Soul

Burnt Offering (CD)

Afro-soul stars the Budos Band are back with a metallic barnburner of a fourth album. The Daptone-signed instrumental band have a way of making their horns sound larger than life, their guitar riffs sound gigantic and beats sound perfectly considered, on songs like the psychedelic title track, that make an absense of a singer an afterthought. On “The Sticks,” the 10-man band craft a kind of funkadelic Led Zeppelin track with gnarly, evil riffs and a bassline that won’t quit that could have existed in virtually any decade over the past half-century—that fact that it’s here now just feels like a gift. True heads know the distance between funk and metal is only skin deep, but Burnt Offering manages to make that incredibly apparent. It’s like locking Black Sabbath in a room with Parliament and ending up with something too out of this world to fathom. Cool beyond believe, Burnt Offering has us hooked. Keep it coming, guys.

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Speechless (CD)

Exceptionally talented 24 year old Swedish-Ethiopian singer and guitarist Sebastian Mikael is releasing his first full-length and it's something to get excited about. A true craftsman, Mikael migrated from a successful producing project in Sweden to start again in music school in America, honing his craft at the Musician's Institute in Los Angeles and the Berklee College of Music in Boston. Now, with an impressive series of collaborators including Rick Ross and Wale, Mikael is ready to show off his sophisticated and often inspirational R&B. Tending towards lyrics about life rather than just love, Mikael's sensuous love songs give off an intelligence and worldliness impressive for such a newcomer. Fans of Miguel should particularly take note.

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Comet, Come To Me (CD)

For almost twenty years, Ndegeocello has consistently been making some of the highest quality contemporary soul music available. At any given moment that a listening public or critical body might decide to take note, Meshell Ndegeocello rarely falls below third place in terms of her long running avant-R&B project and its incredibly limited set of peers. On her latest release, gurgling analog synthesizers, nearly-proggish (or in this case fusion-esque) melodic lines twist and interlock in compositions that had me white knuckled, waiting with bated breath for the next change or new sound. Melancholy, critical, sexy, hopeful, experimental, this is music that exists at such an advanced level, it challenges description. Elements of Prince appear with some regularity and Ndegeocello has made no bones about her devotion to the purple one, but what in the hands of Prince is a manic intensity, spreads out here into a thick foggy miasma of groove, just as dense and intentional with regard to a moment-to-moment everything-in-its-right-place take on production but at a syruppy pace (even, somehow, on the upbeat numbers) that oozes both sensuality and occasionally menace. Ndegeocello's ear for hip hop comes into play here, too, and while in 1996 her relationship to the jazz-funk sampling hip-hop underground was a breath of fresh air, she has moved on to more contemporary subterranean textures, incorporating elements of Madlib's shambolic technique into her future funk jungle. Another exceptional record from a consistently rewarding artist.

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7 Days Of Funk (CD)

In the words of the Holy Ghost of Funk, Bootsy Collins: "Well glory be! The funk's on me!" 7 Days of Funk's debut EP is a revelatory event for for fans of and freaks for The Funk, and should be particularly pleasing for those whose funk du jour is syrup-thick mid-tempo boogie-funk seasoned heavy with synthesizers a la Yarborough & Peoples or Zapp. This latter strain of funk has seen a resurgence in recent years, aided in large part by Angeleno Dam-Funk who makes up half of 7 Days of Funk's funknamic duo. Who's the other half? None other than the Doggfather himself, Snoop aka Snoop Lion aka Snoopzilla for this release, in an explicit homage to the Bootsman. Snoop has flirted with throwback funkestries on previous releases and is responsible for the global dispersal of the G-funk sound, but never before has be given himself so wholeheartedly to the funkmersive concerns expressed on this EP. Easily transcending the side-project ghetto, 7 Days of Funk is two major voices in contemporary music, subsuming their individual identities into something new and simply huge. A match made in funk heaven.

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