Categories
Jazz/Blues Soul/R&B

Premiere: FAZE – Carried Away

Offering up a standout blend of Funk, Soul and Jazz with even more elements thrown into that mix, FAZE are a band proving they aim to sound like no one else with the release of their debut single ‘Carried Away’. A truly unmissable playing style along with some fantastic vocals, these young but extremely talented musicians wouldn’t seem out of place performing alongside some of the outstanding artists who first inspired them.

To find out a bit more, we caught up with the 5-piece neo-funk band from London just after the release of their new single. Be sure to expect many great things from this group, there’s no shame being Carried Away when it comes to FAZE.

J: Here with me to talk a bit about their new single is FAZE’s very own Yazmine, Ryan and Indigo. Hey, guys! How’s lockdown 2 been for you so far?

Yazmine: Hey, James! Lockdown 2 has been less of a nuisance than Lockdown 1 so far. I’m still at work, so not much has changed for me! A pain we can’t rehearse or record properly, but we’re hoping to be free December 2nd!

Ryan: Lockdown 2 has been a period of adjustability for me to be honest! Being under lockdown is not ideal but being able to adjust to circumstances is key.

Indigo: It’s been painful, just as musicians were starting to get gigs again! Luckily, we’ve still got a couple of function gigs lined up in 2021.

J: So for those only just finding out about you, tell us a bit about the music you’ve set out to create.

Yazmine: We write wacky, funk tunes with elements from 70s disco, neo-soul and classic rock. Expect rhythmic keys, groovy bass, sharp beats, lavish solos and cheeky lyrics! Everyone so far has had a different interpretation, so we’re calling it ‘neo-funk’!

J: Have most of you been in bands in the past, or is your first experience writing with other musicians?

Yazmine: Yes, we’re all pretty experienced musicians. I’ve been in jazz bands, orchestras and rock bands during my time at school and college! I also write solo stuff but FAZE is obviously my favourite 😉

Ryan: I have worked with quite a few bands in the past – my main role is behind the kit though!

Indigo: Yep, I started with youth jazz bands, and I’m now playing with many bands of many genres, including neo-soul, blues and big band jazz.

J: A big question; Why do you all enjoy playing ‘neo-funk’? What was it that inspired you so much that you just had to form a band?

Johnny: Neo-funk is something fresh and exciting. It’s not a well-known genre yet, but we’re setting out to change that!

Ryan: Neo-funk is a fusion of some of my favourite genres which also allows room for a lot of creativity – especially from a drumming perspective. When the opportunity came around to join FAZE, I was excited to get on board.

Yazmine: I got inspired to form a band whilst I was at college, I wanted to get into function work and started a band with some of my mates at school. We all got pretty busy, and the function work fell through so I thought ‘Screw it! Let’s meet some new people’. I downloaded this app Vampr which is basically Tinder for musicians, I met Ryan first, he had some crazy drumming riffs on his page and lived nearby, so we set up a rehearsal, and the rest is history- haha!

J: How would you all describe your music taste, was it tricky finding people who wanted to write in the same sort of style?

Yazmine: I think we’re all heavily influenced by R&B, Gospel, Jazz, Funkadelic and Disco tunes – it was very lucky that we all connected so quickly and had that in common. I grew up listening to CHIC, Parliament, Jackson 5, Erykah Badu and D’Angelo, and I love them all so much. When you’ve heard so much fantastic music, I think you become like a sponge and just soak it all in! The tunes just came bursting out when we started jamming together.

J: So tell me, how does a band even go about recording and releasing their first single in lockdown? Has it been harder/easier?

Ryan: It isn’t the most straightforward process, but we’ve all had to adjust to new ways of doing things. It would ideally be a lot easier without restrictions!

Yazmine: We were lucky that Carried Away has been waiting in the wings for a while before we decided to release. We had to finish up mixing and mastering which could be done remotely by our friend CHRIS XYLO (he’s an absolute wizard!) Planning the single release has actually been easier since I’ve had more time to stay at home and work on it. Since more people are at home, I think we’ve all had time to listen to more music/ read more books/ discover more art, so we’re grateful for that!

Johnny: We’ve successfully recorded three lockdown sessions during this weird time which you can find on our YouTube channel, that process was interesting and was easier than expected thanks to Ryan’s spotless drumming. We’re saving our new tracks for recording after Lockdown so we can get them perfect, we are certainly perfectionists!

