Sunday, November 30, 2014

Dig the New Breed: The Best New Bands Hitting the Scene Pt.1

Some of us in the Mod Scene are reluctant to let the new generation of Mod or just Mod friendly music in general have an effect on the scene. In an effort to help show some of the more conservative Mods the benefit of appreciating the changes the scene is going through I've compiled a list of some of my favorite new artists, Mod specific or otherwise, that prove that the 60's doesn't have a monopoly on good music. Here's part 1.




Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears


With influence ranging from Howlin' Wolf to James Brown, Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears explode with a mix of Blues,Soul and Funk that can shake any body out of it's seat. With 3 studio albums as of now, each one is masterfully crafted and is a definite recommendation if you have any spare change hanging around. Two of my favorite tracks are "Gunpowder" and "Sugarfoot", both off of "Tell 'em What Your Name Is!", their 2nd LP. If you want gritty hard hitting R&B look no further. 


                                      


Men of North Country

Formed in Tel Aviv, this group is signed too Acid Jazz records and produce a mix of Soul,Pop, and Mod influenced tunes that'll have you tapping and singing along. Their first LP "The North" contains great tracks like "Magic" and "Pandora". Their sound is very original and I can't wait to see what else they have to offer!


                                   

The Above

From Brooklyn, New York comes a personal favorite group of mine, The Above. Already featured in another one of my posts, The Above bring an amazing mix of Beat and Garage tunes that will be sure to impress. Both their LPs, "The Above" and "Waterbury Street", are worth a listen and purchase. And if you get the chance, see them live!


                                     video

The Lovers Key

Formed in 2012 and hailing from Southern Florida, The Lovers Key have already left a mark on the scene with their debut album "Here Today Gone Tommorow". Serving up a healthy mix of Soul and R&B, The Lovers Key are a prime example of how musical styles can stay fresh while retaining the same sound, and what a sound! I can't wait to see what these guys have to offer next, and so should you! 


                                 

Miles Kane

Miles Kane already has an amazing resume with former bands "The Little Flames", "The Rascals" and "The Last Shadow Puppets" behind him. But now he is a solo act sporting two amazingly crafted LP's "Colour of the Trap" and "Don't Forget Who You Are". Some have even gone as far as too call him the new "Modfather", which is a well earned designation in my opinion. Kane is hugely popular for good reason, he's extremely talented and knows how to write a good song, so give him a listen!


                             



If you like these artists spread the word, share this with your friends and show them Mod is still Modern!











Saturday, October 25, 2014

Motown: The Musical



                 If there's one genre of music that is almost universally loved it would probably be the sound that was produced out of Hitsville U.S.A, the Motown Sound. Sporting such untouchable artists like Smokey Robinson, Diana Ross, Marvin Gaye and Edwin Starr; the Motown label created by Berry Gordy Jr. is responsible for creating some of the greatest music to ever grace the airwaves and touch the hearts of people all around the world. Motown also obviously holds a special spot in all Mods and Soulies hearts for it's beautifully crafted sound and rhythm that leaves you with no choice but to dance. So naturally with something so universally loved and popular, it was only a matter of time before Broadway got involved. In a similar vein to "Jersey Boys" (another must see production by the way), "Motown: The Musical" takes the hits we all know and love and puts an amazing cast together to perform these songs and provide us with the story of how Motown got it's start. The plot itself follows Berry Gordy Jr.'s amazing journey from his humble beginnings as a writer and amateur boxer to his difficult decision to sell the Motown legacy he worked so hard to create. All the actors capture their respective artists wonderfully and it truly feels like a live performance taken right out of time. If you've got a chance make it a priority to see this show, and to all our friends around the world or not exactly close to the Big Apple, hopefully the show will eventually go on tour. And when it rolls round don't even think of skipping out on it!


Saturday, September 20, 2014

The Face: Mod/Soul Radio out of Brooklyn,NY!



