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Brainstory

Sounds Good

    Big Crown Records is proud to present Brainstory’s sophomore full-length album Sounds Good.

    Based in L.A. but hailing from the Inland Empire's own Rialto, California, two-thirds of Brainstory, Kevin and Tony Martin are brothers by blood, while Eric Hagstrom is a brother through their music and long term friendship. Since they started the band they have constantly faced situations that forced them to rise to the occasion. They got signed to Big Crown Records, they stepped up their game. COVID happened, they learned to record themselves. They started touring a ton sharing the stage with the likes of Lady Wray and they got their live show super tight. All of this time spent grinding and growing has certainly paid off. The path to take their art to the next level is clearer than ever, and once again, they are here for it. If there is one thing that is abundantly clear on Sounds Good, it’s that Brainstory has leveled up.

    Part of this evolution is undoubtedly attributed to having access to and working constantly in their own studio in Long Beach. Another major factor is that their brotherhood has expanded. "I've been playing music with my brother all my life and now with Eric for a long time," Tony tells us. "Leon, though, is like another brother I've just met."

    Leon Michels, Big Crown's co-owner, produced this record and applied his unmistakable golden touch in crucial ways. The other member of the extended Brainstory brotherhood whose contributions were essential to the album, is studio engineer legend Jens Jungkurth who controls the tones and textures of the music. "That's what you're hearing, our connection, the fun moments, the little details," Kevin describes. "This record isn't half what it is without them—and it made us want to match that effort," and match that effort they did. Album opener "Nobody But You" is an uplifting, dance ­oor burner, that shows off a new side of Brainstory's range. Drummer Eric Hagstrom’s crushing back beat lays the foundation for an inspirational feel good banger that manages to take the uncomfortable truth that “nobody will save you but you” and turn it into pure blissful motivation. "Peach Optimo" is a laid back half time tune that blends the bounce of Down South Hip-Hop with California G funk and Jazz. They once again show off their B said ballad talents with "Gift Of Life" but this time taking the genre to a new place with lyrics about existentialism and a track that is drop dead gorgeous, haunting, and profound all at once. "NyNy" is an homage to Kev and Tony's recently deceased grandfather while "Too Yung" is a show stopping, deeply personal, stripped down number about being introduced to alcohol at a young age. They put another hit on the boards with "Hanging On," a Latin / Psychedelic Soul inspired banger featuring Claire Cottrill on background vocals while "XFaded” addresses the all too common vicious cycle of smoking and drinking too much over a trippy shuf­e.

    "It's been four years since our last full length record, and with everything that's happened since, it's like we've been catching up to ourselves." That's one way to describe change: catching up to oneself. Each member of Brainstory has gone through shifts, both personally and musically, and all of that threads through Sounds Good. It's easy to say that the music industry can be short on lasting, genuine relationships. However, for Brainstory, from day one it's been about standing by each other, for each other. Their friendship started the group. 

    TRACK LISTING

    SIDE A:
    Nobody But You
    Peach Optimo
    Listen
    Gift Of Life
    NyNy
    I Will Be

    SIDE B:
    Hanging On
    XFaded
    Too Yung
    Stay
    Sweet & Lovely
    Rialto Winds

    Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band

    BRSB

      Steel Drum covers of Drake, Snoop Dogg & Dr Dre, Claudja Barry, The Game & 50 Cent, A$AP Rocky, Stranger Things Theme, and more.

      Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, the mysterious steel pan outfi­t hailing from Hamburg, Germany have amassed a cult following around the globe. With a slew of classic 7”s and three critically acclaimed full length albums, they set a high bar for themselves, one they clearly intend on pushing even higher with this new offering. On their fourth album BRSB, Bacao are back with more of the same, but more of the same with them is inherently different. Covering songs that span genres and range from mega hits to underground album cuts, they make them their own with their unique approach to the traditional steel pans of Trinidad and Tobago.

      While part of the allure of a new Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band album is ­finding out what covers they do it is equally intriguing to see what original tunes they cooked upland this record is foul of stand out originals. The album opener, “In The Crosshairs” is a rough and tough mid tempo head nodder while both “Grilled” & “Treasure Quest” pick up the tempo with heavy African Funk in‑fluences on both. Bacao goes deep with “Hazy Memories”, a bass heavy slow burner that walks a line between hypnotic and hype. All these originals stand as testament that the term “cover band” is a shoe that could never fi­t Bacao.

      However, in the tradition of steel pan music, they do a heavy amount of covers. This time around there is a big West Coast Hip Hop influence with covers of Game & 50 Cent’s “How We Do”, Dr Dre & Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin But A G Thang”, and Tupac’s “Got My Mind Made Up” all of which take on new energy and lend themselves to the BRSB steel treatment. Bacao puts another certifi­ed dance‑floor fil­ler on their resume with their cover of Claudja Barry’s uber Disco classic “Love For The Sake Of Love” which they flip into a dubbed out affair aptly changing even the title to “Love For The Sake Of Dub”. Pulling from the contemporary smash hit section of Hip Hop they cover Drake’s “Hotline Bling” and “Love$ick” by Mura Masa & A$AP Rocky. Then they go very unexpected with “Stranger Things Theme” where they take the synth heavy theme song to the hit show and give it a more hypnotizing tone than the original.

      By the time BRSB is through, Bacao has taken the listener on a journey spanning a myriad of energies, tempos, and moods while keeping it all under one umbrella. For all that, these songs are alive, and they will be taken out of the context of this album and sewn into the fabric of DJ sets around the globe for many years to come. Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band continues building their legacy and pushing the boundaries of steel pan music forward with another rock solid musical offering. Enjoy.

      TRACK LISTING

      1. In The Crosshairs
      2. How We Do
      3. Hazy Memories
      4. Love For The Sake Of Dub
      5. Hotline Bling
      6. Grilled
      7. Love$ick
      8. Stranger Things Theme
      9. Treasure Quest
      10. Nuthin’ But A G Thang
      11. Got My Mind Made Up
      12. The Champion’s Walk

      Liam Bailey

      Zero Grace

        Big Crown Records is proud to present Zero Grace, Liam Bailey’s sophomore album on the label. Following the success of 2020’s Ekundayo album, the tried and true chemistry of Bailey and producer Leon Michels (El Michels Affair) is on full display again as they take the sound they established and push it further. On Zero Grace they lean more into the bleeding heart singer-songwriter side of Liam. The result, much like Bailey himself, is impulsively honest without reserve.

        Born and raised in Nottingham, England, the son of an English mother and 2nd generation Jamaican English father, Liam will admit his early childhood was fairly chaotic and fi­lled with "all the cliche racism that happens when people started mixing up in the '80s in England." Liam got his early influences from his mom’s record collection. Bob Marley and Dillinger, Stevie Wonder and The Supremes, The Beatles and Jimi Hendrix would eventually shape the singer/songwriter we know today. Fast-forward to 2005, Liam is in London performing at every open mic and acoustic night he could, hustling with hopes of landing a record deal. It was through this time that Liam fi­rst teamed up with Michels, musician/producer luminary, and the co-founder of Brooklyn's own Big Crown Records.

