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Jul 192013
 

Here’s a sweet, catchy and soulful fuck-off song from the ever-smooth Mark Bonafide. It’s pretty short too, clocking in at 2:53! That’s my only issue with “Issues” (ouch!) – I wish I could get MORE of its goodness! Nice interplay with Kim Olsen and Zahidah provides a riveting contrast. Taken from the forthcoming e.p. “LOVE/REBEL” it seems – can hardly wait! Check it out!

Mar 292013
 

Chicago quintet Great Divide (Teddy Grossman – vox, guitar/Josh Teitelbaum – drums/Jeff Leibovich – keyboards/Josh Kahle – bass/Jeff Burke – guitar, vox) takes the rock and roots maxim to its logical conclusion. If a cursory listen to the band’s eponymous sophomore album suggests to you The Band, Van Morrison, Bob Dylan, Elton John, Tedeschi Trucks Band and the like, then you’d probably be better off exploring Great Divide, don’t you think? Yeah!

Funded by a successful Kickstarter campaign, Great Divide is a evocative, soulful rock n’ roll record in the old fashioned way. In other words, it is as smooth as you like, bringing together a veritable buffet of influences, spanning soul, folk, country, pop and rock with the dynamic horn section providing the proverbial icing on top.

First-rate musicianship, competent songwriting and the honey-dripping pipes of Teddy Grossman make Great Divide, essential listening for the true-blue pop-rock fans out there. How can one argue with genuine articles like the slick opener “Ain’t No Roads”, the lush “Easy Chair”, the gospel-tinged “Moorie” and the Stevie Wonder-channeling “Shine”? Simple, you don’t!

Check out the live clip of “Ain’t No Roads” below

Official Site | Facebook

 

Mar 012013
 

Dru Chen - SG Msia Press Pic

(Press release)

Modern Soul singer-songwriter Dru Chen will be on tour in Singapore and Malaysia from March 8 to March 17 to launch Intentions EP. Successful lead single “You Bring Out The Best In Me” (http://youtu.be/LGi6Q5WsvtM) has been played on Australian radio stations Southern 88.3FM, Triple R 102.7FM, Joy 94.9FM and is looking to hit Singapore radio/blog soon. Dru Chen will be performing 8 shows, radio spots and filming 2 videos during this trip, including collaborations with Charlie Lim, Kerong Chok, For This Cycle, Charles J Tan and an appearance at Mosaic Music Festival.

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Feb 252013
 

Sarah_Showcase_Class95_CS5-(public)

Here’s your chance to catch Sarah Cheng-De Winne live as she delivers her soulful pop music with her deep, sultry vocals.

The showcase is open to the public, as long as you bring a physical copy of Sarah’s album that you have previously purchased, or you can purchase a copy at the venue (one per person). Check out the album sampler below.

Official Facebook Page

Feb 212013
 

This is so infectious it should be illegal! Seriously!! I first saw Dru Chen at an open mike years ago and was deeply impressed with his swagger and innate soulfulness BUT this new single from the Melbourne based modern soul singer-songwriter exceeds all expectations. I mean, “You Bring Out the Best in Me” should be blaring out of every single radio station in Singapore. Be warned though, once that groove hooks in, you’re in trouble. Awesome.

Official Page

Buy now!

 

Dec 212012
 

There is a nice balance of pop sounds and styles in Sarah Cheng-De Winne’s new album. Previously categorized as a jazz-folk-pop singer, this single-minded lady (and her production team) has done a bang-up job in taking different strands of the pop milieu and incorporating the same into her own distinctive soulful pop brand.

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Oct 162012
 

It’s not often that I come across a sound that is unique and different but this track from London band Waves of Fury certainly qualifies! Imagine the classic post-punk sound (The Fall, Echo & the Bunny men) performed by a Stax-Motown group from the sixties (Temptations, Smokey Robinson & the Miracles)!?! Off the album Thirst, this is one to keep a close eye on. Review to come, folks.

You can purchase Thirst from the Alive Records mail order page.

Oct 042012
 

Classic. Passionate. Authentic.

