funk music


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

EXCLUSIVE LISTEN! PHO’s New Album Two Preview

Posted by funkatop On May - 10 - 2017 2 COMMENTS
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PHOalbumFunkatopia is your EXCLUSIVE home of the debut preview launch of PHO‘s new album Two where you get to hear the album two days before its official release.

After being discovered by Prince on Youtube, the band was asked to come to Paisley Park and open for the legendary Larry Graham. The event went so well that Prince took to Twitter and announced “Come back anytime. Just holla.”

The band then began work on their sophomore album Two at Pachyderm Studio in Minnesota under the production of John Davis who has been at the helm of many incredible albums like Fly by Lettuce and Eric Krasno leading to one of the most funkiest collections in years.

Mr. Christopher joined PHO to discuss the new album and more about their journey. Enjoy the interview and the exclusive preview of their full album below.  Click here to pre-Order the album now!

LISTEN! New Prince Songs Released

Posted by funkatop On April - 18 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Prince - DeliveranceUPDATED 4/20/2017:

Rogue Music Alliance has announced that they will be releasing a brand new 6 song EP from Prince that will include 6 previously unreleased tracks (technically 5). You may be asking who Rogue Music Alliance is and you’d be right to ask.

Rogue Music Alliance is a music group put together by Ian Boxill who is a producer based in California that ahs worked with acts such as 2Pac, Janet Jackson, and Gladys Knight. During the period of 2006-2008, Prince co-produced and co-wrote 5 songs with Boxill putting together what they referred to as a “Man Opera.”

At the time, Boxill was required to sign a confidentiality agreement that kept him from distributing, using or sharing anything the pair worked on. It also specifically denoted that Prince was the sole owner of the material.

Fast forward a decade and Boxill is all set to release the 5 songs on Friday April 21, 2017, the one year anniversary of his passing. Paisley Park has been desperately trying to stop the release since March and has been flat out denied by Boxill who appears to be operating on an alternate universal plain.

Boxill had spent a long time mixing the songs and very simply stated, “Prince once told me that he would go to bed every night thinking of ways to bypass major labels and get his music directly to the public,” he is quoted as saying. “When considering how to release this important work, we decided to go independent because that’s what Prince would have wanted.”

Prince’s estate had a different view of Boxill, telling Billboard magazine, “Mr. Boxill did not comply with his agreement,” the estate said. “Instead, Mr. Boxill maintained copies of certain tracks, waited until after Prince’s tragic death, and is now attempting to release tracks without the authorization of the Estate and in violation of the agreement and applicable law.

The estate confirmed that it “is taking immediate legal actions to prevent Mr. Boxill’s continuing violations of his agreement and the rights of the Estate and its partners in Prince’s recordings.”  They filed suit on Friday April 14th, but had to re-file in California where Boxill resides which didn’t hit until Tuesday.

ITunes and Apple Music made the title track Deliverance available for purchase  along with the ability to pre-order the entire collection. That has now been pulled and the release has been blocked and is now being pulled completely.

The EP tracklisting was;

Deliverance
I Am
Touch Me
Sunrise Sunset
No One Else
I Am (Extended version)

 

On the flip side, many people clamored to get a hold of the tracks before the hammer fell due to the fact that many people have expressed grave concern with the release schedule of Paisley Park that has only offered another greatest hits collection with only one previously unreleased song (Moonbeam Levels).

Parliament’s Robert “P-Nut” Johnson Passes

Posted by funkatop On March - 14 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Photo courtesy of Funkatopia.com

Photo courtesy of Funkatopia.com

Not many people know about Robert P-Nut Johnson, but his presence as a background vocalist for Bootsy Collin’s Rubber Band and George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic is immensely felt across their discography.

Born in 1947, he played with a lot of local bands in the Baltimore area, but would start his true funk journey with Bootsy’s Rubber Band in 1976 as well as doing studio work with P-Funk. That was over 40 years ago.

