The Gold Standards of Prince

It’s Prince. You all know who he is. You all know what he’s done in his long and at times “crazy-amazing” music career. By now you either love all of Prince’s music, hate it or a bit of both.

Prince - 20ten (2010)

Prince – 20ten (2010)

So I guess you already know that four years since the last, Prince has recently released two new albums on the same day?

 Plectrumelectrum with 3rdEyeGirl

Prince - 'Plectrumelectrum' (2014)

Plectrumelectrum (2014)

…and solo creation Art Official Age, which Prince opens with these words:

“Welcome home class. We’ve come a long way.”

Prince - 'Art Official Age' (2014)

Art Official Age (2014)

Art Official Age

I suspect that whichever Prince camp you find yourself in (I’m in the ‘love some, hate some but appreciate every sound made by Prince’ camp), Art Official Age will probably keep you there.

Throughout the album you’ll find the usual Prince staples you’re into or you’re not, and then some: musically-sublime slow-jams with corny lyrics, faster grooves to get down to, distinctly ‘Prince’ falsetto and distorted vocals, funky bass lines, synths; and the flavours of pop, rock, funk, r&b, and then some hip hop and edm moments. It’s Prince.

Prince’s Gold Standards

Apart from lyrical themes around love, desire, beavers for breakfast and how to treat a woman well, Art Official Age is an album with humorously scathing (and ultimately true) commentary on the artificial state of our modern world.

“There used to be a time when music was a spiritual healing 4 the body, soul, & mind …”

Prince - 'Art Official Age' (2014)

In ‘The Gold Standard’ Prince speaks critically of the shallow state of the music industry and the artists and music produced therein.  He does so with his always-soulful vocals over funky “crazy-amazing” music that meets the shiniest of gold standards he sings about.

‘The Gold Standard’ – Art Official Age - Prince

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Other lyrics on Art Official Age, including the spoken word interludes (and dreamy vocals) by Lianne La Havas throughout the album, take a critical look at the disconnection between humans and from ourselves in a fast-paced, pressing, individualistic world where people’s lives are lived on phones, computers, social media and the like.

‘Clouds’ – Art Official Age - Prince

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So as well as us loving each other up in person, one of Prince’s main remedies for it all is found here…

“I don’t really care what ya’ll’ been doin”…

“Put your phone down, get ya party on”…

“Get into the rhythm, it’s good for the soul”…

Let’s funk. Let’s roll.

‘Funknroll’  – Art Official Age - Prince

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We could all use some of Prince’s remedies, right?

If you want the uncompressed musical ones in your hands and your music collection forever-after, you can no doubt find Prince on vinyl or (at least) cd in your local independent record store. True story.

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So I wanna hear from the ones who find Art Official Age and listen to the slow jams on it…are you feelin’ D’Angelo?

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Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence

Melbourne is a rich melting-pot of people and cultures from all over the world. Its vibrant music scene is a reflection of that fact, and so too is the make-up and music of Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence.

Band leader, musician, vocalist and dancer Lamine Sonko, rich in his own family history of music, dance and culture-keeping, hails from Senegal.

Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence at Bar Open, Melbourne, 2014

Lamine Sonko

The collective of Lamine Sonko’s fellow Melbourne-based musicians who make up The African Intelligence find their roots in India, Cuba, Senegal, Nigeria and Australia.

Fusing traditional and contemporary African and Latin American rhythms their music is a blend of super-infectious funk, Afrobeat, jazz, soul, reggae and salsa that’s sure to make you smile, move your body and smile some more.

I found this out at their recent Bar Open gig in Melbourne. There Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence were joined on trumpet by Nigeria’s Olugbade Okunade (aka GP Saxy) – former member of Fela and Seun Kuti’s band Egypt 80 and leader of recently formed Melbourne-based Afrobeat group Alárìíyá.

Check out some footage of the Bar Open show here, as well as the sample track below from Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence’s most recent release.

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Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence

‘Voyage’ – Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence

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You can also check out another video here of Lamine Sonko on stage with The Public Opinion Afro Orchestra at their AWME (Australasian Worldwide Music Expo) 2013 show.

Music in Australia is much, much richer and diverse for the contributions of music collectives like these.

If you’re looking for a sure way to feel good, or better than you do; if you need to move your body; or if you just want to celebrate the pure joyfulness of music and dance, find a live Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence gig at a venue or festival when you can.

Lamine Sonko & The African Intelligence live in Melbourne 2014

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Soulfest Brisbane – Shit, Damn, Motherfucker

One week after Brisbane Soulfest I’m still buzzing on a musical high, slowly absorbing and relishing the goodness of the experience it was.

Festival folks in Brisbane were delivered exactly what they went to Soulfest for: 10 hours of non-stop soul, r&b and hip hop music from a long-list of quality Australian-based and international artists performing tag team on 2 adjoining stages.

