R&B/Soul

New Album: Jordan Rakei – Wallflower (2017/09/22)

:: I’m in LOVE


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“Wallflower”: introverted, misunderstood, sensitive, strange and seemingly unknowable.

Newly signed to Ninja Tune, Jordan Rakei has battled his inner demons and written an inspirational, soul-stirring record in the process. Titled “Wallflower” which will be released on 22nd September 2017.

At only 25, the multi-instrumentalist, vocalist and producer – born in New Zealand to a Kiwi mother and father from the Cook Islands – is a rare talent whose distinct take on soul captures a sonic and emotional awareness many artists spend their entire careers chasing. He writes with a maturity and flair that belies his years and new album “Wallflower” sees Jordan edging beyond the peripheries of the genial, often sun-flecked sound his fans have come to know him for. The easy swing that has been the backbone of his sound from the outset is ever present, harking back to teenage days spent in his bedroom with his beloved MPC trying to emulate 9th Wonder and Pete Rock. On “Wallflower” the tools and the process have evolved – the focus is on live instrumentation – but the groove and the cadence are unmistakable, framing soul and jazz in a truly vibrant oeuvre that simultaneously recalls his predecessors The Roots and peers The Internet, Nick Hakim and Hiatus Kaiyote. 

Jordan’s whirlwind rise has been a predominately solo effort. His exceptional musical ability (he writes, sings and plays most of the instrumentation on his records himself) is accompanied by an unrelenting – yet agreeably humble – ambition. His aptitude and knack for songwriting caught the attention of tastemakers following the release of his 2014 EP “Groove Curse”. His self-released debut album “Cloak” (2016) lit the blue touch paper, earning him a coveted set at Pitchfork Avant-Garde Block Party that year; supports for the likes of Jamie Woon and NAO; and a call-up to play AMP. Drawing early support from the Soulection crew, he has collaborated with Taku, Tom Misch, FKJ, and lent vocals to the Disclosure track ‘Masterpiece’ (from their 2015 album “Caracal”) after the duo were tipped off by a friend who had seen Jordan play a tiny basement bar in Australia. At radio, Jordan has been championed at BBC R1/1Xtra by Annie Mac, Huw Stephens, Mistajam, Jamz Supernova, Toddla T plus Mary Anne Hobbs and Gilles Peterson at BBC Radio 6 Music. 

Jordan considers “Wallflower” his most personal work yet – it’s an emotive opus inspired by his own struggles with introversion and anxiety. Sonically lush and complex, yet lyrically relatable and unguarded, listeners are offered a glimpse into the mind and artistry of a musician who grapples with his own self- image and fears every day. On ‘Sorceress’ (recently supremely reworked by Photay) the ego is personified as a sinister and controlling spirit figure led by equal parts understated ethereal guitar and Jordan’s superb multi-layered vocals. New single ‘Nerve’, featuring Dave Okumu of The Invisible on guitar, is upbeat and incites a sense of renewal as its lyrics call out the fallacies within self-constructed paradigms. Elsewhere, the ska-tinged ‘Clues Blues’ is laced with trombone and saxophone by Ahmad Dayes and Wayne Francis II from South London pillars United Vibrations. 

“It’s about how the ego can fully control the way you act and perceive life,” he says. Jordan’s decision to leave his home in Brisbane for London in 2015 has had a life changing effect on his music, his career and his outlook. Just thinking about a 10,000 mile relocation was traumatic, and these feelings were exacerbated by his introversion and anxiety. However, he plucked up the courage to make the move and never looked back. 

“In Australia, I was stuck in a bubble”, Jordan explains. “When I moved to London I had to deal with my introversion through ‘exposure therapy’. Every day I met new people for a whole year. I met every producer, songwriter, and musician I could. You have to improve as a person to improve as an artist”. Building a new community in London, Jordan linked with Tom Misch, Loyle Carner, Richard Spaven and Alfa Mist – musical likeminds experimenting on the fringes of jazz, soul and hip-hop – and also met Bradley Zero, founder of South London record label and party Rhythm Section. Bradley encouraged him to try his hand at a collection of dancefloor-driven tunes which became the EP “Joy, Ease, Lightness”, released by the label at the end of 2016 under the alias Dan Kye. 