Out of the hippest borough of New York City comes "The Face", a Mod/Soul internet radio station off of Brooklyn's community radio station BBOX. It's host Kurtis Powers drops some of the most renowned Mod and Soul songs, along with the new groups from all around the world that are making themselves known on the scene.

Kurtis Powers
With already 12 Episodes to date as of writing this article, "The Face" premiers every Sunday at 9:30pm EST or on Affinity Radio every Saturday at 8pm GMT and unleashes a new wave of Funk,Soul,Jazz,R&B and whatever else you'd consider "Mod" upon the unsuspecting masses. This stations got something for everybody, so tune in!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Brooklyn Garage Blitz: Feat. Quitty and the Dont's, The Stents, Muck and the Mires, and The Above!


     August 16th at Hank's Saloon was the site of a what I've chosen to describe as a "Garage Blitz", a relentless bombardment of the best Mod/Garage sounds the Northeastern United States has too offer. The night started off with Brooklyn sensations "Quitty & The Don'ts" who will be making a trip up to Montreal for Parka Pat's MODtreal Weekender from August 29th to September 1st. Before the show started the crowd was given 3-D glasses in an effort to provide what I can only assume is the proper way to experience their sound, 3 Dimensions. What followed was a vicious attack of Freak-beat balanced by soothing distorted chords that made clear why this band is quickly making a name for itself. I'm sure these guys will make us proud when they go conquer the North, hopefully more successfully than our ancestors attempt.


                            video

Next was The Stents from Baltimore,Maryland. With a passion for power chords and a sound reminiscent, to me at least, of "The Purple Hearts", The Stents exploded with great tunes and reached into the audience quite literally as members of the band dragged their wires through the crowd and mounted stools and tables like Gargoyles only to rush back to the stage shortly after! I almost tripped five times, but it was well worth it! The Stents ended their set with a cover of The Jam's "In the City" as a nice gesture to the Mods in the crowd.

                               

Following the Stents were Boston's Muck and the Mires. With a sound self described as a mix between The Ramones and The Beatles, Muck and the Mires brought the sound of the British Invasion to Hank's with their wonderful blend of hard hitting punkers and 60's beat. They closed off with a great cover of The Ramones "Commando", and left the stage smoldering. 


                                

And finally too close off the night, The Above. Having just released their second LP "Waterbury Street" the "Mockers" showed they sounded just as good live as they did in the studio playing selections from their 3 singles and 2 LPs. This perfect blend of Mod sensibility and the rough Garage sound of their native Brooklyn was the perfect way too close an amazing night. Everyone in the audience was left in ruin (in a good way) and the Garage Blitz of August 16th came to a very satisfying close. I was accompanied on my train ride home with an LP, 3 singles, and 2 buttons emblazoned simply with "The Above", all evidence of this one crazy night in Brooklyn.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Soul Surrender!: Charles Bradley with St.Paul and the Broken Bones at Lincoln Center

On a beautiful Sunday evening at Lincoln Center's Out of Doors Concert series, two of the greatest soul bands currently on the scene collided to create one cataclysmic explosion of pure passion and Libidinous soul music that shook Manhattan right down to it's core. The two outstanding opening acts were legend Bobby Patterson, who after 40 years just released an album titled "I Got More Soul!", and the Music Maker Blues Revue which included artists Dom FlemonsBeverly "Guitar" Watkins, and Ironing Board Sam within its rank.


After a great beginning to the night, "St.Paul and the Broken Bones" took the stage, and in one fiery performance sent personally from Birmingham, Alabama, obliterated it. Their set consisting of selections from their album "Half the City" and two outstanding covers of Otis Redding selections provided perhaps the most energetic live performance I've yet to see. St.Paul (Paul Janeway) immediately got the crowd on their feet and dancing to the tight sound crafted by him and the band, and left the audience with an almost religious feeling of awe that only the next act could possibly come close to topping.