For so many reasons it was crazy special.

Crazy-Special 

The biggest reason of all was that Shit, Damn, Motherfucker, one of those artists on stage is also one of the greatest of our time – yes ya’ll, I’m talking about D’Angelo.

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

D’Angelo @ Soulfest Brisbane

Eight more reasons are the talented and accomplished leading artists who also performed on the main Soulfest stage: Angie StoneYasiin Bey (Mos Def) - Anthony HamiltonLeela JamesCommonMusiq SoulchildMaxwell and Aloe Blacc.

Those nine international artists performed all-too-short but ever-so-sweet sets, each one of them leaving you wanting much much more.

Extra-special too was the thing that lucky Soulfest punters in all cities got to observe one time or many during their festival day – the mutual artistic respect (and love) demonstrated amongst performers on the bill.  They did so by guesting on stage in the background during a peer’s set (Angie Stone + Anthony Hamilton with D’Angelo; Leela James with Anthony Hamilton; Mos Def with Common etc); or by expressly acknowledging their supporting musicians with words; or where they could, by taking the time to watch and appreciate from side or front of stage fellow artists perform their sets.

DAngelo live in Melbourne 2014

Angie Stone & Anthony Hamilton w/ D’Angelo (Melbourne)

Too many other reasons to count for the crazy-goodness of Soulfest are the individual instrumentalists and back-up singers that each of those leading artists brought to Australia with them…the whole of which equalled a ridiculously huge posse of talent and skill to appreciate during 10 hours.

w/ Musiq Soulchild live in Brisbane 2014

w/ Musiq Soulchild

Angie Stone's band live at Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Angie Stone

Aloe Blacc's band live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

w/ Aloe Blacc

Anthony Hamilton's band live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

Angie Stone's band live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Angie Stone

Anthony Hamilton's band live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

Aloe Blacc's band live at Brisbane Riverstage 2014

w/ Aloe Blacc

Leela James band live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Leela James

w/ Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Maxwell

Pino Palladino with D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Pino Palladino with D’Angelo

Aloe Blacc's band live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Aloe Blacc

w/ Leela James band live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Leela James

Anthony Hamilton's band live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

w/ Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Maxwell

w/ Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Musiq Soulchild

w/ Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Maxwell

Aloe Blacc's band live in Brisbane 2014

w/ Aloe Blacc

w/ Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Maxwell

w/ Angie Stone live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

w/ Angie Stone

w/ Leela James live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Leela James

w/ D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ D’Angelo

w/ Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

w/ Maxwell

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 If you got to the venue for the start of Soulfest, another reason could have been hearing the winners of Brisbane’s Soul Search competition Sovereign perform on the main stage before that huge international posse did.

Sovereign live at Riverstage Brisbane 2014Sovereign live @ Riverstage Brisbane 2014

If you were quick enough to catch the many up-and-coming Australian-based artists performing on the second stage in between main-stage acts, a whole bunch of other reasons could have been their music.  All the ones I caught gave the crowd a short-but-sweet taste of their own unique sound that also left you wanting more.

w/ Ms Murphy live @ Brisbane Riverstage 2014

w/ Ms Murphy

w/ Noah Slee live @ Brisbane Riverstage 2014

w/ Noah Slee

w/ Jordan Rakei live @ Brisbane Riverstage 2014

w/ Jordan Rakei

As always, the live NGAIIRE experience was an especially good part of this crazy-special Soulfest.  Hearing the music of Brisbane-based Noah Slee for the first but definitely not the last time was too.

NGAIIRE live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

NGAIIRE

Noah Slee live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Noah Slee

The fact that no musical time was lost between main-stage acts thanks to DJs spinning smooth funk and soul mixes you could happily dance to for hours, was just another reason.

The music was on at Brisbane’s Soulfest, and on some more.  Yes, it was crazy-special.

Soulfest Folks

Importantly for the goodness or otherwise of any festival, listening to all that quality music were a super-friendly, respectful bunch of diverse people of all sorts from all walks. They all had something in common – soul and hip hop music in their bones; loving the experience of hearing so much of it live in Brisbane; and feeling blessed for it.

Brisbane Riverstage 2014Brisbane Riverstage 2014Brisbane Riverstage 2014Brisbane Riverstage 2014

 Brisbane 2014Brisbane Riverstage 2014Brisbane Riverstage 2014Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneSoulfest 2014 - BrisbaneBrisbane Riverstage 2014

Some of those good festival folks deserve special admiration for their dedication and endurance levels: the hard-core fans on the front-line from start to finish of Brisbane Soulfest. Hopefully their personal extra-special Soulfest moments made it all worthwhile.

Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneSoulfest 2014 - BrisbaneSoulfest 2014 - BrisbaneBrisbane Riverstage 2014Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneSoulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Soulfest Moments

Whether you were on the front-line or not it seemed that every person at the festival had their own extra-special Soulfest moments. Me I got mine – they were aplenty throughout the entire festival day.

