Review: Bristol duo The Allergies continue to hint at a future album release with this two-track digital 7", Lean On You. Featuring bespoke lyrics from Dynamite MC in its lead cut, it's a track that subtly touches on Southern rap as it does rock and Gorillaz-styled funk or Cypress Hill-styled hip hop. Venturing further down a looped-up blues and rootsy funk tip in "Working On Me", lyrics are swapped for classic vocal samples, brass horns, big beat loops and clever funky drummer motifs. Spicy hot.
Review: Keeping it dusty, beatdown, looped up and moody blue is Asta Hiroki's Entropy album on Jalapeno. Taking in jazz drums, MPC programming, dusty vinyl crackles-and-pops to other classical and acoustic elements - like the harpsichords in its title-track - Entropy is a most alluring, emotional listen. With a sound that lands somewhere between Pantha Du Prince, DJ Shadow and Burial jamming in a jazz cafe/piano bar, get your kicks through classy finger percussion in tracks like "Dahlias" to '90s esque broken beat instrumentals in "Cherry Blossom" - tis the season. Post-dubstep percussion and mirrored synths make their way into tracks like "Butterfly House" next to some broken down hip hop and blues too in "Rose-tint". Entropy never felt so warm.
Review: Brighton-based DJ, producer and multi-instrumentalist Flevans (known as Nigel Evans in real life) has been steadily turning out funk- and soul-inspired beats, breaks n' grooves for the past 20 years, working mostly on the Tru Thoughts and Jalapeno labels. Here, he returns to the latter stable clutching three new tracks: 'Starting Points' is quite overtly disco-fied by Flevans' standards, 'Biznizz' is a little bit more down n' dirty but still upbeat, while the stripped n' looped 'I Wanted You To Stay' is the housiest of the three and wouldn't actually have sounded out of place on a 'Disco Kandi' compilation.
Review: We're full of respect for the team behind Jalapeno Records, who have now been offering up the finest in funk, soul, hip-hop, disco and breakbeat for 20 years. It's a landmark that calls for a celebration, and with this compilation they've certainly marked their anniversary in style. The 20-track set is full-to-bursting with party-starting heat, with vintage gems from the likes of Skeewiff, Ikon, Kraak & Smaak and Featurecast being joined by more recent highlights from current imprint heavyweights such as Smoove & Turrell and the Allergies. Highlights are plentiful, with our picks including the break-driven revivalist soul headiness of Aldo Vanucci's 'You're All Show', the summery positivity of Gizelle Smith's 'S.T.A.Y' and the rushing disco brilliance of Dimitri From Paris's essential edit of Izo Fitzroy's 'I Want Magic'.
Review: 2020 might have been a "dumpster fire" of a year (as our American cousins might say), but somehow Nigel Evans AKA Flevans has managed to remain positive. His new EP - the former Tru Thoughts stalwart's first of 2020 - is led by one of the funkiest, and most celebratory tracks he's ever made, the R&B vocal-sampling, disco and electrofunk revivalism of 'I'm Over Here'. With its' killer bassline, Chic-style guitars, bustling beats and squelchy synths, it sounds like a future peak-time anthem. He explores similar sonic pastures on the more shuffling, synth-heavy 'Uptight', before offering up a slightly deeper (but no less funky) take on early '80s disco via similarly superb closing cut 'Fade'.
Review: Given the vibrancy, instrumental colour and musical richness of Smoove & Turrell's recent Stratos Bleu album, it should come as no surprise to find that this partner remix album is every bit as good. There are some suitably sizable, club-ready takes scattered across the set, with our picks including Ashley Beedle's piano and strings-laden disco revision of 'It Ain't Working', Ray Mang's slap-bass-sporting disco-boogie overhaul of 'Do It', Smoove's proto-house style 'Club Dub' of 'It Ain't Working', and a couple of excellent deep house re-rubs by Vandebilt and Fouk. Elsewhere, Steve Cobby's stirring remix of 'Elgin Towers' is a blue-eyed soul treat, Krash Slaughta successfully re-wires 'TalkAbout Nothing' as a shuffling drum and bass workout, and Dr Rubberfunk's take on 'Never Wanted You More' is a jazzy trip-hop treat.