And if anybody could come close, it's definitely Charles Bradley. The "Screaming Eagle" of Soul swooped down and delivered an intense and absolutely heart wrenching performance consisting of selections from his two albums, with his 2nd album "Victim of Love" being the most prevalent. Bradley captivated the audience with his deeply personal songs and stories he had to share, and during breaks in the performance shared little bits of wisdom that definitely reinforced the positive ideals held and appreciated in soul music. Perhaps the best part of what was already an amazing night was Bradley's incorporation of a Bra thrown by an attendee into his already devious stage act. It was truly a sight to see.
                                 

All 4 performances this night showed one thing, Soul is alive and well in America. St.Paul and Bradley are two of the most powerful and refined voices out there right now and will continue to provide powerhouse performances that invigorate audiences everywhere and put skeptics who believe the "golden age" of soul has long passed, to rest. Find out where these guys are playing, and go witness what I can only describe as a complete mastery of the genre.

                                 




Friday, August 1, 2014

Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens: Cold World/ Live Performance Review

Daptone Records out of Brooklyn, New York is the site of a soul resurgence, pumping out tunes that stand toe to toe with the best the Motor City had to offer. Artists like Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones are among their heavy hitters, but Naomi Shelton & The Gospel Queens have knocked one out of the park with the incredibly masterful "Cold World".


I was lucky enough to catch the record release and performance at Rough Trade NYC on Tuesday the 29th. After gracefully obliterating a few paychecks on some great records, me and my friend entered the refreshingly small (I prefer smaller venues, more personal that way) venue located in the back of the store, and was greeted by the sweet sound of early 60's soul. The atmosphere was great as the crowd piled in to witness what I can only describe as a shooting star performance, an amazing show that tragically was only 45 minutes. But compacted into that 45 minutes was undoubtedly some of the most well crafted and heartfelt soul music that my ears have ever had the pleasure to hear. I was smitten, right at the front dancing to the slow, the sweet and the upbeat pieces that the band was effortlessly tackling. My loafers were a tad small and were cutting into my feet, but it was impossible to stop dancing, and I never even thought to. When the show wrapped up I was floored, and recovering from what was undoubtedly the harshest workout of my Summer so far. Soon after, a raffle for a signed 45 that paired Naomi with the house band of the former soul label Desco, the Knights of 41st Street, that consisted of the sought after "Forty First Street Breakdown" on the A and the instrumental version "Catapult" on the B commenced, and swiftly ended with me taking home the gold! I stayed after and was able to get my copy of the LP signed by members of the performing band and the artists who performed on the record, and the Gospel Queen herself!  To say the least, it was a LONG train ride home that night, but what a satisfying needle drop that was! I could do a track by track review of this album, but it would do absolutely no justice. This is a must buy album, and any one who's got even the slightest bit of soul inside them will find something to love here. This sophomore album will hopefully be one of many, and I can't wait to see what these guys have to offer next!





Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mod Revival! The Best Bands



        I've always been....conflicted with the Mod Revival of the late 70's and 80's. It seems like a mob mentality and conformist ideals overtook what is supposed to be a culture of individuals who try vigorously to stand out in the crowd. All it took to be a Mod was an M-51 Parka and a Keith Moon target shirt, but that was just one part of a very large scene, in which many followed the original Mod ideals and added to the culture as a whole. And its understandable at the time that Mod would evolve into the more basic Mod Revival, due to the chaotic youth tribes that were running about England at the time, Rockers, Skinheads, Soulies, New Romantics, Casuals! It was madness, but the Mods second wave proved to be a great time for a new wave of ideas,style, and music. Below is a list of my five favorite Mod Revival bands and my opinions on their music and their effect on the scene.

 Secret Affair

The Glory Boys hold a very special spot in the Mod Revival era, usually considered second to The Jam in terms of sheer popularity and their presence on the scene. I also hold them in high regard for their clothing choices, usually not to explosive, as some as their contemporaries tended to be. And in terms of sound they tend to lean closer to the Soulful roots of Modernism, especially evident in their disgustingly catchy cover of "Going to A Go-Go" by Smokey Robinson & The Miracles. But admittedly my favorite tune is their fan favorite "Time for Action", a great "Mod Anthem" that really does capture that feeling you get being the best dressed, and all the looks you get, bad or good. 