The first was experiencing the powerful voice and exquisite, unique vocal tones of the gorgeous Leela James live; watching her dance and run around the stage (or into the crowd) and hearing her sing anywhere and everywhere between the ‘deep, sultry’ and the ‘high, almighty’.

Leela James live @ Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneLeela James live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Leela James live @ Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneLeela James live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Another was when Soul Mama Angie Stone graced the Soulfest stage and included ‘Wish I Didn’t Miss You’ in her set with Jamaican and Puerto Rican twists.

Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Every single moment of sound that came from D’Angelo’s stage were the most extra-special of all.

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Why? Because Me I loved that D’Angelo didn’t play ‘Brown Sugar’ and that most of his set were extended, recomposed versions of songs from his and one of our world’s greatest ever albums Voodoo.  I respect that D’Angelo didn’t unnecessarily speak a word to the crowd – hearing one of the most brilliant and innovative musical creators of our time perform his music live with his band (including Pino Palladino on bass) in 2014 was more than enough thanks. I loved the sounds of D’Angelo’s musical evolution – and all the soul, r&B, funk, rock, psych or any other elements that his music combines so damned well.

Through his compositions and his chops on guitar, piano and vocals D’Angelo well and truly demonstrated to those at Soulfest blessed enough to hear him live that yes, Shit, Damn, Motherfucker he’s still got it in every.single.way.

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneD'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

You can’t tell me this right here ain’t funky-ass-great…

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

On top of D’Angelo’s or anyone else’s set, maybe your extra-special moments came when some of the leading Soulfest men showed off their smooth moves?

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Aloe Blacc

Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Maxwell

Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Maxwell

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Brisbane 2014

Anthony Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Or was that extra-special moment the relief you felt when Yasiin Bey arrived on the Soulfest stage and proceeded to throw every last rose petal in his path before doing a killer set?

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Mos Def (Yasiin Bey)

 

 

 

 

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Mos Def (Yasiin Bey) live @ Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneMos Def (Yasiin Bey) live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

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Maybe it was the party Common threw for the festival during his set?

Common live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Common

Brisbane 2014

Common

Could it have been this Avicii song sung by Aloe Blacc in Melbourne and Brisbane?

Or maybe not, and you’d hoped for another of the many songs in Aloe Blacc’s repertoire? Maybe this one?

Aloe Blacc – ‘Life So Hard’ – Good Things (2011)

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Did the crooning falsetto vocals of Musiq Soulchild put you on high?

Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Musiq Soulchild

Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Musiq Soulchild

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Or in your final Soulfest moments when you were feeling high from all the music that came before and the refreshingly-cool riverside breezes, did you surrender in amusement or glee to the super-corny but beautiful and mesmerising visual, lighting and vocal show put on by Maxwell?

Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Maxwell

Maxwell live@ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Maxwell

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Maxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - BrisbaneMaxwell live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

Whichever of those moments were the extra-special ones for Brisbane festival folks, I’m sure they were many yes?

Soulfest In Every City

Now that Soulfest 2014 has come and gone in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland it’s clear that each city’s Soulfest had a different character.

Soulfest delivered to Brisbane the quality sounds of silky-smooth grooves performed stunningly by one talented artist after another during 10 hours – including Mos Def and Australian-based ones.

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In Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland  – Shit, Damn, Motherfucker one of them was D’Angelo!  Thanks be to the musical and the Soulfest gods for that privilege.

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest 2014 - Brisbane

May Soulfest survive, flourish and return in 2015 with another list of stunning artists to play live on Australian and Aotearoa shores. May the music and the Soulfest gods shine their lights upon us again and bring the queen of innovative and evolving contemporary soul music back to Australia to headline that list. Ya’ll know who I mean. Ms Erykah Badu

Soulfesters in all cities…what say YOU about the crazy-special goodness of Soulfest and your extra-special moments?

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Melbourne Soulfest 2014 – Silky-Smooth Sunday Soul Dreams

In Australia right now for the world-first Soulfest are a long list of some of the most talented and influential contemporary soul, r&b and hip hop artists on the planet.

D'Angelo live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

D’Angelo

Angie Stone, D’Angelo, Leela James, Anthony Hamilton, Maxwell, Aloe Blacc, Mos Def, Musiq Soulchild and Common. Each artist came with with their own band and back-up singers. All of them are gracing the same Soulfest stages in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, one after the other over 10+ hours. It’s an absolute dream for soul music lovers –  with an added hip hop bonus.

Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Angie Stone

DAngelo live live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

D’Angelo

Leela James live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Leela James

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Anthony Hamilton

Maxwell live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Maxwell

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Aloe Blacc

Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Mos Def

Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Musiq Soulchild

Common live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Common

If you were at Melbourne’s Soulfest on Sunday you probably found that the actual experience was in fact a musical dream come true. 

