno Afro-funk outfit, The Liberators. "Cairo Uprising" is a scintillating slice of Egyptian-themed ska funk, while no LP bonus track "The Undisputed" is a classy slice of '70s style brassy groove.
With nods to Fela Kuti's Afro-beat legacy, as well as other Latin and Blaxploitation grooves from the '70s, Australian funk behemoths The Liberators seriously impress on their debut album on Record Kicks. Instrumentals like "Multiculture" and "Monkeyface" make storming use of the 10-piece's tight brass section, while vocal tunes such as "Denga" (featuring Jojo Kuo) allow the band to get locked into some thrilling, guitar-driven jams. With the production raw and dripping in the kind of excitement that only live recording can offer, The Liberators have introduced themselves extremely well with this hugely funky debut.
After dropping an album of drop-dead classic jazz, rock and latin fusion with the self-titled The Fusion Experience, this single brings the remixes to the fore with some great versions of album tracks plus an edit too. Ray Harris' original of Scaramunga sounds like a long lost relic from an undiscovered vault of jazz and freakbeat classics, like a fusion between Charles Mingus, The Doors and Tito Puente. The basic piano pattern stays the same while the rest of the band vamp around it, with Harris laying down some sick organ sounds over the top combined with layers of percussion. Lack of Afro's remix however strips everything down to the essentials, making the guitar and bass carry the riffs while more robust beats are craftily laid on top. His mix of Freedom is even more drastic, as he incorporates a more 4/4 disco swing to the drums, adds a cool breakdown similar to Dennis Coffey's Scorpio and then takes the tune into a cover of SOUL's Burning Spear!
Unexpected, but thoroughly cool.
With a further tune from Harris's album included here, the breezy Rotary Connection-influenced Tokyo Blue, this whole release is a great fusion of influences coming together. See how many you can spot?
Lay It On The Line (original mix) - (3:27) 142 BPM
Lay It On The Line (Danny Massure remix) - (3:42) 142 BPM
Lay It On The Line (James Beige Blame It On The Bossa mix) - (4:34) 88 BPM
Jazz/soul/funk band Nick Pride & The Pimptones have a great rep as both a live band and as writers of effortlessly catchy nu-soul tunes. Teaming up with singer Zoe Gilby for this latest single, the Newcastle band evoke bossa nova with the rhythms whilst keeping the instrumentation strictly bluesy and funky. With Gilby able to vocalise perfectly along with the rich guitar solos, the lovelorn theme of the song is given a punchy and jazzy feel thanks to some rasping brass accompaniment.
Having drawn favourable comparisons with acid jazz era fusionists the James Taylor Quartet and funk revivalists the Daptones, British eight-piece funk/jazz combo Nick Pride & The Pimptones stand on the brink of wider acclaim. They just need a little push to get them to the top, and this energetic, floor-friendly remix album should help. With scorching, breakbeat-laden funk versions from TM Juke, Diesler and Smoove, a smattering of Latin flava (see Daytoner's snappy rework of "Hug Lorenzo"), some nu-jazz doodles and even a spiffing D&B rinse-out (Fab Samperi's version of "Brighter Day"), there's plenty for horn-loving DJs to enjoy.
Lay It On The Line (feat Zoe Gilby) - (3:27) 71 BPM
Gold Leader - (4:45) 98 BPM
Hug Lorenzo - (5:41) 107 BPM
Waitin' So Long (feat Jess Roberts) - (3:19) 70 BPM
Midnight Feast Of Jazz - (3:50) 70 BPM
Mia Sorrella - (5:24) 119 BPM
Brighter Day (feat Susan Hamilton) - (4:52) 95 BPM
Hotdoggin' - (5:27) 123 BPM
Huge funk and old-school rhythm and blues from this exciting 8-piece British band led by guitarist and vocalist Nick Pride. Very much in the vein of the James Taylor Quartet and other fellow acid jazzers, the band whizz through originals such as previous single "Come And Get It" and vocal cuts like the Dap Kings-alike "Lay It On The Line" (featuring Zoe Gilby laying down some huge and commanding vocals). They also show off their dexterous skills on the incredible "Midnight Feast of Jazz", which manages to evoke Cannonball Adderley and Kenny Burrell whilst still maintaining the bands' rock 'n' roll sound.