J: Tell us all about your new single ‘Carried Away,’ why did you decide to start writing your own tunes and what gave you the idea for this track?

Timmy: After a couple of months playing covers and function gigs, I think we quickly discovered that we could write. During rehearsals in-between songs I’d often play these soulful chord progressions off the top of my head, and we’d go off on this wild jam tangent with loads of improv, different feels etc.! We were all feeling the vibes, so I think it was that first original jam was when FAZE started.

Yazmine: I wrote this track after coming home on the train one night after a fantastic gig. The crowd was wild, and we all went out afterwards and had such a great night. I pulled a bit of an all-nighter that night and woke up the next afternoon exhausted but filled with such excitement. That high you get after you come off stage is exceptional, and the feeling lasts for days afterwards! The lyrics just started coming out, and I sat at my piano and wrote the first draft. I put it to the boys a couple of weeks later, and they brought the vision to life!

J: So this new song is all about ‘life as a musician’ and the highs and lows that come with the job – is that something you’ve all felt an especially relevant subject at the moment?

Yazmine: We know none of us can hardly get carried away with anything at the moment! For us, it’s about fantasy and hope as well as reality. We want listeners to be able to listen to our track and escape from the current world at the moment as well as get inspired for the future. Soon it’ll be all of our jobs to get out there and support live music again. We ain’t going nowhere!

J: What sort of things can we expect to see next from you guys? Any hints?

Johnny: Trust me when I say Carried Away is only the tip of the iceberg! We’ve got so much music written – about to record our next two singles. Our next track will be called MALIBU – think palm trees, indulgent groove and holiday fantasy! Whilst sitting on our sofas at home in the middle of winter, we can only dream – so why not!

You can keep up to date with all the upcoming music from FAZE on their Instagram and Facebook @fazebandofficial

Find FAZE on Spotify here.

Categories
Jazz/Blues Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Orgone

‘Orgone’ is a term best described as an esoteric energy or universal life force but more importantly, it’s an incredibly well-fitting name for this musical time machine of a band, that’s continually bringing a magnetic power to groove and soul…

I was genuinely taken aback at how well the West Coast collective capture the sound of classic 60s/70s funk, perfectly delivering an essence that I was searching for more of- specifically from current artists. Their time travelling isn’t just to the heyday of funk though, upon further listening, so many more influences surfaced from New Orleans jazz to modern hip-hop. Perfectly melted together, their sound has resulted in comparisons to not only legends such as Chic and Earth, Wind & Fire but also 21st-century stars like Childish Gambino.

I already recognised a few of their biggest hits (as you might too) but since properly discovering the band I’ve had their tunes playing non-stop. Blending from one to another as seamlessly as their styles are combined, I often find myself in a trance when listening to their mixing pot of sounds. Sometimes it feels like only a fleeting moment has gone by before I’ve made it through an album; always leaving me ready and raring to start the journey all over again. Their bold, flowing mixes and ability to take you to another time and place go to show that it’s not just me in need of their sound in my life as they’re guaranteed to satisfy any musical void that you’re looking to fill or just breath some new life to your playlists.

The California bands’ only consistent members since forming in 1999 are founders Dan Hastie on keys and Sergio Rios on guitar and engineering duties. However, the group has now stood at a solid five members for their last five albums, with Dale Jennings on bass, drummer Sam Halterman and singer Adryon de León joining Hastie and Rios in 2013 to form a more permanent set up. 

Many of their mesmerising tracks tell a story without a single word being sung but León takes things to the next level-shining brighter than ever on their 2019 album ‘Reasons’ with vocals on every track (We Can Make It is a personal favourite of mine). A variety of additional talents from Fanny Franklin to Jesse Wanger are often brought on board for vocal contributions as well; also helping to take things up a notch and ensure a consistently changing sound.