        Liam flew out to New York and those fi­rst sessions together produced the now classic tunes “When Will They Learn” and “I’m Gonna Miss You” which still gets spins at Reggae spots around the globe and were co-signed by heavy hitters like David Rodigan & Don Letts.That first trip to NYC brought a lot of industry attention to Liam, including being noticed by a just-famous Amy Winehouse who heard one of Liam's apartment-made, lo-­ recordings, and liked what she heard. Regardless of the audio quality, Liam's particular sound shone through—all guitar, warm-rough and genuine soul.

        Eventually Liam signed to Polydor and wound up bumping against the typical major label industry obstacles. They already had an idea of the Liam they wanted to make, promote, and push. With the typical large advance enticement, Liam did his best to trust that path. "Maybe I can make it work,' that's what you're thinking," Liam remembers, "but, you quickly fi­nd out that you can't."

        Zero Grace is full of freedom and love, in fact, working with Leon Michels and Big Crown Records has encouraged Liam to be himself. On album opener “Holding On '' Bailey speaks to his observations & fears when looking out at the world in front of him and also to the dedication it has taken to get on the other side of his personal trials & tribulations. “Dance With Me" is an instantly infectious two-stepper that nods to those incredible soul records that were coming out of Jamaica during the early Reggae days.

        Bailey steps into the dance with hopes of finding a new love and pulls us all out on the dance floor with him. “Disorder Starts At Home” is another close to the chest tune that addresses the dif­culties he struggles with from his early chaotic childhood and his progress in getting past them. "Mercy Tree" is a powerhouse of Reggae Rebel Music. Bailey addresses the racial tensions that plague humanity and encourages everyone to step up and do their part to help foster equality. What starts out as a declaration of injustice turns into a call for action and an inspiration for hope.

        TRACK LISTING

        SIDE A
        1 Holding On
        2 Dumb
        3 Sekkle Down
        4 Boy
        5 Dance With Me
        6 Disorder Starts At Home
        SIDE B
        7 Mercy Tree
        8 Sour Wine
        9 Canary In The Coal Mine
        10 Winter Is Within Thee
        11 I Got No Answers
        12 Light Up The Darkness

        Various Artists

        Big Crown Records Presents Crown Jewels Vol. 3

          Big Crown is proud to present Crown Jewels Vol. 3. As we are approaching seven years as a label these compilations have given us an opportunity to put the different artists on the label together on the same release. These compilations are something of a calling card for the "Big Crown Sound" where we get to put the most well established next to the newest on the roster and through that paint a picture of the overall ethos of the label. It's been extremely satisfying for us when the fans of one Big Crown artist discover another one because they are label mates. We put out these Crown Jewels comps with the hope that it will continue that process. Even though not all BCR artists can be found in the same aisle of the record store, after listening to Crown Jewels Vol. 3, it should be clear how they all fit on the same record label. When we started Big Crown we wanted to have a label that's only boundaries were defined by our taste, not by genre. Seven years later, we can say we have been able to do that. There is a sound, but that sound stretches into a lot of different directions, but that sound is uniquely ours. Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far and please stay tuned as we continue pushing our sound and putting out tunes we believe in. 

          TRACK LISTING

          Side A.
          1. El Michels Affair & Black Thought – Grateful
          2. Bobby Oroza - The Otherside
          3. Surprise Chef – Velodrome
          4. Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band - The Healer
          5. Synthia Feat. Claire Cottrill - So Low
          6. Lady Wray - Joy & Pain (Pete Rock Remix)
          Side B.
          7. Holy Hive - Ain’t That The Way
          8. Les Imprimés - Love & Flowers
          9. El Michels Affair - Things Done Changed
          10. The Shacks - Trip To Japan
          11. Thee Marloes - Beri Cinta Waktu
          12. El Michels Affair Meets Liam Bailey - Awkward (Take 2)

          Holy Hive

          Big Crown Vaults Vol. 3 - Holy Hive

            Holy Hive released two full length albums and one EP in the short span of 3 years and then they decided to disband. In 2019, while recording their debut album world renown harpist Mary Lattimore was in NY. They got together in the studio on a whim and wound up recording their Harping EP in a few days.

            They followed that up with their 2020 full length debut Float Back To You which became an instant cult classic and de­ned their unique “Folk Soul” sound. Frontman Paul Spring’s tender falsetto and maverick guitar playing over Homer Steinweiss’ incomparable drumming and production proved to be a match made in heaven and created a sound that piqued the ears and charmed the hearts of all those who heard it. By the time they started recording their sophomore album COVID, commitments, and life started taking their toll on the band.

            Spring and Steinweiss took their sound and pushed it way forward on their eponymous 2nd album keeping the anchor of their sound they established while exploring where else they could take it. Unbeknownst to the public by the time that record was released the band was done and had moved on to other things individually. While fans will undoubtedly not like this news, we will all have the timeless music they made while together, and, proli­c they certainly were…

            Big Crown Vaults Vol. 3 : Holy Hive digs into the treasure trove of unreleased recordings and pulls some that never saw their way to vinyl and in all honesty, this is not even half of what is in there. These recordings were made during their two album sessions largely, some were recorded before they even signed to Big Crown. The compilation kicks off with the tune that started it all on the label, their smashing cover of The Invincibles “This Is My Story” that was previously only on a 7”. “Love It Is Not Love”, “Middle Of The Night”, “Celeste”, and their cover of “Kingdom Of The Sun” all feature guest vocals by Shanny of The Shacks who had started playing bass with them at their live shows and sitting in on a lot of the recording sessions. “The Shame” features

            Robin Pecknold of Fleet Foxes on bass and El Michels Affair on ‑ute, the latter also plays on “A Perfect Space”. At one point in time the would turn the live show over to Paul Spring who would perform the Irish folk tune “Red Is The Rose” in a traditional style with just him singing and playing acoustic guitar and then launch into their rendition of the song that is on Float Back To You.

            That stripped down version is featured here on Vaults Vol. 3. The comp finishes poetically with “End Of Time” and it is unlikely that we will ever release the rest of what is sitting in the vault. On behalf of ourselves and all the fans we’d like to take this time to thank Holy Hive for the gorgeous music they made together. We will continue to enjoy it forever. Of course as individuals everyone involved from the core members to the people who lent their talents to certain songs continue to make music. Find them, follow them, enjoy their music.

