I’ve been listening to a load of funk this week. Perhaps it was the thought of the bank holiday that got me in the mood, or maybe it’s that feeling of invincibility you get when you strut down the road listening to James Brown. Who knows? Of course this week’s playlist isn’t solely funk though, so don’t worry if that’s not your thing. Listen on and enjoy.
1. ‘AIN’T IT FUNKY NOW (PARTS 1 AND 2)’ – The James Brown Band
Released as a 2-sided single back in 1969, ‘Ain’t It Funky Now’ is a true gem, and absolute masterclass in funk music. Featuring only the occasional vocal insert from Mr Brown himself, this 8 minute track runs steady throughout, showing that simplicity can be King at times. Horns and organ add extra melodic levels, with solo appearances only building on that. Brown was notoriously strict with his band members, but when it offers brilliance like this, only admiration remains.
2. ‘CISSY STRUT’ – The Meters
One of those tracks I had always heard, but never actually known the name of, ‘Cissy Strut’ is considered by many to be a funk classic. By “many,” I mean people who know far more about funk and The Meters than I do. But when you listen to this track, there are so many elements that have not only clearly influenced funk, but throngs of other genres in modern music. Syncopated rhythms, underlying melodies and a delicious groove combine to create something that can make even the biggest nerd feel cool.
3. ‘TOM CAT’ – Muddy Waters
Although Muddy Waters is strongly associated with the birth of many modern blues elements, his music encompassed a variety of different ideas throughout his career. Taken from his fifth studio album Electric Mud, ‘Tom Cat’ incorporates classic blues, early funk ideas and psychedelic qualities to create a track that takes a few listens to truly appreciate all that is going on. A brilliant track from an outstanding musician.
4. ‘WALK RIGHT NOW’ – The Jacksons
A stereotypical but amazing track from The Jacksons. Containing funky rhythms, a chewy bassline and early disco characteristics, ‘Walk Right Now’ is an example of a group at the top of their game. I don’t normally listen to much by The Jacksons or by Michael himself, so it’s always a re-awakening when I hear such a unique and powerfully clean cut voice.
5. ‘GIVE IT AWAY’ – BLØSH
I only came across BLØSH a couple of hours ago. I had the playlist all ready to go, then this highly infectious track came up on a playlist I was shuffling through at random. The single was released back in November last year, so I may be a bit late to the game, but the Oslo-based electro-pop duo have created a beautiful track here, and I’m about to go check out their album, Keep Bleeding Keep Breathing now. You should do the same.
6. ‘PEOPLE-VULTURES’ – King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard
What kind of music would you expect to hear from a band called King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard? I’d wager it would be something a bit psychedelic, maybe a bit indie-rock, maybe pretty damn good? Yeah I’d be right. And that’s what I first thought when I heard of these guys. ‘People-Vultures’ doesn’t give you a chance to catch your breath, and there’s so much going on, it’s worth a few listens. They released their album Nonagon Infinity last Friday and it is insanely wonderful. Check it out.
7. ‘CRYING CLOWN’ – The Wytches
I’ve loved The Wytches for a couple of years now, and ‘Crying Clown’ is always somewhere in my usual playlist. The group combine elements of surf-rock, grunge and psychedelia to make music that can start out downbeat and delicate, but that will creep up on you and kick your musical arse if you give it the chance. ‘Crying Clown’ is a perfect example of that.
8. ‘NO DRAMA’ – Cadenza feat Avelino and Assassin
Another random find this week, ‘No Drama’ comes from London-based producer Cadenza. Featuring vocal performances from rapper Avelino and Jamaican artist Assassin, ‘No Drama’ mixes the worlds of the UK and Jamaica for a track that seems to pit the two against each other. I’m excited to hear what comes from Cadenza in the future.
9. ‘LOST DREAMERS’ – Mutual Benefit
Pictured above is Jordan Lee, the mastermind of Mutual Benefit. A project that aims to bring musicians together to create beautiful music, Mutual Benefit was started back in 2009 by Lee in Austin, Texas. A wonderful idea that allows fluidity in creation and performance, Lee’s project has offered up tracks like ‘Lost Dreamers’ to great reception from fans and critics alike.
10. ‘MILK AND HONEY’ – Billie Marten
I first heard ‘Milk and Honey’ on the radio at work last week, but was forced to stop working as I was transfixed by Billie Marten’s incredible voice. At only the age of 16, Marten has already released two EP’s and was nominated for the BBC Sound of 2016 award last year. With a beautifully put together track and a voice that seems aged beyond her years, Marten seemingly has a bright future in the industry.