funk music

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Exclusive Interview: Analog Son

Posted by funkatop On June - 30 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Analog Son

Mr. Christopher sat down with Jordan Linit of Analog Son via Skype to talk about their upcoming tour that has them all over the Northwest including the upcoming Arise Festival.

Mr. Christopher picked up on Analog Son back more than two years ago in 2014 (see his original review here) and immediately began getting the word out to people who could flip the switch for them including John Heintz of the Big Ol’ Nasty Getdown and also reaching out to The New Mastersounds.

Here we are two years later and Analog Son is actively playing and touring with The New Mastersounds, Lettuce, Orgone, and others. Chris finally sits down and discusses their future, live recordings and much more only right here at Funkatopia. Nowhere else.

Review: Esperanza Spalding – Emily’s D+Evolution

Posted by funkatop On March - 22 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Esperanza Spalding - Emily's D+Evolution

Wow.

There are certain times when you see a spark of brilliance burn its way onto the world stage and then just as quickly flicker out and disappear. Not many can continue to follow an incredible debut album with a just as impressive sophomore album and then keep the booms coming album after album that they eclipse the previous efforts. Enter Esperanza Spalding’s Emily’s D+Evolution.

The beautifully talented bassist/vocalist Esperanza Spalding dug deep into her jazz funk sensibilities bringing out a breathtaking collection of songs that will take you down memory lane. But not because these are standards from the past, but because you can hear bits and pieces of influence from Steely Dan, Stevie Wonder, Thundercat, and a whole lot of Wayne Shorter.

During an interview with NPR she expounded on the album title indicating that the D+ was essentially a barely passing grade and can be seen as either an evolution or a de-evolution, but that we’re barely pushing through to the next level.

Whether you want to see it as devolution and evolution, and the place where they co-exist without one diminishing the other, or could look at it like barely having the tools that you need, but having to move forward, and having to keep moving,” Spalding says. “What do you do when you don’t really have all the tools that you need, but you have to survive? And you need to grow and expand?

I think that the best answer to that question of ‘What do you do?’ is, you get creative with the tools that you’ve got. I’m excited by that skill and the fruits of that intention — of that decision.

Emily is her middle name and this musical journey is very heavy jazz leaning and her insanely talented bass licks really are front and center in this musical masterpiece. No, really. It’s a masterpiece. The project focuses on her alter-ego Emily who she sees as a person that is the beneficiary of her hindsight. She is everything that Esperanza could have been, the good decisions she could have made, and the lessons she never learned.

She tells NPR, “I can start by saying that my personal relationship to Emily is that this is a spirit, or a being, or an aspect who I met, or became aware of. I recognize that my job — and it’s ongoing — is to be her arms and ears and voice and body. To say what she came to say, you know?

That’s my relationship with Emily — I see her and am informed by her, and recognize her spirit and her perspective. I get to be the researcher, the implementer and executor of that vision. It feels like I’m a side-person to her — I’m her artistic development team.

Through that process, I’m getting to know her more. I ask to Emily, ‘So, what did you come here to say? What do you want to do? What do you want to do that I didn’t do? Who are you and why are you here?

Esperanza then takes us on a journey through Emily’s life complete with off-putting forays into the realm of Flying Lotus to the perfect balance of sways and grooves. Powerful layered vocals marinating in-between snare shuffles and Sting-esque bass pops, walks and stiff riffs. Yeah, that’s how hard it is to describe what you’re listening to here.

It’s the moments where you let your guard down only to have the music drop out in songs like Ebony and Ivy where all of a of a sudden a monotone speech drones in, “…fill our minds with double standard vision by degrees we banish slaving over someone else’s questions test our problems and abolish all en-slavery and good grammar and forbid shovels picking your hammers and the starching linen to become the educated ones wrapped in them...” (we’ll let you hear it in its entirety for yourself.)

Funk The Fear is obviously one of our favorites with the intricate runs and slick bass licks and stutter stab drums and tasty fills complete with “Funk The Fear, Live Your Life” call outs.

album-coverThis is one of those albums that goes all over the musical landscape but one where you can never be prepared for what’s next as it jumps from one extreme to the other with a lot of musical theatrics similar to her live show.