These words were not far from mind when watching English singer-songwriter James Morrison in his full pomp at the Esplanade Concert Hall on the night of 2nd October. In an era where pop idols come across as fake, studied and pre-fabricated there is a genuineness about Morrison that is hard to ignore. This honesty in purpose is communicated by his uncanny revocation of old skool blue-eyed soul and by his amazing larynx. Backed by a group of competent musicians, Morrison was able to focus on doing what he did best – sing – and connect with his audience with his boyish charm.

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Aug 092012
 

What does iconoclastic, unique, artistic white soul-funk truly sound like, you might ask? Well, in 1976, David Bowie slipped into the Thin White Duke persona to deliver the Station to Station LP, from which the single “Golden Years” was issued. This sinewy funky composition is built on a descending riff of F#-E, a jarring and distinctive progression that pricks your ears. The chorus resolves itself on a stable tonic platform of D-Bm before teasing and releasing with a closing G-C-A-F#-Bm-Em7!

Bowie appeared on the Soul Train TV show (allegedly drunk!) to promote the single, although he managed to lip synch his way through the track competently enough. Check out the video below.

 

CHARLIE LIM

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Apr 122012
 

OLD SOUL

Now, the introduction to “There Is No Love” swept me literally off my feet, my heart melted and chills ran down the length of my spine. No mean feat. I’m talking about the second track on Charlie Lim‘s amazing debut eponymous EP that was released sometime last year. Better late than never eh?

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PoPTV – RED JACKET MINE

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Mar 182012
 

Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)

I make no apologies for being a lover of ‘old-school’ pop music cuz ultimately it’s about substance and not mere form. Pleased to report that bands like Red Jacket Mine, which focus on 80s-styled soul, country, blues, rock, and pop (think: Joe Jackson, Elvis Costello, Style Council, Hall & Oates) are still out there, if you know where to look!

Red Jacket Mine has already released two studio albums (including 2009′s Ken Stringfellow-produced Lovers Lookout) and currently consists of  bandleader Lincoln Barr, longtime drummer Andrew Salzman and bassist Matthew Cunningham. “Listen Up (If the World is Going to Hell)” is a brilliant slice of soul-infused pub rock that bears repeated listening.

So check out this surrealistic music video for Red Jacket Mine‘s new 7″ single and please send them your love, okay?

Official Site | Facebook

Limited edition of 500 hand-numbered singles on colored vinyl, out now on Fin Records. Purchase on iTunes.

RAY CHARLES

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Nov 302011
 

LIVE IN FRANCE : 1961 DVD

According to the publicity blurb on the DVD jacket, the concerts featured in this DVD have been lost for 50 years and just newly discovered. Which is certainly a boon not only for music fans but also historians. Filmed at the 1961 Antibes Jazz Festival in France, this DVD features the legendary Ray Charles in his prime.

Covering two sets on 18th and 22nd July respectively, Charles is backed by the original Raelets and run the gamut from jazz to gospel, from the blues to rock ‘n’ roll. Charles himself is the consummate musician, equally comfortable with solo piano as well as singing, there is no denying the genius of the man and the tremendous influence over the popular music of the decades that followed.

The visuals are in sparking black and white, with choice audience shots edited together efficiently. The sound is pristine and Charles performs some of his greatest hits viz. Let The Good Times Roll, Georgia On My Mind, Hallelujah, I Love Her So and What I’d Say. On the last track, it isn’t difficult to see the impact that Charles had on the likes of The Beatles, for example.

Of course, this is 1961 so there is none of the flash or the glamour of modern day live spectacles but none of this diminishes the power and soulfulness of the musicianship and showmanship. Utterly essential for all pop scholars.

Buy Ray Charles: Live In France 1961 from Amazon

Oct 222011
 

Creedence Clearwater Revival, mostly known to fans as ‘CCR’ was a rock quartet whose singles were big radio hits during the transition period from the 60s to the 70s. As a kid, I remembering hearing their songs constantly on the radio and the secret of their success was very simple – basic rock ‘n’ roll infused with country, folk and soul inflections and not to mention the dynamic larynx of lead singer John Fogerty.

