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Leaders of Retro Soul Movement Return with Best Album Yet Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings are already well known as one of the most exciting acts in the nation for both their explosive live shows and their prolific output of gritty studio recordings. I Learned The Hard Way is their fourth full-length release on Brooklyn's independent Daptone Records and marks a bold step forward for a band that almost single handedly stewarded today's return of soul music to its more traditional sound. And there's no arguing the fact that the band remains leaders of the contemporary soul scene. From the involved arrangements to the vulnerable emotions and realized energy, everything you could possibly want is here, and how. Jones' blue-collar background--she's worked prison security and at an armored car company in between music gigs to pay the bills--give her instant street credibility and perspective that comes out in her truthful singing. This band is no boardroom creation or tabloid sensation, and I Learned the Hard Way is the real deal. Produced by Bosco Mann and recorded on an Ampex eight-track tape machine by Gabriel Roth in Daptone Records' House of Soul studios, the record drips with a warmth and spontaneity rarely found since the golden days of Muscle Shoals and Stax. Jones' raw power, rhythmic swagger, moaning soulfulness, and melodic command set her firmly alongside Tina Turner, James Brown, Mavis Staples, and Aretha as a fixture in the canon of soul music. From the lush Philly-Soul fanfare that ushers in "The Game Gets Old" at the top of the record, to the stripped-down Sam Cooke-style "Mama Don't Like My Man" at the tail, the Dap-Kings groove seamlessly through both the most crafted and simple arrangements with subtlety and discipline. I Learned the Hard Way is the "Daptone Sound" at its finest. "Moving from the deep funk of her first two albums into smoother, more melodic fare that owes more to the crisp arrangements of ‘60s Motown and horn-spackled Stax, “I Learned the Hard Way” (Daptone) is a master class in soul singing, songwriting and arranging. Jones’ voices veers from an agitated rasp to a vulnerable falsetto, sometimes in the space of a line or two. All the while, she gives the impression of conversing with the listener, whether dispensing a little advice or dishing on a straying lover." --Greg Kot, Chicago Tribune, April 5, 2010 "Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings are the rarest type of retro/revivalist band-- the type that transcends its devotion to a style of music associated with a distant past. They make soul music in the classic sense, the kind of tracks that might have been laid down in Memphis, Muscle Shoals, Detroit, Philadelphia, or Chicago in the late 1960s and early 70s. But there's more to their sound than a nostalgia trip--it's an affirmation of the validity of working in specific styles, even ones most people stopped exploring decades ago." -- Joe Tangari, Pitchfork, April 5, 2010
The soundtrack to the film, Miss Sharon Jones!, directed by two-time Academy Award winner Barbara Kopple, which follows the dynamic Dap-Kings frontwoman through her 2013 battle with cancer and her triumphant return to the stage around the 2014 release of Grammy-nominated album Give The People What They Want. The soundtrack, featuring the exclusive song "I'm Still Here," boasts a selection of Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings classics ranging from her early singles on Daptone to tracks from Give the People What They Want. Much like the film, the soundtrack gives you an intimate, candid look into the life of a woman who refuses to be defined by the challenges she faces – the perfect accompaniment to a truly extraordinary film. Exclusive to the Double LP is the performance of "His Eye On The Sparrow" as heard in one of the most powerful scenes in the film, performed by Jones in her local church in Augusta, GA.
Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings are here to help music fans get into the holiday spirit. The band offers up a succinct soulful soundtrack to this holiday season with their new album Its A Holiday Soul Party, out October 30th. Kicking off with 8 Days (Of Hanukkah)--the bands ode to The Festival of Lights--the 11-song set of original and classic holiday songs is the groups first holiday record and follows their Grammy-nominated 2014 album, Give The People What They Want. Theres no other band today that plays with the rhythm, feeling, or explosive power of the Dap-Kings. Since releasing their first album in 2002, the group has toured the world countless times, garnering a legion of loyal fans, and a slew of tremendously successful TV appearances. Sharon, the Queen of modern-day Soul, has collaborated with some of musics biggest names, including David Byrne and Michael Bublé. Be sure to add this soon to be classic to your Holiday checklist, shopping list, et al.
