Soul Scratch – Pushing Fire

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Jan 232017
 

I spent years digging through crates in moldy backrooms, used bookstores and huge record conventions. I spent so much time looking backwards for my soul and funk fix that I missed the earliest days of the revival we are currently enjoying. It helped that vinyl’s own resurgence began pushing used record prices into the stratosphere. With the cost of used vinyl making less sense to me each day, I found myself looking at new music.

Third Man Records, Ubiquity, Secret Stash and Daptone all made me a loyal follower but it is Colemine Records that excites me. Terry Cole and company understand what vinyl and music enthusiasts like myself want. Great music by talented bands, mastered perfectly and delivered using the highest quality vinyl, jackets and covers. Offering special editions, gets the collector’s heart racing, which explains why you need to be fast on the trigger when new releases are announced.

Even with all I love about Colemine, in the end, it all comes down to the music and once again, they deliver with Pushing Fire, the third album from soul powerhouse, Soul Scratch. Pushing Fire was my introduction to the band and I can’t wait to go back and see what I have missed, because this band is on fire!

Pushing Fire opens with the driving , ‘Pacified’, a call for action in a world where watching from the sidelines has become the norm. We are content in our consumerism and Dale Spollett just called us out on it with a vocal passion few could achieve.

Dale’s voice could easily be the power behind most bands by itself but Soul Scratch has a horn section that not only chases his voice, they push him ever forward with their tightly focused playing while keeping him close with enveloping melodies. All this is build on top of the super tight rhythm section, an endless source of killer backfills, flourishes and funky bass lines.

Pushing Fire isn’t all politicised, it weaves around songs of love, like ‘The Road Looks Long’ and Kiss Me In the Morning’, but the band’s real mission is to make you shake your booty on the dance floor. ‘Odessa Heat’ and ‘Empty’ are both barn burners that pull at your boogie shoes from beginning to end.

Soul Scratch are a worthy addition to Colemine’s already impressive stable. I expect more greatness from both the label and the band. Pushing Fire is a masterpiece that hints at a soulful greatness yet to come.

Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau – Lead Belly’s Gold

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Nov 132015
 

Some people think of the great B.B. King when they think of blues, and that ain’t a bad way to go, nor would Howling Wolf, Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson or anyone with “Blind,” “Big” or “Dog” in their name, be bad choices. I love so many of the early Blues players but there has always been something special between myself and the man known as Lead Belly. Bigger than life in every way, Lead Belly personified the kind of life that gave a man the blues, then he poured his heart out for everyone to hear.

516JzEFTxnL-thumb-380xauto-29595Eric Bibb and JJ Milteau seem to feel much the way I do and to honor the great bluesman, they recorded a new album, Lead Belly’s Gold. The most loved songs, either written by, or easily associated with Lead Belly, are all here. Eric Bibb, the son of folk master Leon Bibb, has been steeped in the blues his whole life. On this album, he is accompanied by JJ Milteau, a French harmonica player who brings an unexpected authenticity to each song.

For those new to the songs of Lead Belly, it can be a bit unnerving when you hear songs like ‘Midnight Special’ and The ‘House of the Rising Sun’ performed decades before the 60s and 70s rock bands that brought them to the world’s attention. While many of these songs authorship is lost to the southern fields in which they were born, they owe their continued existence, at least in part, to Lead Belly.

Lead Belly’s Gold is filled with love and admiration for the man, the songs and their importance in music history. Eric and JJ masterfully walk through this time and add a piece of their own with three new songs written from the viewpoint of Lead Belly himself. Lead Belly’s Gold is beautifully recorded and is a great addition to anyone’s blues collection. I found myself going back and listening to original versions of the songs again and you should do the same.

Lead Belly’s Gold is a work of passion and it deserves your attention.

Karen Lovely – Ten Miles of Bad Road

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Oct 232015
 

When most people think of the blues, they envision a man sitting on an old porch, guitar in hand. I see a woman calling in the field, to the rhythm of the work. Her voice clear across the acres of crops. From ‘Ma’ Rainey to Sophie Tucker, I have always thought the women felt the blues, lived the blues and loved the blues, just a bit more.

