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Here's the first single from the forthcoming debut album by Spanish soul-jazz formation Beat Bronco Organ Trio! Single "Hey Hey" features vocalist and guitarist Alberto Palacios Anaut who storms in with an old New Orleans classic. This Mardi Gras call-and response song was composed by the late great musical genius Dave Bartholomew who passed away last summer. This song is their tribute to a musical legend and endless source of inspiration.
Beat Bronco Organ Trio stormed onto the scene in 2019 and since then they have been burning up stages and festivals throughout the year, building a reputation as a stone-cold groove machine. Spain is already prominent on the modern-day funk map thanks to groups like The Sweet Vandals, Speak Low and Mighty Vamp, and it comes as no surprise that our hero trio featured at various times in all these bands. 
Gabri Casanova (keys), Lucas de Mulder (guitar, percussion) and Antonio "Pax" Alvarez (drums, percussion) have been busy reviving the funk gospel for some time now. Their upcoming debut album "Road Trip" is an elegant culmination of their efforts in keeping alive a revered and timeless tradition that still serves as a reference to this day.

Dr Rubberfunk might not be medically trained, but he does know a thing or two about treating your ears, as he returns with the fourth instalment of his popular "My Life at 45" series. Having established himself in funk, soul, blues and jazz circles with a ton of high calibre releases, his "My Life" series has spawned sell out runs of limited edition 45s, won praise from the likes of BBC6Music, FIP Radio, Fatboy Slim and DJ Yoda and garnered enthusiastic press support worldwide.
A side "Boom!" features the vocals of the UK’s leading blues & soul singer John Turrell who recounts the sorry tale of a man who has burned the candle at both ends, leaving him with just his recriminations and a great slab of wax on his hands. On the flip "Steppin" In” is a low slung beat fest that is guaranteed to make your head nod, as piano, guitar & Hammond ride a tight jazz funk groove. But we’ve saved the best news until last, as the "My Life At 45" single series will form part of the forthcoming "My Life At 45" album in February. As before, this 7” is likely to be another sell out run, so move quickly before they disappear!

The fourth album from ephemerals, "the third eye" sees them continue their ever-evolving musical journey. Fusing styles including spiritual jazz, psychedelia, and spoken word, to convey an identity that is unmistakably their own. The core of the work is built from the honest and incisive compositions of Hillman Mondegreen combined with the unmistakably emotive vocal delivery of singer Wolfgang Valbrun.  
Experimenting with recording and mixing techniques to illustrate the artistic concepts behind the songs has been key in the overall character of the record. Hard panning is used to group together specific sounds and instruments to the left and right to convey masculine and feminine sides within the track as within the individual. The album is a deeply personal and conceptual body of work using ambiguous harmony to discuss gender identity, polychords to demonstrate the power of being between the gender binaries, and modal changes to remove the homeliness that you find speaking to the alienation of being transgender.
Although drawn from Hillman’s personal experiences the writing is always universal, and singer Wolfgang Valbrunrelates the pieces to his own experiences of a young black man leaving the USA. The band has evolved exponentially over the course of these four albums, and they continuously push beyond the boundaries of traditional genre ideas and traverse unexplored musical territories.

In 2019 German funk superstars The Mighty Mocambos returned in fine form with the release of their fourth album "2066", a blistering set of funk, afro, hip hop, cinematic compositions and soulful storytelling. The mean street grooves and furious drums of car chase workout "Golden Shadow" and joyous instrumental stomper "Preaching To The Choir" were quickly identified as DJ favorites. So here they are on glorious golden 7inch vinyl to jumpstart 2020 with!
After embarking on a storming European tour at the end of 2019 that saw them thrill audiences in France, Germany and the UK, watch out for The Mighty Mocambos to announce their upcoming live shows for a chance to catch them in all their glory on a stage near you!

Italian cult combo Calibro 35 release their highly anticipated 7th studio album“MOMENTUM” on January 24th 2020. “MOMENTUM” follows “DECADE”, their previous studio album released in 2018 that had marked 10 years of Calibro 35, and it stands out as a new starting point for the project. In the last 10 years Calibro 35 have dug the golden age of soundtracks and they have been to the future with “S.P.A.C.E.”. “MOMENTUM”, as the band stated: "represents a look at nowadays and a reflection about making music right in the time that we’re living”.