Bootsy Collins would stop touring in 1979 and that’s when P-Nut moved to P-Funk permanently. P-Nut would actively be a part of George Clinton‘s various incarnation of the band and we were blessed to have seen him multiple times before he passed. The shot above is one that Mr. Christopher was lucky enough to capture.

P-Nut passed away on March 12th, 2017 onward to the great Mothership in the sky and it was officially announced the following day. No cause of death was made available, but he will sorely be missed.

Interview: Tayo of Five Alarm Funk

Posted by funkatop On March - 14 - 2017 ADD COMMENTS
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Five Alarm Funk - Sweat

Mr. Christopher got a chance to sit down with Tayo Branston, drummer and vocalist of Five Alarm Funk.

They discuss their new album Sweat, great funk bands from Canada you need to hear, their big upcoming tour, and what it’s like being a funk band in Vancouver.

Tune into the Soundcloud interview below that also features two tracks from the brand new album!

20 Best Funk Albums of 2016

Posted by funkatop On January - 7 - 2017 44 COMMENTS
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Here it is! 2016’s best funk albums!

This year was insanely tough. There weren’t a lot of true funk releases, but we hear that 2017 has some great funk coming down the pike including a new album from both George Clinton and Parliament. But without retyping the same things we always say, here’s our pre-ramble.

It’s GREATLY IMPORTANT that you realize that your favorite 2016 funk album might not be here because a) we only pick 20, b) it may not have been released in 2016, and c) we may not have even heard of it. So if we missed it, PLEASE share it in the comments area.

You can check out the posts from previous years like 2014 and 2015 and also enjoy tons more selections in those comment sections.

Again, they are not numbered since they are all funky and created equal in their funkiness.

Check out the playlist of these bands on Spotify!


childish-gambino-awaken-my-loveChildish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

We love it when we are sideswiped by an album and Donald Glover‘s new Childish Gambino was just the distraction we weren’t expecting or even thought that we needed.  Taking a break from his positions of producer, star, and writer for the magnificent show Atlanta, Glover went completely off the rails for his newest offering.

Completely abandoning his normal rap delivery, he displayed his love for all things Parliament and Funkadelic that even got the attention of George Clinton who mentioned the album and offered his praise for the respect. No rap here. Only funk.


psychic-mirrors-nature-of-evilPsychic Mirrors – Nature Of Evil
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Psychic Mirrors was never on our radar either, but they certainly are now. If you are a fan of 80’s funk, it’s as if they are paying homage to every funk hit of that era. Every single song is dripping with keyboard and drum machine funk nostalgia.

The entire album seems like a blatant homage to The Gap Band, Cameo and everything in between that may had any pop sensibilities back in the day. It is pure 80’s funk nostalgia that will easily bring a smile to your face.


new-mastersounds-nashville-session

The New Mastersounds – The Nashville Session
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

The New Mastersounds are no strangers to Funkatopia and you can hear them online via the FUNKEDUP app as well as revisit interviews we’ve done with them in the past.

The Nashville Session is a superb collection of their funk fare and it’s just as great as it’s always been. They took specific selections from their many years together, got a small listening audience together and recorded their live performance in one grand evening at the Welcome to 1979 studio in Nashville, recording it onto 1 inch tape and limiting its release to a mere 1000 vinyl pressings. Luckily, you can also get it digitally.


the-apples-dragonzThe Apples – Dragonz
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

It’s literally is impossible to pigeonhole The Apples who are a collective of students from Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music and they celebrate their heritage through music which somehow skewed and output a super funky delivery.

Armed with turntables, a horn section, drums, stand up bass and whatever else they can throw at it, The Apples end up with super funky songs that mix in DJ sensibilities and the end result is bizarre and funky all in the same breath.


snarky-puppy-culcha-vulchaSnarky Puppy – Culcha Vulcha
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Snarky Puppy is always a force to be reckoned with and 2016 proved to be another dominating year. Snarky Puppy is a group compiled of some of the finest musicians on the planet and lucky for us their newest offering keeps their normal formula in the form of Culcha Vulcha which tilts the needle to funk and jazz.

