Unclouded By Ambition

The Foreign Exchange

Akin to entering a basement party thrown by friends, The Firebird set the scene for the type of show Foreign Exchange had in store for St. Louis on Saturday night. With dark lights and neon signs on walls from local breweries, the near-capacity crowd lined every corner of the space to ensure a spot was theirs for the entire two-hour set.

Opening the show with the jazzy notes of “Milk And Honey” from their fifth and latest album, Tales From The Land of Milk And Honey — a track that showcases the harmonies of lead vocalist/songwriter Phonte and co-lead/background singers Carmen Rodgers and Tamisha Waden, was the perfect segue into a night of joie de vivre and tunes culled from albums of years past.

From “Milk And Honey,” the group upped the tempo with “Work It To The Top,” a throwback-synth-R&B dance track from their latest LP — in which they interpolated Keith Sweat’s “I Want Her,” to come up with this sort of two-step mashup that the audience was really digging. The wicked thing about FE, as they’re known to many fans, is that they can make a show feel like you’re just hanging out with a bunch of friends at the cookout. Phonte talks shit on stage, all the while they’re providing a dope soundtrack and everyone is dancing and chatting about; then he still sways folks into going over to the merch table to buy t-shirts, vinyl and CDs.

Before the show, local talent DJ Reminisce jammed everything from Junior Mafia’s “Get Money” and A Tribe Called Quest’s “Find a Way” to alternative newcomers like Anderson .Paak’s “Heart Don’t Stand a Chance” and The Internet’s “Girl,” onward to cuts by Jay Z, Jill Scott and Lauren Hill. After “I Want Her” and a few other tracks — a remix of “Asking For A Friend” from their latest — and “On a Day Like Today” from 2013’s Love In Flying Colors, the group launched into a cover of Prince’s “17 Days” (aka “Let The Rain Come Down”) from the trifecta that is The Hits/The B-Sides.

In what would’ve probably been the midway point in another act’s show, Phonte simple proclaimed, “That was the just warmup, now we’re gonna slow it down.” The band then goes into softer tunes from Tales From The Land of Milk and Honey.

FE was created by Phonte (a North Carolina native) and producer Nicolay (from The Netherlands) when they pieced together their entire 2004 debut Connected from their respective homelands via instant messages and email, never once speaking over the phone or in person.

That said, the set continued on with a cover of Aaliyah’s “Rock The Boat” and Prince’s “If I Was Your Girlfriend,” as well as “Happiness” from Connected, “Better” from Love In Flying Colors and “All Or Nothing” from 2008’s Leave It All Behind, among others.

As a Grammy-nominated team focusing on hip-hop, sophisticated R&B and electro, it’s no surprise the audience was a bridge between races and ages — black, white, Millennials, Generation X and Y, tattooed rockers and the like, all grooving along to a group that continues to respect and break the boundaries of bringing good music to the masses.

Photo: Danny Clinch

Photo: Danny Clinch

It Still Moves continues to be as dreamy and trippy and moody as it was all those years ago. So when the band that played a five-night, sold-out residency at NYC’s Terminal 5 in 2010, and said band performed one of their full-length albums each night — and that band is Louisville’s own My Morning Jacket, a reissue of any one of those albums, makes any fan beam with excitement.

Today MMJ released a special deluxe version of 2003’s It Still Moves via ATO Records, the quintet’s label for 13 years now; it’s also home to fellow Southern rockers Alabama Shakes and Drive-By Truckers. I would think that any artist, band or musician who had the chance to revisit, revise and otherwise deconstruct a previous album, as the group did last year for the label’s 15th anniversary, they would do it with the utmost respect and with a perfectionist touch.