Inspired by the work of artists such as Tortoise, Jagajazzist, Dj Shadow, Budos Band, Stelvio Cipriani, Ennio Morricone, Sandro Brugnolini, White Noise, Comet is Coming, JPEGMafia and DJ Signify, compared to the previous Calibro 35’s full lengths on the 10 tracks that make up the new album, band’s instruments and sounds have increased in number and complexity as well as reality. The music palette is further extended by incorporating even more synths and electronic sounds, but keeping everything true and 100% real, with all the instruments played live and with no presets or programming. The two featurings on the album serve the cause as well. On the first single “Stan Lee”, they collaborated with rapper, producer and songwriter Illa J, a former member of super group Slum Village and younger brother of the late legendary hip hop producer and rapperJ Dilla. On “Black Moon”, the combo from Milan provided the groove for London-based artist MEI. "If 'DECADE' was the sum of everything that the band had felt in the previous ten years", Calibro 35 says, "'MOMENTUM' is the prequel of what you will hear in the next ten". 

"Stories" is the third single from the forthcoming new album by UK based funk & soul band Crowd Company, following up on the success of "Express 76" and album titletrack "Lowdown". The new full-length was co-produced by Alan Evans (Soulive, Ae3) and features Ryan Zoidis and Eric Bloom from US grammy-nominated band Lettuceon sax and trumpet on all tracks. 
"Stories" has an evocative 70s vibe with wah wah guitar, crisp horns and incisive keys. Add to the mix the soulful vocals of singer Esther Dee for a retro-flavored sister funk workout that is guaranteed to get your head nodding to the beat. Third studio album "Lowdown" sees Crowd Company take things to a new level with rich song-writing combined with catchy hooks, inventive vocal performances and tight grooves. Band leader Rob Fleming says: "We had an amazing time recording the album, heading over the pond to the studio of Alan Evans. We then got together with Eric and Ryan from Lettuce to add the horns to this tune and the rest of the album. We are so proud and can’t wait to get it out there”.

A live-in-the-studio jam feel, deep Prestige-style grooves and some of the nastiest Hammond sounds yet on a Funkstamatics release. Those are the ingredients of "The Reverend". Titled after keyboard player Rob Schepens’ long-standing nickname, the track captures the loose-yet-tight feel of The Funkstamatics’ live shows.
Band member Tim says: “With this track we really returned to our early days, over ten years ago, when we were called Euro Cinema. No overdubs, no effects, just four guys jamming in the studio, inspired by the Blue Note/Prestige hammond funk we all love. We’ve been playing the tune live recently and it’s quickly becoming a highlight of the shows. It’s just so much fun to play and I guess that rubs off on the audience!”
"The Reverend" follows up on "Happy Acorn" as the second in a series of digital-only singles the band plans on releasing in the coming months in anticipation of their fourth album, which will be a musical journey from New York in the 60s to Minneapolis in the 80s and back!

The Jazz Defenders produce music that is a modern soul-jazz slant on classic bebop and hard bop, effortlessly channeling the spirit of the golden Blue Note era of jazz. The band's debut album "Scheming" is released on Haggis Records, the label started by UK funk band The Haggis Horns. Jazz has always been a massive part of what The Haggis Horns are about so this marriage was the perfect fit. 
The Jazz Defenders were founded by George Cooper, one of the UK's most formidable jazz pianists, who at only 31 years of age has already amassed a comprehensive repertoire of working partnerships including Hans Zimmer, Nigel Kennedy, U2 and The Haggis Horns. In 2015 George set about choosing some of the finest musicians the UK has to offer to form a group that have since wowed audiences with their superb musicianship and virtuosity.
For their debut album, The Jazz Defenders offer an original set of tunes written by Cooper and each member of the ensemble. Filled with as much playfulness and humor as it is of skilled mastery and musical prowess, "Scheming" is a delight for the ears. From the first to last track it's evident The Jazz Defenders thoroughly enjoyed making this album. There's a connective thread of irony throughout "Scheming", proving jazz doesn't have to take itself too seriously to be of the highest quality.

The Eminent Stars were founded by saxophonist Ben Mendes and drummer Toon Oomen, who share a common love for the great music of cities like New Orleans in the 1960s and 70s: Dr. John, Freddie King, The Meters, to name a few. Just mix up some soul, rhythm & blues, funk and blues and there you have a record that consists of authentic elements: live recorded, danceable, intriguing, vibrant and fresh! 
"Bumpin' On" is the band's second album and was recorded live in a small boutique-studio in the heart of Amsterdam. Tons of vintage equipment and instruments were brought just to capture the authentic sounds & vibes of the new songs. The location added so much atmosphere that you can truly hear the nightlife of Amsterdam percolating throughout the songs. The setting was a great inspiration for Bruce Jamesto write some truly beautiful melodies and lyrics.
From uptempo floor-filler "Bar Shift", to the moody cinematic flavored "Let's Get Together", feel-good rhythm n blues number "Just One Taste" or organ-dominated instrumental "Mrs Phillips", there's something for every soul fan. With its authentic, handmade sound of an era long gone, "Bumpin' On" shows the amazing ability of The Eminent Stars to write songs, create amazing grooves and give the listeners a real sonic treat!

