It's a glorious November's Friday morning, and we've already been up and at it scouring for the week's best new music and, if we say so ourselves, have collected some glowing offerings with a particularly autumnal feel. Along with the awaited last release of the late Charles Bradley, we've included the crisp new beauty from Skinshape, the moody minimalism of Foxwarren, some more prime UK jazz from Maisha, plus the characteristically surreal new song from Panda Bear and many more. Below are some words on what particularly stood out, plus don't forget to follow us on Spotify to keep up to date with what goes on inside our silly little heads.
Charles Bradley – Black Velvet
The world shed a collective tear on 23rd September 2017, the day when beloved soul revivalist Charles Edward Bradley died. A virtuoso talent, and virtuous human being who found fame and success in his 60’s after a life of toil; it was a story that romanticised ‘never giving up’ and restored your faith in humanity. His evanescent dream, however, was wickedly cut-short. Now, over a year since the ‘screaming eagle of soul’ passed, Daptone Records have dusted-off their back-catalogue of Bradley demos, tying up loose ends of sorts with the posthumous Black Velvet.
Ostensibly a tribute to Bradley’s raw ability, and short-lived success after decades of poverty, ‘Can’t Fight The Feeling’ and ‘I Feel A Change’ are prime examples of why producer and collaborator Tom Brenneck believed he’d unearthed a time capsule from the golden era of soul music, fortunately discovering a humbled Bradley belting out James Brown’s jams in a backstreet bar - he used the pseudonym ‘Black Velvet’ when performing as a Brown impersonator on the Brooklyn club circuit.
Menahan Street Band add the necessary sheen to this collection, but it’s Bradley’s voice that has an innate ability to uncover the very essence of ‘soul music’, concurrently transmitting heartbreak, pain, yearning, love, joy, and unwavering optimism with just one distinct wail. Timeless, tear-jerking, and sorely missed. TC
Skinshape – 'I Didn't Know'
Will Dorey may have once been better known for his role in the reflective and sparkly indie of London band Palace, but over the past few years after leaving the group has retreated to his own studio to make his own records as Skinshape. Though criminally under-appreciated, Dorey has always seemed content regardless, a quality that hangs in the dreamy and spacious atmosphere of his recordings, not least in new single ‘I Didn’t Know’ from upcoming fourth album Filoxiny. Recorded to tape, there is a warm honesty to the production that’s gently immersive, like lying on your back in water and, as the song’s three and a half minutes pass, floating gently downstream. JB
Various Artists/Gilles Peterson presents... – Brownswood Bubblers Thirteen
When it comes to musical curation, it’s hard to think of many as qualified as DJ, radio presenter, label boss, festival organiser and vociferous supporter of talent, Gilles Peterson.
The latest instalment of Brownswood Bubblers, the compilation series that he curates and releases on his label, is a predictably smooth mix of styles that reflect the sort of jazz, soul and Afro infused sounds we’ve come to associate with brand Peterson. Highlights include a cut from Yazmin Lacey’s brilliant five-track EP When The Sun Dips 90 Degrees (released at the beginning of summer), a sumptuous and sensual waltz from Puma Blue, and a serving of politically-minded hip hop from North London rapper and Mike Skinner protege Oscar #Worldpeace. But the whole thing is an absolute delight from start to finish. JK
The Orielles – 'Bobbi's Second World / It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)'
This week Heavenly Recordings’ favourite newbies The Orielles dropped a new single ‘Bobbi’s Second World’, which sounds like an infectious mix of The Doors and Happy Mondays, thanks in no small part to those organ-synths of new band member Alex Stephens. The track also came with a cover of Korean DJ and Festicket favourite Peggy Gou’s hit of the year ‘It Makes You Forget (Itgehane)’, which is pleasingly true to the original. JB
Maisha - There Is a Place
By now you’ve probably heard at least something about the explosion of London’s jazz scene. And if you haven’t do yourself a favour and give this a listen. The latest outfit to put out a killer studio album is the pseudo supergroup Maisha. Lead by drummer Jake Long, the group also features to uber talented Nubya Garcia on sax who’s solo stuff is worth checking out in its own right.
Coming together as a septet, Maisha infuse trad jazz with afro-inspired dance sensibilities, instilling a whirlwind tenacity in their sound that ensures the dreaded “background music” tag which sometimes weighs down jazz never enters the conversation. That’s a blowhard way of saying this album is great. AW