My Morning Jacket has always tested the waters of rock, country, blues, psych-soul and beyond; so in a recent interview MMJ frontman Jim James said of the original release: “I’ve always liked the recordings and the performances and stuff, but we were kind of rushed through the mixing process.” Years later having toured the world and recorded more studio albums like 2005’s followup Z, Evil Urges in 2008, as well Circuital and The Waterfall, in 2011 and 2015, respectively, the reissue includes remixes and remasters of those early tracks along with James’ acoustic demos of each song except “One Big Holiday” and “Just One Thing”. They also shared three previously-recorded tracks, two being instrumentals: the jazzy “En La Ceremony”, the funk-rock “Grab A Body” and the alt-rock “That’s Too Bad”. So call it a perfectionist move or not, It Still Moves is one for the books — as an original and a reissue.

Jaheim_Struggle Love

Jaheim’s newest LP, Struggle Love via Julie’s Dream/BMG/Primary Wave

Appearing on the scene in 2001 with the platinum-selling Ghetto Love, which featured urban hits as “Anything” and “Just In Case,” New Jersey-bred R&B crooner Jaheim returns with his seventh studio album, Struggle Love, a follow-up to 2013’s Appreciation Day. 

True to form, the “Fabulous” singer tackles that emotion and grit the 35-and-over soul music fan can appreciate. With tracks like “Craziest Place,” “Songs To Have Sex To,” “Back In My Arms,” and “Always Come Back,” Jaheim speaks honestly, but respectfully to his lady of choice. Struggle Love continues the evolution of a man and an artist. The video co-stars actress Demetria McKinney, known mainly from Tyler Perry’s’ House of Payne and Bravo’s The Real Housewives of Atlanta.

Photo credit: Blackfilm.com

Photo credit: Blackfilm.com

 

By the time actor Taimak starred in the 1985 cult classic film The Last Dragon, the native New Yorker had already won the state kickboxing championship. He was 19. Produced by Motown legend Berry Gordy, the movie follows Leroy Green (aka Bruce Leroy), a martial arts student and teacher who idolizes Bruce Lee. He is in search of “The Glow”, an all powerful force that only a great martial artist can possess. Thirty years have since passed and Taimak has appeared in stage plays and on TV shows, choreographed sequences for pop stars and directed a film. He’s also been inducted into the Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

His latest venture Taimak: The Last Dragon: An Autobiography released in March via Incorgnito Publishing Press. Here we follow “Taimak’s inspirational, hilarious, shocking, eye-popping life story.” According to the website, “You’ll be right there with him as he meets everyone from David Bowie to Mike Tyson, and you’ll join him as he experiences triumphs and heartbreaks in the world of Hollywood.”

In promotion of the book and anniversary of the film, Taimak has been on a national book tour and screening; he will be in Detroit on May 15 and here in St. Louis at The Tivoli, May 26. The first time I saw The Last Dragon in theaters, I was 10. This website is named after my favorite line from the film, “The secret awaits eyes unclouded by ambition, those who are bound by desire see only that which can be held in their hands”.

So speaking to Taimak yesterday on the phone was kind of a surreal experience. He spoke on the anniversary of the film, how martial arts can define his way of life, a few life lessons learned over many years of acting, what Denise Matthews was like off screen, as well as the kind of the music he listens to while training.

The movie has taken on a life of its own; there’s fan websites, an Instagram account (@TheLastGlow); how does it feel to be a part of that energy?

It’s been growing exponentially over the years; it’s been amazing, you know what can I say. Who would have ever guessed that I would be here 31 years later now talking about it. I think it has more to do with the fact that there hasn’t been anything else to take its place, an action film that competes with it.

So many people connect to the movie; young, old, Black, White, Asian… 

Yeah it transcends age and race, it’s amazing.

Your autobiography is it more of an inspirational tell all? Or is it more about why you left Hollywood?

It’s all of that and everything and above. It’s about my parent’s life; my life before The Last Dragon, my life during The Last Dragon and my life after The Last Dragon and the future. It was meant to be a tell-all in that perspective but also a way for people to really get a spark in their life and to inspire.

What piece of advice would give to a young actor trying to make it in Hollywood today?

There’s a number of things but authenticity around humility; meaning don’t try be nice, you know; that’s inauthentic. Be yourself but define gratitude in your life, meaning authentically find what works with the things in your life. Your family, your friends; the fact that you’re alive, you’ve been given a talent, an opportunity to cultivate your talent. And once you get a sense of that gratitude, then when people come into your life, it will emanate out towards them and they will appreciate it.