Karen Lovely is a rare bird with a voice and heart born to the blues. Her new album, Ten Miles of Bad Road,badroad200 is a collection of blues rock magic that feels especially fresh considering its roots in the past. Across the entire album, Karen’s vocals sound effortless, making this album infinitely listenable.

Ten Miles of Bad Road opens with the guitar fueled ‘Low Road’ and ‘Company Grave Yard’, a pair of rockin’ blues tunes that showcase Karen’s vocal power. Even when she brings it down, in songs like ‘I Want to Love You’ or the bouncy, ’You Stole my Heart’, you can feel the force just waiting to be unleashed.

Ten Miles of Bad Road manages to maintain a perfect flow, from hard hitting to playful. It can sit beside you all week, turned down low and then help you celebrate your Friday release at full volume. Karen Lovely has a future in the blues, her talents will continue to grow, her personal translation of the blues will become more defined over time. This album deserves your attention, this is your chance to let everyone know that you discovered Karen Lovely before she became a star.

Grab your copy at http://music.karenlovely.com/

MonkeyJunk – Moon Turn Red

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Oct 132015
 

Formed in 2008, MonkeyJunk is the Ottawa-based trio of Tony D, Steve Marriner, and Matt Sobb. Canada may not be the first place you think of when looking for blues based, hard rocking bands but MonkeyJunk delivers in spades. Their new album, Moon-Turn-Red-Cover-ScanMoon Turn Red, is a hard hitting, swampy bluesfest that is an equal mix of catchy hooks and Black Keys style riffs.

Right out of the gate, ‘Light It Up’ hits you in the chest with a fuzz,buzz guitar sound in a chugging, punk blues style rocker. The slinky, funky feel of ‘Show Me Yours’ retains an edge befitting its title.  The album slips in and out of styles without losing coherence and never leaving you in doubt that you are listening to MonkeyJunk.

If you enjoy a true power ballad, ‘Learn How To Love’ has a driving, heartbroken feel that is punctuated with a screaming harp solo, that makes it hard to walk away from. My favorite song on the album is ‘Lucky One’, a rowdy rocker that feels rooted in everything important in rock and blues. Mainly a hot woman just out of reach, that will burn your life to the ground if you ever become the lucky one.
In a musical landscape full of garage blues and imitation, MonkeyJunk finds their way clear, by combining lively grooves, with hearty grit they dug up far south of their homeland. MonkeyJunk’s, Moon Turn Red,  can make a long drive seem a little shorter, a hard day a little easier and being home a little sweeter. Pick your copy up today and crank it up, way up.

 

The Soul Surfers – Soul Rock!

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Oct 132015
 

I have several of their singles and had high hopes for their first album. The Soul Surfers did not disappoint, this is a kick ass album in ever funky way possible.

After releasing countless collectable and in-demand 7in singles and making a name for themselves in the contemporary “raw funk and soul” scene, The Soul Surfers drop their debut album “Soul Rock!”; a magnum opus of raw, gritty soul and greasy funk featuring eminent guests from the aforementioned scene that birthed their sound. Soul crooners Myron & E break out of their “smooth2015-10-10 18.16.19” vocal personas and deliver a decidedly more stripped down and visceral performance in the lead-off single “You Can Run (But You Can’t Hide) From My Love that also promises to be a dance floor filler. Co-collaborators JJ Whitefield from The Poets of Rhythm and Malcom Catto of the Heliocentrics add their signature touch on two of the album’s ”heavier” cuts “Raw” and “Stop Fooling Around.” Label-mate, multi-instrumentalist and studio genius Shawn Lee lends his vocal, guitar and mixing board talents to “Time Is A Gun” while noted producer Didier from the Soul Investigators gets in on the mix, vibes, and percussion on the heavy slow-burner “Astra”. Smoove & Turrell round out the album with the blue-eyed soul stomper “Straight Up”.