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After repeatedly being visited by a strange messenger in his dreams while on tour in the islands of Greece, Toby Pazner became consumed with a vision to tell the stories of The Olympians through music. Chosen by the gods as a messenger for not only his musical gifts, but for his unique position at the center of the Daptone family, Toby built a home studio from scratch and employed some of the top soul musicians in the world to help him breath life into this album. The result is a dramatic and cinematic journey to the outer limits of instrumental soul music, built on a foundation laid by the same craftsmen who’s bricks built the legacies of Sharon Jones, Lee Fields, Charles Bradley, The Budos Band, and Menahan Street Band, and painted with lush strings, harpsichord, harp and horns. The Olympians is destined to be the instrumental gem of the year.
A - MAELSTROM Much like the infamous weather phenomenon the song is named after, MAELSTROM swirls and surges; drenching the listener in psych feedback while pulling downward, ever downward, into a sonic abyss. The bass provides the current, a pulse that pushes through the waves of feedback before the crashing storm of horns furiously hammers the listener. There is nothing pretty here, nothing safe; this is the Budos unhinged. They’re pushing their audience into uncharted waters and plotted a course into the eye of an electric storm. B - AVALANCHE The guitar’s hypnotic fuzz-laden intro builds to a peak before dropping the weight of the full Budos sound upon the listener. Horns slash and dive, the drums thunder downhill, the organ wails like winter wind while the combination of bass and guitar rumble and soar around you. This is the Avalanche of sound; the wrath of The Budos delivered through a combination of driving power and snarling menace. All before it Is crushed beneath the AVALANCHE.
Within the House of Soul, the Daptone Staff is affectionately referred to as “The Hate Crew,” a name they have earned from their years of ruthless evisceration of anything which doesn’t meet their impossibly idealistic expectations. Armed with rolling eyes and barbs of sarcasm, they are the true guardians of the Daptone Sound. The problem is, this new James Hunter single has turned them all into adorable little kittens. They spend all day mewing to the ballads and scampering about to the uptempo cuts instead of selling records. In an effort to save the company, label Boss Neal Sugarman declared a “Hunter Free Zone,” but when he tried to pry the test pressing of Hunter's latest single from the office turntable and replace it with something a bit more hate-able, the needle slipped and dropped back into the grooves of “Something’ s Calling,” irreversibly morphing him too into a small playful kitten. Meow, James Hunter. Meow.
This may be James Hunter's fourth album, but it is his first Daptone record. Produced by Daptone's own Bosco Mann (Gabriel Roth) at Penrose Recorders (Daptone West) near his home in Riverside, California, ‘Hold On!’ is a perfect portrait of an artist at the top of his game. James Hunter has been on the scene for enough years to acquire plenty of feathers in his cap. Billboard charts, Grammy nominations, and Van Morrison collaborations aside, he has earned an international reputation as a Rhythm and Blues troubadour for his command of the microphone both on stage and in studio. This album, however, is something far deeper than just another notch in his belt. It is truly an artist’s vision come to fruition.Though tunes like "(Baby) Hold On," "If That Don't Tell You," and "Stranded" carry the buoyant energy, crackerjack arrangements, and tough soulful pulse for which the band has become renowned, the true treasures of this LP may lie in the deeper grooves. Rumbas, boleros, bossanovas, and easy rockers, each one swinging more than the last: "This Is Where We Came In", "Something's Calling", "A Truer Heart", “Light of My Life”, “In The Dark” — no clichéd throwback nods to a-time-gone-by here. These are forever songs crafted with immaculate care and ingenuity, sung with an effortless balance of tenderness and grit. Many will be tempted to describe it as “authentic,” but the word really has no place here. Hunter's words are truly his own and though at moments his voice may "evoke" Ray Charles or Sam Cooke, there lies an inherent naturalness in these songs that bucks any comparison past or present.
