For more than two decades, Lettuce have brought a new vitality to classic funk, matching their smooth and soulful grooves with a hip-hop-inspired urgency and mastery of beat. Now, on their fourth studio album Crush, drummer Adam Deitch, guitarists Adam Smirnoff and Eric Krasno, bassist Erick “Jesus” Coomes, keyboardist Neal Evans, saxophonist Ryan Zoidis, and trumpet player Eric Bloom deepen that sound by channeling the sonic freedom and infectious energy of their incendiary live show.
THE WOOD BROTHERS
‘Paradise,’ an album about longing and desire and the ways in which the pursuit of fulfillment can keep it perpetually out of our reach, is The Wood Brothers’ most sophisticated work to date and also their most rocking, with bassist Chris Wood playing electric on tracks for the first time. Recorded at Dan Auerbach’s Easy Eye studio in Nashville, ‘Paradise’ captures the latest chapter in the ongoing evolution of a band—and a family—navigating the joy and challenges of a life in music.
As common and simple as it is, “por favor” is such an evocative expression. From Spanish, it translates to “please,” a word that suggests a need for something, a desire to make a change.
“‘Por favor’ was something I kept saying every day in the studio, and I got the other musicians saying it,” says Brett Dennen. “We were goofing around, and Dave Cobb, my producer, said it should be the title of my new record. I laughed it off at first, but then I really thought about it.”
“When you say please, you’re asking something to come into your life,” Dennen adds. “It might mean that you’re weak and need something to make you strong. But you’re admitting to some sort of weakness or some form of humility.”
MARTIN SEXTON TRIO
Remember that mix tape your friend made you way back when - the one that's etched in your soul? Martin Sexton's new album Mixtape of the Open Road is that musical cross-country trip, blazing through all territories of style, as you cruise through time and place. This record is a charm bracelet of twelve gems all strung together with the golden thread of what Rolling Stone calls a "soul marinated voice."
LEE FIELDS AND THE EXPRESSIONS
"I feel that every human being's purpose is to do what their inner voice says to do," says Lee Fields. "And my inner voice, my driving force, wants me to put out music and keeping making better records."
Apologies to the late, great James Brown, but you'd be hard pressed to find another singer who's ever worked as hard as Fields, a man who's been making soul and funk anthems since 1969.
Since that time, Fields has toured the world with musical legends like Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. Recorded with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig. And somehow found a newer, younger audience and become more prolific as the years transpire.
Ryan Montbleau has been an acclaimed singer, songwriter, and bandleader for more than a decade, but with his new album I Was Just Leaving the New England-based artist has truly arrived. Contemplative and richly emotive, the album offers a glimpse into the often-lonesome life of the relentlessly traveling troubadour, a strikingly single-minded existence too often clouded by the blur of constant motion. Recorded at New Orleans’ Esplanade Studios over four days in January 2016 with producer Anders Osborne and engineer/mixer Mark Howard (known for his work with such icons as Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Neil Young, and U2), the album marks Montbleau’s first full length release in the wake of a series of seismic personal shifts. Songs like “Bright Side” and the touching title track reveal a uniquely blessed artist who has truly found his voice, his gift for melody and a remarkably open-armed approach.
THE BALLROOM THIEVES
Life on the road for a burgeoning band is easily glamorized: The joy of playing a show, the wonder of encountering new places and people, the stories that amass. Yet the lifestyle can also be a trying one: The suffocating isolation of a van, the misery of being separated from home and loved ones, the unspoken grievances that stack tensions high. If you're unprepared, this life can become your downfall. For Boston's The Ballroom Thieves, it became their sophomore album, Deadeye.
THE MARCUS KING BAND
Songwriter. Guitarist. Singer. Bandleader. At only 20 years of age, Marcus King’s dazzling musical ability is evident throughout The Marcus King Band, the young phenom’s 2nd full-length LP and first for Fantasy Records. Operating within the fiery brand of American roots music that King calls "soul-influenced psychedelic southern rock," the album highlights King’s gorgeous, rough-hewn vocals, soaring guitar work and heartfelt songwriting all amidst a group of masterful musicians who, together, are quickly becoming one of the country’s most sought after live acts.
Kat Wright, whose voice is both sultry and dynamic, delicate yet powerful; gritty but highly emotive and nuanced, has been described as “a young Bonnie Raitt meets Amy Winehouse”. Add to that voice enough stage presence to tame lions, and the combination of feline femininity proves immediately enchanting. There’s soul flowing in and out of her rock ‘n’ roll with a serpentine seduction. Some of soul music’s sweet, grand dames belt, shout, seethe, and succumb, while Wright sings gently like a heartache’s apology. It’s funky in spots and beautiful all over. And it hurts a little … like it should.
Session Americana is a rock band in a tea cup, or possibly a folk band in a whiskey bottle. This band/collective of talented musicians craft an musical experience unlike any other. On stage is a collapsible bar table wired with microphones, a vintage suitcase recast as a kick drum, an old Estey field organ, a pre-war parlor guitar, a mandocello and all of its smaller siblings, a harmonica case fire damaged when Jack's bar went up in flames and graffitied by Depeche Mode roadies, and an assortment of other instruments that get passed around in this freewheeling modern hootenanny. The anything-could-happen feel of a Session show depends on craft that's not accidental or easily won; they bring a kind of ease and genuineness to this timeless music, sometimes presenting the latest batch of original songs, sometimes reaching back into depths of the American "song bag".
