Wednesday, 28 December 2011

The Soul Mixtapes REVIEW of 2011

Loads to get through, so first off, below are my Best tunes of 2011 Playlist. Save the picture and peruse at your leisure:

Its interesting to note that if you downloaded the 70 odd tunes from Itunes/Amazon etc, it would, on average cost around £55 (UK pounds). If you got a voucher this Xmas, you could do worse than use the list as a strating point to get some great music.

I'm gonna select some of my favorites below. Not gonna include tunes in my list from LP's I've picked in our Best of 2011 post, though Erro's Picture Perfect (aside from being a great song it features the best drum programming of the year) and 9th Wonders One Night would definitely feature, so heres a reminder of those two gems:

So, after you've checked out my list above, take a listen to the 7 tunes I've singled out in no particular order, as the cream of the crop I couldnt live without this year.

BUT FIRST: Tunes that took you back to the 70's and 80's

Zo! Brought out his Just Visiting 3 EP, and this version of Wham!'s most soulful track (Didnt think I would ever say those words) killed

And then there was Vindhal's "Head over Heels", with a version of their 2010 tune arranged and sounding so 80's like, I nearly went out and bought some bad clothes. And not bad meaning good. Check that out too.....

As for the 70's, besides LP of the year lumiaries Electric Empire, we had this gem early in 2011.

Absolute quality from Aaries, taking you back to MJ "Off the Wall" days circa the great Rod Temperton.

In any case, here goes with my top 7 tunes:

7. Mark De Clive Lowe - The Why

After a great EP release from Mark, we got hints of what was going to be on the new LP and this tune leaked and it was a monster. This dude hasn't had enough exposure and we need to change that, check out his back catalogue too cause its hot. And search out the tribute to Tina Marie (Lovergirl) he produced at the begining of the year with Sy Smith after Tina's untimely passing, its great.

6. Jazmine Sullivan - Neverland

Harking back to the type of tunes you would hear from Betty Wright (Who released a great LP with the Roots this year) this may be a demo or an unreleased tune, but it knocked the socks off me when I first heard it and hasn't let go since. Produced by Salaam Remi, whose getting to be a favorite producer of mine since he also produced......

5. Amy Winehouse - Halftime

Didnt expect anything from Amy's posthumous LP of out-takes etc, then this tune got leaked. It has Questlove on drums, which brought to mind those rumours of a soul supergroup that Amy was going to front back in the day with names bandied about like Raphael Saadiq and Cee Lo Green. This, and I make no apologies for saying it, is one of the best songs she ever recorded. Something we at the Soul Mixtape HQ knew she was capable of, but we wont hear the like again.

Gonna take a break from the new, and have a little blast from the past. Came across the following on Youtube after watching a great 2 Hour talk from the Mizell Brothers online about thier recording history (See Grizz's mix on them and the inclusion of 2 of their great production pieces in our Best of the 70's LP list recently). Its an UNRELEASED tune from the one and only Marvin Gaye that really knocked both Grizz and I socks off. ENJOY!

Marvin Gaye - Woman of the World

After that Gem, back to our picks:

4. KING - The Story

Earlier in the year this tune from a brand new 3 piece vocal group not only blew me away, but the likes of Erykah Badu, Questlove and Phonte, who quickly got them involved in another fave's of my year "All the Kisses" from the Foreign Exchange. Great production, angelic vocals and harmonies, get the EP and wait on tenterhooks for the forthcoming LP.

3. Ayah - When it comes to you

I know I said I wouldnt list tracks from Artists that were on our Best LP's of 2011 list (Cause you should have them!), but this tune isnt off the "Back for More" LP. Its a great soul tune, with gutsy vocals from Ayah and a great lyric. "I need more than a drink, when it comes to you" she sings, and you believe. By the by, this video is directed by multi talented Slakah the Beatchild, our 2009 winner for Best LP here at the mixtape! His 2010 EP (On last years list too!) had tracks added to it by label BBE making it a fully fledged LP, and one of the tracks that blew my socks off was....

2. Slakah the Beatchild - The Cure

1. Thundercat - Walkin'

You could be mistaken into thinking that this is the funkiest tune Christopher Cross (Google it youngsters) made back in the 70's, cause thats what this tune brings to mind. As horrible as that sounds, its anything but, and I love it. Thundercats LP is a bit too left field for some, but this tune has not been off my playlist. Great Bass, great strings, great track.

We asked some of the great current artists creating soulful music a few questions about the year in music and what to look forward to and it makes great reading. They include Tracy Cruz ("Universoul Symphony" on our best of 2011 list), N'Dambi ("Pink Elephant" being on the Best of List 2010), Julie Dexter ("New Again" on our best of 2011 list), Deborah Bond ("Madam Palindrome" on our best of 2011 list), and Jason Heerah of our reigning No.1 of Best LP's of 2011 artists, Electric Empire :

1) Besides your own, what do you consider the best LP of 2011?

Julie Dexter: Jill Scott - Light of the Sun

Tracy Cruz: Thank you so much for your kind words about Universoul Symphony. I would say it's a tie between Eric Roberson's "Mr. Nice Guy" and Marsha Ambrosius' "Late Nights & Early Mornings"- both are incredible albums filled with heartfelt lyrics, stellar production and amazing vocals!