The Purple Hearts

Getting to the more Punky side of the Mod revival while also keeping that chart friendly appeal of Power Pop, we have the Purple Hearts. With their name being an homage to a favorite Mod pill, The Purple Hearts captured the anger of the Mod Revival with hard hitting lyrics and raw chords and rhythm. Their biggest hit, "Millions Like Us", is another one of the big "Mod Anthems", but I personally prefer their single "Jimmy", named after the protagonist of The Who's "Quadrophenia". If you're a fan i'd personally suggest their compilation "Smashing Time" from Detour Records


The Lambrettas 

Perhaps the most "Pop-y" of the Revivalists, the Lambrettas provided accessible and catchy songs that stood out among the more hard hitting Chords and Hearts. Their biggest hit was a cover of "Poison Ivy" by Leiber and Stroller which reached #7 in the British Charts. Another great song of theirs is "D-a-a-ance", released as a single in 1980 and reached #12. Though perhaps their greatest accomplishment is Jez Bird's ability to almost pull off a bright red suit on Top of the Pops! 


The Chords

Sporting in my opinion the best cover of a soul song by any of the Mod Revivalists, The Chords brought a raw punk attack to a wide variety of styles. Their album "So Far Away" sports amazing originals like "Breaks My Heart" and covers ranging from The Beatles to Sam and Dave. "So Far Away" is my favorite LP from the era, and the Chords stand as my second favorite group of the Revivalists. Their biggest hit was "Maybe Tomorrow" which reached the top 40 in the U.K., and features one of the best ending lines in music history,
"Bang! Bang! You're Dead!"

The Jam

The true catalysts of the explosion that was Mod Revival, Paul Weller, Bruce Foxton, and Rick Buckler formed the hit trio "The Jam". Not  held down completely by the "Mod Revival" genre, the Jam were by far the most diverse and artistically dynamic of the Mod/Punk groups. From "In the City" to "The Gift" the Jam brought Mod to the mainstream, for better or worse. My personal favorite track of theirs is "Down In the Tube Station at Midnight" with its intimidating rhythm and beautiful lyrics, but i think it'd be easier to list the (very few) songs I dislike. Simply an amazing band; and, to me, the best "Revival" band by far. 



Hope everyone appreciates the list and be sure to share your opinions!








Monday, July 21, 2014

Album Review: "Victim of Love" by Charles "Screaming Eagle" Bradley



Following tremendous success with his debut album "No Time for Dreaming" in 2011, The "Screaming Eagle of Soul" has once again struck gold with 2013's "Victim of Love". The story of Bradley is somber yet inspirational, and this is beautifully reflected in his music with songs like "Where Do We Go from Here?" and "Through the Storm" showing his incredibly soulful and sensitive approach. But Soulful serenades are only one essence of the album. "You Put the Flame On It" takes the standard love song and adds some heart and funk making a song that's hard not to get up and groove too. And "Love Bug Blues" provides a foot stomping strut song for anyone that is in a... "Passionate" state of mind. I was amazed at the pure variety of the album and the many styles Bradley incorporates, and I've constantly been catching myself going back to it again and again. I'm proud to say this Soul Savage is a native of New York and I can't wait to see what he has cooking up next. But until then, do yourself a favor and buy this record!


Bradley will be appearing at Lincoln Center for a free concert outdoors on the 10th of August, and will be performing alongside fellow soul powerhouses St.Paul & The Broken Bones, Bobby Patterson, and The Music Maker Blues Review. I'll be there, will you?