South-coast based multi-instrumentalist and producer Flevans has had a prolific year, with his full band playing across the country regularly and his 6th studio album scheduled for release in 2020.
And the first offering from that album is a real pop gem! Teaming up once again with soul songstress Laura Vane the pair offer a little nod to Chaka Khan for the bouncing and groove infused pop bubble of "Mr Right". Prince-style harmonies weave between spoken word sections and a sensational top line from Ms. Vane, as Flevans plies his playful and funky production style expertly as always. Electro influences and dancefloor synths line up alongside horns and slap bass to create a jam that everyone can’t help but bump to. Adding more bounce to the ounce the single also includes a brand new, killer instrumental track "Speculate" - Flevans goes back to basics, mixing up gritty percussion, drums loops and vocal samples over a four to floor groove - guaranteed dance-floor heat! If you're already salivating best to prepare a bib, this is just the entree!

20 Questions You Didn’t Know You Wanted To Ask... Rita Ray

1- How would you best describe what you do to the uninitiated?

?? Sorry, but I didn’t understand the question :/ 

2- Where would you say you are with regard to your career right now?

I am in a really good place right now. I enjoy writing music and singing my own tunes. This is what I have dreamt of for a long time.

3- Which song (not necessarily yours) best sums you/the band up and why?

I will pick my own song: “Disco Stu”. I didn’t have this one song in my album that would make it complete. So – I was messing around in my hometown and suddenly got this main riff stuck in my head. I had these sarcastic and cynical lyrics in my mind and I was singing and playing it, but didn’t have a title so I asked my sister:” what does it sound like?”. She immediately answered: “Disco Stu!”. Because she was watching The Simpsons and I guess the song had kind of a “disco vibe” to it. It is also the most up-tempo one in my album and was definitely favourite one to make. 

4- Who would you say has been your biggest inspiration (musically or otherwise)?

Definitely The Beatles. Their songwriting skills were just impeccable. Also, I would have to name Aretha Franklin. She was the singer in my life that I have envied for a long time.

5- Is there anyone amongst your influences that you think would surprise people and why?

At one point, I was listening a lot of  “Gentle Giant”. They were an English progressive rock band active in 70s and 80s. I guess, it is not very “my style”. 

6- What are you most proud of?

I am proud of being an estonian. 

7- In the quest to get the music ‘out there’ have you ever done or agreed to anything you’ve later regretted?

No. I have never been a fame-searching artist. And as a female singer, it sickens me how our society is pushing those who are most of the time wearing basically nothing. As an artist, I would like to be respected for my music and not for my looks. 

8- What’s the most ridiculous request that’s been asked of you/the band?

I played one wedding and they wanted me to sing and play “Kalinka”. I was really sceptical but few moments later the whole crowd was on the dancefloor.

9- What do you think is the secret to a good working relationship amongst musicians?

Respect. This is the most important thing. As long as there is respect for other musicians in the band, it is working. Secondly, it needs to be fun. Can’t take everything seriously. 

10- If you could have played on one song (that you don’t), what would it be and why?

I would’ve loved to play on some Motown’s recording. Just to see how they got the sound and how the recording sessions were etc. 

11- How do you make the balance between music and personal responsibilities?

I don’t get tired of music. It is what I do on most of my days. There is always something to do and the work never ends. But personal responsibilities like house chores is a good way to unload. 

12- In light of the internet and downloading do you feel that fans are missing out on the record buying discovery/experience?

Yes, definitely. And I also think since everyone has a chance to make a record these days, there is a lot of let’s say “interesting” music out there. I am not saying that I wish things could be like in the “old days” where labels signed artists and you had to be special and work hard, but a lot of good music came out back then. Can’t deny that.

13- Do you think that success is your motivation and do you have a preset gameplan for your music/the band? 

Not always. Success is also very subjective. But I have to admit, I feel happiest when I go on stage and sing my heart out. 

14- DJ’s are now as famous as a lot of the bands they play, what are your views on this and do you think it’s deserved?

I am not a DJ myself so I don’t know how much work they put into their careers. 

15- To date, what has been your most memorable gig (either as a performer or as a fan)?

