Saturday, July 16, 2011


The long-awaited second album from Havana – the soulful Cali singer and songwriter who delivered a knockout debut on the Skoolcraft label a few years back – and her Entervention is just as strong! One of the things we love about Havana is her way of embracing a modern sound without falling into trendiness – with production by Brook D'Leau, GB and Trackademicks that's a great mix of upbeat beatcraft and bubbling atmospherics that are well paired with Havana's lovely, soulful voice and storytelling. Titles include "It Ain't New", "Nitelife", "Shoulda Walked Away", "Daylight", "Not Affected", "Repeat Offender", "Heartache", "In Touch", "Journal" and "Higher".

The first ever compilation of the best music made for MoWest – the eclectic, but still soulful cuts made when Berry Gordy Jr. relocated from Motown to the west coast in the early 70s – releasing cool and sometimes strange music with a soul background, yet toasted by LA sunshine! The MoWest subsidiary lasted just a few years, and gets overlooked in the canonization of Motown at it's most classic and revolutionary – but the legacy is pretty incredible. Funk, sunshine rock and soul fused adventurously by a stunningly diverse roster – late period Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons (who's comp-opening track is a slept on sunshine pop-soul classic), breezy-jazzy-soul from Odyssey, the sister funk of Sisters Love, a stunning solo left turn from Spinners singer GC Cameron and more great stuff from Syreeta, The Commodores, Suzee Ikeda, Thelma Houston and others. We've been dying for a well selected MoWest comp like this for years, and Light In The Attic stepped to the plate and knock it right out of the park. The songs choices are great, the notes are great. . .everything about it is a win. Essential! Includes "You're A Song (That I Can't Sing)" and "The Night" by Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, "Our Lives Are Shaped By What We Love" and "Broken Road" by Odyssey, "Don't You Be Worried" by The Commodores, "A Heart Is A House" Nu Page, "I Ain't Going Nowhere" by Thelma Houston, "I Can't Give Back The Love I Feel For You" by Suzee Ikeda, "You've Got To Make The Choice" and "Give Me Your Love" by The Sisters Love and more.

Latin funk and other diverse sounds from the increasingly great Ocote Soul Sounds lead by Martin Perna and Adrian Quesada – a group that's been one of the more far reaching, stylistically panoramic collectives for years – and Taurus may be the best yet! From gritty & funky live Latin dancefloor grooves to more richly global soundscapes – blending earthy instrumentation in a way that feels fully modern, but wholy informed by classic Latin, African and otherwise sun toasted sounds of decades past. Loads of excellent percussion – plus flutes, saxes, piano, organ, guitars and ocasional vocals. Include "Primavera", "Pirata", "En El Temblor", "Pathways", "STTP (Speak Truth To Power)", "Cumbia La Magdalena", "Pan Y Circo", "Agua Santa", "Tumba Del Payaso", "Contigo Jamas", "Guantanamo" and more.  

Colie Williams shines brightly on Light Up The Darkness – great stuff that starts out with her calling out to the jazzy soul legends that influence her – Ella, Billie and others – quite appropriately, as she truly honors that legacy nicely while delivering a modern soul sound that's ultimately all her own! She's also doing her thing with an affirming, spiritual resonance that helps her soar even higher. She's backed by keys, drums, percussion on most tunes and she works takes some stylistic detours, bits of hip hop and reggae, but ultimately it stays on course, help tight by her voice and spirit. "Ol' Soul For A New Day", "Passing Day", "You/Reggae Love", "Everywhere I Go", "All U Need", "In And Out Of Love", "Black Love" and the bonus tracks "You/Reggae Love – The Remix" and "Angel". 

Warm modern Afro-inspired funk & soul from Amsterdam's Jungle By Night – whose promising earlier 45 primed us pretty well – and this self-titled set of live-in-the-studio grooves for Kindred Spirits more than delivers on it! The set is described simply as "highlights from a recent studio session", which is a classic under-sell. It's solid, soulful and stylistically diverse grooves that roll from classic Afro Funk instrumentals to more of a highlife guitar sound and back again with style to spare. They're calling it a precursor to their first album, which again, is a promise of some pretty incredible work to come! Includes "Hot Mama Hot", "Termite", "Afro Blue", "Get 5", "Great Wide Open", "Camel" and the CD bonus track "ET" (one of the 45 cuts). 7 tracks, running 5 to 7 minutes in length on most of 'em. Mini album? Generously furnished EP? It's 40+ minutes of grooves, however you want to file it.
A sweet funky classic from George Benson – featuring dope arrangements by Pee Wee Ellis, all with a groovy Kudu-type sound! George is the main soloist – but the group is super-hip, with Harold Mabern on electric piano, Frank Foster on tenor, and a little bit of extra guitar from Earl Klugh. George is pulling no punches on this one – really hitting hard on his solos with a freer approach than he used on most of his other records from the time. Titles include "Dance", "Plum", "Body Talk" (plus an alternate take), and "Top Of The World" – and most tracks are looong!

Heavy Fender Rhodes from Azymuth – sounding almost better here than we've heard them for years! There's a stripped-down, all-classic feel that takes us right back to the group's best work of the 70s – partly because Jose Roberto Bertrami sticks to Fender Rhodes exclusively on the set – using the classic keyboards with a righteous vibe that really brings a hell of a lot of soul to play! And there's also a bit of Incognito help on the production, which helps ensure just the right sound – nothing too modern, nor too gimmicky – just pure Brazilian fusion all the way through – proof that the old ways are still often the best. Titles include "In My Treehouse", "Isso E Partido Alto", "Diz No Pe", "Meu Mengo", "Crazy Clock", and "Aurora". 8 tracks on the vinyl version.

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