In many ways “Wallflower” is a direct emotional response to his new surroundings and is undoubtedly testament to Jordan’s personal strength, drive and overriding passion for his art as well as a reflection of his openness and eagerness to reach out and explore London’s fertile music underground. It cements not only his importance as a contemporary, and truly exhilarating, soul voice on the international stage, but his stature as a producer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist in total command of his sonic vision. [Press Release via Bandcamp]

Cover Art:

Artist: Jordan Rakei
Title of Album: Wallflower
Release Date: September 22, 2017
Label: Ninja Tune

Tracklist:
1. Eye To Eye
2. May
3. Sorceress
4. Nerve
5. Goodbyes
6. Clues Blues
7. Chemical Coincidence
8. Carnation
9. Lucid
10. Hiding Place
11. Wallflower (feat. Kaya Thomas-Dyke)

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Sep 17 // Mercury Lounge // New York, NY
Sep 19 // Constellation Room at the Observatory // Santa Ana, CA
Sep 20 // Troubadour West Hollywood, CA Sep 22 Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop // San Francisco, CA
Sep 22 // Popscene @ Rickshaw Stop // San Francisco, CA
Oct 11 // O2 Institute3 // Birmingham, UK
Oct 12 // Thekla // Bristol, UK
Oct 13 // The Haunt // Brighton, UK
Oct 16 // Manchester Gorilla // Manchester, UK
>> The full touring schedule is available here

Follow ‘Jordan Rakei’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud |  Bandcamp

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Re-Release: D’Angelo – Brown Sugar // Three Remixes ‘Cruisin’, ‘Brown Sugar’ and ‘Me and Those Dreamin Eyes of Mine’

:: This album is a landmark!

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Cover Art:

Artist: D’Angelo
Title of Album: Brown Sugar
Release Date: August 25, 2017
Label: Virgin

Tracklist:

CD 1 (Remastered album with bonus tracks)
1. “Brown Sugar”
2. “Alright”
3. “Jonz In My Bonz”
4. “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine”
5. “Sh*t, Damn, Motherf*cker”
6. “Smooth”
7. “Cruisin’”
8. “When We Get By”
9. “Lady”
10. “Higher”

Bonus Tracks
11. “Brown Sugar”
12. “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine” A Cappella (released on promotional 12” single)
13. “Brown Sugar” Instrumental (released on 12” single)
14. “Lady” Just Tha Beat Mix Instrumental w/Chorus (Mixed by DJ Premier; released on CD Maxi-Single)
15. “Brown Sugar” Alternate Version (released on 12” single)

CD 2 (More Sugar)
1. “Brown Sugar” King Tech Remix feat. Kool G. Rap (released on 12” promotional single)
2. “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine Def Squad Remix feat. Redman (Remixed by Erick Sermon for Funk Lord Productions; released on 12” single)
3. “Cruisin’” Cut The Sax Remix (Remix by King Tech; Released on 12” single)
4. “Lady” Just Tha Beat Mix/featuring AZ (Remixed by DJ Premier for Works of Mart Productions, Inc.; released on CD Maxi-Single)
5. “Brown Sugar” Soul Inside 808 Mix (Mix by DJ Dodge; released on U.K. 12” single)
6. “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine” Two Way Street Mix (Remixed by DJ Premier for Works of Mart Productions, Inc.; released on promotional 12” single)
7. “Cruisin’” Dallas Austin Remix (released on 12” single)
8. “Lady” 2B3 Shake Dat Ass Mix (Remix produced by Neville Thomas and Pule Pheto for 2B3 Productions; released on U.K. CD Maxi-Single)
9. “Brown Sugar” Incognito Molasses Remix (released on “She’s Always In My Hair” promotional 12” single)
10. “Me And Those Dreamin’ Eyes Of Mine” Dreamy Remix (Remixed by Erick Sermon for Funk Lord Productions; released on promotional 12” single)
11. “Cruisin’” Wet Remix (released on CD single)
12. “Brown Sugar” Dollar Bag Mix (released on U.K. 12” single)
13. “Cruisin’” God Made Me Funky Remix (released on promotional 12” single)
14. “Brown Sugar” CJ Mackintosh Remix (Additional production and Remix by CJ Mackintosh; released on the various artists CD collection Nu Classic Soul)
15. “Lady” CJ Mackintosh Mix Radio Edit (Additional production and Remix by CJ Mackintosh; released on U.K. CD Maxi-Single)
16. “Cruisin” Who’s Fooling Who Mix (released on promotional 12” single)

Upcoming Tour Dates:
No tour dates

Follow ‘D’Angelo’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | Soundcloud

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More ‘D’Angelo’ on Music Pickings:
2014, Dec 16 – New Album: Black Messiah / First Single ‘Sugah Daddy’

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Debut Album: Nick Hakim – Green Twins (2017/05/19) / New Track ‘Bet She Looks Like You ‘

:: Whoop Whoop!