Now it doesn’t mean that everybody that comes in your life is going to have the same attitude but if you cultivate that humility, put it in everyday then it makes everything easier because people want to support someone like that. They want to support someone like that that’s also hardworking, so once you have that humility and it’s authentic and it’s not a big put-on then people are generally attracted to that. You will be able to work hard and have fun at the same time. So those are two really valuable things to know.

I know in the book you talk about your relationship with Denise Matthews (Vanity), what was she like as a person?

I mean she was great, it’s just she was having a drug issue when were communicating a bit in the 90s. I mean everybody was young, you know; we all had our challenges, everybody had their individual talents. Unfortunately her and Julius (Sho’nuff) and Leo (Richie) didn’t make it through. Luckily she got away from the drugs and had some sort of peace. I can’t say she was totally at peace but I can say she was better than what she was before. She was just a great, great woman. She had a great presence, you know. She was an alpha; it wasn’t like she was a dainty girl. But at the same time she was a climber, she wanted to get to the top. And a lot of time people make mistakes when they have that type of attitude. However she was just wonderful.

Leroy Green had a lot of love and respect for Bruce Lee, in real life how has martial arts defined your way of life?

Martial arts, most people in America think its all about the athleticism, the fighting and all of that; that’s not even close to 10 percent of what it’s about. It’s really about courage, without courage you won’t be able to experience life to the fullest. And you’ll always be playing small in life, in every area of your life; whether it’s relationships, with people or your career. If you don’t have the courage to step out of your comfort zone and get uncomfortable, then you’re never going to experience life.

So martial arts is about courage and leadership and humility. That’s basically what martial arts has given me, the courage to look at myself. My philosophy in life is that I create everything in my life, good and bad. Most people think they just create the good in their life; they don’t want to take credit for the bad, just the good [laughs].

So I look at life that way, I can own everything in my life and improve on it. Not to say there are not people out there doing things that are beneficial to me, it’s just I don’t want to give them any power in my life.

The Last Dragon soundtrack, the Motown-produced album featured DeBarge, Stevie Wonder, Rockwell … 

I’ll actually be in Detroit this weekend, they’re giving me a tour of the Motown Museum.

That’s awesome, so my question to you, what kind of music do you listen to? 

I listen to everything! More of the classics, I haven’t been up-to-date on the newer stuff. I know Chris Brown did a video that was inspired by The Last Dragon but I don’t know a lot of the new music. I gotta get hip and in tune with it. I have an old friend Joey Llanos, he’s a house DJ, so I listen to everything from house music to anything I can train with. It could be classical music that gives me motivation to train. There’s all kind of music.

Last question: What are a couple of great memories from the set of The Last Dragon? Recently I heard you say that Sho’nuff [Julius Carrey III] was hilarious; always told jokes.

There are more details in the book, so definitely buy the book but there were so many crazy things; the Chinese guys were hilarious, just imagine when the director calls cut and they’re still goofing around in character. Leo O’ Brien, who played my little brother would still be goofing around, you know. The funny times were when they were not shooting, they would still be themselves but in character.

Don’t miss The Last Dragon screening with Taimak at The Tivoli on May 26.

 

The New York Times, April 22, 2016

The New York Times, April 22, 2016.

It’s the only way to explain his untimely passing. He was called home at 57 on April 21, 2016, because he was needed for more important things. More heavenly things. That’s why we’re mourning his death so hard. In our minds, he was suppose to live until at least 100-years old. The New York Times described it best, “His death shocked not only legions of fans who had somewhat selfishly thought him to be otherworldly and invincible but also those who had seen him out and about in recent days: Prince was seen riding his bike, hosting a party and visiting a local record store and jazz club”.

Like the rest of the world I cried most of the afternoon on Thursday. A lot on Friday. In soft sobs on Saturday. But by Sunday — the tears barely came. On Sunday — the holiest day of the week and my favorite day, something inside me said, “celebrate his life, no more tears”.