            TRACK LISTING

            1. This Is My Story
            2. Love It Is Not Love
            3. Green Milk
            4. Red Is The Rose (Folk Version)
            5. The Shame
            6. Swimmer
            7. Celeste
            8. Kingdom Of The Sun
            9. Middle Of The Night
            10. A Perfect Space
            11. Driftless
            12. End Of Time

            Les Imprimés

            Rêverie

              Big Crown Records is proud to present the debut full length offering from Les Imprimés, Rêverie. The stirring and ethereal sounds of Les Imprimés have been making fans of anyone who hears them since their first 7” single hit the speakers. Morten Martens is the man behind the band. Born, raised, and working in Kristiansand, Norway, he keeps a low profile while making his heartfelt, highly infectious, and unique music. This album is a long time coming for Martens and it is sure to make him a name to be reckoned with.

              The first thing you notice listening to Les Imprimés is the high level of musicianship. Martens plays nearly every instrument on the recordings and handles the production and arranging. He has been making records for decades, winning a Spellemann Award (aka, the Norwegian Grammy) in 2006 for producing a Hip Hop album as well as getting nominations across three other genres. While awards and accolades speak to the level of his talent, this new album really shows who he is as an artist on his own terms.

              Moving away from being a hired gun on the touring scene naturally led him to start doing more studio work. Slowly collecting gear and getting more experience behind the boards he built his own studio on the island of Odderøya and was making a living playing with and recording other people's music. As the story goes, after those sessions would end he would work on his own project into the wee hours of the night. From these late night sessions, Les Imprimés was born and Rêverie began to take shape.

              However, "it wasn't until COVID, when things locked down, that I was really able to find the time to focus on Les Imprimés" Morten says about creating and leading his own solo project. "It was a scary time. But I knew I had to do something with it." He took the sum of his influences, combined them with his own vibe and got busy writing the music, playing the instruments, and singing the songs. "It's soul music, but I don't exactly have the soul voice," Morten explains humbly. "But I do it my own way, in a way that's mine."

              It is his sound, his fingerprint, his sensibility, that makes his music hard to categorize. He has crafted an album of songs with different energies that all fit together to make one gorgeous record. The lead single “Falling Away” starts with a raw drum break and turns into a lushly arranged tune that paints the picture of love when it slips away. On “Still Here” he professes his resilience through life’s twists and turns over a thundering track that puts a new spin on the B side ballad genre. Songs like “You” and “Our Love” mix tones from 60s and 70s Soul with arrangement nods to Doo Wop records while Martens’ lyrics and delivery leave you singing the melodies long after they finish. “Love & Flowers” finds Martens in a moment of clarity with a song that fits the niche sub genre of happy break up tunes, the four on the floor track will move the dancefloor while the message will resonate with anyone who put too much effort into the wrong situation in their lives. However, it is songs like “Muse” and “Chess” that really encapsulate the uniqueness of Les Imprimés as they push the boundaries of genre, one a profession of love for music and the other a cover of an electronic record respectively. Martens’ lyrics, emotion, and delivery truly make the whole thing come together and stand out from any of his peers. There’s an infectiousness and a pop sensibility in the writing that is done with the utmost class and taste giving Les Imprimés the rare quality of immediate attraction that only deepens the more you listen.

              STAFF COMMENTS

              Barry says: Les Imprimés are a perfect match for Big Crown records, clearly heavily influenced by soul, but delivered with an unusual instrumental sensitivity and wonderfully realised production aesthetic. Morten Martens is crafting a beautifully singular noise, and it's exciting to see what's next.

              TRACK LISTING

              SIDE A
              1. I’ll Never Leave You
              2. Falling Away
              3. Chess
              4. Still Here
              5. If I
              6. It’s Over
              SIDE B
              7. Love & Flowers
              8. You
              9. Our Love
              10. Next To Me
              11. Thousand Clouds
              12. Muse

              El Michels Affair & Black Thought

              Glorious Game

                When Leon Michels and El Michels Affair released their fi­rst record, Sounding Out The City, in 2005, it was hard to guess what was next for Michels and his then-introduced, now-patented “cinematic soul” sound. Now, four EMA studio albums and scores of tribute and remix projects later all while producing for some of the biggest names in the industry Michels has trademarked his sound, with each project taking audiences somewhere new and pushing the boundaries of what he is known for. The man is a river, not a lake and this time he takes his golden touch into the realm of hip-hop laying down a musical bed for one of the greatest to ever rhyme into a microphone: Black Thought of The Roots crew.

                Releasing on Big Crown Records, the LP is called Glorious Game and it is a remarkable debut partnership in more ways than one. Michels provides his bottom-heavy, soul-tinged production for Black Thought who gives us some of the more personal and transparent verses we've ever heard from him. Michels and Black Thought have been in each other's orbit for a while now. The two fi­rst met in the 2000s when Thought was fi­rst getting familiar with the contemporary soul scene. "Out of that whole world, Menahan Street Band was probably my favorite," recalling the funk and soul group Michels was a founding member of back in 2007. Fast forward a few years and musicians from that collective Dave Guy on trumpet and Ian Hendrickson-Smith on sax are now full time players with The Roots. This connection eventually led Leon and Thought to doing a few fundraising events around NYC and Philly together. "Before long, Black Thought was coming around the studio and would jam with us from time to time," Michels explains. "Then, fast forward to 2020 and COVID lockdowns, he just hit me up out of the blue, wanting me to send him stuff to write to. We both were looking to stay busy."

                Being that Black Thought is the co-founder and emcee for, hands down, the best live-band group in hip-hop. Michels took a decidedly different approach to this project and instead of sending recorded tracks of live compositions, he pulled out the sampler and sampled himself and some records from his collection. "I'm a big fan of soul music," as if Michels has to remind us. "And part of hip-hop's appeal to me has always been the sample-based production".

                For Glorious Game, Michels would make wholly composed and recorded soul songs in his studio, sample himself, then chop and/or loop up his sounds and create instrumentals for Black Thought. On some tracks he took a more traditional hip-hop approach, starting from samples of other people’s music but then adding live instrumentation on top. But for the most part, it's him reinterpreting his own compositions into something new.

                The result is an organic feel of loop-based tracks that breathe and fluctuate enough for Black Thought to ‑ex on. "What I write about is determined by the equation of the producer's energy and my energy," Black Thought says. "It's about where we meet." So armed with Michels sampled and re-sampled soul cinematics, Black Thought rhymes through personal memories and distinctive.

                STAFF COMMENTS

                Barry says: With Michels laying down scattered soul-infused hip-hop beats, and the legendary Black Thought on vocal duties, this was always going to be a superb outing, but it's the ease with which these talented producers work together that is really refreshing. Forging an entirely new sound through their respective, distinctive voices, 'Glorous Game' is even more of a triumph than expected. Brilliant.

