Posts Tagged 'Uness & Crime In the City'

BEST OF 2012 – The Top 20 Soul Music Releases That Weren’t Free

Welcome to my annual breakdown of the best in Soul Music for 2012. Man, this year did not disappoint. After tireless listening on just about every thing that hit this year (I’ll admit, I didn’t get to hear everything), these are the albums and artists that demanded multiple listenings and brought something new to the field.

I really, really tried to rank these releases. But although there was a clear winner, the rest of my list will be posted in a very loose order of preference. Hopefully this list will give you not only something to new to listen to, but also some last-minute gift giving ideas for the holiday. Please support all of these amazing artists. I truly believe there is a new renaissance in Soul and Jazz, and these folks are on the cutting edge of it. Feel free to check out my Spotify playlist of everything I considered the cream of the crop of 2012. Now, here’s the Top Twenty!

RECORD OF THE YEAR

Robert Glasper – Black Radio

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@robertglasper on Twitter

The clear winner this year. And when I say “groundbreaking,” I truly mean it with this release. It’s a memorable, solid fusion of Jazz, Soul and R&B. With a guest list of R&B’s elite, “Black Radio” is an album that will thrill you and demand hitting the repeat button continuously. Also check out the subsequent Remix EP that also hit this year for even more groovin’ goodness.

 

THE REST OF YOUR TOP TWENTY

Moonchild – Be Free

Purchase on Bandcamp (FREE for a limited time until Christmas)
@thisismoonchild on Twitter

This record was the only thing that could have come close to inching out the Glasper record. These kids (kids, I say!) came out with an impressive debut. Impressive enough to gain the attention of one Mr. Stevie Wonder, who featured the band recently in his annual “House Of Toys” concert. “Be Free” is a beautiful slice of Neo-Soul with outstanding vocals and tight, immaculate instrumental performances. It’s a must-own in my book. Doubly so, as the band is offering it as a FREE download until Christmas. This band will be one to watch in the coming years. Mark my words.

 

DivaGeek – He Said, She Said

Purchase on Bandcamp
@DivaGeekMusic on Twitter

Probably one of the most fun records of the year and winner of my award for “Retro Funky Goodness.” If you’re not in the mood to party before you listen to it, “He Said, She Said” will get you there. With heaters like “Mr. Happy” and “Money,” this british duo brings some serious electronic funk to the table and just doesn’t quit.

 

Sy Smith – Fast and Curious

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@Syberspace on Twitter

Easily one of the best female voices in Soul Music today. “Fast and Curious” was also produced by session whiz Mark de Clive-Lowe. This record has the perfect balance of electronic dance-ability and sexy ballad goodness.

 

Ernesto – Suffice Suffice

Purchase on iTunes
@jonatanbackelie on Twitter

Ernesto is a masterful songwriter and vocalist. His songs are honest and soulful. This entire record is a fantastic journey of Electronic Soul.

 

Allen Stone – Allen Stone

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@allen_stone on Twitter

Who would have thought that a geeky hippy dude from Washington could churn out the best commercial Soul release of the year. But Allen Stone has definitely done it with his eponymous debut.

 

Anthony Valadez – Just Visiting

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@anthonyvaladez on Twitter

KCRW DJ is not simply content spinning other people’s music. With “Just Visiting,” Valadez teams up with some of the best new names in independent Soul Music. The result is a masterful Tour de Force.

 

BamaLoveSoul presents On Deck

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@BamaLoveSoul on Twitter

Another great compilation this year was BamaLoveSoul’s “On Deck.” You want to get a great sense of where Indie Soul is heading? Spin this one and get acquainted with the future.

 

Funkommunity – Chequered Thoughts

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Funkommunity on Facebook

There is something definitely in the water in Australia and New Zealand. Funkommunity is just one act to hail from that locale. “Chequered Thoughts” is a fresh take of Soul Music from another hemisphere.

 

Darryl Reeves – Mercury

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@darrylreeves on Twitter

There’s a great new crop of musicians that are fusing Soul and Jazz together. Darryl Reeves is one such musician. A fantastic sax player, Reeves also puts together something groovy and futuristic in his release “Mercury.”

 

Jesse Fischer & Soul Cycle – Retro Future

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@JesseFischer on Twitter

Another great Soul/Jazz fusion, Jesse Fischer’s “Retro Future” is just that. The perfect homage of retro synth goodness combined with down home grooving funk. This album also features probably some of the best sax playing I’ve heard all year.

 

Miguel – Kaleidoscope Dream

Purchase on iTunes
miguelmusic on Facebook

What good would this list be if I didn’t include some of the more mainstream releases. Well, this was certainly a great year for Miguel. Following the releases of his “Art Dealer Chic” series of mixtapes, he came out of the gate swinging with “Kaleidoscope Dream.” This is a really solid showing of contemporary R&B.

 

Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Purchase on iTunes
Frank Ocean on Soundcloud

Well, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve certainly heard about Ocean and Channel Orange. And, while I don’t follow a lot of the mainstream blogs calling this Record of the Year, it is a very consistent and fresh take on what’s happening in R&B today.

 

Mint Condition – Music @ The Speed of Life

Purchase on iTunes
@mcondition on Twitter

It was so great to see veterans Mint Condition come back with such a powerful album. These guys have not lost one bit of their chops or musicality. And every song on this record is wonderfully hooky and masterfully executed.

 

Nicholas Ryan Gant – Promises

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@Ghetto_Falsetto on Twitter

A new voice for male contemporary R&B and Soul, Nicholas Ryan Gant hits with this impressive release. Gant has a fantastic voice and a fresh point of view.

 

Hiatus Kayote – Tawk Tomohawk

Purchase on Bandcamp
@HiatusKaiyote on Twitter

That’s right, another selection from Down Under. Whatever is happening in the land of Oz, I sure hope they keep it coming. Because with groups like Hiatus Kaiyote, the future of Soul Musc is in good hands.

 

Dwele – Greater Than One

Purchase on iTunes
@THEREALDWELE on Twitter

Dwele still remains one of my top three contemporary Soul male vocalists. And there’s just something about a Dwele record that ensures you get a consistent and soulful experience every time. This record is no exception.

 

S3 – Supa Soul Sh*t

Purchase on Bandcamp
@MilesBonny on Twitter

Just when you thought Miles Bonny might slow down following last year’s “Lumberjack Soul,” he cranks out even more soulful goodness. This team-up with Brenk Sinatra is a grooving and mellow hip-hop/soul trip.

 

Oaklyn – Chasing the Sun

Purchase on Bandcamp
OaklynSounds on Facebook

Always a pleasant surprise when an artist I’ve never heard of puts out a release that really impresses. Oaklyn’s “Chasing the Sun” has it all; delicate female vocals, great hip hop beats, and fundamental bass that’ll warm your heart and rattle your subwoofer.

 

Uness & Crime In the City™ – Groove Jones

Purchase on Bandcamp
@IamUness on Twitter

Uness continues to be one of the unsung heroes of independent Soul. Groove Jones will have you tapping your toes from beginning to end.

 

HONORABLE MENTIONS (stuff I just couldn’t not mention and you should defninitely check out)

Gregory Porter – Be Good
Alabama Shakes – Boy & Girls
Sidewalk Chalk – Corner Store
Pete Belasco – Lights On
The Endangered – The Endangered EP
DJ Kemit – Everlasting
Greg Banks – Greg Banks
K-Def – Easy Way Out EP
Elliot Yamin – Let’s Get To What’s Real
Cody Chenutt – Landing on a Hundred
Ms. Sounday – My Little Joys
Daley – Alone Together EP
Eric Benet – The One 


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