Review: UK "new old" funk 'n' soul faves Smoove & Turrell bring us four remixes of three tracks culled from their sixth studio album 'Stratos Blue', which dropped back in June. 'Fade Away' - an uptempo Pharrell/Cee-Lo/Aloe Blacc-style funker in its original form - gets housed-up nicely by Fouk on his fairly self-explanatory Remix and Dub. Elsewhere, Rayka's take on 'EP' is even more transformational, taking the pop-soul original into throbbing acid territory; 'This Time', on the other hand, was pretty uptempo and house-y to start with, but Rayka still injects some hands-in-the-air pianos, just to make sure.
Review: In the version used to open Smoove & Turrell's recent (and rather good) "Stratos Bleue" album, "Do It" is a slap-bass-propelled chunk of revivalist early '80s disco-boogie excitement with an added side order of jazz-funk colour. Because of this, it's not a great stretch to think that disco remix king Ray Mang would provide some killer reworks. And so it proves. The long-serving producer delivers superb Vocal and Instrumental takes that mirror the structure and production tricks of original disco mixers such as Tom Moulton and Shep Pettibone. That means a greater role for the rubbery bassline, beefed-up percussion, Chic-style guitar riffs, delay-laden percussive breakdowns, kaleidoscopic synth sounds and early '80s effects aplenty. Ace!
Review: In its original "Stratos Bleu" album mix form, "It Ain't Working" was one of the deepest and slickest cuts in the Smoove & Turrell catalogue. To kick off this excellent remix package, Ashley Beedle takes the best bits of the track and adds some summery disco and old school house flavours of his own (the "NSW Vocal Mix"), before delivering a deeper, sweeter and more spacey instrumental "NSW Dub" mix that's arguably even better (if only because you get more piano stabs, more trumpet solos and plenty of intergalactic synthesizer doodles). Those looking for something more forthright and bass-heavy should head for Sorley's sweaty and low-slung revision, which re-imagines the Newcastle crew's original as an acid-fired slab of sleazy late-night house hedonism.
Review: In its original form, jazz-funk and electrofunk-flavoured neo-soul number "Elgin Towers" was one of the standout moments on Smoove & Turrell's recent (and must-check) sixth album, "Stratos Bleu". Here it gets the remix treatment, with Crazy P man Chris Todd leading the charge under his now familiar Hot Toddy alias. Todd kicks things off with a warming, deep disco vocal version that places Turrell's fine vocal atop a bed of Balearic guitars, bubbly synths, snare-heavy drums and dreamy deep house chords, before offering up a mostly instrumental "Dub Mix" that's even more Balearic, loved-up and life-affirming thanks to some suitably stirring chord sequences. Fila Brazillia man Steve Cobby takes a totally different approach on his remix, re-imagining the track as a slow, languid, string-laden downtempo soul treat.
Review: Formed in 2012, Bristol duo The Allergies have spent the past eight years crafting a signature style that's like the missing link between Stereo MCs and The Dap Kings. This, their third studio long-player, doesn't throw up any huge surprises - yet again they float effortlessly from party-style hip-hop and funk breaks to effective 'new old' funk and northern soul pastiche - but is notable for its range of guest vocalists, who include Dynamite MC, The Cuban Brothers (on Latin excursion 'Let Them Know') and veteran Ugly Duckling rapper Andy Cooper, not to mention Bristol's own most notorious busker, Mr Woodnote. The Ike & Tina vibes of 'Every Trick In The Book' and the fast-n-furious 'I'm On It' (feat Dr Syntax) are among the highlights.
Review: The original version of "All I Want" is one of the lesser-known gems in Kraak & SMaak's epic back catalogue. The squelchy slab of revivalist electrofunk, which features a brilliant lead vocal from Keyhole, was first sent to DJs five years ago, but for whatever reason was only released earlier this year. Here the long-serving Dutch trio treat us to the essential (and previously unheard) extended mix, plus a trio of reworks from industry pals. Mason kicks things off with a vibrant and colourful take that re-casts the track as a delay-laden chunk of 1980s NYC freestyle, Xinobi opts for a bass-heavy deep nu-disco flex, and Ash Reynolds re-imagines it as a swinging chunk of lusciously sun-kissed deep house with warming boogie flourishes.