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Aloe Blacc

If you were at the first-ever Soulfest in Sydney the day before, you mightn’t be feeling so satisfied right? Bad sound quality at a music festival is indeed a devastating thing, for artists and listeners alike. Disappointing too that Mos Def couldn’t make it into the country in time to perform for y’all.

Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Mos Def

Melbourne was a different experience. Mos Def had arrived and proceeded to perform at Sidney Myer Music Bowl in fine form.

Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Mos Def

Sound quality had improved. The super-smooth and heavenly sounding, all-powerful vocals of the lead artists could be heard and appreciated.

Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Mos Def

Leela James live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Leela James

Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Musiq Soulchild

Maxwell live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Maxwell

DAngelo live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014 | Beaver on the Beats

D’Angelo

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Anthony Hamilton

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Aloe Blacc

Common live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Common

Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Angie Stone

What Melbourne’s festival gained over Sydney in sound though, it lost in the last minute removal of the 2nd Soulfest stage – and all Australian-based artists billed to perform on it. That meant no shows by NGAIIRE, Miracle, Nathaniel, Ms Murphy, Carmen Hendricks, Natasha and EMRSN. Hugely disappointing for artists and listeners alike yes?

The best I can offer in consolation for local artists missed in Melbourne is a glimpse of NGAIIRE and the guest artist she had lined up for the show (Nai Palm from Hiatus Kaiyote) on this mp3 only track from NGAIIRE’s most recent album Lamentations

Lamentations (2013) - Ngaiire

NGAIIRE – Lamentations (2013)

‘Dirty Hercules’ – NGAIIRE (featuring Nai Palm) 

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Putting aside the festival’s “logistical and operational issues”, which I can only guess at, I know this from the Melbourne Soulfest experience. 

Every artist who performed on stage absolutely killed it. Folks who went are ridiculously blessed and spoiled to have experienced one day and night of their life listening to nothing but soul, r&b and hip hop music played and sung live by a bunch of incredibly talented, pioneering artists from the past 20+ years of the soul music chapter of our world music history. 

My messages to Melbourne’s good Soulfest folk are these… 

To the local artists we missed on the Spotify stage…we know to find your next show.

To Melbourne’s Dru Chen…congratulations on winning Soul Search and playing first up on the main stage with the incredible calibre of international soul artists that followed.

Dru Chen live in Melbourne 2014

Dru Chen

To Angie Stone and Leela James – the only two lead female artists on the main Soulfest stage (with sets way too early in the day)…Queens you truly are!

Angie Stone

Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Angie Stone live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

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Leela James

Leela James live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Leela James live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

 

To the leading men of Soulfest…with your threads and your moves and more, you remain silky smooth on the eyes – but especially and more importantly to the ears.

Aloe Blacc

Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Aloe Blacc live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014x

Anthony Hamilton

Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Anthony Hamilton live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

Common

Common live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Common live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

 

D’Angelo

DAngelo live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014 | Beaver on the BeatsDAngelo live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

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Maxwell

Maxwell live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Maxwell live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

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Mos Def

Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Mos Def live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

 

Musiq Soulchild

Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014Musiq Soulchild live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

 

From me and my bass-playing friends to D’Angelo…thanks for bringing Pino with you.

Pino with DAngelo live in Melbourne 2014

Pino Palladino with D’Angelo

To every artist who played an instrument on the Melbourne stage…hearing your super-fine chops was a priceless musical experience.

Musiq Soulchild band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Musiq Soulchild

DAngelo's band live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

w/ D’Angelo

Leela James band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Leela James

Aloe Blacc's band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Aloe Blacc

DAngelo's band live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

w/ D’Angelo

Angie Stone's band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Angie Stone

Leela James band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Leela James

Musiq Soulchild band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Musiq Soulchild

Mos Def DJ live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Mos Def

Common's band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Common

Angie Stone live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Angie Stone

Aloe Blacc's band live in Melbourne

w/ Aloe Blacc

Musiq Soulchild band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Musiq Soulchild

Angie Stone band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Angie Stone

DAngelo live @ Soulfest Melbourne 2014

D’Angelo

Anthony Hamilton's band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

Musiq Soulchild band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Musiq Soulchild

Anthony Hamilton's band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

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To all back-up singers…your voices and rhymes were an indispensable goodness in the whole musical experience…

DAngelo live in Melbourne 2014

w/ D’Angelo

Anthony Hamilton's singers/emcees live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

Leela James band live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Leela James

Angie Stone back-up singers live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Angie Stone

Anthony Hamilton's singers/emcees live in Melbourne 2014

w/ Anthony Hamilton

Common's back-up singer live in  Melbourne 2014

w/ Common

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DAngelo live in Melbourne 2014

Angie Stone & Anthony Hamilton w/ D’Angelo

To the main stage DJs (M-PhazesMsRizk – Trey) you made the breaks between live sets feel shorter than they already were and maintained the flow of funky, soulful festival vibes.