So I shall not talk about the popular aspects of Prince: the awards, accolades, million-selling records and number-one singles. Or his talents on the guitar, with the piano and on the drums. His brilliance was a given. He produced, arranged, composed and wrote almost every song he released in a career spanning over 40 years. Who does that?

What I want to discuss is how he made me feel, the emotions he stirred when I listened to his music.

I bought my first two Prince CDs at 17; Diamonds and Pearls and The Love Symbol Album. Copped them on a road trip with my family in Killeen, Texas in 1993. I felt grown. My parents were pretty liberal when it came to music. I saw the movie Purple Rain when I was about 14. But I listened to “Damn U” from Love Symbol over and over and over again; watched that video of him posted on that stool with those seductive glances at least a hundred million times. He understood the power of eye contact. Seduction. Though his interpersonal connections were another story, as told in 2013’s I Would Die 4 U: Why Prince Became an Icon by cultural critic Touré. Prince understood the art of watching a lady. Intensely. Respectfully. Seductively.

He was a true Gemini, in touch with his masculine and feminine side. He helped me to connect my tomboy ways with my femininity; to embrace all of me. To take risks. To live boldly. I learned how to seduce by simply studying him; listening to provocative cuts like “Insatiable”, “Gett Off“ and “Cream” at 17 will fast track you. But I digress.

My Love Is Forever

Prince literally stopped the world last Thursday. From IG to Twitter to Facebook, all my feeds were filled with quotes, lyrics, photos, neighborhood tributes, stories of how this one man touched so many lives.

I learned how to not be afraid of being me by watching him. Over the years Prince was a study in contrasts. Biracial, androgynous, an artist at war with his record label; a Jehovah’s Witness, who in a previous life wore bikini briefs and thigh-high boots on stage. He was sexual and fearless. Confident and honest. Mysterious and a pop star. He lived his whole life in Minneapolis. His concerts were legendary. Man, how I adored him. I understood me by listening to him.

I saw Prince in concert for the first time in 1997. I was 22. In the military stationed at Davis Monthan Air Force Base. Drove from Tucson to Phoenix by myself. Freak flag held high. Dancing shoes tied tight. Prince gave a three-hour show. I think I levitated back to Tucson. The man had showmanship, musicianship, energy, cosmic abilities to connect with thousands. After that, I saw him three more times in concert between the years of 1999 and 2010; in Houston, Dallas and New York City. Each show topping the previous. He was notorious for giving three or four-hour sets; three or four encore performances. I never thought his 2010 show at Madison Square Garden would be my last time seeing him live. Surely I was going to catch the Piano and a Microphone tour this year. Surely.

As the Universe would have it, Prince was suppose to play a surprise pop-up show here in St. Louis on Monday, April 18, but according to news reports he didn’t want to announce it for fear of having to cancel or postpone because of the illness.

The shock is still there. The pain comes in waves. But I have great memories of how Prince’s music touched my soul and provided the soundtrack to learning how to love myself. Thus, my love for him is forever.

VH1

photo credit: VH1

English-born neo-soul duo Floetry returned to St. Louis for a show full of sexy moments, simple pleasures and self awareness.

When Floetry called it quits in 2006, fans were heartbroken. With three successful records released by the singer-songwriters between 2002 and 2005 (Floetic, FloacismLive” and Flo’Ology), many wondered if they would ever rejoin forces.

Eventually finding success in their own right; Marsha Ambrosius (The Songstress) appeared on numerous singles by various artists as well as mixtapes and dropped two studio albums (Late Nights & Early Mornings, 2011, Friends & Lovers, 2014); while Natalie Stewart (The Floacist) shared her debut Floetic Soul in 2010; followed by The Floacist: Presents Floetry Re:Birth in 2012; and Rise of the Phoenix Mermaid in 2014. Fast forward to spring of 2015 and Floetry began touring again.

Last night at The Pageant, the show was equal parts reunion, simplicity and awareness.