Always fresh and exciting the band are amazing in the studio where they produce their popping tracks and even work with artists such as ‘Queen of R&B’ Alicia Keys. The excitement doesn’t just stop there though as up on stage they really come into their element. Creating a kind of party atmosphere that would have fuelled Studio 54 back in the late 70s they clearly thrive off of their live audience grooving out to their glorious performances. Whether they’re in front of fans, working with top talents or on their own, there’s always an electrifying vibe in the room, as evident in the clip below-

In late September of this year, the band put out ‘Connection’, their appropriately named tenth record that instantly creates a relationship with its audience and bonds together all of their best elements. Kicking off with The Vice Yard you’re hit with powerful horns, sleek guitar licks and a pounding rhythm section; immediately locking you into the experience. The album goes on to provide a more futuristic vibe with tracks like Love Will See Us Through; evoking the the-sci-fi elements of time travel with electronic experimentation and making it clear to see why people are reminded of albums such as Gambino’s ‘Awaken, my love!’. Other stand out songs include The Truth, featuring a marvellously groovy riff and outstanding display of Kelly Finnigan’s husky voice, This One Time; a sweeping Motown dream and the reggae-infused This Space.

Although ‘Connection’ might be the finest exhibition of their greatest strengths it certainly wouldn’t exist without all efforts that came before, where these elements began to materialise. Whether it was using steel drums or synthesizers, Orgone have been making hits since the early days with their self-titled debut album back in 2001 displaying their ability to genre jump and produce superb songs from the very beginning. Truly breaking ground 6 years later with their full length follow up ‘The Killion Floor’ they’ve continued to create hit after hit and I don’t see them stopping any time soon.

Perfect for a chilled-out groove or conquering the dancefloor I strongly urge you to get listening Orgone anytime or any place and be transported by their universal energy.


Listen to Orgone on Spotify now

Categories
Indie/Indie Rock Pop/Indie Pop Reviews

Hidden Gems: Soul Punk – Patrick Stump

Next year marks the 10th anniversary of Patrick Stump’s first solo album ‘Soul Punk’, released during Fall Out Boy’s hiatus, this record is a favourite of mine and at the time, really showed off Stump’s talent in a way that no one had ever seen before. People knew he was a phenomenal singer, but this album showed off his skills in so many ways. Stump made a soulful, RnB, pop album, and played every instrument, wrote every song and produced every track. After being known as the singer from Fall Out Boy, here we got to see just how much talent was waiting to burst out of just one man. But despite generally positive reviews, the album didn’t do as well as it should have, and to this day is hardly known about unless you’re a pretty die hard Stump or Fall Out Boy fan. Stump commented on the record saying “When it comes to pop music, there’s this perception that all you have to do is press a button on your iPad, but I wanted to make it with love and put a lot into it. A lot of people asked, ‘Where did you get the drum sounds?’ I played them. ‘What synth plug-in was that?’ I played all the synths. ‘How’d you get that bass tone?’ It’s a bass. I really wanted to put in the effort, even if people might not notice.” to the extent of the album art as well, making a point of using real materials and not just photoshopping shapes onto the artwork. The record as a whole talks about greed and paranoia and the effects of which and how they influence each other, as well as dealing with innocence and even death. So on that cheery note, join me as I go through the hidden gem that is Patrick Stump’s Soul Punk. 

A complete U-turn from the pop punk roots of Fall Out Boy, now on hiatus, Stump sought out to make an album with a sound he wanted to make, with nothing out of bounds. Citing icons such as Michael Jackson, Prince, David Bowie and Bobby Brown as lifelong inspiration, Soul Punk delves into the thick sounds of the ’80s. After having the album finished, two version of a lead single released, and the album ready for a February release, Stump wrote ‘This City’, which made him decide to completely redo the record, releasing the equally brilliant EP ‘Truant Wave’ in it’s place and leaving the album to be released later on in the year. With this, Stump really outdid himself just with the quality of music we were yet to be teased with. We were teased with a version of ‘This City’ featuring Lupe Fiasco, a love letter to the city of Chicago, where Stump was born and raised. A catchy soulful pop song that talks about the ups and downs of your hometown, but how no matter how hard you try, “you can never take my city away”, giving off similar thematic vibes to the previously released ‘Spotlight’. Although these tracks talk about being yourself and who you are, Stump stated the album was written a lot in character rather than self retrospectives, which is rather a thankful sign when the likes of ‘The “I” in Lie’ is on the album, a song about being unfaithful to your partner, but tracked to a sugary suggestive sounding instrumental. 