I remember getting hold of a cassette of Chronicle – which was subtitled “The 20 Greatest Hits” for good reason. Chronicle was that rare compilation where every selection was an unforgettable classic. No exaggeration to state that I wore out that cassette from the non-stop play and I would repeat the process over the entirety of the album. Now of course, the whole album is a firm fixture in my iTunes and still receives a regular play-through to remind what top notch rock ‘n’ roll is all about.

If I had to choose my top five from “The 20 Greatest Hits” it would have to be – Who’ll Can Stop The Rain, Someday Never Comes, Have You Ever Seen the Rain, Lodi and Fortunate Son – these tunes have been permanently burned into my consciousness. Add to the list, CCR’s fiery interpretations of Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ I Put A Spell On You and Marvin Gaye’s I Heard It Through the Grapevine and what you have is rock ‘n’ roll bliss.

Buy Chronicle from Amazon

SHERYL CROW

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Sep 052011
 

SHERYL CROW Miles From Memphis: Live At The Pantages Theatre DVD (Eagle Vision)

This concert video was taken from Crow’s tour in support of her retro-soul project 100 Miles From Memphis. As is often the case where artists undertake a change in musical direction, this also signals a re-interpretation of old material in the ‘new’ sound as well. Therefore, A Change Would Do You Good and Everyday is a Winding Road take on funkier tones. Even Crow’s signature tune – All I Wanna Do – is given the Stax-Motown treatment.

Crow is in splendid voice throughout, backed by a crack band of musicians which provide the necessary soul authenticity to pull off Crow’s soul venture. At the very end, I Shall Believe is delivered in a vintage gospel blues piano ballad style that simply brings the house down.

This DVD is essential viewing for all Crow fans and also lovers of that special soul/R&B era.

Buy Miles From Memphis Live at the Pantages Theatre at Amazon

Feb 032011
 

Listen to County Line below,  a moody electric piano piece that recalls the late John Lennon and The Band, off the upcoming album – Wits End – from Cass McCombs, to be released by Domino Records on 11th April 2011. It is rather sumptuous, with McCombs also channeling Richard Manuel’s fragile pipes on this country-folk-ish tune. Worth checking out.

Official Site

ERIK HARTLEY

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Jan 062011
 

ERIK HARTLEY Not Me Being Nervous EP (Self-released)

Originally posted at ReviewYou.com

The purest performance of a song, is simply the interplay between one voice and one instrument. This kind of austere expression is often the litmus test of a song’s quality, where artifice of instrumentation and arrangements are removed to lay bare the essence of a song i.e. words and music. Within rock music circles, such stripped down musical presentation is normally associated with folk music – the most common example being Bob Dylan’s earliest recordings, of course. However, in this instance, with singer-songwriter Erik Hartley, the choice of genre is old school rhythm and blues, in particular, Motown, blues and funk. Which is a unique proposition indeed.

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Nov 162010
 

Hard to believe that UK neo-soul singer ROX is a mere 22 year old. She sang like a veteran at her tidy showcase at TAB on 5th November. Her self-assurance is amazing and even though she was backed by only one guitarist/keyboard player, that did not stop her from grooving like she was backed by a full band. Whether handling dance numbers or ballads, ROX delivered them in the same manner – much aplomb.

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MAROON 5

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Sep 302010
 

MAROON 5 Hands All Over (A&M/Universal)

Like the cover of its latest album, the music of Maroon 5 is sexy but delivered in a manner that can only be described as over-the-top. For a band that has already sold more than 15 million albums worldwide, it has upped the ante by bringing in renowned record producer Robert John “Mutt” Lange to polish an already blindingly shiny product.

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DELTA SPIRIT

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Aug 272010
 

DELTA SPIRIT History from Below (Rounder/Universal)

“If your god forgave all of your sin/then why would you make martyrs out of them/for money or power or glory/do you even care?”

These final lines from the thought-provoking opener – 9/11 – sets the agenda for this truly excellent sophomore effort from San Diego quartet, Delta Spirit. Spiritually-fueled lyrics backed by sweet country-soul music.

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