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Nick Hakim will release his debut full-length album Green Twins via ATO Records on May 19, and the release will be preceded by a North American & European tour. The anticipated album follows his breakthrough Where Will We Go, Pt. I & II EPs that were self-released on his Earseed Records and praised by the New York Times, NPR Music and more. Green Twins is an experimental step forward with emotional heft gleaned from his experiences in the years since. Intimate first single, “Bet She Looks Like You,” was recorded mostly in the New York-based singer-songwriter’s home bedroom, and was one of the first songs that saw Hakim embrace his new experimental way of songwriting and recording.

Each track on the album peels back a particular aspect of his life. He notes that, “a lot of it is what I was thinking in the moment, very specific songs… many of them are like self-portraits.“ He says of Green Twins, “I also felt the need to push my creativity in a different way than I had on the EPs.” The record draws from influences spanning Robert Wyatt, Marvin Gaye and Shuggie Otis to My Bloody Valentine. “We wanted to imagine what it would have sounded like if RZA had produced a Portishead album. We experimented with engineering techniques from Phil Spector and Al Green’s Back Up Train, drum programming from RZA and Outkast, and were listening to a lot of The Impressions, John Lennon, Wu-Tang, Madlib, and Screaming Jay Hawkins.”

The story of Green Twins truly began when, armed with the masters for his EPs, Hakim moved from Boston to Brooklyn, spending his time fleshing out unfinished ideas in his bedroom. He came up with lyrics on the spot, recording sketches and lyrics on voice memos and a four-track cassette recorder. From there, Green Twins came about as a sum of its parts: Hakim took the demo recordings to studios in New York City, Philadelphia and London, and built on them with engineers including Andrew Sarlo (bass, engineering, production), keeping the original essence of the songs intact. Sarlo notes that, “for other artists, a demo serves as a potential shape the song could form into. But for Nick, demos are more like creating a temple: a sanctuary that now we have to go into and somehow clean, furnish, and get ready for other people to experience the sermon in.”

Hakim’s debut comes as the culmination of years chiseling his skills as a musician. Hailing from Washington, D.C., he grew up in a musical household—his older brother introduced him to bands like Bad Brains and Nirvana, and his parents exposed him to Nueva canción—while he set out on his own to discover the DC music scene. He didn’t take an interest in learning an instrument until high school, when he taught himself to play the keys. After graduation, he moved to Boston to continue his study of music. In the time since moving to Brooklyn and setting to work for three years on Green Twins, he embraced the live circuit, both as a solo musician and with his band, whom he’s brought together from within his community in Boston and New York.

With Green Twins, Hakim plans to tour through the beginning of the year (see tour dates below), and hopes that folks will connect with the songs he’s written. “I think everybody feels insecure about certain things and everybody has lost people dear to them. I think I’m writing about common things that people feel,” he says. “I think I’m very grateful for anybody that’s listening or wants to be a part of my little world that I’ve created through song.” [Press Release via Bandcamp]

Cover Art:

Artist: Nick Hakim
Title of Debut Album: Green Twins
Release Date: May 19, 2017
Label: ATO Records

Track Listing:
1. Green Twins
2. Bet She Looks Like You
3. Roller Skates
4. Needy Bees
5. TYAF
6. Cuffed
7. Miss Chew (feat. Jesse & Forever)
8. Farmissplease
9. Those Days (feat. Onyx Collective)
10. Slowly
11. The Want
12. JP

Upcoming Tour Dates:
Apr 19 The Dome – London, UK (Sold Out)
Apr 20 Le Pop Up du Label – Paris, FR
Apr 21 Brussels, BE – Chez PIAS
Apr 22 Studio 672 – Cologne, DE
Apr 23 Bitterzoet – Amsterdam, NL
Apr 25 Berghain Kantine – Berlin, DE
May 11 The Drake Hotel – Toronto, ON
May 12 Bar Le Ritz PBD – Montréal, QC
May 13 Brighton Music Hall – Boston, MA
May 14 Iron Horse Music Hall – Northampton, MA
May 17 Bowery Ballroom – New York, NY
May 20 Rock & Roll Hotel – Washington, DC
Nov 7 The Lantern – Bristol
Nov 8 KOKO – London, UK
Nov 9 The Deaf Institute – Manchester, UK
Nov 10 King Tut’s – Glasgow, UK
Nov 11 Brudenell Social Club – Leeds, UK

Follow ‘Nick Hakim’ on:
Facebook | Soundcloud | TwitterBandcamp

More ‘Nick Hakim’ on Music Pickings:
2014, Oct 27 – Listen: Where Will We Go, Pt. 1 + Pt. 2 [Full Album Streams]

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New Album: Cody Chesnutt – My Love Divine Degree (2017/06/02)

:: Definitely a MUST!


