Wednesday, July 1, 2015
"Style, technique, retro grooves- nobody's making soul like Leon."
by Nicole Queen

25 year old, Leon Bridges has managed to bring the sounds of the legendary Chess Records to 2015. The Fort-Worth, TX native is not shy about embracing the roots of sweet soul revival in his new album Coming Home, released under Columbia Records.

Bridges, who has no problem displaying his love for the past exhibited it effortlessly on every track. If you close your eyes and listen you can feel yourself being taken thru the emotions of this album; happiness, sadness, love and gratitude, to name a few.

A story is told from the first track "Coming Home" (which was top 10 most viral tracks on Spotify) to the last record "River." "River," which happens to be my favorite track on the album, gives the feeling of a Sunday morning gospel song equipped with a fresh start and forgiveness. Now, it’s not to say that everyone will appreciate the authenticity of the real R&B blues on this album. One thing is certain; you cannot turn a deaf ear to real instruments, real musical arrangements, real vocals and lastly real music.

Filled with much talent, I am expecting much more from Leon Bridges. Although, he is just starting out with Coming Home, he leaves enough evidence in this album that he will only get better.

Coming Home is available now on iTunes and Amazon.
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Monday, June 29, 2015
The challenges faced with the future of the music industry and the popularity of music streaming.
Written by George Kilpatrick

Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, and Tidal are all at the forefront of the music industry because they represent its future.  These are all major streaming services that will change the way in which money is made in the music industry.  For a small fee or for free (with commercials) users have access to thousands of records in any genre the can think of.  This creates opportunities to discover new music easier, build ones following quicker, and challenges music industry professionals to innovate the ways in which they make money off of music.

Traditionally artists and musicians would make money via records sales and liver performances. However, the digital music age has changed that model via early sites like Napster and LimeWire, the flagship provider of legal digital music; Apple’s iTunes. Now we have modern streaming sites Pandora and Spotify who pay artists a fraction of a cent per stream using two different algorithms respectively.

Pandora’s rate is based on radio streaming rates whereas Spotify’s rate is based on an equation they created an attempt to fairly pay artists.  This presents a challenge to artists because it signifies the end of the traditional model of music making in the industry. Artists may spend thousands to produce a record and only receive a fraction of what they would make traditionally via record sales because of streaming.  However the benefit of this is Spotify and Pandora have attracted users who would otherwise pirate music and given a chance to new artists to get major exposure.

Therefore if an artist were to cut costs on a record and use Spotify and Pandora to build their fan base, they could then use the attention garnered to do more live shows and performances. Music is a performance art and the recording industry side of it is now pushed to adapt back to artists making the majority of their money from performances and promotions.

A major example of this is Chance The Rapper who has been majorly successful on the user-friendly streaming site SoundCloud and has not charged for any of his records. However the popularity of his music and the ease of accessibility helped him gain the attention of major label artists, given him a huge fan base, and keeps him performing around the world.

This is one example of ways in which streaming can be advantageous to new artists because they can be juxtaposed alongside major artists. Thus enforcing the idea that streaming allows for different styles of monetization.

The classic Buggles record says “ video killed the radiostar,” we can make a parallel to that and say “ streaming challenges the recording industry.” The people affected the most by this are those who make the majority of their money off of record sales, labels. However many non-mainstream artists and musicians have music on neither Spotify nor Pandora because they make the majority of their money from performing.

Streaming represents the future of music and is a catalyst towards a financial model in which money is made more from performing than from records. If artists embrace this current model they can further innovate within it.
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Friday, June 26, 2015
Written by George Kilpatrick 

Timeless vocals and a fresh take on soul/funk music have made for the very fruitful career of Saun & Starr. This week’s get familiar Friday goes out to two vocalists, each with decades of experience in the music industry. 

Saun & Starr had been performing vocalists for many years but struggled to find consistent work. Their performance credits respectively included work with The Victor Wooten Band, Mel’isa Morgan, and most notably Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings

Through their work with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, they began to get opportunities to open for shows and eventually decided to formally become a group of their own. The genesis of their growth with Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings helped them to refine their sound and prepare for their solo career.

Saun & Starr’s sound can be described as old school funk & soul that leaves with a smile on your face. Recently, the soulful duo released their debut album LookCloser on Daptone Records. One listen to their music will have you dancing around your house reminiscing about the hey day of funk music when artists like Curtis Mayfield, Isaac Hayes, and Aretha Franklin were regularly serenading your ears on the radio waves. On their debut record, tunes like “Hot Shot” and “Big Wheel” are both memorable and timeless.  

Overall Saun & Starr are not new to the industry but embarking on a journey of affirming their talent and sharing good music with us. Saun & Starr are actively performing throughout the country and around the world. Their live shows are high energy and packed with feel good music. 