While there are still moments of grown folk music and smooth jazz, the album is filled with plenty of funk music with spicy jazz flavoring and plenty to go around.


the-motet-totemThe Motet – Totem
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify | Stream)

The Motet have definitely skyrocketed on the funk music scene since 2000 and are finally getting the appreciation they deserve. And they returned the favor in 2016 with the release of two albums including Totem and a new Live at Red Rocks album.

Even though they are 16+ years into the game, their albums still have that old school feel which is a feat in itself. That good feeling, party music that The Motet does to perfection and Totem is no exception.


dr-lonnie-smith-evolutionDr. Lonnie Smith – Evolution
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Dr. Lonnie Smith may be unknown to most, but he is one of the originals on the funk jazz scene and he is no joke on the Hammond organ. And his new album Evolution certainly puts him in the limelight again where he deserves to be.

He is a Hammond virtuoso and paid his dues with George Benson’s Quartet and was always actively involved with Lou Donaldson. From the opening 14 minute jam session with Robert Glasper, this album is magic and his first album back on Blue Note since his 1970 release Drives. Yes, we said 1970.


pigeons-playing-ping-pong-pleasurePigeons Playing Ping Pong – Pleasure
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Pigeons Playing Ping Pong not only have a great band name, they have a great funk album in the form of Pleasure. This festival funk band has been stealing hearts across the nation with their nutty on-stage personas that are off the wall and hard to resist.  If you’re not bopping your head to the music, you’re laughing and smiling at their antics.

Pleasure has that stoner funk jam band feel that they somehow managed to replicate on recording which many bands from that genre have a difficult time accomplishing. The songs all have a happy, dance, or psychedelic feel, but every bit of it is infused with happy funk elements. Yay!


lettuce-mt-crushmoreLettuce – Mt. Crushmore
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Lettuce is pure old school and they have been around for the better part of two decades. Being blessed to not only have seen them multiple times, but also to have captured recordings, Lettuce is a funk fans dream.

Their huge sound and massive vibe is so mesmerizing, that you can’t stop listening. Mt. Crushmore is not only a great new funky album from the masters, but a journey. The only disappointment with this offering is that the album is super short (under 20 minutes) since it’s essentially outtakes from last years Crush (which made it onto the 2015 list), but it’s still so frigging good.


lack-of-afro-hello-babyLack Of Afro – Hello, Baby
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Multi-instrumentalist, composer, producer and DJ, Adam Gibbons (aka Lack of Afro) has finally released his next creation onto the world and it’s a fantastic ride down the dirt roads of funk and soul.  Taking pieces of albums of the past and reconstructing them into new masterpieces is only part of the formula that makes Lack of Afro‘s new album so intriguing.

Gibbons also joined forces with the talents of Joss Stone, Professor Elemental, Elliot Cole and others to create a really awesome  convergent sound. Somehow he found time when not creating spots from everyone from Disney to Adidas to put together this album that is also available in an instrumental version.


feeling-good-the-supreme-sound-of-producer-bob-shadFeeling Good – The Supreme Sound Of Producer Bob Shad
(Amazon | iTunes | Spotify)

Many people don’t know the name Bob Shad, but he was the production mastermind behind many great funk and soul classics and was an undeniable force to be reckoned with as he produced music for Sarah Vaughn, Big Brother & The Holding Company, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and plenty of others.

Decades after his passing, he finally gets the album that he deserves with a collection of funk and soul songs from various artists where he used his golden fingers to create worlds and put his undeniable stamp on the tracks. It’s like a trip down soul history lane.


diamond-ortiz-lovelineDiamond Ortiz – Loveline
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Released late in 2016, Loveline is a funk album full of deep synth bass tracks, talkbox, stabbing keyboards and thumping bass lines.  The sound that made the mid-80’s what they were, it’s undeniable and unmistakable.

