1. AIN’T NO SUNSHINE
Big Crown Records continue their services with yet another re-press of a super rare funky grail. This time the Soul Explosives covered Bill Withers’ Ain’t No Sunshine. An absolutely smashing cover, is nothing short of a must have record. The Soul Explosives nearly instrumental cover might just be the toughest version ever. The high school group from Texas, who were only active from 1971 to 1972, paid to have the original recorded and pressed themselves. Big Crown’s re-press is available at The Barbershop Music.
Lady Wray’s new single from her latest album ‘Do It Again’ begins with a quivering wall of brass, guitar tremolos and giant timpani with 60s sounding drumkit slamming in. It’s the sort of music that might accompany a contender on her walk towards the ring. Her vocals still carry, Lady Wray persona works as a touch of the new blended with the old. After all, her producers are two of New York’s retro-soul veterans Leon Michels of Big Crown and Tom Brenneck of the Menahan Street Band. This song showcases their proven ability to transform the broad range of R&B styles from the 60s/70s into a contemporary sound that hints at the past without being tethered to it. Lady Wray’s 45s ‘Smiling’ is also available at The Barbershop Music.
3. SON OF A PREACHER MAN
Son Little doesn’t go the limit to reproduce his influences, he recombines them into something new. Little seems not interested in adhering vintage soul, instead he prefer making his way towards the future. Initially started by collaborating with The Roots and electronic producer RJD2, now on his own, he build a characteristic musical world from the ground up. On the track ‘Lay Down’, Little’s voice sounds like it’s soaked in a reservoir of slap-back echo. He loves to twist lyrical tropes. This song, in a positive way, will put you to sleep and sure to lull you into sweet slumber. The music sounded like Arctic Monkeys, but a black version Alex Turner.
The brittle garage-punk of this debut positively soaked with trebly guitars, reedy organs, parping Farfisa, waspish fuzzboxes and urgent drums, with Mike Brandon’s vocals steeped in the snotty multi-coloured psych of the Elevators to the early Jim Morrison’s The Doors. ‘Follow Me Home’ sounds like 1966, but it’s like happening all over again, and it’s rocking. It’s something that has been derived, but its devotional, done with such love and passion, it’s very much alive.
5. HAPPY HEARTBREAK
Guitarist-singer-songwriter James Hunter is always excellent both in the recording studio and when acting in theatres in both England and America. The lively nostalgia remains, with his original cuts sounding like back in the golden ages of the 1950s and 60s. In reality they were recorded in LA with Gabriel Roth of Daptone. The Englishmen has garnered American blues, soul, and rock’n’roll as their foundations, but his raw and emotive vocals rise above his stinging, curlicued guitar solos, flanked by bullish saxophones, jangling piano, jabbing organ and clattering drums. This song is about heartbreak, but the beat is happy, a happy heartbreak