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To the wonderfully diverse Melbourne Soulfest crowd, all at the festival for their deep love of great soul and hip hop music – thanks for creating a day of fun, friendly vibes.

Melbourne 2014

Melbourne 2014Melbourne 2014

Melbourne 2014Melbourne 2014Melbourne 2014Melbourne 2014Melbourne 2014

Melbourne 2014

 

Melbourne 2014

Finally to Soulfest…thanks for making it happen!

Brisbane gets their Soulfest 2014 at Riverstage this Saturday, and Auckland on Sunday at Western Springs Stadium. If you can possibly get yourself there, definitely get yourself there. Your soul will be so much richer for the experience.

Auckland poster

Folks at Melbourne’s Soulfest what say you?  Was the festival a silky-smooth soul musical dream come true for you?

Angie Stone live in Melbourne 2014

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Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! But Your Spirit Ain’t

“The first time you listen to You’re Dead! try to clear 30+ min of your super busy and important schedule and listen to the whole ride…”

Flying LotusFlying Lotus- Sep 19

Flying Lotus (aka Steven Elllison) posted that about 2 weeks before the official release of his new album.

Two weeks afterYou’re Dead! arrived into my hands I’m posting this to all people in the world who appreciate absolutely unique, innovative and exceptional music and artistry, and are as excited as me about the creation of jazz hip-hop fusion of the highest order in 2014…

“The first and every subsequent time you listen to You’re Dead! during the rest of this lifetime, clear 38+ mins of your busy, unimportant schedule, play your vinyl or cd through a good sound system, and enjoy the wild sensory ride that this incredible musical body of work takes you on in it’s entirety from tracks 1 through to 19…”

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus - You’re Dead! (2014)

This Flying Lotus ride takes us into the realms of death and the journey of the spirit in the afterlife. The message is clear: scary or not, death in this lifetime is coming for us all. But the spirit will live on forever after.

At different times throughout the album death is confusing, resisted, feared, wondered or laughed at, welcomed, defied, sought, accepted, surrendered to and embraced. That means sometimes this Flying Lotus ride sounds fun and playful, at other times uncomfortable, dark and chaotic.

“I can see the darkness in me and it’s quite amazing. Life and death is a mystery and I wanna taste it. Step inside my mind and you’ll find curiosity…”

(Kendrick Lamar on ‘Never Catch Me’)

“Bang bang blow your mind. Beat beat flatline. You gotta get yours, I been had mine…”

“I was live when I met you. Now it seems to upset you.”

Snoop Dogg and Captain Murphy (aka Flying Lotus) on ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’

“The days of men are coming to an end. So come with me…”

Flying Lotus on ‘Coronus The Terminator’

“Can you feel the walls are closing in? Closer to the end. Welcome to the descent. The descent, the descent, into madness. The descent…”

Thundercat on ‘Descent Into Madness’

“I know of a place inside my mind where I can fly. Take another pill. Take another pill.”

Captain Murphy on ‘The Boys Who Died In Their Sleep’

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Other times the ride is soft, spacious, clear and serene. One of those is in ‘The Protest’. This track marks the end of You’re Dead! and the start of the spirits’ journey through the afterlife when they gather in clarity, a knowing, an acceptance of (and hopefully in peace) that they, their influence and their love will live on forever and ever after.

The whole wild sensory ride comes via a rich and diverse musical tapestry made up of layers upon layers of weird, wonderful and surprising sounds that very few artists in the world could successfully weave together like Flying Lotus has done with You’re Dead!. You’ll need to set aside a lot of 38+ minute sessions during your lifetime just to absorb them all.

Some layers are vocal ones inspired by the music of Queen, sung or spoken by Steven Ellison himself (some through a toy), Niki Randa, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop DoggAngel Deradoorian, Arlene Deradoorian and Kimbra Johnson.

Others are recordings of shit-hot live instrumentation care of jazz hero Herbie Hancock on keys; Thundercat on bass and guitar, Kamasi Washington on saxophone; Brendon Small and Jeff Lynn on guitar; Gene Coye, Justin Brown, Ronald Bruner and Deantoni Parks on drums; Stephen BrunerBrandon Coleman and Taylor Graves on keys; Laura Darlington on flute; Andres Renteria on percussion; Miguel Atwood Ferguson and Taylor Cannizzaro on strings, and Flying Lotus on keys, percussion and bass.

Finally amongst the layers are the electronic beats and other kooky sampled sounds of Flying Lotus, many of them seemingly placed in the “wrong” but in fact the perfect places.