The show’s opener Kris Kelli, a Jamaican born reggae singer gave that Caribbean flair ala Rihanna. Wearing shredded black jeans and sex appeal, she slow wined and performed a handful of prerecorded tracks that the audience mostly felt; some scrolled through their cell phones during her 15-minute set. Still others clapped and bobbed their heads alongside songs about love and confidence.

Giving about an hour-and a half-performance, Floetry set the stage in the first half with signature tracks like “Sunshine”, “SupaStar” “Butterflies”, and “Feelings”. With percussion, drums, keys and bass, the setting was simple; it was almost like we were at a jam session, kicking it with friends.

The Floacist barefoot in a full-length afrocentric dress with colorful beads around her neck and The Songstress in silver Nikes, a form-fitted black dress and silk robe, they appeared relaxed, comfortable; even giving each other fist pounds at one point in their setlist. They have a synergy that’s undeniable. VH1 describes it perfectly: “Stewart conjures up images of earthiness, while Ambrosius’ ethereal vocal styling evokes thoughts of a heavenly realm. Where these two worlds meet is a place of perfection.”

Having their respective solo moments, there was a moment where The Floacist and the audience connected on her song “Breathe” from Floetic Soul; the band faded into the background and all sang “You gotta let it go / let it go / so you can grow / you gotta let it go / let it go / just breathe”. Whereas Ambrosius chose “I Want You To Stay” from Late Nights as her solo selection; moving to piano to showcase her skills, she talked and flirted while sharing. One thing noticeable this time around, though — was Ambrosius’ vocal range; big, bold and broad, on every song she poured her heart and soul out on that stage and everyone noticed.

Naming the second half of their show the “Grown Folks Section” or “Red Light Section”; complete with a track of bedroom moans to intro each song; the British singers went through requisite singles such as “Lay Down”, “Say Yes” and “Getting Late” that if they hadn’t performed them, there would have been major issues between them and the audience filled with mostly ladies.

Closing the show with their debut single “Floetic”, the duo proved once again that great chemistry and good music will always survive to see another tour.

Kaytranada_99.9%

Kaytranada’s 99.9% (XL Recording)

Taken from Montreal beat maker Kaytranada’s forthcoming album 99.9% (out May 6), are the new visuals for “Glowed Up,” — the second single from the record and a two-part electro-funk-hip-hop mashup featuring rapper, singer and Dr. Dre protege Anderson .Paak. With Kaytranada’s beats and Paak’s energy on the mic, it’s a perfect matchup in music.

Born Louis Kevin Celestin, the Haitian-born producer and DJ was also behind the slinky “Girl” by the Internet (from their Grammy-nominated LP Ego Death). Kaytranada’s 99.9% will feature AlunaGeorge, Anderson .Paak, Little Dragon, Vic Mensa, and the Internet’s Syd, among others.

(Via Pitchfork)

Poet Sonia Sanchez at Central Auditorium, St. Louis Public Library (photo: ND McCray)

Sonia Sanchez at Central Auditorium, St. Louis Public Library, on Feb. 21, 2016 (photo: ND McCray)

One of the most respected poets, activists and teachers of our time, made a stop in St. Louis back in February. Having authored writings of poetry, plays, essays, columns, children’s books and short stories, many of us at Central Auditorium in downtown STL were in awe.

On that day, I wrote this in my notebook …

Sonia Sanchez, poet, activist, professor and legend is now reciting new poems, old favorites, haiku in a room full of blacks, whites, old, young; photographers, artists, writers, academics and you can hear a pen drop; heartbeats and ideas and thoughts permeating the space. She’s so tiny. So tiny, almost fragile to touch. She’s talking about memory, Black Lives Matter, Civil Rights Activists of the past; LGBT issues, writers; war, organic foods, non violence. She talks so real and authentic.