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Cover Art:

Artist: Cody Chesnutt
Title of Album: My Love Divine Degree
Release Date: June 02, 2017
Label: One Little Indian Records

Track Listing:
1 Anything Can Happen
2 Africa the Future
3 She Ran Away
4 Bullets in the Street and Blood (feat. Raphael Saadiq)
5 So Sad to See (A Lost Generation)
6 Always Sebrena
7 Make a Better Man
8 I Stay Ready
9 Image of Love
10 It’s in the Love
11 This Green Leaf
12 Peace (Side-By-Side)
13 Shine on the Mic
14 Have You Heard Anything from the Lord Today

Upcoming Tour Dates:
May 18 // Tavastia Klubi // Helsinki, Finland
May 20 // Parkteatret, Oslo, Norway
May 21 // Studion På Kulturhuset Stadsteatern // Stockholm, Sweden
May 23 // Häkken // Hamburg
May 25 // People’s Place // Amsterdam, Netherlands
May 27 // Point Ephémère // Paris, France
May 29 // Mill // München

Follow ‘Cody Chesnutt’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

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More ‘Cody Chesnutt’ on MusicPickings:
2012, Nov 03 – That’s Still Mama / New Album ‘Landing On A Hundred’

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Debut Album: Harriet Brown – Contact

:: Yeeessss!


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Ascending from Los Angeles by way of the Bay Area, artist, writer and producer Harriet Brown is back to deliver his debut album, Contact, the follow-up to his 2014 EP, New Era. Composed, arranged, co-produced and performed by your very own himself, Contact is a concept album about communication and the contact we purposely, accidentally and inherently struggle to make between friends, lovers and strangers, be them human or otherwise. And when it comes to the live show, Harriet Brown will stun you. It’s an all-in-one package deal with sensual vocals, live loops, groovin’ drum machines, manic guitar lines and thick synths, all at the hands of one being. It’s no secret that this multi-instrumentalist and producer is influenced sonically and ethically by The Artist himself. And If Prince is his king, Sade is his queen, as they reside over an ever expanding court of every genre that falls in between. Harriet Brown’s sound is not what you’d expect from a one man band – sexual and sensitive, ambiguous and androgynous, prepare to be paralyzed by the sounds of Harriet Brown.

Cover Art:

Artist: Harriet Brown
Title of Album: Contact
Release Date: April 21, 2017
Label: Innovative Leisure

Track Listing:
1 Intro
2 ESP
3 Paralyzed
4 Cybernetiplegia
5 Contact
6 Mother
7 Obsession
8 Cryptid
9 Atlantis
10 Outro (Athanasi)
11 In My Head

Follow ‘Harriet Brown’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | SoundCloud | Bandcamp

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Debut Album: Syd – Fin (2017/02/03) [Full Album Stream]

:: Ready for The Internet Syd’s album, Fin!


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Cover Art:

syd-fin-1485878406-640x640

Artist: Syd
Title of Debut Album: Fin
Release Date: February 03, 2017
Label: Columbia Records

Track Listing:
1 Explicit Shake Em Off
2 Know
3 No Complaints
4 Nothin to Somethin
5 All About Me
6 Smile More
7 Got Her Own
8 Drown in It
9 Body
10 Dollar Bills
11 Over (feat. 6LACK)
12 Insecurities


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Follow ‘Syd’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter | SoundCloud | Instagram

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Read more: Fader interview

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New Album: José James – Love in a Time of Madness (2017/02/24) / New Single ‘Always There’

:: Not to miss!


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José James is reborn as a powerful voice in contemporary R&B on Love in a Time of Madness, his vibrant new album which will be released on February 24. The album pre-order launches today along with the release of the lead track “Always There,” which is available instantly to fans with pre-order. WATCH THE “ALWAYS THERE” VIDEO

Moviegoers next month will find James featured in an on-screen performing role in the highly-anticipated sequel Fifty Shades Darker, which is set for release on February 10. James has also announced a U.S. tour that kicks off March 16 in Atlanta and includes shows at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on March 23 and Echo in Los Angeles on March 28. Visit josejamesmusic.com for more details.

Even for an artist as creatively restless as James, Love in a Time of Madness is something new: an R&B focused foray into moody soul, electronic pop, and trap-addled beats, with the occasional influence of African folk, American gospel and Minneapolitan funk. And though James’ voice is no less agile and his ear no less adventurous, this is also his most relatable, daresay sexiest work yet, detailing love’s ups and downs without holding back an ounce of emotion.