The whole of those layers is an exceptional, innovative, quality musical creation that sounds and feels like none other in this world.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Check out some tracks from the album here via dirty, compressed mp3. My usual preachings about the importance of supporting artists financially and the evils of mp3s in the world, apply many times over with this here Flying Lotus album and it’s many beautiful nuances of sound. You’re Dead! is a ‘must-have-and-treasure-on-vinyl-or-at-least-cd’ in your collection for the rest of your lifetime, and the collection of the lucky person who gets your music collection with FlyLo included, after you’re dead. Get it from your local independent record store if you can – all good ones should have it.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – ‘Dead Man’s Tetris’ (feat. Snoop Dogg & Captain Murphy)

a playful Tetris death ride, hip-hop style…

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Flying Lotus – ‘Coronus The Terminator’ 

what I hope death sounds and feels like…

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Flying Lotus – ‘Moment of Hesitation’ (feat. Herbie Hancock)

aaahhh, dear Herbie…

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If when I get to the afterlife it turns out to sound like You’re Dead! does, at least my spirit will be a musically satisfied one.  Won’t yours?

If it sounds different, this Flying Lotus creation has undoubtedly made a lot of people’s lives richer for the experience in this lifetime. Are you one of them?

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A Better Today And Tomorrow With Etana

If the soulful voice of Jamaican diva Etana over the reggae skank in her music don’t make you feel good, or at least better, I don’t know what possibly will.

Etan

Soul Diva of Reggae

Etana is an Angie Stone, Jill Scott, India Arie or Leela James of reggae music. Like those divas of stature in the soul/r&b world, Etana’s vocal musicality and sublime sounding voice are delightful to listen to time and timelessly again. Also like those ladies, Etana’s lyrics are positive and conscious ones, full of emotion. Because finally like Angie, Jill, India and Aria, Etana is all Woman.

Her 2013 album Better Tomorrow was a refreshing dose of flawlessly played, good contemporary reggae music. It maintained the warm, living, gentle sounds and feelings of old-school roots reggae (helped by the fact it was mostly recorded at Kingston’s Tuff Gong Studios); but also bought the sound into the modern day with subtle flavours of other music genres in the mix.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

“Reggae is Reggae”

“You can’t mix reggae with other things. Reggae is Reggae.”  

Those were the words of one Jamaican to me about Jamaican music.

Of course you can mix reggae with any other style of music (some more successfully than others no doubt :) ). Music artists all over the world do so – with very cool musical results. Jamaican artists living outside of Jamaica do so too. Etana is one of them.

Better Tomorrow is reggae music for sure. But it’s reggae infused with subtle, flavorsome sounds of soul, r&b, gospel and funk.

For Etana and the other music artists in the world making fresh sounding ‘reggae fusion’ (as well as for ‘reggae reggae’ artists) the musical world is a much richer one.

Whether it’s ‘reggae that’s just reggae’ or not, listening to Etana’s music and hearing her soulful voice, makes me feel good.   It makes my today a better one. Simple isn’t it? Good ole Music Medicine.

Get a dose yourself with these sample Etana tracks from Better Tomorrow. Don’t be fooled by the compressed mp3 version. Imagine the goodness of the many other sounds you’ll hear in the music if you get it on vinyl or cd.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

‘Queen’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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‘Whole New World’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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‘Better Tomorrow’ – Etana – Better Tomorrow (2013)

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You feel good now, right?  Or at least better than before you listened yes?

The good news to make our tomorrow better is that another dose of Etana’s music medicine is coming soon with the October 28th release of her new album I Rise.

Thankfully we can definitely buy this new release in hard-copy – and pre-order it from VP Records.

Etana - I Rise (2014)

I Rise (2014)

Etana has 2 other albums before Better Tomorrow. You can buy each cd separately or get the set of 3 for a great price through VP.

Etana - Better Tomorrow (2013)

Better Tomorrow (2013)

Etana - Free Expressions (2011)

Free Expressions (2011)

Etana - The Strong One (2008)

The Strong One (2008)

 

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Extra lucky peeps can have themselves the live Etana experience at New Zealand’s Raggamuffin festival this December.

Etana @ Raggamuffin Music Festival 2014

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Exquisite Tones of Leela James

Hear any Leela James song and you’ll know that it’s a Leela James song without being told.

You won’t know from the sound of the music. It’s not exceptionally different to the familiar, classic, feel-good sounds of R&B music from yesteryears.

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But you will be absolutely sure it’s Leela James’ music by the sound of her voice. Because the tone of that voice is absolutely and distinctly unique in the great big world of vocalists within it. All in all the sound of that voice is smouldering, sexy, sometimes gritty and others sweet, emotive and exquisite. For that, for her, Leela James songs can be listened to over and over again at any ole time.

Leela James

With the release of her new album Fall For You, the world has 10 more soul/R&B songs with the one and only Leela James Voice to appreciate. One of them has the added bonus of featuring the silky-smooth, always-flawless vocals of Anthony Hamilton.

Leela James - Fall For You (2014)

The inclusion of Leela James in the line-up for Soulfest 2014 alongside her contemporaries of the Soul/R&B world (including Anthony Hamilton, Angie StoneAloe Blacc, D’Angelo and Maxwell) means people in Australia and Aotearoa/New Zealand soon get the pleasure of having the ultimate Leela James experience – hearing her exquisite voice live – with her band :) .