                TRACK LISTING

                Side A
                1. Grateful
                2. Glorious Game Feat Kirby
                3. I’m Still Somehow
                4. Hollow Way
                5. Protocol (feat. Son Little)
                6. The Weather
                Side B
                7. That Girl
                8. I Would Never
                9. Alone
                10. Miracle
                11. Glorious Game (Reprise)
                12. Alter Ego (feat. Brainstory)

                El Michels Affair & Black Thought

                Glorious Game / Grateful

                  El Michels Affair & Black Thought treat us to an unstoppable new 45. Pulling two standout tunes from their forthcoming Glorious Game record. The A side features the album's title track "Glorious Game", a bouncy, in the pocket tune that lands somewhere between G Funk and Outkast's Spottieottiedopealicious. Black Thought raps about trials of fame and respect but also being the best version of oneself while balanced by patience. KIRBY jumps in on the chorus with her distinct voice and luscious melodies putting the song comfortably at home in the speakers of a Cadillac. The B Side "Grateful" is a thick, low-end banger with a haunting flute line, and a sample of Shabba Ranks "Ting-A-Ling" that sends the message that class is in session. Black Thought's verses lay heavy in the way we've come to love: cadences that walk a line between street teacher and poet, explanation and experience. He pays homage to what's come before him and how it's made him with lines like "I guess the moral of the story is, any sip you pour me is, a toast to the warriors who bit the dust before me, kid." Die hard fans may also recognize the instrumental from the late great Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton 2022 Fashion Show video.

                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Matt says: Off the back the Danger Mouse project (Black Thought's first official collaboration and #2 in our albums of 2022), the Roots rapper must have caught the bug for teamwork, as here he joins with new funk / jazz outfit El Michels Affair for a dynamite hip-hop cut which is joyously the first single off a new album planned by the two acts in question.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Glorious Game
                  Grateful

                  Surprise Chef’s music is based on evoking mood; their vivid arrangements utilize time and space to build soundscapes that invite the listener into their world. The quintet’s distinct sound pulls from 70s film scores, the funkier side of jazz, and the samples that form the foundation of hip-hop. They push the boundaries of instrumental soul and funk with their own approach honed by countless hours in the studio, studying the masters, and perhaps most importantly, the ‘tyranny of distance’ that dictates a unique perspective to their music.

                  Surprise Chef is Lachlan Stuckey on guitar, Jethro Curtin on keys, Carl Lindeberg on bass, Andrew Congues on drums, and Hudson Whitlock - the latest member who does it all from percussion to composing to producing. Their self proclaimed ‘moody shades of instrumental jazz-funk’ have a bit of everything: punchy drums, infectious keys, rhythm guitar you might hear on a Studio One record, and flute lines that could be from a Blue Note session. But when you step back and take in the entirety of their sound and approach, you'll hear and see a group greater than the sum of its parts.

                  In many ways Surprise Chef embodies the idiom ‘the benefits of limits.’ They were limited in that there weren't many people making or talking about instrumental jazz/soul/funk in Southeast Australia, let alone putting out records. This left them to develop their sound and approach in a kind of creative isolation where a small circle of friends and like-minded musicians fed off each other. ‘Being in Australia, being so far away, we only get glimpses and glances of this music’s origins,’ Stuckey says. ‘But hearing a label like Big Crown was one of the first times we realized you could make fresh, new soul music that wasn't super retro or just nostalgic.’

                  This approach is on full display throughout their new album “Education & Recreation”. Tracks like “Velodrome” pair chunky drums with an earworm synth line that has all the making of something you would find on an Ultimate Breaks & Beats compilation while numbers like “Iconoclasts” show their knack for tasteful use of space. From the crushing intro of “Suburban Breeze” to the floaty mellow bop of “Spring’s Theme” Surprise Chef has weaved together an album that takes you through peaks and valleys of emotion and provides a vivid soundtrack that will pull you deeper into your imagination. There is a beauty in the vast space for interpretation of instrumental music and they are adding a modern classic to the canon with this new album. You can imagine hip-hop producers 10, 20 years from now sampling their dusty wares in much the same way as Dorothy Ashby, Arthur Verocai are dug by present day in-the-know beatsmiths are today.


                  STAFF COMMENTS

                  Matt says: More languid, head-nodding funk & soul instrumentals from these rising Melbournians. They possess the relaxed, effortless sway of Khruangbin but with the swagger and smokiness you'd perhaps associate with Daptone (or indeed their current stable, Big Crown) signings. Both suited to sun lounging by the sea or downing whiskey at the jazz club; there's an open endedness to their compositions which let's the mind wander and dream.

                  TRACK LISTING

                  Side 1
                  1. Bakery Pledge Of Allegiance
                  2. Grinners Circle
                  3. Velodrome
                  4. Suburban Breeze
                  5. Conversation Piece
                  6. Iconoclasts
                  Side 2
                  1. Money Music
                  2. Spring's Theme
                  3. Together Again
                  4. Winter’s Theme
                  5. Ten & Two
                  6. Goldie’s Lullaby

                  Sunny & The Sunliners

                  Mr. Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 2

                    Sunny Ozuna is a living legend and a man worthy of praise on many levels. In the Texas and Latin Music pantheon, few have been at it longer and are more revered by their fans and peers than Sunny is. He became a star right out of high school in the late ‘50s and hasn’t looked back in the seven decades since. Among countless other honors and notable achievements, Sunny was the ­rst Latino artist to appear on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand” (in 1963). He penned "Smile Now, Cry Later," a hit for him and The Sunliners, which along with the theater masks that grace the album's cover, became staples in the Chicano Soul and Lowrider Soul cultures. We have been fans of Sunny & The Sunliners' music for a long time. We fi­rst got in touch with Sunny to try to reissue some of his records in 2013 but we didn't sign a deal until 2015.

                    It took a trip to San Antonio and then two years of steady phone calls before they decided "if you have been chasing us for this long, you must be serious." With Sunny's blessing we started getting everything mastered, scanned, and planned. First we released 2017's Mr Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 1 compilation that put rare 7" sides next to some of his biggest hits and mixed in some choice album cuts for good measure. In the wake of that, we released three of Sunny's full lengths with their original track lists and art: Smile Now, Cry Later, Little Brown Eyed Soul, and The Missing Link all of which were Record Store Day releases that raised money for the victims of 2017's Hurricane Harvey. For the 7" collectors, we reissued ­ve 45s, making some very hard to come by sides widely available again and pressing some tunes on the format for the ­rst time. In 2020, as an homage to Sunny, we released Dear Sunny... a compilation of Big Crown artists covering Sunny & The Sunliners songs.

                    Through all of this we were able to do what we set out to do: get Sunny's music to a new audience of people and make it all accessible and available again to his existing fanbase. Sunny still keeps a busy schedule and loves performing as much as he did as a teenager. His music and the music that it directly in‑uenced are seeing a resurgence in popularity in the last few years.