This is Diamond Ortiz‘s first release for MoFunk Records and we’re already anxious to hear his next release. This really comes across as an unapologetic homage to Roger and Zapp, but it’s all new and super funky.


a-tribe-called-quest-we-got-it-from-here-thank-you-4-your-service-cover-artA Tribe Called Quest – We Got It From Here…Thank You 4 Your Service
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

In their first album in nearly 20 years, A Tribe Called Quest came back onto the scene with a new album that was everything people expected with nary a complaint from even the doubters.

It’s impossible to ignore the legend of the late Phife Dawg who stayed with us long enough to participate in the release extensively, but there are also many guests including Anderson. Paak, Andre 3000, and others that put on some extra spice and made this yet another classic to add to their legendary discography.


the-soul-snatchers-where-y-atThe Soul Snatchers – Where Y’At
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

You don’t often see a lot of funk bands com out of the Netherlands, but enter The Soul Snatchers who put together a smooth funk and soul album that has tastes of New Orleans and gumbo, but somehow compiled from the complete opposite side of the planet.

With soulful vocals, slick horn sections and cool blue vibes, they created a funky swayful album that will have your head bobbing and feet tapping. The Soul Snatchers create a dirty soul sound that harkens back to 60’s soul, but still keeps it new and fresh.


papa-grows-funk-the-last-leaf-livePapa Grows Funk – The Last Leaf (Live)
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Papa Grows Funk is no more as the members have all gone their separate ways a few years ago. So Imagine our surprise when 2016 still managed to give us one last chance to pay homage to one of the best funk jam bands to grace festival stages.

The Last Leaf was recorded back on May 6th in 2013 and was their last show performing together. Everything was captured brilliantly from the band’s energetic performances to the crowd’s intense appreciation from one of funk’s finest.


the-funk-ark-high-noonThe Funk Ark – High Noon
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

The Funk Ark‘s High Noon is a southwestern funk roller coaster that could easily serve as a background for any of Quentin Tarantino movie.  With funky deep vibes, we were shocked to not see it on the Funkish list.

Delivering that Budos Band-esque horn section, staccato guitar picking and that south of the border flair creates an undeniable sound and flow that very few bands can pull off or somehow maintain for an entire album.


three-step-manoeuvre-three-step-strutThree Step Manoeuvre – Three Step Strut
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Three Step Manoeuvre has a band name that gives spell check a fit (that’s not how you normally spell maneuver.), but they have that hip poppy feel that only great bandslike The New Mastersounds can deliver.

We had to check to see if it was Eddie Roberts on guitar because the playing style is so dreadfully similar that it will make you do a double take. That quick picking, shuffling snare drums and riding bass is a recipe that very few can get right, but Three Step Manoeuvre do it magnificently. Maybe that’s how maneuver is spelled in another country.


space-orphan-shut-up-about-the-sunSpace Orphan – Shut Up About The Sun
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Space Orphan is simply fantastic. Mr. Christopher got an opportunity to sit down with John Wirtz and discuss what makes this album so special. Check the interview here.

All of the tracks are well over or near 6 minutes in length which makes for some fantastic listening pleasure. The songs are constantly changing to keep you drawn in and the production strategies are fun and interesting. This is straight jam band funk styling, but with enough variants to make you want to listen again and again.


corey-henry-lapeitahCorey Henry – Lapeitah
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

If straight New Orleans Treme style funk is what tickles the soles of your shoes and wiggles your butt in your seat, then there won’t be any reason to look any further than Corey Henry’s Lapeitah offering.

He stays true to the sound, feel and history of the New Orleans sound like many before and alongside him such as Trombone Shorty and Galactic. He has certainly earned his badge of black and gold with this album.



kendrick-lamar-untitled-unmasteredKendrick Lamar – Untitled Unmastered.

(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Yeah, yeah. Stop rolling your eyes. Kendrick Lamar is no joke and 2015’s To Pimp a Butterfly was a literal masterpiece and deserved every award it won. The impressive Wesley Theory backing band that hit the road for Kunta’s Groove Session (including Atlanta <) was simply funky and breathtaking.

Untitled Unmastered. is a compilation of tracks that should have been on TPAB, but somehow ended up on the cutting room floor. These songs were incredible and stunning. There isn’t any way we can avoid not putting it on our list.