It was probably one of the best hour-and-a-half experiences of my life. #respect

Silk_Quiet Storm

Arriving in the era of Jodeci and H-Town, amazingly, 90’s R&B group Silk still includes all five original members, Timothy “Timzo” Cameron, Jimmy Gates, Jr., Gary “Big G” Glenn, Gary “Lil G” Jenkins and Jonathan “John John” Rasboro. Known for their most suggestive song, “Freak Me,” from their 1992 debut Lose Control, the quintet, who was discovered by singer Keith Sweat, delivers their sixth project, the aptly titled Quiet Stormthat’s full of sultry, melodic ballads as well as mid-tempo tunes. It is Silk’s first album in over a decade. Linking up with producer Wirlie Morris (Boyz II Men, Keith Sweat, Marsha Ambrosius, Charlie Wilson), the group waxes on about grooving on the dance floor (“Slow Grind”), being sentimental (“On My Mind”) and of course, taking it to the bedroom (“Baby Suit”).

ND McCray is a St. Louis-based freelance writer.

KDHX: The Foreign Exchange created a fun, down-to-earth vibe at The Firebird, Saturday, June 4

Akin to entering a basement party thrown by friends, The Firebird set the scene for the type of show Foreign Exchange had in store for St. Louis on Saturday night. With dark lights and neon signs on walls from local breweries, the near-capacity crowd lined every corner of the space…

My Morning Jacket’s ‘It Still Moves’ Reissue Is As Dreamy As Ever

It Still Moves continues to be as dreamy and trippy and moody as it was all those years ago. So when the band that played a five-night, sold-out residency at NYC’s Terminal 5 in 2010, and said band performed one of their full-length albums each night — and that band…

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Q&A with The Last Dragon’s Taimak

  By the time actor Taimak starred in the 1985 cult classic film The Last Dragon, the native New Yorker had already won the state kickboxing championship. He was 19. Produced by Motown legend Berry Gordy, the movie follows Leroy Green (aka Bruce Leroy), a martial arts student and teacher…

Prince Was Not From This World

  It’s the only way to explain his untimely passing. He was called home at 57 on April 21, 2016, because he was needed for more important things. More heavenly things. That’s why we’re mourning his death so hard. In our minds, he was suppose to live until at least…

Concert Review: Floetry serves up grown folks music at The Pageant, Sunday, April 17

English-born neo-soul duo Floetry returned to St. Louis for a show full of sexy moments, simple pleasures and self awareness. When Floetry called it quits in 2006, fans were heartbroken. With three successful records released by the singer-songwriters between 2002 and 2005 (Floetic, Floacism “Live” and Flo’Ology), many wondered if they…

Kaytranada feat. Anderson .Paak – “Glowed Up”

Taken from Montreal beat maker Kaytranada’s forthcoming album 99.9% (out May 6), are the new visuals for “Glowed Up,” — the second single from the record and a two-part electro-funk-hip-hop mashup featuring rapper, singer and Dr. Dre protege Anderson .Paak. With Kaytranada’s beats and Paak’s energy on the mic, it’s a perfect…

Throwback: Sonia Sanchez lecture at St. Louis Public Library

One of the most respected poets, activists and teachers of our time, made a stop in St. Louis back in February. Having authored writings of poetry, plays, essays, columns, children’s books and short stories, many of us at Central Auditorium in downtown STL were in awe. On that day, I…

Album Review: Silk – Quiet Storm [R&B/soul]

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HBO Documentary: ‘Everything Is Copy,’ Nora Ephron’s son creates striking portrait

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NPR Tiny Desk: Anthony Hamilton

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KDHX: Ruthie Foster (with the Bottoms Up Blues Gang) gives a delightful set at Sheldon Concert Hall, Friday, February 19

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Ripping apart hyper-sexual images of female emcees, newcomer Lizzo is going a different route — commanding attention with her confident style, witty lyricism and banging beats. The Houston-bred, Minneapolis-based rapper shares Big Grrrl Small World, her sophomore record, and makes a bold statement in this age of the music industry: to…

Tiffany Gouché – “Red Rum Melody” [Video]

I came across Inglewood singer-songwriter Tiffany Gouché a couple of months ago via Twitter from a SoundCloud clip of the newcomer’s sensually-smooth lead single, “Red Rum Melody”. Bringing something fresh to the soul-electro genre with the release of her third project Pillow Talk on December 15, the EP features a collection of eight seductive tracks that blends and bends…

