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One of the many amazing things about Sade is that Sade is a band, not just one person. Stewart Matthewman plays guitar and saxophone, Andrew Hale plays keys, Paul Denman plays bass, and Helen Folasade Adu sings. The group was formed in London the early 80s as an offshoot of a latin-soul band called Pride. Jam sessions led to writing original material which let to the greatest r&b group of all time. If you’re not convinced, then just watch the video for Nothing Can Come Between Us, the third single from Sade’s timeless 1988 album, Stronger Than Pride.

2.26.19

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Gaussian Curve are an ambient supergroup of-sorts, comprised of Italian composer & new age pianist, Gigi Masin along with Johnny Nash and Marco Sterk aka DJ Young Marco. The group were brought together by Tako Reyenga, one of the founders of forward-thinking Amsterdam-based record label, Music From Memory, and during a long weekend in 2014 they set up shop in Young Marco’s red light district studio to record their first album, Clouds. Whether I’m walking around the city, taking a late night drive after a rowdy DJ gig, or in the studio working on projects, this record is a go-to when I want to lower the volume on the world around me.

2.19.19

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Cymande are my favorite band of all time. There’s a very good chance their song Bra has crossed your path without you realizing that it was made by a relatively unknown group of musicians from Guyana, Jamaica, and Saint Vincent living in London in the early 1970s. There’s something unmistakably perfect about their subtle blend of funk, jazz, calypso, reggae, traditional African music, and progressive rock that’s found on each of their amazing 3 albums, none of which stray too far from my turntable. Every time I hit play, I find a new favorite. This time it’s “Willy’s Headache” from 1973’s Second Time Round album.

2.12.19

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Cue the airhorns for this timeless reggae classic from 1977, guaranteed to increase the good vibe levels of anyone within earshot. Produced by the legendary Joe Gibbs, and featuring then-unknown teenage vocalists Althea Forrest and Donna Reid, Uptown Top Ranking was meant to be a joke “answer record” to Three Piece Suit by Trinity, but when BBC Radio DJ John Peel played the track on-air by accident, the song got so many requests, that it eventually climbed to the top of the UK singles chart in 1978, making Althea & Donna the first female duo to hit #1… top ranking indeed.

2.5.19

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“Opinions outweigh my thoughts, or maybe I just pay attention,” is one of the many monotone non-sequiturs uttered by Chaz Bear throughout the 10 tracks on Outer Peace, the best and most engaging Toro Y Moi album possibly ever. There’s a new dryness to his wit that works very well with the medium-fidelity dance grooves, funky production quirks, and signature Toro tenderness. Outer Peace will give your inner self a good good feelin’ with every new listen.

1.29.19

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The Oslo-based Mutual Intentions label is consistently putting out some of my favorite new music. 2017’s Ivan Ave, Fredfades, and Jawn Rice solo albums all combine elements of rap, funk, r&b, and house with extreme amounts of flavor. Jacuzzi Boyz sees Fredfades two-step away from his usual instrumental hip-hop groove into deep house territory, and with the strong assist from Jawn Rice, pulls it off with ease. Add some spacey vocals from underground R&B crooner, Dreamcast, and its a lock. Point me to the nearest hot tub.

1.22.19

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Here’s a slice of feel good Philly soul from 1979. The bigger, and arguably better, hit Party Time Man is a true showstopper, but the slinky funk groove of Ain’t No Time Fa Nothing is the true ear worm on the album. from the mellow keyboard intro, to the five part vocal harmonies, to the unstoppable groove, everything here is polished to a T, and I could listen to the final minute’s instrumental breakdown for hours without getting bored.

1.15.19

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Chrome Sparks kicks off 2019 with a new EP, Be On Fire. This five song salvo further cements Chrome Sparks’ position among the likes of Jamie xx and Four Tet in the producer’s ability to deftly combine sample-based production, vintage analog textures, and forward-thinking electronics into something altogether new. The track “Be On Fire” is a quick two minute excursion into crisp breakbeats, jazz fusion keys, and space-age synths. Power up your starship, this is the music of the future.

1.8.19

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Late in 2018, Swedish pop sensation and underground icon, Robyn, released her 8th studio album, Honey, and it’s a masterclass in pop songwriting and production technique. In other words, it’ll make you dance and also feel your feelings. Where most pop artists will embellish their songs with big, bombastic studio tricks, Robyn gracefully supports her songs with smooth, polished, and sophisticated production, letting her lyrics and melodies shine like a beacon of hope in this cold, dead, apocalyptic wasteland of millennial pop trends.

“Ever Again” is the prime example of this winning formula. It’s the last song on Honey, and it was also the last song written for the record. According to Robyn, the track came together very quickly during an impromptu studio session with co-writer/producer Joseph Mount (of Metronomy). Sometimes the best really is left for last. Defiance never sounded so groovy.

1.3.19

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Here’s a slice of sweet, sweet Caribbean boogie funk by the mysterious Junior Byron, primed and ready for the dancefloor, originally released in 1985, and reissued on Cultures Of Soul in 2017.

Germany’s Gerd Janson created the epic megamix version shared here using only two copies of the record and a DJ mixer, a testament to the funky mojo of the original vocal and instrumental versions. Drop the needle and watch the butts get moving.

12.26.18

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Patrick Cowley was an early pioneer in left-of-center disco, synthesizer experimentation, and hi-nrg. He’s credited with creating the “San Francisco sound” made famous most notably by the disco slammers he wrote and produced with Sylvester like “You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)” and “Stars” as well as his notorious 16 minute remix of Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.”

In the late 70s, Cowley was contacted by gay porn magnate John Coletti of Fox Studios in Los Angeles to score some upcoming films, one of which was Muscle Up. Cowley submitted a trove of early synth compositions from his college years as well as some rough demo tracks like “Somebody To Love Tonight” (later recorded by Sylvester). The resulting album is an otherworldly journey into cosmic funk, proto-disco, and exotic synthesizer textures.

Patrick Cowley tragically passed away of AIDS in 1982 at the young age of 32. Although his career was short-lived, his unique influence has reverberated through electronic music to this very day.

12.19.18

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Little Dragon’s first outing on Ninja Tune is a sublime slice of melodic machine soul. It’s a formula that the band has tweaked to perfection over the years, and it hits me right in the feels every time. Not much more to say, just press play :P

This release, along with some other recent singles and EPs, has me paying close attention to Ninja Tune for the first time in several years, and I couldn’t be happier about it. The label has gracefully transitioned from screwball breakbeat DJ arthouse to a global independent creative hub and umbrella for other forward thinking labels like Counter, Flying Lotus’ Brainfeeder, and Actress’s Werkdiscs. Keep it coming Ninjas!

12.12.18