There are tons of unexpected moments which has pretty much been Esperanza’s specialty from the day where she quietly walked on the Grammy stage in 2011 and stole away Justin Bieber‘s Best New Artist award. It was the first year that people who knew of Esperanza Spalding thought that it was one the few years that the Grammy’s got it right and you can guarantee that it won’t be the last time you hear her name.

20 Best Funk Albums of 2015

Posted by funkatop On January - 12 - 2016 21 COMMENTS
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By popular demand, the 2015’s best funk albums!

It’s GREATLY IMPORTANT that you realize that your favorite album might not be here because a) we only pick 20 and b) we may not have even heard of the one you like. So if we missed yours, PLEASE share it with everyone in the comments area.
The 2014 post from last year had loads of great comments of bands we missed and we don’t expect this year to be any different.

Like last year, we purposely did NOT add numbers in order to make sure that all are created equal in their funkiness. Enjoy this list, complete with links to check the albums on Amazon, iTunes and in some cases even get and listen to the albums for free!

Check out the playlist of these bands on Spotify!


 

lettuceLettuce – Crush (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

This live jam funk band has funked millions of faces for over 20 years and this follow up to 2012’s Fly album, this has been well worth the wait and a MUST to add to your funk collection. Not to mention a feature film focusing on the band is due out soon.

There aren’t many funk bands that have been together longer than Lettuce and when you hear the newest offering from this incredible band, you can hear it loud and clear.


 

Rock Candy Funk Party - Groove Is KingRock Candy Funk PartyGroove Is King (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Rock Candy Funk Party returns to the list for a 2nd year in a row with another funk masterpiece. This all star band features players like guitar Gods Joe Bonnamassa and Ron DeJesus, superstar drummer Tal Bergman, and bass thumpmaster Mike Merrit.

Outside of their solo work, they’ve also collectively shared the stage with everyone from Prince to Chaka Khan to Stevie Ray Vaughn to BB King. Full Funkatopia review.


Souljazz Orchestra - Resistance

Souljazz OrchestraResistance (Amazon | iTunes | Website)

We could explain it, but they do it best:
Resistance is a fierce, hard-hitting album, influenced in part by the dancefloor sounds of Francophone Africa and the French Caribbean – bringing in fresh elements of Coupé-Décalé, Zouk, and Ndombolo to the band’s heavy mix of Afro, Soul and Jazz styles – as well as powerful lyrics that deliver biting social commentary alongside messages of hope.”


 

Vulfpeck - Thrill of the ArtsVulfpeck – Thrill Of The Arts (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

The always on the cutting edge four piece band had even released a silent album in 2014  called Sleepify. Thrill Of The Arts is far from silent with stabbing bass line riffs, haunting keyboards and bright production work.

Vulfpeck came onto our radar thanks to Funkatopia fans of our 204 list comment area and that got them a spot on our list this year!

 


Freekbass - CincinnatiFreekbassCincinnati (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Freekbass makes a return to the best of list for two years in a row now with his new album Cincinnati. The outspoken bass player has shared the stage with tons of funk legends like Bernie Worrel, Bootsy Collins and others.

Everytime they go into the studio they get better and better and now 6 albums into it, they churn out another funkafied biscuit.


 

Prince, HitnRun Phase 2Prince HITnRUN Part 1 & 2  (Amazon -Phase One only | iTunes – Phase 2 Only)

Prince went through many iterations over the past few years, but surprised everyone with not one but two albums within a years time. While not full of funk front to back, there was enough funky tunes between the two of them to easily qualify as one bad to the bone collection.

Some of his best stuff in years landed on these two full length gems, the second of which came in completely under the radar to even his most devoted fan sites. Full Phase One Funkatopia review. Phase Two review.


 

Turkuaz - DigitoniumTurkuaz – Digitonium (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream – some songs)

Turkuaz is huge and bright and loud. Teetering on the edge of disco, they are full of contrast and their music is vibrant and happy. An insane collection of 23 tracks that could have split into two albums, but lucky for you, it wasn’t.

If Cameo would have taken their Word Up days and continued the journey, this is what it would have sounded like. Be sure to check the full Funkatopia Review.