‘Explode’, the albums opening track goes off with a bang unsurprisingly, an upbeat banger with Stump singing the oh so addictive hook “Clap if you’ve got a ticket to the end of the world”, a song that hints at the issues and pressure of commitment, something no doubt everyone has felt at some point, singing “If I’m never your hero I can never let you down”, metaphors about cutting the red wire to defuse a bomb. A song that definitely speaks volumes about being the lead singer of a band that just went on an indefinite hiatus. But the album is filled with wonderful moments such as ‘Run Dry (X Heart X Fingers)’, a song about drinking, with lyrics being slightly concerning talking about how you know that it’s unhealthy, drinking to forget, making mistakes and by taking “one more shot then I’m quitting forever – cross my heart, cross my fingers”. There’s some, kind of deep stuff sung over beautiful funk songs all across this album, it’s really quite something. 

The track ‘Dance Miserable’ is a really solid pop song with a filthy sounding synth-bass riff. Lyrically it’s wonderfully relevant about feeling hard done by, fed up and angry with the world, talking about the issues of climate change, unemployment, depression, government and politics. “The right side’s in the wrong – And what’s left’s just holding on – And the public has been privatised – But I believe in something here on earth” talking about the power of people, despite wanting to “Dance like you’re disappointed in the world” Later in the album we get the bittersweetly uplifting song ‘Coast (It’s Gonna Get Better)’, a brilliant song with the message of not giving up, how things get bad, but no matter how bleak things get, that things will get better. 

Track 9 on the album and we’re given the sexy hunk of a song that is ‘Allie’, a funky pop song with a powerful pop punk style riff and killer guitar solo in the later half of the song. In fact this album shows some of Stump’s brilliant guitar work that wasn’t so obvious during the earlier days of Fall Out Boy. Tracks such as previously mentioned ‘Run Dry’ and deluxe bonus track ‘Bad Side Of 25’ shows some stellar solos, something generally missing from mainstream pop songs, especially of the era, yet Soul Punk combines so many genres so fluently, nothing clashes or doesn’t work, it’s ridiculous how well put together this album is from start to finish. The song ‘Everybody Wants Somebody’ showcases some bombastic trumpets, a singalong anthem for anyone going through the motions of liking someone that doesn’t feel the same way. Altogether this album is just an hour of feel good crescendos, almost laughing at the shitty parts of life in defiance whilst you sing along to scenarios from how awful people can be to searching for animals you’re unsure whether they even exist.

‘Run Dry’ encapsulates the hidden/bonus song ‘Cryptozoology’, an interesting song thematically, exclaiming “I don’t have to prove myself to you”, begging the question of is Stump singing from the perspective of the animals whom existence is being examined? There’s a lot of metaphors spilled throughout the record, some even I haven’t figured out yet. This album is a little bit mad but it makes for a very interesting, but mainly fun listening experience. There’s just some things in life that can’t be explained all that well and are better off letting the work speak for itself and sometimes I feel that way about Soul Punk. 

I will briefly touch upon ‘Truant Wave’ as well as it’s almost the foreword to Soul Punk, it’s other half if you will. And if you like what you hear across Soul Punk then you should definitely go and check out that EP too because no doubt it’ll quench your thirst for more Stump funk. As stated earlier, before Soul Punk was completed, Stump wrote two versions of his song ‘Spotlight’, and subsequently, one version ended up on the album, with the other on the EP and both songs are brilliant but the slower pace of Truant Wave’s version of the song ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’ just really melts you to the bone, it’s a really sincere song about how you don’t need something or someone else to prove your worth, and that “You can be your own spotlight”, a message that I think is still relevant today that far too many people don’t think about. 

The Soul Punk era may have only lasted about 2 years in it’s entirety, with Fall Out Boy starting to write music together again just a year after the release of Stump’s solo outing, and for that it’s too bad because it’s a fantastic record with a groovy sound that may have been ahead of it’s time. But in retrospect, it’s wonderful to see and listen to as a gateway to the past, and the one good thing in hindsight of it not being particularly well known is that there’s a whole album (and Extended Play) of music that people can discover and enjoy even 10 years after it’s release. 