We are glad to feature Suan & Starr this week on #GetFamiliarFriday. We encourage you to give their music a listen and get even more familiar with Saun & Starr: follow them on Twitter, like them on Facebook and be sure to check out their tour, in a city near you!

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Friday, June 19, 2015
Written by Nicole Queen

As we reach the end of June, we began to close out the first two quarters of album releases. This has been a busy 1st half of 2015, with over 200+ albums releasing in just the first six months. If given the opportunity, I would choose a top 30 but I have to narrow it down to a top 10 of the year thus far. Now, let me give this disclaimer: these albums are in NO particular order and are simply my OWN opinion. If you can relate, thank you! If you cannot, I hope that you will dive into these artists and give them a listen. Now, let's hop into it!

To Pimp A Butterfly was released March 15, 2015 and was probably one of the highly anticipated albums of the year.  Say what you want but, Kendrick has revived conscious rap and brought it back into the mainstream. He has simply made it cool again. Kendrick produced a social statement that pushed the limits of artistry, religion and race, just to name a few. This entire album also revived the sweet soul feel of FUNK, this entire album is laced with soul beats and it simply cannot get any better than that. This generation needed an album to this caliber, a ture soulful album in Hip-Hop.

2. Allen Stone: Radius

Allen Stone’s album Radius was released May 26, 2015. The grizzly face white Maxwell from  Chewelaw, Washington is nothing but SOUL.  I was just recently introduced to him and had the opportunity to see him live, I was automatically sold. His presence on stage matches his presence of his musical tracks; both pure genius. This album is conducted with instruments and raw vocals this is the way REAL R&B/Soul should be.

Favorite Track: The Wire

Released February 17, 2015, the love king has picked up where he left off. This album has incorporated the listener to be able to travel back to the future with an uncanny touch of 90s R&B throughout the album. Tastefully Devaughn delivers passion, lust, soul and love thru each track; I can honestly say this album has me left wanting more.

Favorite Track: Temperature Rising

Many know Charlie Wilson as the lead singer of the Gap Band or to the newer generation simply as “Uncle Charlie”.  Forever Charlie released January 27, 2015 is the 7th solo album from Wilson, keeping in mind that I am a young buck but Uncle Charlie carries something for everyone on this album. Throughout this album you can catch nostalgic melodies ring thru this album with some remnants of the Gap Band hidden in the tracks. Love songs mixed with funk and soul has always been Wilson’s specialty and he does not fall short of showing this on this album. Forever Charlie  is a true statement, I will forever rock with Charlie as long as he continues to deliver like this.

This album was released February 13, 2015 (my actual birthday!) and it came as a surprise to listeners across the world.  In ordinary Drake fashion this album displayed an equal balance of “Turn up” jams and “Draking & Driving” (cursing the city with your latest ex on your mind) jams. As stated earlier there was virtually no promotion but Drake was able to reach over 500,000 the first week of album sales. Drake has been consistent with songs that can grow on you right away and I possibly believe this could be his best project thus far.

Favorite Track: Legend

Choose Your Weapon was released May 4, 2015 by the four-piece band from down under. Surprisingly, I got introduced to this band kind of late but late is better than never. Hiatus Kayote brings an original sound; they are something I’ve never heard before. Their mixture of R&B, soul and funk is combined so tastefully on every track throughout this album. Lead singer Nai Palm voice alone will melt your ears, you can trace her voice almost reminiscent to Bille Holiday or India Aire. This band is so ahead of their time, hints to why they made the list.

Favorite Track: Shaolin Monk Motherfunk

Released March 31, 2015, I am deeming this album my wildcard. The world has not had a Jodeci album since 1995 but they made a worthy return this year. Let’s first start with saying modern R&B owes these guys everything. This album is no surprise to longtime Jodeci fans like me. This album fights right in with their three previous albums produced by this collective group.

Favorite Track: Sho Out

8. Jazmine Sullivan: Reality Show

Jazmine Sullivan released Reality Show on January 13,2015 and has shown that she still has it after a three year hiatus. This album does indeed match the title, Sullivan takes you on a ride portraying different characters throughout this album. As you already know Sullivan's voice is a power house and with the mix of killer melodies and foundations you will be without a doubt hooked to each song. Many of us have been longing for something from Jazmine for a long time. I'm glad she's back to satisfy that hunger.

Favorite Track: Let It Burn

Tamia’s Love Life is her 6th studio album and on this album she is dropping gems. I am not married (yet) but throughout this album she makes marriage sound sexy! Just as Tamia’s vocals her beats correspond to the sweetness of her voice. Tamia proudly creates anthems for monogamy and I am completely for sold off of this album.

Favorite Track: Lipstick

Versatility! How can I emphasize this word enough? This fusion band displays this ever so easily. Sylva, is the 9th album released by Snarky Puppy and this band is all about physically taking you on a ride with their melodic grooves. This album satisfies on a conceptual, visceral, emotional and musical level.
Favorite Track: Flight


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