Added Funky Bonuses!

As we do every year, there are always a few albums that should be on the Best Of list, but don’t offer enough funk selections to qualify. But they are simply fantastic albums that you cannot miss.


Kendra Foster albumKendra Foster
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Kendra Foster has spent her days supporting some of the best artists on the planet including providing background vocals for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic for many years and doing the same as a crucial part of D’Angelo‘s rise back to fame during his Black Messiah unveiling.

She’s finally got another album and it’s amazing. Her first was heavily influenced by Parliament, but this time around she definitely opted to do her own thing. There are so many great songs that it’s one of the most impressive albums from any artist that you will hear.



eric-krasno-blood-from-a-stoneEric Krasno – Blood From a Stone
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Eric Krasno could probably hold the title for busiest man on the planet dipping his guitar neck into way too many guest spots to count. But when he’s not playing guitar full time for Lettuce or full time with Soulive, he somehow found time to put together a solo album.

Soulive had already blew up when Dave Matthews tapped them to open several shows for DMB, when he decided to break out and push out his own solo album by talking to God to add a few more hours into a day so that he could get into the studio and create a super cool album that you should hear.


ittle-simz-stillness-in-wonderlandLittle Simz – Stillness In Wonderland
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

Little Simz back story is super intriguing, but way too involved to get into here. Let’s just say that she’s a phenomenal British female rapper who strives to avoid being called a female rapper and wants to be appreciated as simply a hip hop artist without the added sexist adjective.

This album will set her on the right path for sure as it is full of production nuances and that high vibe that made Digable Planet‘s Blowout Comb so essential.  The same chemistry exists here and well worth a listen.


vaudou-game-kidayuVaudou Game – Kidayu
(Amazon | iTunes | Website | Spotify)

We can’t take credit for this selection as we got turned onto Vaudou Game by Funkish, but we’re glad they did. Vaudou Game (Voodoo Game in English), is straight French funk that is unapologetic and still somehow startlingly reminiscent of Fela Kuti, even though it’s completely in French.

The entire album is pure afropop and full of funk jams that seem like they were stripped from the 70’s, but everything is simply pure and raw and more impressively, brand spanking new.


Extra Bonuses from YOU!

Check the suggestions below from you, our readers. We know we missed a bunch, so help us out. Add them to the comments below!  Hook us up and remember, the albums had to have been released in 2016 to qualify for the list.

Remember to check out the playlist of all of these bands on Spotify!

Also check out Funkish’s excellent list also.We appreciate our friendship.

Interview : Space Orphan – John Wirtz

Posted by funkatop On January - 6 - 2017 2 COMMENTS
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space-orphan-shut-up-about-the-sunMr. Christopher interviews one of the winners of Funkatopia’s Best Funk Albums of 2016 , John Wirtz from Space Orphan.

Listen in as they talk about the unusual backward process they have for music creation, but also the reverse process in getting the band together, and the reasoning behind their change-up song structures.

The funk jam band released their debut album to rave reviews and is gaining traction very quickly and making all of the right connections. Visit their website at http://www.spaceorphanmusic.com and pick up their newest award winning album Shut Up About The Sun on Amazon or iTunes.

 

Review: Childish Gambino – “Awaken, My Love!”

Posted by funkatop On December - 5 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Childish Gambino - "Awaken, My Love!" album coverWe’ll just say it. This is one of the best albums we have heard this year by a long shot. 5 Afro Award right out of the gate and it will undeniably be on our 2016 Top 20 list when it’s released in January. Expect it.

It’s just beautiful when some artists decide to experiment and especially when that experimentation has them creating the next great funk album. Childish Gambino aka Donald Glover did just that by recreating early 70’s funk and soul with his newest album “Awaken, My Love!”

Donald Glover is super busy. When he isn’t acting in one of his many projects like Community or his TV show Atlanta, he’s playing the part of Lando Calrissian in the upcoming stand alone Star Wars movie Han Solo.