“I’ve been performing on stages for as long as I can remember, every since I was a little girl. I’ve shared the stage with the greats and toured with the best traveling the world. Doing shows with my band because yes I like to do it live…that is with a live band, because to me that’s where it all started from. That’s real music, real instrumentation, real live sangin. That’s what I do and what I’ve been doing. That’s what I plan to keep doing until I can’t do it anymore. So thank you….thank you for years of love and support! I’ll see you in your city or a city near you soon!”  (Leela James – 24.9.14)

Leela James

For the South Pacific “your city or a city near you soon” means at Soulfest in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Auckland on 18, 19, 25 and 26 October 2014 . Or for a more intimate live experience with Leela James and Maxwell, in Sydney at their Enmore Theatre side-show on 21 October.

This is Australia and New Zealand’s ‘first annual neo-soul, jazz & hip hop festival‘. The 1st has a killer line-up that no lover of contemporary soul and R&B music should want to miss.

Soulfest 2014 flyer

To get you warmed up for it (or just feeling good anyways), listen here to the distinct and exquisite tones of Leela James on these sample tracks from the new album Fall For You + her 2010 album My Soul.  A reminder as always before you listen – they are just mp3s. These and past Leela James albums in hard copy are easy to find and buy.

Leela James - Fall For You (2014)Leela James - Fall For You (2014)Leela James - Fall For You (2014)

‘Give It’ – Leela James – Fall For You (2014)

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‘So Good’ - Fall For You (2014)

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Leela James - My Soul (2010)

‘I Want It All’ - Leela James - My Soul (2010)

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‘I Ain’t New To This’ - My Soul (2010)

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Check out sample tracks by other Soulfest 2014 artists here.

Then see y’all in person at Soulfest real soon listening to the “real music, real instrumentation, real live sangin” of the gorgeous Leela James and more.

Leela James

If you ain’t

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Flying Lotus: Coronus, The Terminator

The new Flying Lotus album drops on October 7th. After hearing the latest teaser track from it, ‘Coronus, The Terminator’, You’re Dead! has for me become the most anticipated new album music release in a very, very long time. I am absolutely bursting to get a hard copy of this album into my hands and playing through my speakers.

Flying Lotus - You're Dead! (2014)

Flying Lotus – You’re Dead! (2014)

Why?  Because when I hear this ethereal piece of brilliant music artistry by Flying Lotus and his collaborators, I feel everything moving inside of me.  It affects me deeply – and that’s the very best music in the world.

Why else? Because You’re Dead! not only features FlyLo’s fellow Californian artists Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat and Niki Randa singing vocals on Coronus, The Terminator; but also one of the most special artists in the whole of our music history –  jazz fusion pioneer Herbie Hancock. I’d say Flying Lotus and Herbie Hancock making fusion music together is a collaboration of epic proportions.

Herbie Hancock

Herbie Hancock
photo ℅ minglecity.com

Flying Lotus

Flying Lotus
photo ℅ heartymagazine.com

Reactions to Coronus, The Terminator by Soundcloud listeners sum up this music  ever-so-perfectly really…

what the fuckkkkkkk          holy shit    

dammnnnn          JEEEEESUS CHRIST!!!          lawd have mercy

Getting chills, damn          Goosebumps, Goosebumps all around!

crazy shit. next level shit          fuckin phenomenal          absolute perfection

out of this world          sweet salvation          enlightenment through sound

you are a damn genius          one of the cleanest fucking mixes ive ever heard

you cannot be human

if this is what dying sounds like then i look forward to it

Hear Coronus, The Terminator yourself and you’ll probably be nodding in agreement with all of the above reactions. Check it out on Soundcloud here…

So no doubt after hearing it, you’ll agree with these other Soundcloud comments too…

so fucking excited for october

SO happy about this… very glad I pre-ordered ;)

I’m hella pumped to get this on vinyl.

Yes appreciators of good sound quality and hold-in-your-hands-albums, Flying Lotus is of course giving us You’re Dead! on sweet vinyl and cd.  You can pre-order it and collect the mail excitedly each day because that could be the day the postman or woman delivers your copy of this incredible piece of music artistry.

When you get it, remember these Flying Lotus words about You’re Dead!