 

Analog Son - Stomp and ShoutAnalog SonStomp and Shout (Amazon | Website | Stream)

Another band that revisited the “Best Of” list for a second year in the row is the mighty Analog Son. Easily one of our favorite new funk bands that has tons of jazz influences, but your head won’t stop bouncing during this ten track masterpiece.

Stomp and Shout is a force to be reckoned with and could be one of the best funky releases in a very long time.  You can check our review on their first album here.


 

Polyrhythmics - OctagonPolyrhythmicsOctagon (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Last year saw Polyrhythmics getting onto the list with their live recording. This year they hit the ground running with a brand new full length album that continues the funk mastery of the first album Libra Stripes.

There aren’t a lot of bands that have this full sound that is filled wth heavy emotion and nuance. Th Seattle based band delivers a heaping helping of what they call afro-psycho-beat, but whatever you call it, it’s funky and delicious.


 

Caboose - CoupeCaboose – Coupe (Amazon | iTunes)

Caboose is a one off album that combines elements of Headhunters and The Meters with true grit. This collection of songs was put together as a memoriam to their keyboardist Jonathan Cooper in order to properly capture the magic that was Caboose.

The end result was a blast of insanely good music that literally puts itself into the category of true funk classic. Be sure to read the full Funkatopia review here.


 

Dam Funk - Invite The LightDam Funk Invite The Light (Amazon | iTunes | Website)

Dam Funk isn’t just a master of Twitter, but also a master of producing some of the funkiest licks on the planet.

While he may be used to being the sideman and working with lots of acts including 2013’s 7 Days of Funk with Snoop Dogg, he finally released his newest solo albums that was about 5 years in the making and it comes out swinging featuring 20 tracks of funky goodness.


 

Orgone - Beyond The SunOrgone – Beyond The Sun  (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream – one song)

Orgone has an amazing penchant from finding some of the most incredible vocalists to fill out their project and it always outperforms the one before it, but still manages to keep its integrity throughout and nearing 15 years since their debut release almost 15 years ago.

2015 was no different with Orgone releasing their new album Beyond The Sun and keeping the funk thick and palpable. It’s undeniably funky. Read the full review on Funkatopia here.


 

TuxedoTuxedo – Tuxedo (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Mayer Hawthorne and Jake One join forces to put out a funk classic in the true vain of the disco laden 70’s. While this super-duo team had amazing solo careers in full swing, they decided that there was a hole to be filled and they would be the ones to fill it.

In the spirit of Chic, Plush, Shalamar and Zapp, Tuxedo was a welcome surprise that landed in a perfect spot and was the gift that just kept giving.


 

Judith Hill - Back In TimeJudith HillBack in Time (iTunes | Website | Stream – snippets)

Judith Hill blasted onto the scene as part of the TV series The Voice and immediately grabbed the attention of Prince who quickly took her under his wing. The result was the release of her debut album Back In Time which contained some of the most blistering funk this side of Minneapolis.

Prince got sued by her producer when he launched her album for free to Live Nation subscribers for a brief period of time and took it down 24 hours later. While it’s not free anymore, it’s worth every single dime.


 

Main Squeeze - Mind Your HeadThe Main Squeeze – Mind Your Head (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

The Main Squeeze is one of those bands that catches you by surprise and if the first time you see them is live, you certainly will never forget it.

The band was based out of Chicago, but has recently migrated west to California to capture more opportunities and grow beyond their Chi-town home. Fronted by huge powerful vocals, funky grooves with a dash of jam band influences, there’s just nothing like The Main Squeeze.


 

Ohio Players - More Funky Soul PartyOhio Players More Funky Soul Party (Amazon | Website | Stream)

No one saw this compilation coming that was put together by StarPointe as a double album filled with probably the maximum amount of music that you can fit on a collection.

24 tracks pack this wall to wall compilation of Ohio Players tunes from the beginning years, but not touching on their hits in order to show just how formidable this band was even in their early days and it sends a very powerful message.


 

Galactic - Into The DeepGalactic  – Into The Deep (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Galactic is the ultimate New Orleans style funk jam band that has been a force to be reckoned with for over 20 years. Every album brings new flavor to showcase a new musical boundary for them.