                    With any luck at all, our efforts played some small part in that, and on that note, we present Mr Brown Eyed Soul Vol. 2 – another compilation curated by us, where we dig a little deeper into Sunny's catalog and pull some lesser known gems that hold court with his hits. Hats off again to Mr Brown Eyed Soul himself, San Antonio's own, Sunny Ozuna, we are sure you will enjoy the music

                    TRACK LISTING


                    1 I Can Remember
                    2 Sitting In The Park
                    3 Give Me Time
                    4 Should I Take You Home (Keyloc Version)
                    5 If I Could See You Now
                    6 Come Back Baby
                    7 Viva Mi Triestesa 
                    8 Runaway
                    9 Sharing You
                    10 I’ve Never Found A Girl
                    11 Together
                    12 I’m No Stranger
                    13 Best Of Both Worlds
                    14 Baby, I Apologize

                    Bobby Oroza

                    Get On The Otherside

                      Bobby Oroza puts his desire for the profound on wax with his sophomore album Get On The Otherside. Musically, he has updated the formula we were introduced to on the first record. But lyrically, songs are bravely rooted in the more complicated, ubiquitous inner tangles of life like self-examination and coming to terms with the vastness of the human experience. With Coronavirus bringing the world to a halt, Bobby—a father and husband—had to do something. No tours to play or studio time to fill, Bobby found himself back in the construction yard, doing blue-collar work to provide for his family. "I was super grateful for the work—a lot of my colleagues didn't have an option like that," Bobby admits. More than a few personal hardships forced him to acknowledge and work through some brutal truths. And what came of it?

                      Well, for one, this new record Get On The Otherside which pretty well describes what Bobby's been through: He had to demolish his ego, his old ways of thinking, and his tried approaches to anchor into a refreshed perspective with new understandings. As Bobby tells it, "I had to do some real self-searching, come to terms with what was wrong, and how much of it I was responsible for." So how does this translate to the new album? Moments of clarity as to where the real value in life lies on "I Got Love," encouraging numbers like the title track "The Otherside", and declarations of self actualization on "My Place, My Time." Even the more straightforward love songs are outside the box lyrically like "Sweet Agony" and "Loving Body." If you have never had the pleasure of catching one of Bobby's live shows you may have no idea that he is a maverick on the guitar.

                      He lets us in on a little of that on "Passing Things" with a solo that possesses the same restrained and space that his lyrics do. As we'd expect, the songwriting still has that raw, direct edge to it. But an evolution has taken place. There are new points of view on familiar territory which in Bobby's words "For me to love, I needed to take a bigger view of love. One with less ego and more empathy" really hold true. The result is a record with Bobby's new found humility on full display and a message of encouragement to anyone who is struggling and can't see a way out. It still may be hard to nail down and define Bobby and his sound. He's no one thing more than the other. But what he's showing us now, on Get On The Otherside, is that we can also label him a soulful, philosophical optimist. Someone who can say a lot with a little, and who wants us all to know that it's us that has to do the hard lifting to truly live a life in love—both with the world and with yourself

                      TRACK LISTING

                      Side A:

                      I Got Love
                      Loving Body
                      Bobby’s New Mood
                      The Otherside
                      Soon Everyone Will Know
                      Blinding Light

                      Side B:


                      My Place My Time
                      Sweet Agony
                      Passing Thing
                      Make Me Believe
                      Real Connection
                      Through These Tears

                      Bobby Oroza

                      The Otherside / Make Me Believe

                      While Bobby Oroza puts the finishing touches on his next album, he treats us to this killer two-sider to end out 2021 and hold us over until the new record is finished. Bobby's debut album "This Love" made big waves around the world and amassed him a cult following from the US to Japan and everywhere in between.

                      He found big love in the sweet soul scene early, but has since made fans in a myriad of circles and subcultures globally. It has by now become clear that his music is not just one thing, analog soul textured for sure, but also with an array of influences that span far beyond the soul ballad world. It is that inability to really nail down his sound that has become the biggest charm, an esoteric and profound passion permeate the lyrics and vibe of everything about Mr. Oroza.

                      This new 7" shows off two sides of Bobby's song writing, an upbeat number on the "plug" side and a heavy duty ballad on the flip. The A side "The Otherside" is an optimistic tune that Bobby humbly shares his story about the troubles we can create for ourselves and the possibility of having a change of mind that frees us from them.

                      The track is equally encouraging with its sunny energy that carries an important message from Bobby to anyone who is struggling and can't see a way out. The B side "Make Me Believe" is another instant classic for the slowie enthusiasts. A moody, soul bearing, cry for help that comes off with a sweet- ness. The vulnerability makes it romantic while the heavy backing track brings it that unique energy that classic B sides have where they are heart- breaking and gorgeous at the same time.


                      TRACK LISTING

                      Make Me Believe
                      The Otherside

                      Various Artists

                      Crown Jewels Vol. 2

                        Big Crown is proud to present the next volume of Crown Jewels, our various artists compilation series that highlights some of the most popular tunes next to some of the more obscure.

                        Every artist on Big Crown stands on their own two feet with ease, but together, something else becomes apparent. If you discover one artist on the roster and it brings you to the label, it's very likely you will ­nd more that you enjoy. The Crown Jewels comps are just that, a chance to get a listen to the whole roster in one place.

                        Even though not all BC artists can be found in the same aisle of the record store, after listening to Crown Jewels Vol. 2, it should be clear how they all ­t on the same record label. When we started Big Crown we wanted to have a label that’s only boundaries were de­ned by our taste, not by genre. We think that this is a perfect example of that. Thank you to everyone who has supported us thus far and please stay tuned as we have a lot more music on deck.

                        TRACK LISTING

                        SIDE A:
                        1. Piece Of Me - Lady Wray
                        2. Follow Me - The Shacks
                        3. Xxplosive - Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band
                        4. Murkit Gem - El Michels Affair Feat. Piya Malik
                        5. Float Back To You - Holy Hive
                        6. Grow Forever - Lizette & Quevin

                        SIDE B:
                        1. Enfant - El Michels Affair Feat. The Shacks
                        2. Fight - Liam Bailey
                        3. Tonight You Might - Synthia Feat. Lady Wray
                        4. Reasons - El Michels Affair Feat. Bobby Oroza
                        5. Then We’ll Wave - Paul & The Tall Trees
                        6. Bye Bye - Brainstory

                        Holy Hive

                        Holy Hive

                          Featuring musical contributions from Mary Lattimore, Robin Pecknold (Fleet Foxes), Anant Pradhan, Nick Movshon, Leon Michels (El Michels Affair), Shannon Wise (The Shacks), Dave Guy (The Roots), and Elliot Skinner.

                          In 2020 Brooklyn's Holy Hive introduced us all to something we didn't know we needed. Homer Steinweiss' thickly pocketed drumming paired with Paul Spring's ­oaty falsetto vocal produces a sound that's like a salve. It's been dubbed Folk Soul and Holy Hive not only expertly overlay the more apparent musical aspects of folk and soul but they also draw from the more profound: being able to pull traditions from the past and make them their own. When Homer wasn't playing drums for Lady Gaga or Adele or Bruno Mars, he'd produce Paul's solo folk records. Along with original bassist and frequent collaborator Joe Harrison, these sessions proved to be Holy Hive's foundation. And their ‑rst record, Float Back to You, expertly combined what each musician does best: Paul's heady, re­ective approach to folk with Homer's universal classic soul sound.