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Soul singer Charles Bradley’s star has been on the rise since the release of his widely praised 2011 debut album No Time For Dreaming, and his ascent has continued long after the release of his triumphant second album, 2013’s Victim of Love. Dubbed “The Screaming Eagle of Soul,” the singer is proud to present his highly anticipated third album Changes, on Daptone imprint Dunham Records. The album is named for his popular, “smoldering” (SPIN) cover of the Black Sabbath track. "I think about the lyrics very closely when I sing ‘Changes’ and get emotional,” notes Bradley. “It makes me think of my mother and the changes in my life since she passed away.” By now, Charles Bradley’s remarkable, against-all-odds rise has been well documented: how he transcended a bleak life on the streets and struggled through a series of ill-fitting jobs before finally being discovered by Daptone's Gabriel Roth. The documentary Charles Bradley: Soul of America, directed by Poull Brien, follows Bradley’s extraordinary journey during the electrifying and transformative months leading up to the release of debut album No Time for Dreaming. The year following the release of No Time For Dreaming was one triumph after another and Victim of Love saw Bradley emerging from his past heartaches stronger and more confident, overflowing with love to share. Victim of Love went on to receive overwhelming praise and was included on "Best of 2013" lists by SPIN, MOJO, Paste, BuzzFeed, Rough Trade & more. The album’s title track was also named one of Rolling Stone’s "Best Songs of 2013." Charles Bradley has also made a name for himself as a riveting live performer. He’s taken his show to venues and festivals across the globe including Coachella, Glastonbury Festival and Primavera Sound. Bradley’s also performed on famed stages including the Apollo Theater—the same place he saw his idol James Brown perform when he was 14 years old, and the Beacon Theatre where he’s separately supported The Tedeschi Trucks Band and the Afghan Whigs.
A collection of fan favorites and exclusive killers soooo good it turns Gold to Platinum. Dig on 21 tunes hand-picked by Daptone staff, musicians, and fans. But what's REALLY special are the exclusive tracks by NAOMI SHELTON and the GOSPEL QUEENS, as well as "The Baddest Band in the Land" THE DAP-KINGS, who offer up a never-before heard dance-floor dominator, "Thunderclap", that was tracked during the sessions for SJDK's I Learned the Hard Way. Still need more convincing? How about extensive liner notes from the foremost authority on Soul Music, the illustrious MR. FINE WINE – the DJ behind WFMU's longest running Soul program, DOWNTOWN SOULVILLE. It's the perfect album for those down with the Daptone Sound, but who also enjoy consolidation. Voila! DAPTONE GOLD Vol. II.
The Budos Band return with Burnt Offering; a wild, booze-fueled ride of hazy riffs, take-no-prisoners horn lines and relentless percussion that summons the occult – an evolved sound for this mighty 10-piece band sparked by their love of Black Sabbath and Pentagram. Burnt Offering was recorded live in the studio, engineered and produced by Thomas Brenneck, a founding member and guitarist in The Budos Band who runs Dunham Records and Studios. It was written at the band's longtime Staten Island studio, where they've gathered for weekly rehearsals for over fifteen years. The haunting album cover was created by drummer Brian Profilio, a NYC public school art teacher. The new album is dripping with the psychedelic sounds of early heavy metal fused with the tight-knit propulsion of Fela Kuti. "The Sticks" kicks off with a snarling riff seamlessly doubled on bass and guitar and unfurls into sludgy breakdowns and searing guitars.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
International tourists and touring artists alike flocked to Fat Beats for rare vinyl, kindred spirits, and exclusive in-store performances from Jay Z, Eminem, Gang Starr, Outkast, Slum Village, Mos Def, and more. One thing was clear: the Fat Beats phenomenon could no longer be contained in a single basement shop.
In the late nineties, Abajian proceeded to open new stores in Amsterdam, Tokyo, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. He further expanded the company’s profile to include global distribution and record label branches. Distribution has since proven to be the company’s strongest and most enduring enterprise. Today Fat Beats Distribution stands poised as one of the country’s pre-eminent distributors of vinyl & specialty item records: a proud survivor in an industry now famous for its mortality rate. Despite market fluctuations, technology innovations, and stylistic revolutions, Fat Beats has remained steadfast in its commitment to the timeless vinyl format and to the loyal community who keeps it spinning.
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