Into The Deep finds Galactic returning to their roots bringing deep heavy grooves with massive hooks and melody lines. It’s an album full of great tracks with some guest spots by Macy Gray, Mavis Staples and many more.


 

Monophonics - Sound Of SinningMonophonics – Sound Of Sinning (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

The Monophonics have been stomping onto the scene with a sweat drenched funk with some fantastic deep soulful swings.

Recently featured last year on America’s Got Talent during a dancing segment gave them an unexpected boost into the national spectrum even though many had already been recognized for their intense brooding funky prowess. It’s deep, growly, funky soul.


 

Pimps of Joytime - Jukestone ParadisePimps of Joytime Jukestone Paradise (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Pimps of Joytime is the ultimate band that is full of diverse sounds and styles all rooted in funk.

Jukestone Paradise is packed full of dance beats, slick bits of EDM, all roasted and barbecued in a 70’s funk sauce. No two songs sound alike even though their style is haunting and at some times even a bit trippy. But that’s what makes Pimps all that more special.

 


 

The Internet - Ego DeathThe Internet Ego Death (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

The furthest reaching funk flavoring in the list and a perfect ending to a perfect 2015 list. The Internet came to our attention from Funkatopia friend Janelle Monae, The Internet are moody, theatrical, funky and full of sexual charge right out of the gate.

The offshoots of the Odd Future family show no signs of slowing down while continually touring the country in various festivals. The Internet are starting to gain some serious traction and the positive vibes you’re hearing are completely worth it.


THE OVERSIGHT PICK

The oversight pick is an album that we somehow lost our minds and completely missed. Not because we didn’t know it existed, but we just forgot to include it in the list for final consideration and if it had been on the list, it , without a doubt, unquestionably, would have been in the top 20.  And while we could just “let it go”, it literally begins to eat away at our soul every passing day and we toss and turn at night kicking ourselves.

Last year, it was Funkadelic’s release because it came in late, late in December. This year, there was no excuse. We just made a very stupid mistake. Time to fix that oversight right here, right now….

newmastersoundsThe New Mastersounds  Made For Pleasure (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

The New Mastersounds are one of our favorite funk bands of all time and their new album Made For Pleasure is a true funk masterpiece and they deserve to be on this list even over some others that are here. But we’re not kicking anyone off the list and are making good on our oversight.

ALL HAIL THE NEW MASTERSOUNDS!


 

 

Added Bonus!

Moonchild - Please RewindMoonchild Please Rewind (Amazon | iTunes | Website | Stream)

Technically not funk and falling more under the dome of neo-soul or whatever you’re calling it nowadays, this act was so incredibly tough not to get on the list.

They are truly undeniable and shockingly, a relatively new band to the scene with only one other album release from 2012. Please take a listen to this album.

 

Check out the playlist of these bands on Spotify!


 

Extra Bonuses from YOU!
Check the suggestions below from you, our readers. We know we missed a bunch, so help us out.

Did we miss some more? Add them to the comments below!  Hook us up and remember, the albums had to have been released in 2015 to qualify for the list.

Check out the playlist of these bands on Spotify!

Review: Prince – HITnRUN Phase 2

Posted by funkatop On December - 12 - 2015 1 COMMENT
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Prince, HitnRun Phase 2

Hear the album here or purchase the two phases here.

Prince has done it again and by done it again, we mean caught everyone off guard.  Not even his valued informants were made aware that his new album HITnRUN Phase 2 would be hitting Tidal overnight.

The new album features 12 songs including some that were unveiled years previously such as Screwdriver, Xtralovable, Baltimore and more recently Stare.

Most folks (including us) had expected to see Screwdriver on the 3rd Eye Girl release, but he was apparently planning on releasing it within this package.

RocknRoll Love Affair made a debut previously but this album version is quite a bit different than what was offered before. Even Screwdriver is a bit more toned down.

When She Comes had only been heard one time before at a show in Los Angeles back in 2011 when many that heard it assumed that it would just be another one of those great songs that would be released on some future album that would be released long after we were dead and gone.