                          With their new record released on Big Crown, Holy Hive's beautifully simple-and-sparse Folk Soul sound is back but updated. With new in­uences and the challenge of creating and capturing music during a global pandemic, this new self-titled album, is more personal, more re­ective.

                          The first single off of Holy Hive, "I Don't Envy Yesterdays," picks up right where Homer and Paul left off. The song weighs the question of time and the human condition a deeply thoughtful and typically tricky subject but in a light, almost easy-breezy way. Homer's drumming provides the song a space, a kind of breathing room. Written in the Yucca Valley desert before the world broke in 2020, it's no wonder Paul's voice drifts and darts on top of it all like a heat shimmer.

                          They describe three distinct phases when piecing together Holy Hive: this first stage was pre-pandemic in California while traveling as a group, then like the rest of us they were separated, creating together but apart, and lastly an explosion of output once they reunited in New York.

                          There is a natural but subtle evolution for Holy Hive on this record. Homer and Paul drew from new and maybe more obscure-yet-honest in­uences. It's still very much Folk Soul how could it not be. But, like all artists, they've taken in what they've made and how they've made it, only to push it into new places.

                          We know of Holy Hive's ability to lyrically convey the abstract and complex in poetic and palatable ways. But where the ‑rst record was soulfully silver-tongued with chill songs about love and affection, Holy Hive widens the lens with these novel in­uences, re­ecting the points both Homer and Paul are in their own lives. "We put the utmost importance on having lyrics that mean something to us," Homer explains. "A lot of the songs on the ‑rst record were fun, but could be kind of surface. On this record, we wanted to be more personal—we wanted to write more about life."

                          TRACK LISTING

                          SIDE A:
                          1. Color It Easy
                          2. Story Of My Life
                          3. Golden Crown
                          4. Aint That The Way
                          5. Runaways
                          6. Deadly Valentine
                          7. I Don’t Envy Yesterdays

                          SIDE B:
                          1. A Wind Rose
                          2. All I’d Be Is Where You Are
                          3. Great Chains
                          4. Cynthia’s Meditation
                          5. Brooklyn Ferry
                          6. Circling The Surface
                          7. Starless
                          8. Star Crossed

                          Lady Wray

                          Piece Of Me

                            Big Crown Records is proud to present Piece of Me, the sophomore full length offering from Lady Wray. This is something of a homecoming for Nicole. Where her 2016 solo debut Queen Alone leaned more towards Soul and R&B with tinges of hip-hop, this record changes the mixture. It's still R&B with the textures of analog Soul, but there is a heavy Hip Hop infl­uence that brings the sum of Nicole's career together in a new sound that will de‑ne her future.

                            Boom-bap drums and chunky bass lines are front-and-center creating a perfect head-nodding backdrop for Lady Wray to take on the good, the bad, the difficult, and the joyful on her most personal collection of songs to date. The title track, "Piece of Me," which has already become a classic since it's 2019 release is about the people in your life who need more than you are willing to give. This tune and the B side of the 7” “Come On In” were the first songs put to tape for this album and they were recorded with Nicole sitting in a chair 8 months pregnant with her daughter. Her voice is so powerful, so raw, so thorough on these initial songs—it's wild to think that they were recorded this way. And even wilder to know that she knocked them all out in one take. Long time collaborator and producer Leon Michels keeps the musical backing restrained and expertly executed, setting up Lady Wray for the full spotlight and setting the tone for the rest of the album.

                            While the upbeat energies of “Under The Sun” and “Through It All” are sure to become hits that reconnect Lady Wray with her 90s R&B fanbase, “Where Were You” offers a behind the scenes look at what those days of stardom in her youth were really like. Nicole takes on the racial tension in America with her poetic and powerful “Beauty In The Fire” and leans heavy into her faith and church upbringing on the showstopper, “Thank You”. She gushes about the profound love she’s come to know for her daughter on “Melody” and celebrates life’s ups and downs on “Joy & Pain”. In 2021 it is rare to hear a varied yet cohesive album with no “skippers”, but that is what you have here in spades. The tried and true chemistry between Lady Wray and Leon Michels has undeniably found a higher level and this album stands as a testament to conviction and dedication for all of us to enjoy and be inspired by.

                            With this in mind, when talking about this record, for Lady Wray, it's about a larger purpose. "My goal is always to help and to heal people with singing," she explains. "Part of that is to try and bring back real music, real singing, so people can feel something again." Now, she's not dissing anyone here, to be clear. It's just that Lady Wray cannot sing without tapping into something deeper, searching for that shared compassion between all of us. Perhaps it comes from her church upbringing, or maybe from her years of trials and tribulations in the music industry. Either way, Lady Wray is looking to bring that "Good Sound" back and the good feelings that come with it. She calls it "those inner hands," and she always means to stir them up, grabbing your attention from within.

                            TRACK LISTING

                            SIDE A:
                            1. I Do
                            2. Through It All
                            3. Piece Of Me
                            4. Come On In
                            5. Under The Sun
                            6. Where Were You

                            SIDE B:
                            1. Beauty In The Fire
                            2. Games People Play
                            3. Melody
                            4. Thank You
                            5. Joy & Pain
                            6. Storms

                            El Michels Affair

                            Stack The Deck / Things Done Changed

                              Big Crown Records is proud to present this rock solid two-sider from El Michels Affair. This 7" is part of a new Big Crown X El Oms collaboration that includes a custom deck of playing cards and a t shirt series illustrated by El Oms. The labels of this 45 are pulled from some of the King & Queen illustrations contained in the deck. To go with this project, El Michels teamed up again with Bobby Oroza for the A side tune which plays along with the collab theme called "Stack The Deck". These two proved their chemistry on 2020's "Reasons" which became a fast favorite around the globe. This time El Michels comes with a heavier more orchestrated track that Bobby finds the perfect groove on as he plays up the gamble of love. The B side is a speaker smashing cover of the late, great, Notorious B.I.G.'s "Things Done Changed" from his "Ready To Die" album. El Michels Affair stays close to the tone of the original Easy Mo Bee production but makes it their own with their signature horns and cinematic grit. 45 and playing cards are sold separately!

                              TRACK LISTING

                              Stack The Deck
                              Things Done Changed

                              Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band

                              Raise It Up B/w Space

                              Hamburg-based Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band offer up another 7” double header on the amazing Big Crown label. On side A they take on J Dilla’s “Raise It Up”, earnestly reconstructing the track with live brass, guitars & glockenspiels and hitting the MAXIMUM NOD setting on the drummer’s program set. Not only is this a great twist on the Dilla instrumental for creative rappers to freestyle over; it’s a head-turning alt version to populate your next mixtape or club session with.