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Beat from the Isle of Green: The Strypes

Ever wanted to know what it would sound like if you set your "Five Live Yardbirds" LP to 45 rpm? Well that would be The Strypes, Ireland's hit R&B/Pub Rock band who have been taking the world by storm. Starting with their self produced E.P. "Young, Gifted & Blue" featuring covers of "You Can't Judge A Book By the Cover" by Bo Diddley, "Got Love If You Want It" by Slim Harpo, "I Wish You Would" by Billy Boy Arnold, and "Leavin' Here" by Eddie Holland, the foursome blast new life into these toe tappin' classics with youthful ire. 

They then went on to release a debut LP "Snapshot" featuring mainly original work, my personal favorite being "Blue Collar Jane". With a more mature sound it sounds like only good can come for these guys, especially with their plans to release another 4 track E.P. titled "4 Track Mind", feat. a cover of The Ramones "Rockaway Beach" and a track produced by the Modfather himself.

"My only complaint? Shaggy Haircuts!"
They've gotten a lot of press for their age, but I don't consider that a factor. Talent is talent and these boys have got plenty. They did their rounds in the states and I unfortunately missed them, and I'm still kicking myself. Their hitting the East Coast again August 19th in D.C., but they are unfortunately skipping over the Empire State! But I might make a trek to Philly just to see them, and I'd suggest you try to see them live as well. All in all they are a great group and I can't wait to see what they do in the future. Hopefully it involves a trip to NYC!

                                      
                           


Saturday, July 19, 2014

The Originator: Bo Diddley

Few people have had such an outstanding impact on popular music as Ellas Otha Bates, or more commonly known as "Bo Diddley". With his ridiculously simple yet amazingly catchy and infectious rhythm, he was able to influence almost every single artist that followed. If you enjoy music, listen to this man. And I mean really, how can you not love a guy when half of the songs in his entire discography have his name in it!?




"A Guide to New York for Mods" by Modculture.co.uk

Modculture, a wonderful site for the latest news and articles on the Mod scene, has a wonderful article written with the help of Derek Davidson from the Brooklyn Garage band The Electric Mess, which gives a helpful and comprehensive list of various stores, venues, and events that any mod visiting or residing in New York City can appreciate. It's definitely worth a read.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The Above: Brooklyn's R&B/Garage Sensations

Few bands have really hooked me like these guys have. After one listen to the fantastic "My Love" from 2012 I bought all 3 of their 7"'s right then and there, and what a good decision! A lot of bands try too hard to sound exactly like their 60's counterparts, but the Above have successfully dug out their own distinctive style that is as infectious as any other classic garage band. They have released two albums as of now, a self titled and the new "Waterbury Street". They recently appeared on "The Face", a Mod and Soul internet radio station on BBOX Radio Brooklyn, and provided a hilarious banter with Kurtis Powers, a prominent DJ in the Brooklyn Mod Scene. The songs showcased from their new album on the show are wonderful and you can check them out on the bands Bandcamp profile or by listening to "The Face" show that features them, which I very much suggest. They recently performed at "The Gutter" on the 11th but are performing at the hip joint Hank's Saloon on August 16th with another fabulous band "Quitty and the Dont's" and "Muck & the Mires" along with "The Stents". Take a listen, but be careful, you might get hooked!


First Post: An Introduction

Hello readers and fellow Mods, Skins, Soulies, Hipsters, Jivers, Ravers, Stylists, Suedes, Greasers, Rockers and whatever else you want to call yourself. I decided on a whim to create this blog after looking through some of the other Mod-related blogs on the internet that seem to be...unkempt, which as we know isn't very Mod like at all. Hopefully it provides an outlet to all people interested in Mod culture, specifically Americans like myself who are interested in the scene, and would like a one stop spot to fuel that passion. As for myself, I am an ardent Modernist (if that makes any sense) and have a passion for Suits, Scooters, Soul and whatever else starts with an S...... the Small Faces! See, it's that easy. Now in the words of Steve Marriott, come on children and indulge in the wonderful world of Mod.

                  Sincerely,
                                             Tamla Motown