The tracklisting is as follows;

  • Baltimore
  • RocknRoll Love Affair
  • 2Y 2D 
  • Look At Me, Look At U
  • Stare
  • Xtralovable
  • Groovy Potential
  • When She Comes
  • Screwdriver
  • Black Muse
  • Revelation
  • Big City

The album still has the slow jams that the ladies love including Look At Me, Look At U, When She Comes and Revelation.  But one thing this album does not shy away from is the great infusion of funk like the aforementioned Stare and Xtralovable along with grown folks funk that blends sweet and tasty jazz riffs like Big City, 2Y 2D, and the building burn of Groovy Potential.

Again, Prince has layered a great funky album and it is well worth your time to check it out.

If you’re doing anything right now that doesn’t involve either listening to or buying this great new phase, YOUNT! You out your head.

Hear the album here or purchase the two phases here.

Review: Heavy Chevy

Posted by funkatop On October - 16 - 2015 ADD COMMENTS
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Heavy Chevy

Atlanta based Heavy Chevy is coming down the tracks swinging with a new 8 track album called Black Light. The vinyl release hits the streets on October 24th.

Priding themselves on the deep, raw flavor of the sound reminiscent of The Gap Band‘s deep tracks, Heavy Chevy is full on brass horns and key stabs. While mostly instrumental, vocals do make an appearance a couple times during the run.

Get a Hold, Music and You Got Me premiere the vocals of keyboardist Michelle Marshall. The latter features sampling of Chic in style, delivery and power, Michelle’s voice is powerful and strong. You Got Me was also released on Soundcloud here to get a feel as to what you can expect from the full album vibe.

The band consists of Skape Zilla (keys, samples), Luke Zollinger (bass), Mike Applebaum (keys, trumpet), Radley Fricker (drums), Travis Cottle (trombone, guitar), Tony James (percussion), and Michelle Marshall (keys, vocals).

HC_Cover_FinalThe album also features work from producer Graham Marsh (Cee Lo Green, Bruno Mars), engineer Ralph Cacciurri (Alicia Keys, Outkast), and mastering engineer John Horesco (Lecrae, B.O.B.) who all lent a hand in the finalized release that people will get to hear come the end of October.

The collection of songs is raw and thick with leanings toward the cosmic synth lines and samples that weave throughout the album.  Heavy Chevy borrows heavily from all of the funk decades and pulls the best elements out of each to create a new raw funk edge.

Follow the band at www.heavychevyband.com to check out where you can snag a copy of the Black Light album soon when it hits the streets. As of this writing, you can get a copy at their live shows, so visit their website above to find out when they play next in your town.

We’ll be paying close attention to how this band progresses as their new release begins to get some traction here in the ATL.

Review: Turkuaz – Digitonium

Posted by funkatop On October - 13 - 2015 1 COMMENT
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turkuazFunkatopia tries to pride ourselves on finding the next great funk band that will explode through the stratosphere and this month, there was a huge flurry of acts that landed on our doorstep. One of which is the super funky outfit Turkuaz and their new album Digitonium.

The new release is a massive 23 tracks with only a few segues in the mix. The concept of this new album appeared to be capturing that 80’s funk sound and unveiling new sways and riffs to fill in the decades while still maintaining tongue in cheek delivery.

This is a production. The whole showcase of performers from their outfits to the squeaky clean synth-focused production screams that funk specific era that blossomed in the decade of excess on the other side of the deep grungy funk of the 70’s.

The merging of sound derived from the 80’s Word Up version of Cameo and Roger‘s More Bounce To the Ounce and adding a dash of techno to boot, but short of stepping on the toes of The Floozies.

Spanning the watercolors of that era of funk to include the light jazz flavoring of Brand New Heavies, it’s a full fledged journey into a funkafied time machine. It’s a super polished production and with the immense amount of material, something they take very seriously.

turkuaz-digitoniumThe 9-piece band from Brooklyn, New York defines their sound as Powerfunk and along with their sense of funk laden melodies comes an unusual song naming convention.

With song titles like European Festivity Nightmare, Bijou Drains The Birddog, Percy Thrills The Moondog, and Murder Face, the titles alone will peak your curiosity.