                              On side B Galt MacDermot’s “Space” gets reworked by the band. Made famous by the Busta Rhymes track “Woohah Got You All In Check” it’s another instant crowd pleaser with nice, chilled, laid back mood that’ll surely be the staple in countless DJ sets over the next few months. TIP! 


                              TRACK LISTING

                              SIDE A: Raise It Up
                              SIDE B: Space

                              There has always been a Reggae in­uence in the music of El Michels Affair. From their cover of “Hung Up On My Baby” done in a Reggae style, to the general sound and approach that permeates Leon’s production style. While recording Bailey’s 2020 Ekundayo album, they did some straight forward reggae tunes inspired by different eras alongside some modern R&B tracks that would sit more comfortably next to Frank Ocean than Jacob Miller. It is this same notion that old and new can live so comfortably together that birthed the idea of Ekundayo Inversions.

                              Traditional dub came out of reggae in the late 60s and early 70s when pioneers like King Tubby and Lee Perry started taking the multi track recordings of songs and running them back through the board adding effects and additional instrumentation. These recordings are called “dubs” or “versions” and are typically instrumentals with ­ourishes of vocals from the original tracks.

                              El Michels decided to use the blueprints left behind and make something using the in­uences of today. He wound up straying so far from the traditional format that it didn’t seem right to use the word ‘Dub’, hence Ekundayo Inversions. All the songs are tied together by WhatsApp messages between Leon and Liam that perfectly narrate the story of this record and their working relationship.

                              One of the highlights on Ekundayo Inversions is a guest appearance from the legendary Lee “Scratch” Perry on the “Ugly Truth” version. L$P switches between singing and talking, proclaiming his powers one minute and playing with the track’s title the next. On “Awkward take. 2” Leon takes one of the most experimental songs from Ekundayo and actually straightens it out. A track that once seemed to be ­oating in space has now been anchored by the addition of drums and bass. “Faded”, a version of “Paper Tiger”, is given the full EMA treatment with the addition of emotive horns over an uncomfortably sparse rhythm track peppered with Liam’s voice drenched in delay and echo.

                              “Champions” features a verse from Black Thought of The Roots and halfway through, El Michels sends the rhythm section 50 years back. At the end of the day, Ekundayo Inversions is a testament to how strong the original songs are. Whether they’re in a R&B style, reggae style, stripped down to their bare bones, or loaded with production, the songs will move you.

                              STAFF COMMENTS

                              Barry says: What a truly stunning set of songs this is, swimming in dubby atmospherics while still retaining the groove and soul of the originals. Some of the pieces are a little bit more in the downbeat realm, before we get the smooth as silk R&B and dubby cuts that bring things back to the (decidedly relaxed) dancefloor. A superb selection of versions, perfectly at home with the orignals, while remaining resolutely distinct from them.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              SIDE A:
                              1. Conquer & Divide
                              Feat. Black Thought
                              2. Amazing Woman
                              3. Angel Face
                              4. Walk With Me
                              5. No One Else
                              6. King

                              SIDE B:
                              1. Ugly Truths Feat. Lee Scratch Perry
                              2. I Love NY
                              3. Superstar
                              4. Awkward (Take 2)
                              5. Lucky Man
                              6. Faded

                              Steel Drum Covers of Grace Jones, Galt MacDermot, Slum Village, Minnie Riperton, Jay Z, Ike Turner, and more.

                              Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band, the mysterious steel pan out­t hailing from Hamburg, Germany have amassed a cult following around the globe. With a slew of classic 7”s and two critically acclaimed full length albums, they set a high bar for themselves, one they clearly intend on pushing even higher with this new offering. On their third album, aptly titled Expansions, BRSB are back with more of the same, but more of the same with them is inherently different. Covering songs that span genres and range from mega hits to album cuts, they make them their own with their unique approach to the traditional steel pans of Trinidad and Tobago.

                              Part of the allure of a new record from Bacao is ­nding out what covers they chose. However, die hard fans are also waiting to hear the original numbers like the stellar album opener “Tough Victory”. Its airtight rhythm section, brass arrangements, and layers of steel pan melodies make the term “cover band” a shoe that could never ­t Bacao. Within the next three songs they go from Jazz (Galt MacDermot), to Hip Hop (Slum Village / J Dilla), to a dance ‑oor classic (Grace Jones) taking them all on with their signature style, expanding on the originals. An easy crowd favorite is their gritty, gully, and neck snapping cover of the Timbaland produced Jay-Z club hit “Dirt Off Your Shoulder”. The infamous crushing Bacao drums start the show and the moment they start playing the top line on the pans, all bets are off. Sure to become a dance ‑oor ­ller is their bottom heavy, four on the ‑oor version of Sylvester’s classic “I Need Somebody To Love Tonight”. They venture into some gutbucket funk with Ike Turner’s “Getting Nasty” and bring the steel pans to Minnie Riperton’s Jazz classic “Les Fleurs”. Digging deeper in the modern canon and paying tribute to a tribute, they cover Erykah Badu’s homage to the late great J Dilla, “The Healer”. This is the type of thing to make Spice Adams jump on his kitchen counter and scream. From the second the beat drops they give the original Madlib production a run for its money, shaking subwoofers with the eerie tremolo bass while the pans play E. Badu’s vocal melodies.

                              By the time the album is through Bacao has taken the listener on a journey that spans a myriad of energies, tempos, and moods while somehow managing to keep it all under one umbrella. For all that, these songs are alive, and they will be taken out of the context of this album and sewn into the fabric of DJ sets around the globe for many years to come. Bacao Rhythm & Steel Band is breathing renewed life into the originals and continuing to push the boundaries of steel pan music, or, as the title suggests, expanding on it.

                              TRACK LISTING

                              SIDE A:
                              1. Tough Victory
                              2. Space
                              3. Raise It Up
                              4. My Jamaican Dub
                              5. I Need Somebody To Love Tonight
                              6. Dirt Off Your Shoulder

                              SIDE B:
                              1. Getting Nasty
                              2. Blow Your Cover
                              3. Represent
                              4. The Healer
                              5. Les Fleur
                              6. Squaring The Circles

                              CD Has Three Bonus Tracks:
                              Juicy
                              Look Out Baby (Here I Come)
                              Kaiser Noir

                              Recorded during the thick of the Covid lockdown, Kevin, Tony, & Eric hunkered down in their studio and turned their energy inward. With all live shows and future tours canceled, Brainstory had no other outlet besides their rehearsal space which had been converted into a makeshift studio. Stepping up to the obstacles of the moment, they recorded and produced an EP of brand new music. They were already highly skilled musicians two years ago, but time in the studio with Leon Michels producing Buck and playing alongside bands like Holy Hive and Chicano Batman had a profound effect on them. Their ears have developed, their ethos and their drive has matured, their musicianship is full-blown; hence the name of the EP, Ripe. Ripe is a seven song journey into who Brainstory are as people and as a band. They are lighthearted and fun but never anything less than dead serious about their artistry. In choosing to record a mostly instrumental record, they have departed from their 2019 debut Buck and are showing more of their Jazz roots.