I shall leave you with the video that started it all, the sneak preview at Stump’s solo work from 2010, that later became ‘As Long As I Know I’m Getting Paid’ from ‘Truant Wave’, which is essentially the genesis to Soul Punk, which features the original version of ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’ mentioned above. But please make sure you check out this wonderful record that really should have seen the success of it’s emo band cousins. Top tracks here are ‘Explode’, ‘Dance Miserable’, ‘Run Dry X Heart X Fingers’, ‘Greed’, ‘Everybody Wants Somebody’, ‘Allie’ and ‘Spotlight (Oh Nostalgia)’. Soulful songs you absolutely cannot go wrong with. Get in touch and be a part of the conversation. What did you think of Soul Punk? Any hidden gems that you think we should know about? Any artists you think we’d love? Let us know. 

Categories
Jazz/Blues Soul/R&B Why We Love

Why We Love: Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears

James Brown has been reborn – Black Joe Lewis is quite possibly a music legend out of his time. It’s been a long 16 years from his days as a seafood delivery man and pawnshop employee to the now multi-album success he is today, and that journey hasn’t been easy. In March this year, Lewis and his band ‘The Honeybears’ hit back with their single ‘Five Dollars’ after a 2-year break since their last studio album, The Difference Between Me & You. They bring back with them their immense soul sound and Lewis’ phenomenal voice. It’s made us incredibly excited to hear what other music could be in the works.

Sometimes I find myself listening to a Spotify playlist sent to me, enjoying all the songs that come up one by one, and then a song comes on which just hits differently. A Soul classic which has escaped my radar? No, a song released only this year – Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears.

Their music layers Lewis’ evocative lyrics over fantastic guitar riffs and striking horns which are reminiscent of Charles Bradley’s Menahan Street Band. You wouldn’t be able to tell if these records were recorded today or decades ago, the inspiration of classic artists like James Brown and Howlin’ Wolf are so heavily embedded that the classic sound of old soul records is weaved throughout.

Joe Lewis first picked up a guitar whilst working in a pawn shop in Austin Texas in the early 2000s. After discovering classic blues records and teaching himself to play, he spent years performing at open mic nights, small venues and bars, never making much of a name for himself. It wasn’t until the release of his debut EP Black Joe Lewis and The Cold Breeze, that he had a hit with the truly incredible ‘Bitch, I love you,’ and thereafter, everyone seemed to know who Black Joe Lewis was.

In subsequent years, Lewis toured alongside the band Spoon, the drummer of which, Jim Eno, then produced Lewis’ debut album ‘Tell ‘Em What Your Name Is!’ which quickly alerted the rest of the music industry to his presence.

This peak of success was shortlived however, things soon began to decline for Lewis. A combination of band and management conflicts resulted in a drop in album sales, the loss of festival bookings and a collapse in the band’s name and popularity.

It wasn’t long before Lewis found himself back where he started, having recently released their 2018 album The Difference Between Me & You, it was met with almost no attention, sales or interest.

Along with this, Lewis’s costly recent divorce, his newborn child and an outstanding debt of $50,000 in management fees, Lewis nearly saw an end for his music career. He debated giving up and finding a ‘real job’ in order to pay for all this and to take responsibility for his child.

But as so many of his musical inspirations have found, in hard times, music was the only light at the end of the tunnel and the only way forward.

Now under new management, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears are making a powerful comeback with their smashing new single ‘Five Dollars.’ Bringing back with them their fantastic guitar and horn-driven sound to a track which has seemingly reignited their careers and caused a rush of discovery for their recent album which almost went unnoticed, giving it the attention it was denied at the time of its release. Once again, Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears have got our attention, and this time I don’t expect they’ll let that slip away once more.

As soul and blues music once made its way across the Atlantic and ignited a fire across the world, Black Joe Lewis has been inspiring the second revolution of blues, soul and rock and roll.

This is great music, dancing music, and above all, music that makes you feel good, something the world desperately needs right now.

There isn’t a single song of theirs I can say I dislike. Listening to them is like jumping in a time machine and travelling back to the golden age of Funk and Soul, something I wasn’t around to experience but can now fully appreciate. Unlike those past music legends, Black Joe Lewis is still very much a living, breathing man who I’m excited to go and see live once I have the chance to. To all those Soul, Blues and Rock and Roll fans who think music isn’t what it used to be, take a listen to Black Joe Lewis and transport yourself.

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybear’s new single ‘Five Dollars’ is available to listen to now, and if the incredible story of his past few years hasn’t inspired you, the feeling in his music will.