Album Review: Anderson .Paak – Malibu [electro]

Cali. native Anderson .Paak reminds me of a singing Kendrick Lamar; he speaks truth from life lived around him, all the while remaining humble throughout. With the release of his second, full-length record, Malibu, the rapper/singer will soon be on everyone else’s radar, too. Mixing elements of soul, hip hop, jazz and…

Michael Jackson Documentary Airing on Showtime, Feb. 5

Directed by Spike Lee, Michael Jackson’s Journey from Motown to Off the Wall will examine the success of the legendary singer as his career evolves from the Jackson 5 and CBS Records to an unprecedented solo career working with Quincy Jones. The film will also include archival footage and interviews with…

KDHX: City and Colour talks album, tour, and the inspiration behind “Lover Come Back”

Canadian singer and songwriter City and Colour is set to play The Pageant on Tuesday, January 26 but KDHX had the chance to speak to the artist earlier this month as he preps for his North American and European tour. I first heard of City and Colour (born Dallas Green)…

Album Review: Lettuce – Crush [funk/soul]

Brooklyn-based funk outfit Lettuce returns with its fourth LP, Crush. Hitting listeners with heavy bass and deep and soulfully funky grooves, the music on this project brings on a dance party, whether you want to dance to it or not. I caught the band at the St. Louis LouFest in 2014 and…

Album Review: Jamie Woon, Making Time [electro]

Jamie Woon has the kind of voice where he doesn’t have to try hard to be noticed. With a smooth, casual aura to his music, especially his sophomore LP, Making Time, the UK-based singer/songwriter shines. Inspired by D’Angelo’s Voodoo album, Woon utilized live musicians during the recording process. Though the project feels like…

Spent New Year’s Night with Corey Holcomb & Friends

Presented by Old School 95.5, comedian Corey Holcomb and friends did a New Year’s Day show at The Ambassador in North County. Hosted by St. Louis comic Brandon ‘HotSauce’ Glover, the show was nearly sold out. Though I pre-purchased my ticket, the general admission line was insane. To be honest I…

Blues Singer & Guitarist Samantha Fish

Last week I caught singer Samantha Fish at Old Rock House on the eve of New Year’s Eve. And what a treat she was to St. Louis. Playing to a packed house, the 26-year old blues guitarist mostly performed songs from her third studio album, Wild Heart, which is a mixture of…

Rapper Lil Dicky on Sway In The Morning

Lil Dicky, a rapper from the suburbs of Philly, has been racking up YouTube views by the millions for over two years now. With a talent for clever wordplay, mad humor and genius storytelling, the educated MC (otherwise known as David Burd) use to write copy for an advertising agency in San Francisco….

New Music: French Kiwi Juice – “Better Give U Up” [soul/electro-jazz]

Can’t quite remember how I came across music producer and singer FKJ, but for the past year I’ve become a big fan. Hailing from Paris, France, the musician makes music that falls somewhere between electro-jazz, disco, R&B and funk. They are always groovy. He most recently remixed singles by singers Selah Sue and Lianne…

Album Review: City and Colour – If I Should Go Before You [alternative]

Canadian singer/guitarist Dallas Green, otherwise known as City and Colour, has crafted a beautifully packaged album in If I Should Go Before You. It’s a moody piece of work, but that’s what makes it work. Musically, there’s no comparing it to earlier albums. Instead of folk-acoustic, we get a little bit…

New Music: Singer, Actress Tisha Campbell Martin shares new single, “Steel Here”

A few weeks ago singer and actress Tisha Campbell-Martin appeared on The Tom Joyner Morning show to speak on her new single, “Steel Here.” The track is inspired by a personal tragedy; the 47-year old was sexually assaulted as a young child. In the interview she says: “The actual song itself…

Album Review: Dam-Funk – Invite The Light [Electro/Hip-Hop]

At 20 tracks and nearly two hours long, Damon Riddick shares an amalgam of eccentric sounds on his latest, Invite the Light. Think bedroom, lo-fi, woozy funk, bass-heavy G-funk, and electro funk for starters. But Dam-Funk has always been one to go far left of straight-ahead sounds and Invite the Light is…