                              Ripe pulls from Jazz, Hip Hop, 70s Funk, 60s Soul, and life in Southern California in the year 2021. Kev’s intro to the EP is a testament to their thing, his goofy and charming “let’s go baby….less go baby” is welcoming and fun and then “Scissors” drops--serious as can be. The first vocal number we hear is “Seasons”, a song about maintaining through the challenges of 2020 that would make Roy Ayers proud. “Long Day” and “Rogers” are drenched in reefer and psychedelia and promise a moment away from reality if listened to in headphones. “Bye Bye” is another stone cold ballad from the group that is destined to be a staple in sweet soul sets around the globe. Ripe is a welcome ray of sunshine as we all shake off the darkness of 2020 and will hold fans over while they finish recording their full length sophomore album due out in 2022

                              TRACK LISTING

                              A.

                              1. Scissors
                              2. Seasons
                              3. Long Day.

                              B.

                              1. Rogers
                              2. Bye Bye
                              3. Long Day (Reprise)
                              4. Vortex

                              Lee Fields & The Expressions

                              Big Crown Vaults Vol. 1

                                Unreleased recordings from the Special Night & It Rains Love sessions. Produced by Leon Michels. We are always sitting on a handful of unreleased songs that didn’t make their way to albums. Listening back to these gems we decided to launch a new series entitled Big Crown Vaults and the first volume features the music of Lee Fields & the Expressions. These tunes were cut during the Special Night & It Rains Love sessions. Listening to these tracks you can imagine how difficult some of these decisions were in the first place to leave them off the albums. An absolute standout is “Regenerate,” a song that finds Lee in the country soul realm, a style that Mr Fields, a North Carolina native, flourishes in. A drum break starts the song and then drops into a chorus where El Michels, Paul & Big Bill Schalda belt out the earworm chorus. Lee sings an encouraging tune about finding your way out of a low point in a relationship while The Expressions lay down an airtight groove. “Thinking About You” takes it back to the dance floors with what will surely be a hit at Soul parties around the globe. An uptempo drum break opens the song and Lee launches into a tale about the unbreakable bond with his significant other and how they keep each strong through moments of hardship and pain.

                                People who have seen Lee perform live in the last decade might have been lucky enough to hear his rendition of Little Carl Carlton’s “Two Timer”. For those of you who haven’t heard it, Big Crown Vaults has got you covered. A faithful version of the song showcases Lee’s gorgeous voice and the Expression's unwavering groove. Another treat on here is the fuzzed out funk banger “Do You Know” where Fields uses his platform to address some of our societal woes in a “Make The World” style. A deeper from the vaults number is “Out To Get You”, an instrumental that Lee never laid down vocals to. Even as just a rhythm track it stands as a testament to The Expressions musical prowess, the band that created 5 studio albums with Lee Fields which will go down in history as stone classics. Oil Painting of Lee Fields on the cover... 

                                TRACK LISTING

                                SIDE A:

                                1. Two Timer
                                2. Regenerate
                                3. Do You Know ?
                                4. Time
                                5. Thinking About You
                                6. Don’t Give Up

                                SIDE B:

                                1. Out To Get You
                                2. Two Timer (Instrumental)
                                3. Regenerate (Instrumental)
                                4. Do You Know ? (Instrumental)
                                5. Thinking About You (Instrumental)
                                6. Don’t Give Up (Instrumental)

                                Liam Bailey

                                White Light / Cold & Clear

                                  "White Light," an instant-classic, dancefloor filler. The rough and tough drum break intro catches you from the first beat before the track gives way to an infectious and uplifting reggae-dis- co number. Liam's instantly recognizable voice showers his muse with praise over deep round bass lines and a four on the floor beat. The combination of Leon Michels' crushing production and Bailey's lyrics like "You love yourself, you're so exciting, like no one else"... is sure to make this a staple in dj sets around the globe. The B side "Cold & Clear" is a proper lighters in the air, slap the wall, top ranking tune. The track struts in the door with a natural and undeniable confidence. Liam weaves a heavy metacognitive story over the one drop drums, perfect basslines, and organ stabs that will have people stepping in rhythm. The lo-fi production weaves elements from the finest early rocksteady era with touches from the late 70s / early 80s digital era and takes the entire vibe into the present with unorthodox arrangements and vocal treatments. Bailey has a tune here that will hold up next to the classics in the dancehalls from the yards of Jamaica to the discotheques in his homeland of England. 

                                  TRACK LISTING

                                  A. White Light
                                  B. Cold & Clear

                                  Paul & The Tall Trees

                                  So Long

                                    Paul Schalda is a poet, perhaps a bit of a tortured soul, a hopeless romantic, and a guy from Staten Island. That last bit might not make sense to people who aren't from New York. Let's say that it puts the blue in his collar and sticks his feet to the ground. Paul's music seems to embody the unexpected overlap of The Band's Americana, Ian MacKaye's unhinged emotion, Otis Redding's raw soul, and the doo-wop melodies his father, Bill Schalda Sr. (a member of Brooklyn vocal group, The Montereys) raised him on. His sophomore album is produced by long time collaborator and old friend Tommy Brenneck and Big Crown's own Leon Michels.

                                    For the people who are already fans of Paul's debut Our Love In Light, the growth and maturity will be impossible to miss. So Long reads and feels like you snuck in his room and read his journal. Deeply personal and heartfelt, he takes on a variety of topics in the songs, the common thread being the vulnerability and passion he delivers them with. The opener "Although We Cry" is perhaps a perfect example what makes Paul's music so unique. He finds a way to cut right to the bone, entirely emotional and simultaneously emotionless. "Although we cry, we are not meant to be". The title track "Then We'll Wave (So Long)" puts Paul amongst the great storytellers of song; tension, misdirection, and irony all play a part in taking one of the most sung about topics in life; love, and putting a brand new twist on it. Paul spent some years out on the road playing guitar in The Extraordinaires backing the late great Charles Bradley where they became close friends.

                                    During that time he penned a few songs for Charles, one of which he wound up recording himself. That song, "Beware" showcases another side of P&TTT's range, a gritty, driving, warning tune where the band has a chance to get funky. 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." 

                                    TRACK LISTING

                                    SIDE A:

                                    1. Although We Cry
                                    2. Then We’ll Wave (So Long)
                                    3. Shining
                                    4. Someone To Someone
                                    5. Over The Echoes

                                    SIDE B:

                                    1. Beware
                                    2. I Remember 98’ (My God)
                                    3. Ask Me
                                    4. Patiently Awaiting
                                    5. Numerous Times


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