Review: We were rather impressed by Flevans recent album "Accumlate" - his fifth in total over a career spanning almost two decades - and in particular its inherent funkiness and effortlessly soulful flavour. Here one of the LP standouts, "Realisation" with vocalist Laura Vane, is given the remix treatment. The EP-opening "Re-Tide Mix" brilliantly joins the dots between funk-fuelled disco-house and colourful, synth-heavy boogie, while Lonely Boy's "Isolation Mix" is a deliciously loose-limbed breakbeat revision that gives due prevalence to track's insanely funky bassline and jaunty Rhodes keys. You'll also find full-length and radio versions of Supermini's hot-to-trot remix, which may well be the funkiest and freshest of the lot.
Review: Album number six here from the northeast of England's finest neo-soul combo Smoove & Turrell. Coming like all five of its predecessors on the mighty Jalapeno Records, 'Stratos Bleu' sees the Gateshead gang exploring a slightly wider range of musical territory: 'This Time', for instance, operates at a soulful house tempo, while 'E.P.' has an almost Underworld-ish, indie-dance kinda feel. Synths n' samples play a more prominent role than on previous albums, too - though John Turrell's distinctive tonsils remain front and centre at all times, so existing fans needn't worry too much!
Review: Shaping up to be one of the biggest soul tunes of the year, here 'Blind Faith' gets the remix treatment courtesy of Art Of Tones (formerly known as F-Comm fave Llorca) and fellow Jalapeno regular Smoove (as in Turrell). Art Of Tones nudges the track closer to soulful house territory - his Dub, in particular, would undoubtedly have gone down a storm at Ben Watt's legendary Sunday sessions Lazy Dog back in the day, with its phat b-line and jazz-funk guitar chops. Smoove then surprises with a shimmering, squelchy-basslined rub that also operates at a near-house tempo.
Review: Jalapeno bring us a single-track release from label regulars and 'new old' funk/soul stalwarts Smoove & Turrell. You already know roughly what to expect musically, so the only thing to note on that front is that 'It Ain't Working' is perhaps a little more electronic and less live-sounding than the duo's usual output (check out that bassline), while lyrically the song laments the trials and tribulations of life on the road, reflecting in bittersweet style on all the times working musicians are told dismissively that "that ain't working". Look out for new long-player 'Stratos Blue', coming soon...
Review: Jalapeno regular Flevans returns with an 11-track album that won't disappoint lovers of the label's trademark funk-breaks-soul sound one iota. It's actually his fifth, reflecting the fact that Flevans does this stuff better than most; if there's a criticism, it's that the album perhaps tries a little too hard to please everyone. Where cuts like 'Power Rocks You' have an authentic 60s/70s 'deep funk' feel, others such as 'Ambition Like Cream' (feat Scooby Jones) opt for a more commercial approach and end up in Radio 2-friendly pop territory. But even if you do find yourself hitting the Skip button once or twice, there's still much to enjoy here.
Review: The Allergies seem to have settled into a routine with their releases lately - one retro-tastic 'new old' funk/soul jam with a sung vocal, plus one slice of funked-up hip-hop - and so it is again here. 'Felony' is all dusty horn parps, live drums and soulful male vocal, while the accompanying 'Ride 'Em Up' finds the Bristolian crew at their most Stereos-esque while a guest rap from Andy Cooper alternates with a sultry female soul vocal. There's nothing especially groundbreaking going on, but if your toes aren't tapping you might want to double-check that you remembered to put your feet on this morning...
Review: "A unique and captivating blend of soul, gospel and blues" is how UK vocalist Izo Fitzroy's biography describes her music... but then you probably knew that, because there's been no escaping recent single 'Blind Faith', which sees her Winehouse-like vocals backed, just like the lady herself, by the excellent Haggis Horns, as well as her own Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir. And if you liked the single you're gonna love the album, because there's plenty more where 'Blind Faith' came from! It's largely a home listening affair, though the acid jazz-leaning 'Pushing Buttons' and the disco-infused, Hammond-laden 'I Want Magic' could find themselves gracing funk and soul floors.
Review: It's been 14 years since Simon Ward AKA Dr Rubberfunk released his second album 'My Life At 33', so something doesn't quite add up there! Happily, though, that's about the only grumble you're likely to have with this, his fourth long-player, on which he demonstrates an impressive musical versatility as he deftly weaves between raw 70s-inspired soul (see the Stephanie Whitelock and Izo Fitz-Roy collabs), mellifluous virtuoso jazz-funk (see 'Slim's Mood' and 'Steppin' In', hazy, blues-y psychedelic funk-rock ('Boom!' feat John Turrell), scorching Hammond grooves ('Pressure Cooker') and more besides. "Not a real doctor since 1992," Ward's website proclaims proudly - and long may it continue.