The standout songs on the album are plentiful including my personal favorite Nightswimming with its dark meaty bump, and the Thomas Dolby new wave feel of the title track Digitonium which changes directions halfway through to slather on more funk layers.

The albums first single is The Generator which serves as the mile marker on the album where the songs take on a very distinct new wave funk slant to complete the journey for the last few songs. For those who couldn’t resist the new wave funk of Thomas Dolby, The Fixx and Peter Gabriel, Turkuaz has a little something for you as well.

The Digitonium album by Turkuaz is on sale right here on iTunes, so pick it up without delay and visit their website at http://www.turkuazband.com/ on their extensive tour that most likely has them coming through your town soon.

Review: Caboose – Coupe

Posted by funkatop On October - 12 - 2015 3 COMMENTS
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caboose
It’s very rare that a new band comes out swinging unless you see them coming from a mile away, but nowadays discovering new music has become easier with the advent of Spotify, Tidal, Pandora and the like.
But it doesn’t make it any less frustrating when that band is an act like Caboose that tracks you down with their new album entitled Coupe and it’s unmistakably super funky.
While the entire story is unknown, Caboose is based out of Ventura, California and consists of Eric Walters (Guitar), Mike Thomas (Drums), Brian Boom Carroll (Bass) and the late Jonathan Cooper (Keys).  It was  Jonathan’s final album before his passing that was recorded in 2014.
While the entire band is showcased by their immense talent and impressive chops, Jonathan Cooper is by far center stage on these recordings with every track spotlighting keys and organ stabs. All of which are impeccable and he can rest in peace knowing that this album firmly establishes his prominence as an undeniable master keyboardist.
Engineer Chris DeNogean spent some quiet time to properly capturing and polishing those recordings to construct a true funk-jazz masterpiece that would be an amazing addition to any funkateers collection.
Caboose - CoupeThe end result is a blend of The Meters and Headhunters with bursts of moody diversions like Zuma that take the Herbie Hancock references up to a second tier.
This album will live in infamy because all of these songs will be sampled from here into eternity. The arrangements are super strong and are all perfectly mixed and there isnt a weak song in the mix out of the collection.
With incredible standouts like The Drop which hearken back to Traffic‘s Glad, smooth barn burners like Top Down and Yap, and moody offshoots like Zuma, there isn’t wasted space to be found.
Whether Caboose will use this mountain of awesome to establish something moving forward or if it was simply designed to show homage to Jonathan Cooper, it’s yet to be seen.
But what we can see is a whopping 5 Afro award from Funkatopia for hand delivering one of the best funk albums of the year onto our doorstep.
5 out of 5 afros

 

Review: Prince – HITnRUN Phase One

Posted by funkatop On September - 7 - 2015 5 COMMENTS
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Prince HITnRUN Phase OneOn September 7th, Prince released another new album exclusively on Tidal entitled HITnRUN Phase One. Out of the gate, everything seems different about the album including the fact that the One in Phase One wasn’t changed to the number 1, which concerns us for some reason. It screams different right on the cover. It also insinuates that there may be other “phases” that we can expect in the very near future. Color us super happy because any music from Prince is welcome.

To start, the album was produced by Joshua Welton, husband of 3rd Eye Girl drummer Hannah Ford Welton. Prince giving up the production reigns is groundbreaking if only because Prince is so incredibly protective over how his music is represented. Joshua’s involvement doesn’t stop there since he also shares writing credits as well. The end result is the boost in music variety and because it allows Prince to focus on the creation process and Joshua brings a fresh set of eyes to the process.

The album opens with clips of classics like 1999 and Let’s Go Crazy before diving into the Judith Hill led Million $ Show.  That sets the stage for a superb collection of tunes and offers up glimpses of some great things that may be built on later down the road.

The first of which is when Prince brings in new faces and voices like Rita Ora, rapper Curly Fryz, Judith Hill and Lianne La Havas. The latter two who themselves have put out some of the best albums in 2015 and now share the stage with his purple majesty.  This trend is very welcome.