In the music world, most know him as Childish Gambino who has already released a few critically acclaimed rap albums. So when the new Childish Gambino album “Awaken, My Love!”  hit the internet, critics expected more of the same and that he would expand his horizons even further as he had done progressively with previous albums. And boy, were they not wrong.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, were taken off-guard by the release of what was supposed to be the next hip hop album from his alter ego Childish Gambino. But instead of hearing some new groundbreaking sounds of the rap realm, people sat by in shock. Even The Roots drummer, bandleader and musically astute Questlove found himself speechless and woke D’Angelo at 4am to have him share his enthusiasm.

Dude I’m so fucked up right now. I can’t even form the proper hyperbolic sentence to explain to D’angleo why I woke him up at 4am to listen to this. I’m like—when is the last time someone sucker punched me on this level…..I mean I knew #AroundTheWorldInADay was coming & it was a left turn—I’m about to blow the wigs off music historians… but I thought I was getting some fresh millennial 2016 hip hop shit and I got sucker punched. The last sucker punch in black music I remember in which NOONE had a clue what was coming was Sly’s #TheresARiotGoinOn—read my IG about it (the flag)—I’m writing in real time cause —Jesus Christ the co-author of #WearwolfBarmitzvah just SONNED the shit outta me. In the best way possible. I was NOT expecting a trip to Detroit circa 1972 at United Sound Studios. I haven’t written or been stunned by an album I wasn’t expecting since that time I got an advance of #BackToBlack. The music is so lush man, I can see the kaleidoscope color mesh of the #Westbound logo. Dude I can’t curb my enthusiasm. All I know is if #P4k try to play him again with these ratings there WILL be a riot goin on.

A photo posted by Questlove Gomez (@questlove) on

What has transpired with “Awaken, My Love!” was pure funk and no rap to be found anywhere on the entire album. Which begs to question, did Childish Gambino just lose some rap fans or gain some funk fans? From our perspective, it was the latter. But could his rap fans truly be upset about an album of this magnitude?

From the moment the album begins, the music is laced with thick melodic vocal funk orchestration circa 1970’s. All throughout “Awaken, My Love!”, you’ll hear different components of Funkadelic like the Eddie Hazel style of guitar work in The Night Me And Your Mama Met and the ambient keyboard in the spirit of Bernie Worrell.

Even the closing multi-dimensional track Stand Tall delivers a clean crisp lead vocal and background female vocals which leaves no question that Donald Glover is one amazingly talented dude and not “just another rapper” trying to sing. You can’t even be mad that you didn’t get what you expected.

While most rappers need a lot of production work to sing any parts on their albums, Donald’s vocals are just fantastic. He’s in tune, has strong vibrato and the only studio magic added is simply for effect like echo and delay which is designed to add to the floaty feel of the funk. He is a great singer and talented vocalist who is comfortable in his screams, falsetto and vocal theatrics.

Songs like Have Some Love and Riot have a very Van Hunt style of staccato and theatric delivery that not only sound super funky, but also add a lot of layers and dimensions to the music. The album is just pure magic front to back.

You’ll get to the other side of “Awaken, My Love!” and try and wrap your head around what you just experienced, enjoy the smile you realize is on your face, and start the album over again for another listen. A chain of events that we’ve been lovingly stuck in for 4 days now. Come join us, won’t you?

See why we give Childish Gambino‘s “Awaken, My Love!” a very much deserved 5 afros.  You can thank us later.

5 out of 5 afros

 

 

Review: DNCE’s Perfect Debut Album

Posted by funkatop On November - 21 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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DNCE AlbumDNCE has just released the greatest pop record in years and earned the first 5 afro award that we’ve issued to an album in a long time.

For those not in the know, DNCE is a project by Joe Jonas who has put together a group of electro-pop masterful virtually unknowns who are brilliant and skillful in every sense of the word.

