Wed, Dec. 5th, 2012
Lee Fields & the Expressions
There aren’t too many artists making soul music today who had a release in 1969, back when R&B was first beginning to give the drummer some. Lee Fields, however, is one such artist—or maybe he’s better labeled a phenomenon. Since the late sixties, the North Carolina native has amassed a prolific catalog of albums and has toured and played with such legends as Kool and the Gang, Sammy Gordon and the Hip-Huggers, O.V Wright, Darrell Banks, and Little Royal. With a career spanning 43 years, releases on twelve different record labels, and having toured the world over with his raucous-yet-tender voice, it’s mind-blowing that the music he’s making today with Brooklyn’s own Truth & Soul Records is the best of his career.
With a catalogue that ranges from James Brown-style funk to lo-fi blues to contemporary Southern soul to collaborations with French house DJ/producer Martin Solveig, Lee Fields has done it all. Today, with The Expressions—Truth & Soul’s house band, Lee Fields continues to evolve, enmeshed into the group’s sweeping, string-laden, cinematic soul sound. Their latest full-length, Faithful Man, released in March 2012 on Truth & Soul, was called “one smoking mother of an old-sound soul record” by Pitchfork and Vice magazine called Lee the “coolest motherfucker to sing words into a microphone.”
Since the release of Faithful Man, Lee Fields & The Expressions have been touring the world and racking up accolades from critics and fans alike. Lee Fields was featured on Last Call With Carson Daly and has toured the world over, gaining new fans and satisfying old ones. Highlights include opening slots for The Black Keys, Pretty Lights, and Wilco. Performing in front on 7000 people at Rosklide, 10,000 people at Red Rocks, and sold out shows in New York, San Francisco, Los Angles, Paris, Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Montreal, Austin, Houston, New Orleans and many more.
“In a curious case of musical evolution, the older Fields becomes, the closer he gets to perfecting the sound of soul that he grew up with as a young man, ” so said music writer, scholar, and DJ Oliver Wang about Fields in a piece for NPR in July 2009. The latest LP from Lee Fields and The Expressions is the next step towards this perfection. A step that may find Fields, The Expressions, and Truth & Soul as a label, finally being bestowed the contemporary soul music crown.
The Right Now
There are only so many times you can take back that cheating lover or accept excuses from a lazy scrub. It’s easier said than done, but one soul band is taking a stand. The Right Now isn’t going to take it anymore. The Right Now is fed up. And on their second record, The Right Now Gets Over You.
The challenging title is a reality check, but delivered with a smile from singer Stefanie Berecz. “It’s just a representation of the stories in the songs. Nearly every track has a cheating character, or someone who’s had enough of their lover. It’s a mixed bag of empowerment and regret.” Gets Over You continues the “it’s complicated” theme of 2010′s Carry Me Home, although this outing shows Berecz in a darker, seedier role.
Recorded in a cathartic, week-long session in Los Angeles with producer Sergio Rios (Orgone), Gets Over You takes the Chicago septet’s soulful sound to the warm, crackling world of analog tape and vintage instruments. Berecz’s voice, often compared to those of Chaka Kahn and Joss Stone, takes center stage. The band shines with raw, gritty performances and elegant arrangements that are the result of countless hours of performing, rehearsing, and traveling together.
Berecz’s emotionally-charged vocal performance has been the band’s calling card at over 200 shows in the past two years. The Right Now’s electrifying live show — matching suits, choreographed horn section, and all — has earned them a reputation as “dynamic, complex, hip and just downright fun” (Gapers Block).
The past two years saw immense growth for The Right Now, including a sold-out release party at Chicago’s Lincoln Hall; tour dates throughout the Midwest, East, and South; festival appearances at SXSW, North Coast Festival, and Summerfest; and opening stints for Fitz & The Tantrums, George Clinton & Parliament-Funkadelic, Bettye Lavette, Otis Clay, Orgone, Kings Go Forth, Jamie Lidell, and Tortured Soul. USA Today and mp3.com featured the band as a favorite, and live TV appearances (WGN) put the Chicago act on the national stage. Placements in a 2011 episode of CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and promos for Gilly Hicks and other national retailers also broadened the band’s appeal.
“It takes a man to admit that it’s over,” Berecz confidently croons on “Half As Much.” “But if you can’t, I can do it for sure.” While Stefanie Berecz may have gotten over the man in this song, audiences won’t be getting over her any time soon.
Stefanie Berecz- vocals
Brendan O’Connell- keys/guitar
Chris Corsale- guitar
Greg Nergaard- bass
John Smillie- drums
Jonathon Edwards- bari sax
Jim Schram- tenor sax
Magnolia Sons is a nostalgic rock and soul group based out of Nashville, Tennessee. They are a 12-piece supergroup composed of artists and musicians from all over the United States. Their music is a tribute to the vintage sound of classic rock and soul from the 1960's and 1970's created by writers Austin Aguirre and Benjamin A. Harper.
In the time of the resurgence of record collections, Magnolia Sons is both a throwback and a breath of fresh air. Inspired by The Supremes, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops and the Temptations, Magnolia Sons have a sound that harkens back to the sound of 60’s soulsters and American Band Stand, and as a 12 piece, they definitely fit the retro profile. While many older fans will recognize the sound from their own record collections, it is new for many of their younger fans who can be found dancing along to the catchy tunes at many of Nashville’s venues.
What others are saying:
“The influences are painfully obvious but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to listen to. In fact, it makes it more enjoyable because you have a familiar touchstone to use as a jumping off point. So far the band has released a handful of 7?‘s and, frankly, I couldn’t think of a more appropriate format for their intentionally retro styles.” - WE OWN THIS TOWN
“...a sanguine set of unflinchingly upbeat retro power-pop and greasy, maximum R&B ...bursts at its seams with life-embracing good vibes and enough infectious rhythm to inspire fevered responses to the band’s calls for foot stomps and handclaps.” - the Nashville Scene