N'Dambi: One album that I think is a cool rendering is Rhianna's. I am a huge fan of how her album creatively tells stories using writing that is at times confident, clever, and very well thought out.

Jason Heerah (Electric Empire) - Adele 21, loving that a soulful voice like hers is getting so much love on radio

Deborah Bond: In my opinion the Best LP of 2011 is a tie!! I can't decide which one moves me more and they have equally inspired, moved, and enchanted me!! "The Lapdancer" -Soul Persona ft. Princess Freesia and Gretchen Parlato's "Lost & Found"

2) If you could have recorded a song released this year by another artist instead of them, what song would that be?

Deborah Bond: I am in love w/ the groove, the mood, the vocals, lyrics, arrangements of Princess Freesia/Soulpersona's "Stretched Thin"….this track is very ME I'd say and damn they NAILED IT! I'm a sucka for a hot dance, funk, groove, and this one will CRUSH live on stage! I sooo wish I'd done it! :)

Jason Heerah (Electric Empire) - I need a Dollar - Aloe Blacc. we don't want to stipulate that we need the dollar more than him, but we's definitley connect with this song :)

Tracy Cruz: "Blessed" by Jill Scott! :) I listen to that song every single day because it's so uplifting and inspiring!

Julie Dexter: Hear My Call by Jill Scott

N'Dambi: Actually, I have a tenor voice and a find myself strongly drawn to male vocals. With that being said, If I could have recorded any song released this year it would be "All I Want Is You' by Miguel.

3) Who should music fans be looking out for in 2012, in relation to new artists?

N'Dambi: In 2012 music fans should be on the look out for Bridget Kelly, Elle Varner, ACEG (All Cows Eat Grass) and Brandon Coleman.

Tracy Cruz: People should look out for the group KING. I can't stop listening to their EP "The Story". Beautiful,Beautiful,Beautiful!! I can't wait to hear more!

Jason Heerah (Electric Empire) - We getting into an indie folk band from our home town melbourne called the paper kites.

Deborah Bond: They should be on the lookout for Kenny Wesley, Alison Carney, Kia Bennett, Princess Freesia, Ntjam Rosie, Tracy Cruz and Suga Sp!! These cats are bout to do it up in 2012! I'm so excited to see how their musical future unfolds!! Special mention to Levi Stevens - Dude is tight!!!

Julie Dexter: Avery Sunshine, if they haven't already heard (If people haven't heard, its not because we aint been telling them Julie!)

4) Who is on your wish list to work with in the future?

Tracy Cruz: I would love to work with other independent Soul artists. I would also love to be given the opportunity to share the stage with Jill Scott, Ledisi, The Foreign Exchange, Eric Roberson, Lalah Hathaway, Kenny Wesley, Amel Larrieux, Deborah Bond or Marsha Ambrosius.

Julie Dexter: Georgia Anne Muldrow (Check out her new LP BTW)

Deborah Bond: Of course I keep mentioning this name but definitely Princess Freesia, Tony Momrelle, Gregory Porter, Jose James, Simon Grey, Gretchen Parlato, Esthero, Anthony Hamilton, and Ed Motta.

N'Dambi: There are so many amazing talents that I am hard pressed to pick just one. What I will say is that I am anxiously awaiting the opportunity to work with any artist that is passionate about the music.

Jason Heerah (Electric Empire) - We would all agree that working with the legend himself stevie wonder would be an amazing experience. :) ( LOVE to see that happen!)

5) What's in the pipeline for you in 2012?

Jason Heerah (Electric Empire) - The pipeline for us is to delve even further into the songwriting aspect to EE, while still spreading the Live sound & show to the world

Julie Dexter: Continue striving to be a better Mother, Wife and Musician and continue promoting my new album New Again, releasing a couple videos too

Tracy Cruz: I'm currently lining up several shows next year to promote my new album Universoul Symphony. Also I will be recording a few more music videos and releasing a remix album for Universoul Symphony in 2012. Lastly I would love to travel and perform across the United States and overseas.

N'Dambi: In 2012, I plan to release an album and involve myself in other areas of writing such as writing a children's book.

Deborah Bond: US & International Tour, Lots of shows!!!! More video/visuals from db/3L, hopefully some tv spots, LOTS of musical collaborations, and possibly a new album from Deborah Bond/Third Logic

We can't finish the year without giving you a mix to download. Out of all my mixes, this one seems to have been the most popular. Our friend Philip Clark made this the mix of the week on his blog's weekly FREE SOUL MUSIC post a long while back, and since then people have really responded well to it. Was deleted from Rapidshare for a while now, but back here in all its glory:

SoulNRnB's Nu Soul Jazz Volume 1

And thats that. Thanks to all the talent that answered our questions, and just as important, Grizz and I want to wish you all a healthy, happy and prosperous New Year. Thanks for visiting the Soul Mixtape, spread the word, and lets enjoy what soul music has to offer in 2012 together, whilst taking a listen to the gems its given us up until now.

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