Lianne La Havas who is my new favorite obsession, brought life, vibe and dramatics to the beautiful Art Official Age. Some of her excerpts along with pieces of Clouds are brought into the mood-setting Mr. Nelson. It’s also one of the more techno offerings on the album while still providing a lot of musical gymnastics at the same time.

Our second favorite change is that we especially love when Prince doesn’t worry about closing up a song and let’s the groove run for an extended period of time to simply let it flow and give the listener a chance to appreciate the song structure. It was what made the B sides of yesteryear so epic.  Those long breaths of musical nirvana that don’t require words.  The extended musical breaks come back in various samplings such as the final minutes of This Could B Us, and the insanely funky Ain’t About To Stop. And we can’t go without mentioning how great it is to hear Prince figure out a way use the word taffeta in a song.

There are many standouts on the album, but if we had a gold plated microphone gun to our head, we would choose our new personal favorite X’s Face and the closing song June.

X’s Face is the techno king of the album going to territory that doesn’t get a lot of of time from Prince. We love when he gets experimental and delves into unusual landscapes. Those are the pieces that have always made Prince such an eclectic character whether he’s aware of it or not. Over his career, those songs that grab handfuls of your hair and insist that you to listen like All The Critics Love YouDarling Nikki, Annie Christian, Something In The Water, and similar songs are always those songs that end up on those Prince mixtapes. X’s Face is your new addition to those tapes. Here’s hoping that more are on the way. We know what polished sounds like. Give us more of that raw experimental white knuckle dirty vibe and we’re in.

And then there is the closing song June which hearkens back to the story filled lyricism of Ballad of Dorothy Parker and Sometimes It Snows In April. It’s that line where emotion and music perfectly make love and dance together. June appears to be Prince‘s reflection on his birthday and how he feels as if he were born too late. He feels that he should have been part of the Woodstock era, but we firmly disagree. He single-handedly made the 80’s bearable and even decades later is still churning out phenomenal music. The song itself is very introspective and filled with moody energy that’s beautifully balanced with the music.  That type of layering make the song irresistible.

Overall, Joshua Welton has done a fantastic job behind the board and capturing the mixology that Prince has perfected over the years.  Here’s to many more productions from Joshua that will free up Prince to focus on creating. After this release, Prince should feel confident enough in Joshua’s process to start enjoying himself even more and we look forward to those oncoming phases.

Regardless, this is yet another Prince album that’s worthy of checking out. Even if you have to experiment using Tidal to get to it, it’s worth the trouble. You knew it was going to happen, Prince has earned yet another 5 star afro award from Funkatopia.

5 out of 5 afros

Review: Lianne La Havas – Blood

Posted by funkatop On July - 31 - 2015 1 COMMENT
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Lianne La Havas Blood reviewOne of the benefits of frequently going to concerts is that every now and then, the artist will bestow upon you an awesome gift. In exchange for me purchasing a VIP ticket to Lianne La Havas‘s show in Atlanta in October was a download of her new album Blood as soon as it hit the streets, which was today.

God’s honest truth, I swear that Lianne’s first album Is Your Love Big Enough was easily one of the best albums I had heard in many years, so I was expecting no less from her newest release that’s been over 3 years coming to the month.

The new album features a lot of great surprises like the album opener Unstoppable which was built on top of an instrumental from the trio The Invisible. A thick and richly chocolate infused groove. Plus that the song Green and Gold was cowritten and coproduced by one of our favorite performers, Jamie Lidell.

The entire album is full of incredible rich production that fills the sound waves with smooth wide bass riffs, soft drum patterns, intricate acoustic guitar walks, and vocal layers poured over like syrup on pancakes. All of which blend to create a vibrant handheld tour through a very broad and detailed pallette of colors.


All of the songs stand on their own as powerful testaments to heavy production work. The overall result is a full neo-soul release said to be inspired by her Jamaican and Greek roots although there’s no reggae infusion to speak of. Although all of the songs serve as a standard as the perfect background music to digging your toes into the sand.

Some highlights include the track Wonderful which features Disclosure‘s Howard Lawrence who brings the same breadth of vibe that he helped deliver on Latch with Sam Smith.

Midnight is one of a few featured upbeat tracks that showcases Lianne’s vocal reach as she hollers and stretches her range to take it into another realm not previously recorded on any of her previous releases which makes it all the more surprising.