It was definitely in “Sõru Jazz 2018” festival. I did a tribute to Etta James’s 80th birthday. For the last song “I’d Rather Go Blind”, estonian best jazz musicians gathered on stage as a surprise to do the song together. Kadri Voorand and Liina Saar sang backvocals for me. This was a gig I will never forget. 

16- How do you overcome pre-gig nerves (if you get them)?

Of course I get nervous sometimes. Especially before some really big performance. But I breathe slowly and deeply and think happy thoughts. Nothing more special than that. 

17- When did you last write something?

It was in the summer the day before the last recording session. I had booked a studio, but didn’t have the last two songs. So I had to fill the void in my album and wrote those last two. But I am taking a break right now. Although, after releasing my album, I will definitely start to work on a new one.

18- Have you ever reached a point where you’ve thought about throwing the towel in and walking away (and if so, what persuaded you otherwise)?

Nope, not that I remember. Mama didn’t raise a quitter haha! 

19- What are your views on electronics muscling in and replacing live instruments during recording?

We did everything in my album with live instruments. Horns, strings, original Hammond organ, original Wurlitzer etc. I think that is already saying how I feel about the topic. 

20- Lastly, thank you for your time. What made you agree to answer these questions?

It is a good way to look back and think stuff through. Was fun to answer!

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Rita Ray, the young Estonian soul singer and songwriter, just released ‘Disco Stu’, her third single. Latest addition to Funk Embassy Records - Rita is destined to find her place next to the likes of Dojo Cuts, The Dip and Hannah Williams. Previous singles included a mid-60’s R&B reminiscent heart melter ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’ - a piano-led ballad that’s surely influenced by Amy Winehouse.

’Disco Stu’ sees Rita Ray flip the switch and reveal her upbeat and cheerful side. Although the artists blue-eyed Soul sensibilities are well present, the listener is treated to a disco thump that makes the feet tap. The crisp production includes a percussion and string section that tips the hat to the works of Alice Russell and Quantic.

Now available on Bandcamp and Spotify, this single whets the fans’ appetite for ‘Old Love Will Rust’, Rita Ray’s upcoming debut album. After being positively surprised by the high praises received for ‘Fool For Loving You’ and ‘Lover Man’, Rita Ray expects this one to show her fans another side of her compositions. ‘’Disco Stu’ makes the album a whole’ Rita reveals.

Check out ‘Disco Stu’ here!

"Rides Again" is Shawn Lee’s first vocal and songwriter album and is a very personal journey into the world of soul-inspired country music. 2019 arrived and the American born and London based singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer, arranger and filmmaker decided that the time was now. Recorded and arranged very quickly in stolen hours from other recording and touring commitments. The songs came together intuitively and organically.
“This is a very reflective and personal album. I am looking back to my childhood in Wichita/Kansas and thinking about where I’m at the present moment and the idea of an unwritten future. I could have only made this album at this point of my life”, Shawn Lee says. Recorded in London at Shawn Lee’s studio by long time engineer Pierre Duplan, it features Shawn playing all most all of the instrumentals with haunting pedal steel by Joe Harvey-Whyte, Carwyn Ellis (The Pretenders, Edwyn Collins) on keyboards in two songs plus Andy Ross on saxophone and Everton Nelson on violin on one song. Definitely: Shawn Lee is ‘still on the line’.

Who is Leon Dinero? From whence did he come? The soulful singer dropped his first single this past June, tearing up a ska version of Lee Fields & Sugarman 3's classic "Lover Like Me". Backed by The Frightnrs, and with Victor Axelrod in the producer's chair Leon returns with "If You Ask Me", a gorgeous piece of wax that draws inspiration from the deep vaults of Jamaican Rocksteady.

Originally penned for The Frightnrs' debut long player but never tracked as such, this version showcases Dinero's timeless vocal delivery - his voice etched with honey-dipped imperfections that call to mind the classic vocals of Alton Ellis and Hopeton Lewis. Gracing the flip-side is"Bandits", a lyrical takedown of the continuing gentrification of New York City that rides the A-Side's instrumental in pure Jamaican DJ style. Vocal duties for this stellar side are brought to you by Screechy Dan, who's often described as the glue that holds the NYC reggae community together.

Beyond his classic tunes like"Pose Off" and "Big Bills", Screechy has nurtured generations of young artists, sound systems and selectors, forging deep ties that bind Jamaica to New York and veteran artists to the new school. Victor Axelrod expertly handles the production by employing the rhythmic powerhouse that is The Frightnrs to help mine the sweetness of rock steady for the A-side whilst tempering it with the drum and bass toughness of classic rub-a-dub for the flip.