DWIGHT AND NICOLE
Dwight & Nicole is a three piece original blues-soul-rock band fronted by Dwight Ritcher & Nicole Nelson. Ritcher and Nelson are both well known on the East Coast for their powerful voices and songwriting. Together, they have toured up and down the Northeast, growing a fiercely loyal fan base, and self releasing two award winning albums through crowd funding. The Boston Globe calls them "A tour de force that demands much wider success" and describes their sound as "poignant, hard-driving and heavenly".
They both trade off singing leads; he also plays masterful electric guitar, and she plays melodic electric bass. All the while, layering in harmonies and shouts. The recent addition of powerhouse drummer Ezra Oklan to the band introduces the perfect underlying rhythm. The results are stunning.
Dwight & Nicole finished recording their anticipated new album “Electric Lights” this spring with multi-Grammy Award Nominated producer Joel Hamilton (Aaron Neville, The Meters, The Black Keys) at Studio G in Brooklyn, NY. Their first single, a shimmering soul-rock anthem called “Wait” drops in June, followed by the full album in the Fall.
The phenomenal Boston song machine Twisted Pine delivers a cabinet of inventions on their self-titled Summer 2017 debut on Signature Sounds Recordings, working across forms in Americana, swing, bluegrass, string theory, and pop. The Twists' work is characterized by virtuosic musicianship, a take-no-prisoners attitude [check out their mashup* of Bill Monroeand funk masters Vulfpeck] and a deep respect for bluegrass tradition. Twisted Pine's festival resume includes MASS MoCA's FreshGrass Bluegrass Festival, Joe Val Bluegrass, Green River Festival, Otis Mountain Get Down, RockyGrass (runners up in a wicked sudden death band competition), Musikfest, Thomas Point Bluegrass Special (winner, band competition), Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival, Ossipee Valley Music Festival, Celtic Connections (Glasgow), Club Passim's Down Home Up Here. They've supported Peter Rowan, Steel Wheels, Gibson Brothers, and The Suitcase Junket.
MATTHEW STUBBS AND THE ANTIGUAS
Matthew Stubbs is a Boston based guitarist and songwriter. In 2016, Matt formed Matthew Stubbs & The Antiguas, an all original, instrumental psych rock project. With The Antiguas, the focus is on the song, and the vibe and energy of live performance and sound experimentation. Matt is inspired to bring back the lost art of popular instrumental music, combining the spirit of past instrumental giants like Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Booker T, with fuzz, psychedelic textures, and doses of garage rock, blues, afrobeat, cinematic and atmospheric soundscapes. The Antiguas live shows are accompanied by psychedelic visual projections to create an immersive experience for the audience. Since its very recent inception, Matthew Stubbs & The Antiguas have been nominated for a 2016 Boston Music Award.
“There aren’t many unknown artists who get to record their debut albums partially at Muscle Shoals’ Fame Studios with legends such as keyboardist Spooner Oldham, guitarist Greg Leisz and fiddler Sara Watkins sitting in. But, there aren’t many new singers as impressive as Julie Rhodes either.”
Churning out high-octane shows that leave audiences sweaty, LuxDeluxe delivers a serious punch of supple Rolling Stones-y grooves, persuasive danceable hooks, and rock-solid old-fashioned craft. Flaunting like Jagger, with all the sensuality of Bowie or Peter Wolf, lead singer Ned King creates a spectacle rarely seen since the heyday of rock&roll.
They’ve shared the stage with Deer Tick, Rubblebucket, and NRBQ, warmed up a crowd of over 10,000 for Bernie Sanders, and been named a band to watch for by Pitchfork. The band released its second album, “It’s a Girl,” last year, with the song “So Far Away” being named "Song of the Year" by tastemaker radio station The River 93.9. Most recently, LuxDeluxe released a one-shot visual EP, “Midnight Snack.” Their third full-length album, “Let’s Do Lunch,” which was recorded entirely on a four-track cassette machine, will be out this June.
“From a very young age, I just knew that I was gonna spend my life making music,” Sean McConnell states. “I never really questioned it, so I just forged ahead and didn’t let anything stop me.”
Although his self-titled new Rounder album will serve as his introduction to many listeners, the personable young artist is actually a seasoned, distinctive songwriter and an experienced performer with a quartet of D.I.Y. indie releases to his credit. Having built a substantial grass-roots fan base through tireless touring and old-fashioned hard work, McConnell is primed for a mainstream breakthrough.
JOSH AND THE JAMTONES
Josh & the Jamtones are an interactive, ultra-powered dance party machine. Our buddy Stefan Sheperd (ZOOGLOBBLE/NPR CONTRIBUTOR) calls us a "ten-ton bundle of energy," and we like to think that pretty much sums us up.
We make music for kids! And their grownups. Plus big brother/big sister, grammies and/or pappies, family pets, babysitters, 3rd cousins, elderly neighbors, old college roommates, etc. We're pretty inclusive like that.