Thursday, December 20, 2007
Music of My Mind Best of 2007
Betty Davis - Betty Davis/They Say I'm Different (Light in The Attic)
What more needs to be said about Betty Davis? At long last, a record company (Light In The Attic) with the smarts to get behind one of the most underrated female vocalists of the 1970s, Ms. Betty Davis, not to be confused with the movie star from the 1940s! Davis' first two records were re-released this year with bonus cuts and alternate takes to great fanfare. One of the funkiest ladies to ever grab a microphone, Betty breaks it down in a way that hadn't been done before or done since. A collection of blues and funk soaked soul that can't help but make you feel her pain, anger, happiness or ecstasy. Davis was the embodiment of Foxy Brown, James Brown, Tina Turner and Gloria Steinem. In the 70s she was misunderstood and difficult to market, but today she has a new legion of fans. Let's not forget that she was not Mr. Miles Davis - the dude could not handle this woman! Do not sleep on her !! Thank you Light in the Attic...
Grand Analog - Calligraffiti (Urbnet/Slo Coach)
Hailing from Winnipeg, former Moodruff MC/producer Odario Williams emerges with his most ambitious project to date, Grand Analog, a melding of musical styles in the vein of k-os but without k-os' righteousness and therefore much more fun. Calligraffiti is infused with potpourri of roots reggae/dub,funk, rock and soulful hip-hop and includes sure shot party starters "I'll Walk Alone", "Touch Your Toes, and "Around This Town". Williams collaborated with many musicians for this project and it shows, as the album has an organic feel that would undoubtedly transfer well to a live setting. Great stuff indeed...
Honorable mentions: Abdominal - Escape from the Hole, Shad - The Old PRince, Common - Finding Forever
Best Afrobeat/Afro Funk:
Mr. Something Something and Ikwunga - Deep Sleep (Rebishut/World Records)
The new album from Mr. S.S.incorporates more traditional African rhythms and Ikwunga’s spoken word poetry with the band's more modern take on Afrobeat, including vocals from frontman Johan Hultqvist. Mr. Something Something’s horn section provides grand flourishes throughout the record and also works as a foil to Ikwunga’s strong vocal presence. Ikwunga’s soothing but commanding baritone voice takes you on a journey through a variety of tempos and rhythms and from the high energy and intense (Di Bombs, You are Beautiful) into a trancelike meditative state (Deep Sleep) and everywhere in between. The combination of music, harmony and lyrics focusing on social justice and global issues will move your body yet also contemplate your world and appreciate its beauty and rhythm.
Antibalas - Security
Honorable mention: Soul Jazz Orchestra - Freedom No Go Die
Best Funk/Soul Vocal:
Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators - Keep Reachin' Up (Light In the Attic)
Originally released in several European countries in late 2005/2006 to critical acclaim, it finally made its way to North America in August of this year, courtesy of Seattle label Light in The Attic. Musically, Keep Reachin Up is a record that does not pigeonhole itself into a corner, but explores soul and funk in a variety of ways, from the sizzling uptempo dancefloor favorite Feeling Free to the slow burn of No One’s Gonna Love You and the Motown inspired Four Leaf Clover. The Soul Investigators employ a vast array of instrumentation including a gorgeous string section, pianos, flute, a tight horn section that even Maceo Parker would approve of, and an fiery organ that almost steals the show on a couple of songs.
Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings - 100 Days 100 Nights (Daptone)
Honorable mention: Amy Winehouse - Back to Black
Best Funk/Soul Instrumental:
Budos Band - Budos Band II
Daptone Records continues to bring the heat! The Budos Band were definitely back in '07 with their blazing Staten Island blend of instrumental funk/afrobeat. Furious horns, swirling organs, thick, succulent basslines and a beat that will keep you forever sweating like a ....
Nostalgia 77 - Everything Under the Sun (Ubiquity)
Before this year, Britain's Nostalgia 77 was best known for it's cover of the White Stripes "Seven Nation Army". However, their record Everything Under the Sun finally made it's way to North American soil this year and was well worth the wait. The album takes us on a cosmic journey through lush, abstract soundscapes of Nostalgia 77 and redefines jazz to a new generation of listeners. Ubiquity Records continues to release genre bending yet accessible music to those who want something different...
Cult Cargo: Grand Bahama Goombay (Numero Group)
Si Para Usted - The Funky Beats of Revolutionary Cuba (Waxing Deep)
The Caribbean has been the destination of choice to explore musically over the past 2-3 years for the amazing reissue and compilation labels who continue to unearth many treasures unbeknownst to most, with the exception of a few obsessive crate diggers the world over. These two compilations bring some similar Caribbean influences butthe music is very different. Who knew the Bahamas had an incredible funk scene apart from the legendary Funky Nassau, led by the incredible Jay Mitchell, who is featured on three tracks. We all know Cuba has an incredible musical heritage but the Buena Vista Social Club is but a small piece of this. Cuban music has bee difficult to obtain, even to those in Canada, as most of the goods have to travel through the US to get here. The rich jazz, funk, soul and AfroCuban musical scene of the 70's and early 80s is shared here with Si Para Usted, with a phenomenal group of artists including Irakere, Juan Pablo Torres Y Algo Nuevo, and Los Reyes '73.
Best New Discovery:
Orgone - The Killion Floor
This category could technically be renamed best musical mix in that it fuses all musical genres that continue to be explored on the Music of My Mind. Los Angeles based collective Orgone incorporates influences as diverse as James Brown, Jamiroquai, Funky Nassau and Fela, Orgone are clearly here to rock the party and by any means necessary. A great musical mix of soul, funk, downtempo, afrobeat and disco is what the Killion Floor brings to the table. I can't wait to see this group live!!