Among all of the pop garbage that falls on and off the airwaves, very few songs have staying power for any length of time. DNCE‘s debut single from their Swaay EP called Cake By The Ocean stayed on many charts and lived for well over a year on replay. Despite the fact that the Swaay EP featured some other amazing (and in our view, even better) tracks like Toothbrush and Pay My Rent which were just as catchy and airplay-worthy although the one remaining EP track Jinx did not make it onto the full album.

In typical record label fashion, they were given the green light for a full album after the undeniable success of the Swaay EP and people that may have expected the full album to be littered with filler to tie the strong elements together would be pleasantly surprised to find a wall to wall album packed with potential hits and over the top sick ear-worms.

The self titled album which found its way onto most of the music services last week is an end of the year blessing for pop music lovers. Joe Jonas‘ vocals are pitch perfect with the backing band of Jack Lawless on energetic drums, Cole Whittle on thick thumping bass, and the beautiful JinJoo Lee on frenetic guitar which is all impeccably put together in beautifully crafted electro-pop perfection.

There are so many highlights and strong songs, that if the singles were strategically released, this album could live for a few years on the radio and never feel old. Every song has longevity potential and a “this is going to be a hit” feel.

dnce

And while this seems like over the top praise for a top 40 style album, the last time we blathered on about a great pop album was Bruno Mars Unorthodox Jukebox and we’re confident that we were just as right then as we are now.

Whether it’s the fantastic cuts like the flowy bounce of Toothbrush, the Smash Mouth feel of Blown, the earworm inducing Good Day, the kinetic energy of Naked, or even the breezy calm of the acoustically laden Truthfully, you can’t lose with this self titled album from DNCE.

It is without reservation that we grant DNCE‘s self titled debut album the illustrious 5 afro award. Just because it’s that damn good. Buy it now.

5 out of 5 afros

Review: Bruno Mars – 24K Magic

Posted by funkatop On November - 18 - 2016 ADD COMMENTS
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Bruno Mars 24K Magic AlbumA couple of years ago, we were smitten with Bruno Mars release of Unorthodox Jukebox which we predicted would result in a wealth of hits. His new release of 24K Magic goes to the next level.

To start, Bruno Mars is not ashamed in the least about borrowing from the funk pioneers that led the way before him. Even though last year’s Uptown Funk was under the umbrella of Mark Ronson, it awoke a beast in Bruno Mars soul and 24K Magic is ultimately the continuance of that 80’s funk and 90’s ballad resurgence. Not mad.

The opening title track song (and first single) 24K Magic borrows heavily from Cameo keyboard funk right down to the chorus riff and he continues to borrow from his predecessors throughout the entirety of the album.

Even the collections’ two slower tracks called Versace On The Floor and the closing Too Good To Say Goodbye sound exactly like tracks that would have fallen off of a New Kids On The Block recording session.

The structure of the 24K Magic album has a very distinct fault line with the first 4 songs of the album being a decidedly obvious hat tip to late 80’s funk and the last 5 songs rehashing 90’s boy bands medium grooves and ballads.

While most online reviews we’ve seen have been harsh, we think it’s simply a few more funk songs short of perfect. If the previous releases of Uptown Funk, Locked Out Of heaven, and Treasure had been housed within this collection, the discussion would simply be how many awards he would scavenge for 2017.

For folks who love the nostalgia of the late 80 and early 90’s, this album is a great one. And even though it doesn’t feel filled up or complete, you can certainly expect to hear nearly all 9 of these songs on the radio waves over the next 6-9 months and you’ll almost certainly hear a few select cuts on FUNKEDUP and that’s no doubt.

So get ready for Bruno world again in 2017.

Review: Sheila E. – Atlanta, GA

Posted by funkatop On November - 14 - 2016 1 COMMENT
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Sheila E. stage in Atlanta

Let’s face it. No disrespect to Prince‘s ex-wives, but Sheila E. was always his true soulmate.

She pushed him, shared his work ethic, her life (like his) revolved around music, and you could literally watch Prince blossom into childlike uninhibited bliss whenever she was around. It was as if his entire performance was designed to impress the one true love of his life.