From the locomotive rush of Grow to the surprising Never Get Enough that jumps back and forth from ambient acoustic to a muffled techno rocker, the album is riddled with brilliance. Haunting acoustic guitar work trickling all over on tracks and gorgeous strategically placed string sections in songs like Good Goodbye that continue to fill out her acoustic stylings that made her first release such a dominant presence in the music world.

This album has hits all through it like the already released single of Unstoppable and even the amazing catchy What You Don’t Do.  Terrestrial radio will undoubtedly ignore this yet another great release and we’ll all scream “Travesty!” that will fall upon deaf ears.

If you have to have the best of what’s left of the neo-soul movement with current tech edged flavor and gorgeous vocals from a beautiful woman who is filled with passion and verve, look no further than Lianne La Havas‘s newest Blood offering.

Get it like right now.

Review: Rock Candy Funk Party – Groove Is King

Posted by funkatop On July - 28 - 2015 1 COMMENT
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Rock Candy Funk Party - Groove Is KingSupergroup Rock Candy Funk Party (RCFP) has done it yet again with their instrumental funk rager called Groove is King(due on the streets 7/31). The more deadly nasty funk grooves from the first offering slid into the back seat and taking the steering wheel is the groove-laden jazz riffs that are the right side of tasty and the left side of hot sauce.

The RCFP supergroup consists of Tal Bergman on drums (Chaka Khan, BB King, Billy Idol), the legendary Joe Bonamassa on guitar, Ron DeJesus also on guitar (The Emotions, Tito Puente), and Mike Merrit on bass who some may recognize as the bass player from Conan O’Brien’s Late Night show band The Basic Cable Band, but who has also shared the stage with Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Ray Vaughn and many others.

The group also features collaborations from other musicians that round things out on various tracks such as keyboardist Renato Neto (Prince, Rod Stewart) who was part of the core during RCFP‘s first release, sax player Ada Rovatti & trumpeter Randy Brecker (Brecker Brothers), James Campagnola also on sax (Eric Clapton, David Sanborn), Daniel Sadownick on percussion (Brecker Brothers, Steely Dan), and Fred Kron on keys (Family Force 5).

The 16 track album is technically 13 due to 3 segues from the gravelly-throated Mr. Funkadamus who sets the tone for the audio assault you’re about to experience. Here’s a taste;

The song selections jump from laid back stompers like East Village and The 6 Train To The Bronx over to songs such as Don’t Be Stingy With The SMPTE that some may call flat out disco in the vain of Jamiroquai style string stabs.

There are many great standouts on this release such as Rock Candy with its quick finger keyboard chops backed by a East St. Louis Toodaloo horn section, and the fantastic title track Groove Is King that is dark, bassy, super deep and thick.

There is one strange bird in the mix and that would be the cover of Peter Gabriel‘s Digging In The Dirt. While at first it seemed out of place, you began to quickly realize the funky nuances of the song that you probably missed in the original. Outside of the Mr. Funkadamus segues, it’s also the only song that features vocals from powerhouse vocalist Zia.

For fans of the styling of old school Headhunters or Tower of Power, you’ll definitely feel at home with the jazz funk flair of Don’t Funk With Me. For 80’s funk fans of The Gap Band or Lakeside, you’ll have a shot to the jugular as well with the synth pop laden C You On The Flip Side or alternately the 80’s keyboard stab filled Low Tide.

The album is filled front to back with great bouncy grooves and sweet meaty riffs including great surprises like the closing techno/hard rock tag team of The Fabulous Tales Of Two Bands.

It’s simply packed full of great tunes that will quench the funk quota for both funk fanatics and jazz-funk afficianados.

Groove is King hits the streets on July 31, 2015 and you can nab the CD as well as a Bonus DVD which contains over 50 minutes of footage from the studio sessions, interviews with the members, as well as some other surprises.

Hit their site at http://www.rockcandyfunkparty.com/ for all of the details and snatch a free song download in the process.

Rock Candy Funk Party yet again snags our illustrious 5 out of 5 afros. Well done funky brethren.

5 out of 5 afros

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