July 25, 2007 Nicole Willis is a retro soul singer from Brooklyn. Her really tight band, the Soul Investigators, is from Finland. The group sounds like it's from Memphis – and it's one of Oliver Wang's favorites of the year so far.
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May 9, 2007 On "To Love Someone," the obscure Chicago group gives a sweet soul performance that easily holds its own next to anything other local groups (like the Impressions or Dells) could boast. Delivered in a striking falsetto, the truism "It's no good to love someone who don't love you" oozes heartache.
May 3, 2007 Many critics are calling The Reminder by Feist, the new recording by the Canadian songwriter and singer, her best yet... and this may be her moment. She was the subject of an extensive New York Times profile. The record came out this week.
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May 1, 2007 From the vaults comes "Let's Just Get Together," a phenomenal, never-before-released David Sea song. The track showcases his powerful voice and roots in gospel singing, but his impassioned vocals are practically drowned out by the guitar playing counterpoint, almost in competition with Sea.
April 13, 2007 In the mid-'60s, Bob & Gene began to record sweet, harmony-drenched soul tunes for a small New York label. However, despite amassing a dozen or so tracks by the early '70s, the duo's album never made it to market. Now, more than three decades later, it's finally been released.
March 30, 2007 Antibalas' nearly 13-minute Afrobeat epic "Sanctuary" unwinds with a graceful, unhurried pace that ever-so-slowly builds steam with each rhythmic reiteration. Though the bassline anchors the song, Antibalas works in a marvelously subtle mix of other elements.
February 26, 2007 The Sisters Love wasn't a disco act, but it laid down the sound and rhythm that would influence the style's breakout success in the mid-'70s. The group's members were innovators, but they were also survivors, created by and from former members of The Raelets, Ray Charles' backup singers.
February 9, 2007 Mighty Voices of Wonder's "I Thank the Lord" melds genres in raw, funky fashion. The opening drums hit with a jagged, ragged edge, and the shouts and hollers push the energy level higher, as the group testifies with a fervor that would impress James Brown or Jackie Wilson.
January 18, 2007 It was never quite as popular as the Incredible Bongo Band's "Apache," or even Kool and the Gang's "Jungle Boogie," but as a distinctive mix of Afro-Latin rhythm and Motor City psyche, it's hard to imagine a more impeccably matched creation than Dennis Coffey's "Scorpio."
December 8, 2006 Nicole Willis and her band operate in the vein of so-called retro-soul artists — musicians and singers, groomed on classic R&B, who fashion their music as if it actually came out in that era. Willis' aesthetic clearly leans toward the past, but she demonstrates tremendous stylistic versatility.
November 21, 2006 On the new compilation Rhythms Del Mundo: Cuba, modern rock songs are either remixed Cuban-style or re-imagined entirely. El Lele de Los Van Van augments Radiohead's "High and Dry" with soft trumpet and acoustic piano over a slowly paced Afro-Latin rhythm.
November 21, 2006 Jay-Z's new album, Kingdom Come, is his first since he announced his "retirement" two years ago to concentrate his alternate career as a music executive with Def Jam Records. The album is full of ups and downs that may signal the rapper's next retirement may be involuntary.
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August 18, 2006 Migrant workers came from around the world to build Panama's transportation systems. They brought, among other things, music with them. Dozens of bands that came to be known collectively as Combos Nacionales married musical styles as distinct and distant as New York boogaloo, Cuban descarga and Trinidadian Calypso. Panama: Latin, Calypso and Funk at the Isthmus charts this uniquely Panamanian hybrid.
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May 30, 2006 El Michels Affair covers a Burt Bacharach classic, stripping the song down to the essence of its rhythmic thump and melodic sizzle. Still, it feels vibrant and vigorous even without the string accompaniment that helped define Isaac Hayes's take.
May 22, 2006 The Coup realizes what the best blues and soul artists always knew: Focus on everyday people, and you'll never run out of stories. For nearly 15 years, the duo has provided one of the lone voices speaking to the trials and tribulations of working-class, inner-city black life.
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