His perfect muse that perfectly complimented him in every way. So when he passed away, there was really only one person who could truly offer a honorable tribute to him and that was undeniably Sheila E..

However, for those expecting Sheila E. to do her show that focused primarily on her music, they would be very disappointed. The folks not disappointed would be Prince fans.  Her setlist was literally a full blown homage to Prince with all of the usual suspects and many surprises. She played more Prince songs than she did her own.

What’s even more refreshing is that from viewing the setlists from other cities on this tour, she has a full library of Prince songs she could perform on any given night which is fantastic considering that bands like The Time will relentlessly play the same setlist for years.

Sheila E. in Atlanta

The show was full of dancing, tears and love including a version of her song Rockstar that incorporated bits and pieces of Purple Rain sharing the closing guitar solo and overall chord progressions.

That was followed by a heartfelt song written by Sheila E. and her keyboardist entitled Girl Meets Boy which pays homage to Prince and is offered as a free download on her website.

There was also a tear filled discussion on Prince, her love for him and the need for more love in the world where she then proceeded to have everyone in the theater hug someone next to them.

Sheila had a very hard time holding it together during her speech simply because she was fully aware that she was in the same city that housed Prince‘s final performance on the earth and that really struck a difficult chord for her, but it didn’t stop her celebration of his life and music which took center stage for the evening.

The night was full of surprises including a performance of Leader Of The Band (co-written by Prince) that was made all the more magical as she was joined onstage by her father Pete Escovedo who even brought his own monologue about the elections, along with hilarious anecdotes about Trump becoming President and that he would be sent back to Mexico. But he didn’t mind since he had a beautiful hacienda on the beach where he would simply drink tequila and smoke reefer. And not for medicinal purposes.

As for the Prince surprises, all of the expected songs raised their heads including Love Bizarre, Glamorous Life and Erotic City.  Then there were others like Sign O’ The Times, U Got The Look, Alphabet Street, Raspberry Beret, and some a little more surprising such as 17 Days, The Word, AmericaGet On The Boat and many more.

She performed a nice selection of her own material including a few from her new album Icon, including the aforementioned Leader Of the Band and Rockstar, Mona Lisa and a couple of her deeper classics like Holly Rock and Belle Of St. Mark.

All in all, it was a beautiful night (no pun intended) and there were a plenty of fans adorning Prince shirts everywhere. While we were aware of her previous tour that was specifically designed to honor Prince, the performance in Atlanta was not billed that way, so many were surprised, but none complained. Atlanta definitely got a dose of purple. We’ve included the setlist below.

Sheila E.’s tour is coming to a close but she still has some cities on the books and if you’re extremely lucky to be on her radar, get there. It will be many years before the very mention of Prince‘s passing doesn’t cause Prince fans hearts to skip a beat, but if you need a place to celebrate his life and music, nobody does it better than the great, beautiful, talented, Sheila E..

Sheila E.
11-12-2016 Setlist

When Doves Cry
Housequake
Erotic City
Let’s Work
U Got The Look
The Love Bizarre
Jazz Instrumental Interlude
Cat’s rap from It’s Gonna Be a Beautiful Night
Instrumental w/ Eddie M solo
P Funk (Wants To Get Funked Up) – sung by Lynn Mabry
One Nation Under a Groove – sung by Lynn Mabry
If You Want Me To Stay – sung by Lynn Mabry
Diamonds and Pearls – sung by Ashley Cole
Introduction of Pete Escovedo
Leader Of The Band
The Word – sung by Ashley Cole
Get On The Boat
Drum Solo
17 Days
Alphabet Street
Raspberry Beret
Mona Lisa
Bailal
Rockstar (with Purple Rain pieces)
Girl Meets Boy
Sheila Speak
Old Skool
Holly Rock
Belle of St. Mark
America
Baby I’m a Star
Glamorous Life

Band Lineup

Sheila E. – Vocals, drums and percussion
Eddie M – Sax
John – Drums
Michael Gabriel – Guitar
Lynn Mabry – Background vocals
Ashley Cole – Background vocals
Bertran Curtis – Keyboards

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