STAFF COMMENTSBarry says: Twanging indie-rock guitars and 70's influenced fuzzy harmonies interwoven with the soothing and silky vocals of Shannon Wise. A bracing and enchanting listen, full of irresistible hooks and undeniable charm.
As a logical next step after Big Crown’s excellent (and Sunny-approved) Mr. Brown Eyed Soul compilation from September, the label has started digging into the vaults of Sunny’s Key-Loc Records label to unearth some legit soul classics – which are hard to find even in San Antonio, and clean originals will cost you a pretty penny if you ever luck into one. The album has been remastered and includes original album art. The band is tight, the sound is honest, the vocals are dusky and deep, and the album is an undeniable soul and Texas music classic, ready to be discovered by a whole new generation of music fans. Dive in and be ready for a permasmile, thanks to that patented Sunny sound.
Produced together by Shrager and Big Crown co-founder Leon Michels (who’s played with Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Fields in addition to working with The Arcs, Lana Del Rey, and countless others), the album was recorded in bits and pieces between Shrager’s basement and Michels’ Diamond Mine studio, which the Observer dubbed “the Shangri La of Soul.” ‘Haze’ opens with the title track, which is, appropriately enough, the first song Shrager and Wise ever wrote together. It’s a spare, smoky tune that shimmers and sparkles as it shifts in and out of focus, and it’s an ideal gateway into the immersive world of The Shacks.
On the breezy “Follow Me,” they channel the infectious charm of a 60’s girl group, while the soulful “My Name Is” grooves its way through a mesmerizing take on 70’s funk. Much like a dream, the songs often merge the familiar and the unfamiliar, constructing their own psychedelic reality full of beauty and yearning, all fueled by Wise’s breathy vocals and the unmistakable electricity of a wildly creative band truly inhabiting their music. “Birds” makes brilliant use of Daptone drum hero Homer Steinwess’s impeccable feel behind the kit, while the 50’s ballad-meets-baroque pop of “Cryin’” tips its cap to Roy Orbison and John Lennon as Shrager takes over lead vocals, and the soulful shuffle of “Texas” belies a dark and violent undercurrent ripped from the headlines.
Through it all permeates an unshakable sense that this is a group performing just for you. “Nobody” finds the Shacks re-interpreting Phil Spector’s Wagnerian approach to rock & roll, complete with sweeping strings and darkly innocent lyrics. The 13 songs featured on Haze plays out like the soundtrack to some long lost 16mm film, beckoning you into their grainy, saturated world of analog beauty. In the short time that they’ve been together, The Shacks have already made an impressive mark.
FORMAT INFORMATION2xCD Info: CD Features A Second Bonus disc with The Shacks Self-Titled EP, Selections Previously Issued Only On 7” Vinyl And Complete Instrumentals From “Haze”.
The result is this catchy single, so strong we had to press a 45 for it. The B Side, “Fly Fishing” is one of many tracks The Shacks have sitting in the vault. Constantly writing and recording, the group has amassed a huge catalog of music. Fly Fishing starts out with a raucous syncopated intro dropping into a floaty groove The Shacks are know for. It's also their drummer's grandma's favorite song.
“When I record, I make every song like I actually mean it. I mean every word I say. On Special Night I’m talking to my lady — literally, expressing the way I feel.” says Lee Fields. “You can tell if a song is real or not, and every moment I’m recording, those moments are real, this is a record about what people do in real life”. For one example, he cites the song “Work to Do,” which tells the story of “a guy going to counseling, drinking too much, apologizing to the old lady and trying to keep family together, doing the manly thing.” On “Make This World”, Lee makes a nod back to his early funk roots with a cautionary tale about the health of the planet. The world was designed to last indefinitely,” says Fields. “We’re the only living species on Earth who can alter that process. I’m hoping that song has a chain reaction, helps somebody put into action whatever contribution they can to change what the world is going through.” As always, sticking to the formula but pushing the boundaries “Never Be Another You” from the first note doesn’t sound like something you would hear on a Lee record, that is until he starts singing anyhow. A low tempo ballad with a head nodding drum track, sparse piano lines, and all the space Lee needs to lay down what is sure to be one of the flyest love songs of 2017.
Side A 'Say It Again' is an up Northern Soul number equal parts hi energy and good vibes. A sureshot for the soul parties, and a very welcome opportunity to put this obscure tune into collections .
Adding to the unique fidelity, the record is laced with psychedelic flourishes, “John Carpenter” synths, heavy metal guitars, triumphant horns, and traditional Chinese instruments that make up for the lack of the Wu’s superlative vocals. From start to finish it’s a dark trip that walks the line between RZA’s timeless hip-hop aesthetic and the cinematic soul EMA has become known for. El Michels Affair tackles some classics like 4th Chamber and Wu Tang Aint Nuthin to Fuck Wit, as well as some deeper cuts like Ol Dirty Bastard’s Snakes, Raekwon’s Verbal Intercourse, and Shaolin Brew, Wu-Tang’s contribution to the St. Ide’s Hip Hop endorsement campaign from 1994. This time El Michels brings some of the Big Crown family along for the ride. Lee Fields handles vocal duties on Snakes and is joined by Shannon Wise of The Shacks for their version of Tearz, which pays as much homage to the Wendy Rene sample as it does to the Wu-Tang Clan. Lady Wray makes an appearance on the cover of Method Man’s hit, All I Need, lending her vocal prowess to what gave the Wu one of their biggest hits of all time.
"Special Night" is a masterclass in soul music past and present. “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.” Produced by Leon Michels and Thomas Brenneck, and brilliantly performed by the Expressions, Special Night was written, recorded, mixed, and mastered entirely to tape in three weeks at the legendary Diamond Mine Studios in Queens, NY. A sense of urgency, equal parts fun and inspiration, and a decent amount of beer and Jack Daniels were the driving forces during the sessions that produced Lee Fields & The Expressions latest offering. Special Night is also the first record in the Expressions catalogue in which every song was written jointly by Lee Fields and The Expressions. “When I record, I make every song like I actually mean it. I mean every word I say.
The album was written entirely by Paul, and produced by another Staten Island native, Thomas Brenneck of Charles Bradley, Menahan Street Band, and Budos Band fame. The combination of the two gives the record an amazing sonic range, from the powerhouse rocker “Crack Of Down” to the ethereal western vibes of “She Comes Around”. Paul pens a tune about the forever changing conviction of a man in love on “Once In A While”, and ironically “The Little Bit Of Sunshine”, is a story about Paul giving up on a career in music. One thing you hear in Schalda’s music, no matter which song, is that the road hasn’t been easy.
His voice can be hauntingly harsh, yet hopeful and tender, raucous and gravelly one moment, smooth and intimate the next. Even though he is being compared to the famous groups and musicians mentioned above, he can only call it Rock and Roll and be humbled. “I’m very lucky to be able to do this,” Schalda says. “And I’m extremely happy. Especially for my father. He worked hard for his sons and this record.”
17 NEW ITEMS
192 NEW ITEMS
MorrisseyAll The Young People Must Fall In Love (Bob Clearmountain Mix) / Rose Garden (Live At The Grand Ole Opry, Nashville)
Various ArtistsA Disco Fantasy - Inc. Sylvester, Louie Vega, Amp Fiddler, Sweet Tooth T & Greg Wilson
Various ArtistsSpider-Jazz - KPM Cues Used In The Amazing Animated Series - That We Are Not Allowed To Mention For Legal Reasons
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Sun 20th - 11:47