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Reviews: Future Jazz / Soul


Review: Rae Davis Positive Thinking!

Label: Exponential

Rookie Texan instrumentalist Rae Davis is off to a solid start with his debut, Positive Thinking! Despite the exclamation-tinged title, the nine compositions here aren’t quite upbeat. Rather, the San Antonio native prefers a chill, jazz-driven take on downtempo. Read more » 

Review: Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno Death of a Revolution

Label: Tru Thoughts

Quantic Presenta Flowering Inferno is yet another nom de plume of Will Holland–a Colombia-based DJ and musician of many guises (and instruments) who’s been a rhythmic globetrotter in the world music realm for years. On Death of a Revolution, Holland advances beyond his studies as a seasoned virtuoso in bossa nova, salsa, and jazz, and dials in to the dub and reggae resources of the Caribbean, unleashing an inner tropical beast in the process that’s yields mixed results. Read more » 

Review: elodieO Stubborn

Label: Mulatta

Over the past decade, it seems that the nouveau-chanteuse style of female singers has become the opposite of the progressive pop our Francophonic friends once reveled in. Rather than Edith Piaf’s bombastic swoon, or Francoise Hardy’s sexy, pouty melancholy, we’re offered a succession of bland M.O.R. singers whose revivalism forgets the groundbreaking magnificence of those lush arrangements. And then, there’s elodieO, a singer whose breathy, visceral voice is matched only by the 21st-century downtempo electro-pop that backs her up. Read more » 

Review: Jamie Lidell “Little Bit of Feel Good”

Label: Warp

Different, but in the same vein as his previous album, Jamie Lidell manages to hit the '60s vibe, but you can still sense that it was produced in the modern day. “Little Bit of Feel Good” sometimes sounds like Stevie Wonder's Innervisions but the beatboxing is a dead giveaway that this song is from the future. Still, he knows how to use his influences and doesn‘t try to hide it.


Review: Various Daptone 7-Inch Singles Collection, Vol. 2

Label: Daptone

If there’s a true Bushwick funk sound (and there ought to be, just so we can all say “Bushwick funk” on the regular), then the good people at Daptone certainly deserve credit for putting the rough-and-tumble Brooklyn neighborhood on the map. The label’s acclaimed 7-inch catalog has sparked a collective soul revival since its inception in 2001, hovering in the spaces between Stax and Motown on the strength of charismatic singers like Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley and Lee Fields–all of whom step into the spotlight here. Read more » 

Review: Martina Topley-Bird “Baby Blue”

Label: Independiente

We have been listening to Martina since Tricky's Maxinquaye album, and she always surprises us with her songs–she's always experimenting. The Blue God is quite different from her debut LP, Quixotic. With a quick listen and a peek at the artwork you sense a Japanese influence and some big pop flavor. “Baby Blue” has a '60s feel–beautiful melody with some great Danger Mouse production. He is always ahead in a way-back kind of way.


Review: Atjazz Full Circle

Label: Neuton

Lesson in contemporary musical production, part one: “Underlined,” the third track and first minor masterpiece on Martin Iveson’s new album under his Atjazz moniker, Full Circle. Vocalists Ernesto and Cee Rock do a none-too-shabby job lending soulful hooks and Native Tongues-style rhymes–par for the course on this album of collaborations with a series of vocalists from the pan-nu-jazz multiverse. But it’s Atjazz’s ability to layer droplets of subtle tones like archaeological strata that makes these tracks bump-worthy for the dancers and discussion-worthy for the pundits. Read more » 

Review: NOMO Ghost Rock

Label: Ubiquity

On their self-titled debut, Michigan-based NOMO took Afrobeat in a completely new, gorgeously distorted, and fuzzy direction, but their sophomore stab makes no attempt to serve up more of the same. Few album titles could live up to the promisingly odd-sounding title Ghost Rock, yet 30 seconds into “Brainwave” you understand where it comes from. Yes, there are horns aplenty. Yes, African influence is abundant. (“All the Stars” features a wonderful rhythmic backdrop, perhaps thanks to percussionist Adam Rudolph.) And yes, their sound is still deeply entrenched in funk. Read more » 

Review: Various Soul Messages From Dimona

Soul Messengers started out on the South Side of Chicago, taking in the Marcus Garvey-tinged ideas of the Black Hebrew movement while learning to work the dancefloor with their mid-’60s funk tunes. With the specter of the Promised Land looming, the trio toured Liberia before eventually arriving in Dimona, Israel–“the center of the spiritual universe,” say the liner notes. Soul Messages From Dimona, one of many great reissues from Numero Group, collects rare tracks of psychedelic gospel and spiritual soul from Soul Messengers and related groups recorded in Israel. Read more » 

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