Q&A with Musician and Producer Bruce Sudano

With a music career spanning over three decades and with a new band, The Candyman Band, and a new album, The Burbank Sessions, singer, songwriter and producer Bruce Sudano says he feels as if he’s a new artist. “I basically am viewing myself as a new artist. In that I’ve…

LouFest Band The Suffers Appear on NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concert

As I did last year, I volunteered at LouFest, St. Louis’ annual music festival held in Forest Park. One of the main reasons for my volunteering is of course, to give back to the community, but to also listen to tons of great music over the course of two days. This…

Album Review: SiR – Seven Sundays [R&B/Soul/Hip-Hop]

If you can dive into the likes of electro artists Autre Ne Veut and JMSN and still get down with Drake and The Weeknd, Inglewood, CA-based singer-songwriter SiR will rock your earbuds with his atmospheric soul/R&B record, Seven Sundays via Fresh Selects. Having recently worked on R&B star Jill Scott’s latest LP, Woman (“Fool’s…

7 Questions with Singer-Guitarist Mike Montali (of indie rock band Hollis Brown)

Promoting their fourth studio album “3 Shots,” roots-rock outfit Hollis Brown is currently touring North America playing to sold out crowds in support of renowned rockers Counting Crows and singer-songwriter Citizen Cope. Based in New York, Hollis Brown’s influences are taken from various musical genres says lead singer-guitarist Mike Montali, “We listen…

KDHX Concert Review: Orgone (with Al Holliday) showcases true soul music at Old Rock House, Sunday, August 30

Led by keyboardist Dan Hastie and guitarist Sergio Rios, Orgone represents everything good with music — from wildly funky lyrics, to tightly coiled musicianship, to authentic grooves and equal spotlight for each member, including powerhouse vocalist Adryon de León, the group carried us to another planet with their brand of…

Concert Review: Kylesa (with Path of Light & Caustic Casanova) provided massive sounds at The Ready Room, Saturday, September 5

Opening acts are hard, man. You know the crowd is there to catch the headliners perform live, but you as a band, musician or artist have a job to do: to entertain and hopefully — in the process, gain some new fans. Judging by the seriousness of the 30 or…

Album Review: Teedra Moses – Cognac & Conversaton [R&B]

More than a decade has passed since Teedra Moses’ stellar debut, Complex Simplicity. Now the New Orleans-bred singer-songwriter drops a proper sophomore release, Cognac & Conversation. Blending R&B, soul and hip-hop alongside lyrics on love, life and relationships, Moses has always kept it real in song and, one can assume, in life as well. On…

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

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…

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

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…

#CurrentMood > Lianne La Havas > “Unstoppable (FKJ Remix)”

Taken from British folk and soul singer Lianne La Havas’ recent LP Blood, French producer FKJ ups the tempo on first single “Unstoppable” to give it a fun, danceable kind of twist.

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

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…

Album Review: Bilal – In Another Life [soul/jazz/rock]

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…

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

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…

#CurrentMood > Dornik > “Stand In Your Line”

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…

Album Review: Camp Lo – Ragtime Hightimes [hip-hop]

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…

#CurrentMood > Kendrick Lamar > “Alright”

“Alright,” the fourth single from rapper Kendrick Lamar’s latest LP, To Pimp a Butterfly, is an inspirational ode to resilience in a time of severe racial, economic and social inequalities.

KDHX Live Performance Review: Lydia Loveless, 6/12/15

She’s a bit of punk rock with alternative-country roots, but to say Lydia Loveless is definable would be a disservice to her talent, as her cover of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” has such conviction, you’d think she wrote the song herself. Like the Minneapolis-born Prince, Loveless is direct…

Album Review: Penguin Prison – Lost In New York [electro/dance]

Music producer and Upper East Side native Penguin Prison is probably best known for his track “Don’t Fuck With My Money,” a song he wrote prior to the Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011, but a track that was heavily associated with the movement and also included on his self-titled…