“the first time you listen to You’re Dead! try to clear 30+ min of your super busy and important schedule and listen to the whole ride”

Until then, remind yourself of the great goodness of Herbie Hancock’s music with this sample track (shitty mp3 only – this is a must-have-album on sweet vinyl or cd) from his 1973 groundbreaking album Head Hunters

Herbie Hancock - Head Hunters (1973)

Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

‘Chameleon’ – Herbie Hancock – Head Hunters (1973)

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D for Red Baraat’s ‘Dhol n Brass’

D in Beaver’s ‘A to Z of Fusion Genres’ could also go to New York’s Red Baraat for pioneering the fusion music genre of ‘Dhol n Brass’.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

The dhol in that phrase refers to the Punjabi drum and the rhythms of Bhangra music – played by Red Baraat’s founder and band leader Sunny Jain – who’s joined in percussion by a drum kit and a congas player.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Sunny Jain

The reference to brass is to brass :)  – homage to the sounds of New Orleans big-band jazz. Red Baraat has a five-piece-strong brass section.

All in all, the music these 8 musicians create is “a merging of hard-driving North Indian bhangra rhythms with elements of jazz, go-go, brass funk, and hip-hop”.  

It’s mostly instrumental (their greatest strength) but some tracks have hip hop, Hindi and Punjabi vocals in the mix.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

I caught 2 live Red Baraat shows in March while having the experience everyone who’s into incredible, diverse worldwide music wants to have – WOMADelaide.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

The live experience was special; and the music unique enough to justify taking home the 2014 South Pacific Tour edition of their 2013 album Shuggy Ji.

Shuggy Ji - South Pacific Tour 2014

No the effect of ‘Red Baraat in studio’ isn’t as powerful as hearing their percussion and brass battles live. But I keep going back to Shuggy Ji because brass instruments and the music made by them are my beloved – and this ensemble’s music has two trumpets, a saxophone, a trombone and a sousaphone doing their things. That brass-heavy focus is a rare treat in music.

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Get a glimpse here of both the live and the studio versions of Red Baraat – with sample tracks from Shuggy Ji and videos of their 2 WOMADelaide 2014 shows

Shuggy Ji (2013) album cover

‘Private Dancer’  – Shuggy Ji (2013)

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‘Apna Punjab Hove’ – Shuggy Ji (2013)

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Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014 – VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014

Red Baraat live @ WOMADelaide 2014 – VIDEO on YouTube or Vimeo

 

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You can get yourself a copy of Shuggy Ji and Red Baraat’s past albums plus Sunny Jain’s other musical projects direct from the artists through their Bandcamp site. 

So then people, which ‘D’ is more up your musical alley - Dancehall Electro Hip-Hop’  from P-Money and Gappy Ranks – or Red Baraat’s ‘Dhol n Brass’?

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Independent Music Stores – The Last To Know

“Once upon a time it was just the radio stations that knew about a new music release before we did. These days now that it’s all on-line, we’re the last to know.” 

This was what a local independent music store owner said frustratedly to me this week as she searched on-line for a long time, unsuccessfully trying to find out about 3 new album releases from internationally-known music artists I asked her about buying, and pre-ordering if possible.

pre order music closed“I’ll keep looking for them, but the only way for now seems to be pre-ordering digital copies”, she said.

Buy new Janelle Monae cd from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

Buy Ne-Yo cd from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

(Not the particular albums I was looking for this week in my local, independent music store, but you get the picture)

The experience that I’d hoped to instead have in that music store was this…

I might be able to pre-order the albums from her. If not, she’d at least say “Yes, we’ll have them as soon as they’re released. Come back then”.

I’d leave the store happy.

Then I’d count down the days in anticipation and excitement of going back to the music store on the release date to pick up my new musical joy I’d been waiting to get my hands on and hear.

On the release date, I would go back to the music store and gladly hand over my money to the owner and walk away with my new record or cd.

The Record Store

I’d take it home and put it on. I’d listen to all of the sounds of the recording that the artist who made the music recorded and wanted me to hear. I’d admire the album art work. Check out the names of the artists who worked on the album and where it was recorded. I’d read the acknowledgments or other messages written by the artist.

It would be a happy, happy musical day for me.

I miss those good ol’ days. They weren’t so long ago.

Independent music store owners undoubtedly miss them too.

I suppose we should count our blessings that in the bad new days of digital music consumption, some independent music stores still have their doors open to go in and ask – that those store owners are passionate enough about music to stay open whilst barely making enough money to pay themselves a wage.

Yes, I know it’s all been said before but it needs to be said again and again.

Blessed be the independent music store owners.

Blessed be the music artists who release their music on vinyl and cd.

Tads Records - music stores, Jamaica

Damned be digital music consumption and it’s ever-increasing global monopoly.

Buy new music from music stores or pre order on iTunes?

Anyone out there apart from me and music store owners, feeling frustrated and saddened by these bad new days in the world of music? 

Funk fans out there who aren’t sure, hear this beloved George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars song in its dirty, compressed mp3 format, and mull over the format in which you’ll be buying the highly-anticipated new Funkadelic album that George Clinton has just announced is coming our way…

George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars - T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M. (1996)

George Clinton & The P-Funk All Stars – ‘Funky Kind (Gonna Knock It Down)’ – T.A.P.O.A.F.O.M (1996)

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