Everyone at Earbits was crushed to hear that Sharon Jones passed over the weekend after a long, hard-fought battle with pancreatic cancer.
Starting tomorrow, we’ll be sharing one record of hers each day for the next six days. She and her backing band, The Dap Kings, made some of the funkiest, most impeccably crafted Soul music since the genre even had a name. Her voice was deep and powerful, tinged with pain, joy and hope all at once; in other words, it was the embodiment of soul itself.
After losing so many musical giants this year, we can only hope that Sharon’s passing will be the last.
Over her almost 40 year musical career, Björk herself has tried (and done) almost everything. Her records range from the maximal to the minimal, from the grand, art-pop menagerie that was Post, to the stripped down, all-vocal Medulla, to the subtle, organic electronics on Biophilia. And what’s truly remarkable is not only that she’s done so much and done it with such precision, clarity, and raw emotion, but how exactly she’s made this happen over the years. The answer, to my mind, lies in the fact that her need to venture into new territory doesn’t stop at the music that comes out on her major releases.
This week, we’ll be featuring a playlist a day from Ropeadope, one of our favorite labels and a mainstay of the Earbits catalog. Lined up for you, we’ve hand-picked a few eclectic lists, a few focused specifically on Jazz, and one each devoted to Hip-Hop and Funk of exclusively Ropeadope artists. Their output is diverse and singular: string arrangements, glitchy electronics, boogie funk lines, extended instrumental solos, Minimalist classical structure, deep neo-soul changes. The array of ideas and musical breadth is dizzying, and this kind of cross-pollination and open experimentation is what, for me, makes Ropeadope such a fantastic imprint. The first of seven lists goes live tomorrow, so keep your ears peeled!
We’re excited to report on the recent addition of Zenapolae to our catalog, a project the music team and myself have been working to bring you for a while now. Zenapolae (pronounced “zen-OP’-oh-LEE”) is a netlabel focusing on experimental and avant-garde music, with a catalog that dates back nearly 20 years. Their entire collection, 144 releases from all over the world, is now available to listen to on Earbits as one big Special Collection and in rotation with our Avant Garde and Electronic sections. You might have also caught a playlist or two of theirs popping up in the last month or so, and in the weeks to come, they’ll be heavily featured in our New On & Editor’s Eclectic lists, Albums of the Week, as well in a few more of their own dedicated label feature playlists.
If you’re a fan of Brazilian music, you’ll immediately recognize more than a few giants on Far Out Recordings’ incredible roster, and this week, we’re featuring one of them: Joyce Moreno. Her latest effort, Cool, is a much anticipated collection of standards from the classic American songbook, reimagined and reinvigorated with her singular style and voice. Cool is one of our Albums of the Week this week, and we’re is really stoked to welcome her and Far Out to Earbits.
Take a listen here. I’m really into her to her languid, beautifully restrained take on Monk’s classic “‘Round Midnight,” and her bubbly Samba rework of Cole Porter’s “Let’s Do It.”
It’s 1968. Psychedelic music is peaking, but the drugs themselves are starting to wear off. The Beatles visit India to study with the Maharishi, searching for a new source of enlightenment and, perhaps, escape. Fast forward to today and give the track, “Helter Skelter” a listen, and you might catch a bit of what they, and a lot of others in the counterculture, might have been feeling at the time: a tense mix of waning ecstasy and exhaustion.
We are lucky to be streaming Astronauts, etc. on Earbits, but if the man behind the music, Anthony Ferraro, was able to put his two decades of study to use, we’d be discussing a new classical arrangement. That’s right, Classical music was his chosen path at one time. An unfortunate situation forced him to re-evaluate his musical future, and here we are…
Astronauts, etc. was born.
A tight, laid-back, well-arranged groove always seems to find itself at the center of an Astronauts, etc. track. Intricate alternative R&B and Soul that you can dance to. Word of advice: get ready to click the ‘Favorite’ button when you listen on Earbits – you’re going to want to hear Astronauts, etc. again.
James Taylor, Steven Tyler, the Pixies…
Over the years, the city of Boston has given us some iconic figures in entertainment; today we have the pleasure of introducing you to yet another. If you can for a moment, imagine if Jamiroquai and Steely Dan had a musical love child – well in our minds, the results would be Harry Jay Smith and the Bling.
We’re extremely proud to bring you an exclusive interview with Harry Jay Smith, who fronts this band on the rise, as he gets ready to blast off on a summer tour through the Northeast. Their debut EP, Truth, reached #1 on the Bandcamp neo-soul chart, as well as #3 on the r&b & soul charts within 5 hours of its release!!
Songwriting is more than a melody. It’s more than a few chords and words. Songwriting is more than stories about losing and finding love, and it’s more than whatever gets you through the night. Songs are the catalyst that have brought people together across the globe for generations. Songs and those who craft them are meant to ignore, cross and obliterate barriers – bridging the gaps we’ve created over the centuries: race…religion…language…nationality…
With Earbits releasing their new and improved Playlists on Android, I decided it was time to put together a list of my favorite tracks on the platform. After all, I’ve got 100+ Favorites, and having them organized into a Playlist would really make it easy to rock on-demand. I figured I’d spend ten minutes slapping together the songs I have marked over the years, and voila! 240 minutes of perfectly-curated music that will be my go-to soundtrack for months to come. Right?