Album Review: Onra – FUNDAMENTALS [hip-hop/R&B]

Onra's Fundamentals
Onra’s Fundamentals (All City Dublin)

Born Arnaud Bernard and carrying influences from R&B, soul and the golden era of hip-hop, Onra’s productions are a cross pollination of downtempo and futuristic electronica. The Paris-based producer’s latest offering alludes to the basics of music, a time and space when songs were fun and genuine (and sexy without being offensive). With a heavy, late ’80s and early ’90s R&B and hip-hop power, Fundamentals is the perfect summertime drive soundtrack. Production-wise, each song meshes with the next creating a continuous flow of vibes. With features from singer Olivier DaySoul, Cool Kids rapper Chuck Inglish, Chicago rap trio Do or Die, Amsterdam rapper MC Melodee and rapper/producer Black Milk, much like 2012’s Deep In the Night EP,  Fundamentals begs to be put on repeat. Favorite spins include “Over & Over,” “Every Second,” “Vibe With U,” “Anything,” “Love Tip,” and “Like You Miss Me.”

KDHX Concert Review: Turkuaz (with the Service) at Old Rock House, Wednesday, August 5

Turkuaz_Dave Brandwein
Lead man Dave Brandwein (of Turkuaz) / photo: ND McCray

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how a show starts, because it’s all about how it ends. And Turkuaz made sure it ended with a bang.

Except for maybe a few regulars, the first half hour of opening band the Service‘s set on Wednesday night (August 5) didn’t attract much of a crowd at the Old Rock House. Perhaps the torrential downpour pushed fans away, but for patrons clad in t-shirts, shorts and sandals, and eating and/or drinking their dinner, the music served as a fun and funky backdrop to an otherwise casual evening. Starting the night with an assorted mix of blues and funk-inspired instrumentals and vocal tracks, the St. Louis-based band confidently carried the night. Over the course of a near hour-long set, a handful of folks did eventually appear in the stage area, rocking and smiling as the quartet slipped into a soulful Curtis Mayfield cover.

By the time Turkuaz made its entry, the audience had grown larger and moved closer to the stage. Having followed the Brooklyn, New York outfit since it first hit the music scene in 2010, and having seen the band perform live many times while living in the borough, I found Turkuaz’s new show quite powerful in arrangement, production and style. From the musicianship to song structures to lighting and even the synchronized dance moves the musicians executed during the first song, it all came together so effortlessly that it was only a matter of time before folks with beers in hand were gyrating in front of the stage.

Alongside funk appeal and palpable influences of George Clinton and Sly and the Family Stone, Turkuaz — who describe the sound as “Powerfunk” — adds the catchy pop and groove of Talking Heads and Motown-inspired tunes. Like its predecessors, the band fills the stage with a nine-piece ensemble, including Dave Brandwein on vocals and guitar, Craig Brodhead on guitar and synths, Chris Brouwers on trumpet and keyboard, Michelangelo Carubba on drums, Shira Elias on vocals, Sammi Garett on tambourine and vocals, Greg Sanderson on saxophone, Joshua Schwartz on sax and vocals and Taylor Shell on bass.

With a rocking rhythm section and awesome swells, on top of a tight performance, James Brown would have been proud. Performing songs like the massively addictive “Tiptoe Through the Crypto” and several other tracks from their recent two albums, “Stereochrome” and “Future 86,” as well as returning to the stage for a mind-and-body altering, funk-induced encore, Turkuaz is a band everyone should groove to at least once in their lifetime.

STL: #Ferguson Is Everywhere Concert at FuBar, August 9

Ferguson-is-Everywhere

According to Talib Kweli’s website, the Action Support Committee (ASC) is a committee of activists, organizers and artists established by the musician. ASC is committed to supporting the ongoing social justice work of individuals and community organizations based in Ferguson, Missouri and at large.

On Sunday, August 9, ASC will present FERGUSON IS EVERYWHERE CONCERT featuring a host of artists including, Talib Kweli, Kenora Ross, M1 from Dead Prez, Tef Poe, Bun B of UGK, Jasiri X, Immortal Technique, Pharoahe Monch and Nappy DJ Needles. Please support.

Hosted by Tory Russell.

FUBAR

3108 Locust St.
St. Louis, MO

Album Review: Bilal – IN ANOTHER LIFE [soul/jazz/rock]

Bilal's In Another Life
Bilal’s In Another Life

First hitting the scene with 2001’s 1st Born Second — a classic neo soul record in its own right, Philadelphia native Bilal follow’s up his 2013 album, A Love Surreal with the alt-soul, rock and jazz-inspired In Another Life.

