While winter still has Central Europe in its grip, Carwyn Ellis & Rio 18 bring us the first great summer album of the year with “Mas” via Légère Recordings. Like its predecessor, the highly acclaimed “Joia!”, this album is a collection of songs sung in Welsh, combined with distinct pop and South American influences from bossa nova, cumbia, samba and tropicália. Behind the project stands the Welsh musician Carwyn Ellis, founder and leader of Welsh band Colorama and renowned session man who has played with artists including Edwyn Collins, Oasis, The Pretenders and Shawn Lee. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the Cardiff-based singer, songwriter, composer, arranger and multi-instrumentalist about cultural exchange, his fascination with South American sounds, recording the album in Rio de Janeiro and the role Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders played in the making of “Mas”.
With “Introducing…”, Brooklyn-born, Baltimore-raised songwriter Aaron Frazer has released one of the first album highlights of the year. Frazer previously stepped into the international spotlight as drummer and co-lead vocalist of the fabulous soul band Durand Jones & The Indications. The artist with the unique falsetto voice hadn’t planned on releasing a full-length solo LP until he received a call from Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, who was so taken with Aaron’s voice and songwriting that he quickly convinced him to produce his solo debut. The result is an album on which Frazer doesn’t hide his old school soul roots, but also opens up to other influences from pop to gospel to doo-wop. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the talented musician about the making of the record, high-speed songwriting sessions, musical influences and the importance of the right drum sound.
Californian singer-songwriter Eddie Chacon is probably best known to most as one half of the early 90s US soul duo Charles & Eddie. With “Pleasure, Joy and Happiness”, the 56-year-old has ended his self-imposed musical exile in 2020 with the support of Solange and Frank Ocean collaborator John Carroll Kirby and released one of the best albums of the year. The introspective masterpiece will finally be released as a limited LP in Europe in January. Reason enough to talk with the artist, whom Mac DeMarco recently called his “planet earth’s number one musician”, about his current album, his career and musical influences.
With “The Sunset Manifesto”, DJ Supermarkt aka Marcus Liesenfeld delivers the relaxed soundtrack for the private club evening between kitchen, home-office and Christmas tree in Corona times. The second release in the Too Slow To Disco Neo series presents sixteen sophisticated, adult-oriented and dance-inducing Sunset Disco treasures by international top acts and new discoveries such as Kraak & Smaak, Poolside, Roosevelt, Luxxury, Yuksek and PREP, which, in addition to their catchiness and smoothness, combine a sense of nostalgia that the Berlin DJ calls “parallel pop” – music for a delightful, if imaginary, contemporary world. WEST COAST SOUL talked with Marcus Liesenfeld about the new compilation, dance music in times of social distancing, nostalgia as a music trend, and what comes next for TSTD.
Even if it is still some time until Christmas Eve, with his great new Christmas album “A Joyful Sound” the American soul powerhouse Kelly Finnigan gives us one of the most beautiful musical gifts of the year already in the Advent season. The 38-year-old Bay Area-based singer, songwriter, engineer, producer, and band-leader of the famous Monophonics stands for authentic, handmade music and follows artists like Lee Fields and the late Sharon Jones and Charles Bradley, who heralded the soul revival at the beginning of the 2000s. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the multi-talented artist about his new Christmas album, the relevance of soul music in our time, music influences, his favorite classic Christmas records and further plans.
After Swedish singer-songwriter Viktor Jakob-Jonsson has already caused a stir in the West Coast music scene with his excellent debut single “A Little Denial” in August, the next coup will follow at November 26th with the follow-up single “Monotony”, a wonderful 70s-inflected duet with none other than legendary singer and multiple Grammy Awards winner Bill Champlin. Reason enough to ask the Stockholm-based artist and passionate West Coast music aficionado, who says of himself that he still has hundreds of songs in his drawer, for a talk.
Originally founded as a project by four established artists, PREP has developed from EP to EP from an insider tip to a bearer of hope of sophisticated British pop music. The quartet comprises of Grammy nominated producer Dan Radclyffe, French drummer Guillaume Jambel, Welsh keyboardist Llywelyn Ap Myrddin and London-based singer and frontman Tom Havelock. Together, they have created over the past five years an eclectic blend of contemporary indie pop, soul and synths, deeply rooted in the melodic West Coast elegance of the 70s and 80s. In late October, the quartet finally released their highly anticipated self-titled debut album on Bright Antenna Records. WEST COAST SOUL talked with Guillaume Jambel and Tom Havelock about the making of their debut, their musical development, their shared love for Steely Dan, the importance of smoothness and the value of nostalgia.
Just in time, before the dull autumn weather makes us feel depressed, a dose of sunny optimism comes straight from the Netherlands. Today “Making Up”, the first single of the Dutch duo Martin & Garp, is released by Légère Recordings. A song that, with its catchy guitar and synthesizer licks and luxurious, radio-friendly harmonies, takes us straight to the heyday of Californian West Coast music of the late 70s and early 80s. WEST COAST SOUL talked with Timothy van der Holst aka Phil Martin about the new single, their forthcoming album “Sentimental Fools” and their fascination for smooth West Coast music.
The fact that in the golden era great West Coast music was not only created in sunny California, but could also flourish in the rather rainy Great Britain, was demonstrated not least by the English duo The Rhead Brothers in the late 1970s. The brothers John and Steve Rhead recorded two albums whose quality could compete with any American production and which are still sought after and loved by many music aficionados today. WEST COAST SOUL talked with John Rhead about their musical beginnings, the making of their two excellent albums, “Dedicate “and “Black Shaheen”, his memories of the Muscle Shoals music scene and the rediscovery of the Rhead Brothers in 2016.
Three years after his critically acclaimed debut “Walkin’ On Air”, Finnish songwriter, producer and arranger Tomi Malm returns with his sophomore effort “Coming Home” via Contante & Sonante. His new album presents another flawless collection of pop, soul and fusion songs, recorded with the help of some of the most talented musicians on the West Coast music scene. WEST COAST SOUL talked with the multi-talented artist about the making of his new album, the importance of collaboration, the characteristic Tomi Malm sound and his everlasting love for West Coast music.