Review: Jalapeno bring us the latest salvo from London producer Dr Rubberfunk, and it's very much the proverbial game of two halves. Featuring John Turrell (of Smoove & Turrell fame) on mic duties, 'Boom!' is a raw rock n' soul jam, roughly in the vein of Sly & The Family Stone, War or mid-70s Ike & Tina Turner, with a singalong-friendly "it's just a little blow-out" vocal and some exemplary six-string screechin'. But good as 'Boom!' is, it's 'Steppin' In' that's the killer here, a five-minute, organ-laden jazz-fusion workout that could well be the good doctor's finest moment to date.
Review: London-based soul singer Izo Fitzroy released her debut album 'Skyline' on Jalapeno just over two years ago. Since then, we've had the Dimitri From Paris-produced 'I Want Magic' earlier this year, and now here comes 'Blind Faith', a track that'll appeal to fans of contemporary soul artists such as The Dap Kings, Smoove & Turrell or Stone Foundation. Supplied in simple Original and Radio Edit mixes and richly embellished with horns and strings, 'Blind Faith' features some truly sumptuous production, and while it may all be a little 'polite' for some, crossover success certainly can't be ruled out.
Review: Not to be confused with the Canadian funk/soul band of the same name, Ephemerals are a male/female duo who list their home town as "Europe" and whose third long-player was an Alice Coltrane-inspired concept album about rebirth. This, their fourth album in five years, draws its most obvious musical influences from the LA beats scene and broken beat, but the standout tracks are those like 'Coral' and 'Origin', which revive the psychedelic influences that informed the pair's sophomore album 'Chasin' Ghosts' - think Black Sabbath in their 'first five albums' golden era trying their hand at funk and you're somewhere in the ballpark...
Review: The 'Jalapeno Funk' series reaches its 11th installment, which is no mean feat! As such, you should have a pretty good idea what to expect here already, and you'd be right. All the usual Jalapeno suspects - Flevans, Skeeweiff, Smoove & Turrell, Speedometer, The Allergies, Dr Rubberfunk, Aldo Vanucci - are present and correct, and while it has to be said there aren't many stylistic surprises or curveballs on offer, fans of the label's trademark funk 'n breaks sound will be more than satisfied, with highlights including Flevan's light-footed 'Speculate' and Vanucci's Hammond-toting 'Get A Hold On This'.
Review: Nigel Evans, or Flevans as he's more widely known, returns with his first new material since the 'Part-Time Millionnaire' long-player (his fourth) dropped earlier this year, also on Jalapeno. 'Mr Right' itself fuses a chunky 'new old' funk-soul groove with a more contemporary-style R&B vocal from Laura Vane, making for a cut that in a perfect world would be following the likes of 'Happy', 'I Need A Dollar' and 'Uptown Funk' into the pop charts. The accompanying 'Speculate', meanwhile, is a more stripped-back and percussive affair that'll suit the jazz-dancers and b-boys down to the ground - quite literally!
Review: Three remixes here of two tracks from Brighton boy Flevans' fifth studio album 'Part Time Millionnaire', which dropped back in March, with the Laura Vane-vocalled 'Invisible' getting the treatment twice. Flevans' own Back To The 80s Mix finds us in upbeat, accessible neo-soul/R&B territory, and as such crossover success certainly shouldn't be ruled out - though for more underground, squelchy nu-funk thrills the Basement Freaks Remix is the one. Completing the EP is Asta Hiroki's re-rub of 'Right On Time', a sparse trip-hop affair comprising ambient sounds, sampled spoken vox and clipped percussion - definitely one for the late-night herbalists.
Review: Jalapeno Records present a 17-track V/A collection of contemporary funk grooves, all of which have been given a makeover by Smoove, of Smoove & Turrell fame. There are some big names from the 'new old' funk scene represented (Haggis Horns, Nicole Willis, Smoove & Turrell themselves) but as you might expect from the label it's on, the emphasis is more on party-hearty funk breaks/funk-hop than out-and-out 60s/70s revivalism. Renegades Of Jazz's 'Fire' with its wukka-wukking geetar and guest rap vocal from The Allergies is one standout, King Bee's O'Jays-biting 'Money Gone' another, but dive on in and find your own faves...