With a wide range of vocal styles and musical influences, over the years the singer-songwriter has worked with fellow Philly crew The Roots, jazz pianist Robert Glasper, rappers Common and Lupe Fiasco and singer Erykah Badu, among many. In Another Life, Bilal’s fourth proper release, production credits goes to Adrian Younge, a talented composer and producer who worked with Jay-Z on “Picasso Baby” and “Heaven” from the rapper’s Magna Carta… Holy Grail LP. Bilal’s “Sirens” is sampled on “Picasso Baby,” which is from Younge’s Something About April LP.

With guest spots from newcomers Big K.R.I.T. and Kendrick Lamar, as well as vocalist Kimbra (known from Goyte’s “Somebody That I Used to Know”), In Another Life has a definite 70s and 80s soul vibe (“Pleasure Toy”) with some jazz (“I Really Don’t Care,” “Spiraling”) and alt-rock and hip hop (“Money Over Love”) mixed in. Bilal is a progressive artist who expands and builds upon each new project, and In Another Life he shows us those skills. Check out the video below for “Money Over Love.”

KDHX Concert review: Glass Animals energize the summer outdoors at the Old Rock House, Friday, July 24

Glass Animals at Old Rock House, photo credit: Dustin Winter
Glass Animals at Old Rock House, photo credit: Dustin Winter

Though “Gooey” made my top 10 list of favorite tunes last year, and even after seeing Glass Animals perform it live at Old Rock House on Friday night, I still haven’t any clue what the song is actually about. But none of that mattered anyway, because dancing was what the night was really about.

With lyrics like “Ride my little pooh bear, wanna take a chance,” lead man Dave Bayley knows how to craft clever pop-rock-R&B songs that leave you wondering, “What the hell am I listening to?” but feeling good all at the same. Having released their debut studio album “Zaba” last summer and two previous EPs, Glass Animals are creating a buzz and playing to sold-out music festivals around the world like Coachella, Bonnaroo, Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits.

And it doesn’t hurt that they are signed to super producer Paul Epworth’s new label Wolf Tone. Epworth has received Grammy’s and written songs for Adele, Cee Lo Green, Coldplay, Florence + the Machine, Lorde and Paul McCartney, among others.

An outdoor stage at the Old Rock House was a perfect setting for the band, which consists of songwriter Bayley, guitarist and keyboardist Drew MacFarlane, as well as bassist Edmund Irwin-Singer and drummer Joe Seaward. The guys, who have been friends since age 13, create music that is dreamy and smooth, sexy and smart but catchy and weird: “Mind my simple song, this ain’t gonna work / Mind my wicked words and tipsy topsy smirk.”

The music evokes movement whether you want to or not. If the crowd wasn’t swaying to the music, they were all out grooving and floating to songs like “Black Mambo,” “Psylla,” “Gooey,” “Hazey,” “Toes” and a dope cover of Kanye West’s “Love Lockdown.” Whether you understand the lyrics or not, the music is what will grab you.

#CurrentMood > Dornik > “Stand In Your Line”

Singer, songwriter, producer and musician Dornik
Singer, songwriter, producer and musician Dornik

Soulful newcomer Dornik shares smooth new single “Stand In Your Line,” which premiered on Stereogum three days ago. The singer-songwriter has a 90’s Groove Theory meets a kind of J*Davey vibe, a soul marrying electronic sound. Bred in London, Dornik’s self-titled LP hits stores August 7 in the UK. However, a US release date has yet to be announced.

Album Review: Camp Lo, RAGTIME HIGHTIMES [hip-hop]

Camp Lo's Ragtime Hightimes
Camp Lo’s Ragtime Hightimes

Best known for the 1997 hit “Luchini (AKA This Is It)” from their classic debut Uptown Saturday Night, Bronx duo Camp Lo returns with their new album, Ragtime Hightimes.

This being their seventh studio LP, Sonny Cheeba and Geechi Suede have consistently released quality music over 20 years by staying in their lane of hip hop-meets-soul, but missteps can and do happen. My favorite tracks include the connected smoothness of “Sunglasses,” “Gypsy Notes,” ”Award Winning,” “Life I Love,” and the official single, “Bright Lights.” Least favorites include “Power Man” and “Sunshine,” which, by the way, are the shortest tracks on the album at 1:51 and 2:57, respectively. They could have easily been thrown into a vault, as both seem out of place in an experimental way. Overall, hip-hop fans may be forgiving, as Ragtime Hightimes (and its running time of 37 minutes) is a solid collection to enjoy.