“Movement has been on my mind,” says James. “Not just hearts and minds—I want people to hit the dance floor. I could make jazz albums the rest of my life, but I want to reach people, man. I like Jamie xx as much as I like Miles Davis, you know? ”

Love in a Time of Madness follows James’ 2015 Billie Holiday tribute album Yesterday I Had the Blues and his rock infused 2014 album While You Were Sleeping. The New York Times wrote that James’ 2013 breakthrough No Beginning No End “sounds like the result of the black-pop continuum, jazz and soul and hip-hop and R&B, slow-cooked for more than 50 years.” NPR Music noted that “James makes utterly contemporary music,” adding that he “skirts categories with ease, fitting in with current R&B innovators like Frank Ocean or Miguel” and “he holistically heals the rift between radio-friendly songcraft and virtuoso flair.”

James initially planned on Love in a Time of Madness being a double album. One side would be about love, and the other about societal madness—a response to the systemic and often physical violence perpetrated on U.S. citizens of color. But as he worked on the music, he recalls, “The madness part was getting way more out of control. The murders kept happening and it became overwhelming and depressing.” So instead of rehashing the pain, James doubled down on the part of the album that could provide healing. That’s not to say James’ take on love is all so rosy. This is an album where romance isn’t always romantic. James wanted to tell love’s whole story.

Sonically, James was inspired by modern approaches to pop identity and songwriting—the holistic vision of Grimes, the creative engine of Kanye West, the curated image of FKA Twigs, the genre-mashing of The Internet, the sonic space of Bryson Tiller, and even the savvy studio choices of Ellie Goulding. He left behind the bands of his previous albums to instead work with topline writers and producers—Miguel collaborator Tario holds down most of Love in a Time of Madness alongside Likeminds (Pharoahe Monch, Anthony Hamilton)—plus began vocal lessons, hit the gym, and started working on himself in new ways. He considered how today’s solo star confirms Andy Warhol’s assertion that art and artist are one and the same, and thought about how Quincy Jones approached Off the Wall by being current “without dumbing anything down.”

“There’s a resurgence of something I haven’t seen since the ’90s or ’00s, when hip-hop, R&B, and pop were converging in really thrilling ways through folks like Tribe, Erykah Badu, or D’Angelo,” says James. “There’s a whole new generation now that’s unafraid to blend it all together. The world is ready for this kind of thing again.” [Press release via Blue NoteRecords]

Cover Art:
jj_loveinatimeofmadness_cover5x5

Artist: José James
Title of Album: Love in a Time of Madness
Release Date: February 24, 2017
Label: Blue Note Records

Track Listing: 
1 Always There
2 What Good Is Love
3 Let It Fall (feat. Mali Music)
4 Last Night
5 Remember Our Love
6 Live Your Fantasy
7 Ladies Man
8 To Be With You
9 You Know I Know
10 Breakthrough
11 Closer
12 I’m Yours (feat. Oleta Adams)

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Upcoming Tour Dates: 

Mar 16 // Center Stage Theater // Atlanta, GA
Mar 17 // Motorco Music Hall, Durham, NC
Mar 18 // U Street Music Hall // Washington, DC
Mar 23 // The Bowery Ballroom // New York, NY
Mar 25 // El Club // Detroit, MI
Mar 28 // The Echo // Los Angeles, CA
Mar 29 // The Independent // San Francisco, CA
Mar 31 // Doug Fir Lounge // Portland, OR
Apr 13 // Alte Feuerwache // Mannheim, Germany
Apr 15 // Club Bahnhof Ehrenfeld (CBE) // Cologne, Germany
>> The full touring schedule is available here

Follow ‘José James’ on:
Official Website | Facebook | Twitter

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More ‘José James’ on Music Pickings:
2015, Jan 25 – New Album: Yesterday I Had The Blues: The Music Of Billie Holiday (2015/02/17)
2014, Jul 06 – New Album: While You Were Sleeping (2014/06/10)
2013, Dec 26 – Listen: The Christmas Song
2013, Aug 09 – New EP: Come To My Door
2013, Feb 08 – New Album: No Beginning No End (2013/01/22)
2012, Sep 02 – It’s All Over Your Body / New Album ‘No Beginning, No End’
2012, August 29 – José James feat. Flying Lotus – Visions of Violet
2011, Oct 29 – José James LIVE TONIGHT
2011, Oct 07 – Trouble – AllSaints Basement Sessions
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