Tucked in the northeastern outskirts of Cincinnati sits Loveland, Ohio, the home of the fast growing funk and soul label, Colemine Records. Started by Louis Rideout and Terry Cole during their graduate school days in 2007, the label really began to hit its stride in 2014 as the two founders took on the label as their full time careers. This small label, run out Plaid Room Records in downtown Loveland, is built on a passion for this music and nothing else. Both the record store and label continue to grow and compliment each other.
This seven-piece ensemble hails from Seattle and for the last seven (or so) years have been putting out some of the most soulful and sophisticated music of this decade. Their sophomore album, The Dip Delivers, shows their commitment to celebrating as well as continuing the tradition of soul music that was forged in the mid-20th century. There are no frills when it comes to the band’s make up or recording style, just pure musicianship and passion poured into each track.
The album opens with soaring vocals from front man, Tom Eddy. The old school vocal flare cuts through each track on the album with the help of the analog grit as the album was recorded directly to tape by Eddy and lead guitarist, Jacob Lundgren. These two along with Brennan Carter on trumpet, Levi Gillis on tenor sax, Evan Smith on baritone sax, Jarraed Katz on drums, and Mark Hunter on bass met at the University of Washington in the jazz program. The dedication to the preservation and subsequent reinvention of this timeless sound was the foundation of this project that has grown into the sound we hear today.
The album winds through heavy swing, funk, doo-wop, R&B, and other classic sounds creating an album that fits the ear of any who give it the time. “Advertising” brings a strong presence through organ and guitar riffs that take up the foreground. This is a departure from the usual horn-heavy sound that comes from the “Honeynut Horns.”
We cool down next with “Adeline.” The smooth vocal harmonies call back to the golden age of doo-wop in the 1950’s. The seemingly simple form of the song is finessed by Eddy and his ability to stretch time while molding his melodies and exploring the pocket laid down by Katz and Hunter in the rhythm sections.
“Atlas,” “Slow Sipper,” and “Spiderweb” are The Dip in all their glory. These mid-tempo hits dig deep into the the mellow and ragged groove of this album. Each selection has the opportunity to explore some level of space, grit, and soul.
“Starcastle,” feels like a return home. Since first their self-titled freshman album, the backbone of the band has been infectious horn backgrounds and the ability to shift time on a dime. Opening with a swing horn melody, the guitar then takes the reins while the groove transforms into funk with horn stabs placed perfectly behind the beat.
The Dip is refreshing. They have embraced the organic sound of their instruments and bring a level of precision and musicianship to them that creates an individual sound necessary for the emotion felt in this new take on an old school sound. The careful study of the soul tradition of yesterday has allowed The Dip to reach a new audience and new generation of soul fans today.
In the foot-hills of Bloomington, Indiana sits the University of Indiana and one of the most renowned university music programs in the world at the Jacobs School of Music. Durand Jones relocated to this thriving mid-western college town in 2012. Arriving with his alto saxophone, he was unaware that in four years he would be the lead singer of one of the deepest soul bands on the scene today. Fast forward to 2019 and fresh off the release of their debut full-length project, Durand Jones & The Indications are in the middle of a world tour across the US and Europe.
What was meant to be a one-and-done recording project steadily grew gaining traction through the power of word of mouth and with the help of independently owned record stores. It is an appropriate organic growth for this band root in such a warm organic sound. As their bio states, “Durand Jones & the Indications aren’t looking backwards.” The spirit of ‘70s soul is clearly there, but these like-minded-twenty-somethings have their feet planted firmly in the present with pop and hip hop influences shining through their conspicuously crafted sound.
The five-piece band is rounded out with drummer Aaron Frazer, guitarist Blake Rhein, bassist Kyle Houpt, and organist Justin Hubler. Having all studied audio engineering at Indiana, the band was able to really focus their attention on how to create a sound that pushes soul music forward.
“Morning in America” opens the album and sets the tone with messages spanning from the opioid crisis to inequity in Detroit. It is a dark opening for an album brimming with sweetly soaked timbres.
“Don’t You Know,” the project’s lead single, packs a heavy vocal punch. Compared to their debut EP, the group veered towards a more vocal-based sound for this latest project. Falsettos and rich four-part harmonies are packed into very corner.
Tracks like “How Can I Be Sure” and “Sea Gets Hotter” provide further evidence of the vocal prowess Jones and the band bring to this album. Elevated melodies are the centerpiece of these tunes, however a piano breakdown in “How Can I Be Sure” is a dramatic flare whose power is felt strongly in the track.
As the band makes their way across the country this spring and summer it is inevitable that they will leave a memorable impression. Their dedication to their sound and the craft of songwriting can be felt on this most recent record. It is a collection of sounds that invites their audiences to unite in a shared sense of positivity towards the present. It is an invitation to push forward in a time where getting lost in wishing for a romanticized version of the past is easy to do.
I am a sucker for the organ.
The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio was formed in 2015 and has been blending soul, jazz, R&B, and rock seamlessly ever since. The group is based in Seattle and just celebrate the one-year anniversary of their debut LP released in March of 2018, Close But No Cigar. The group featuring Jimmy James on guitar, David McGraw on drums, and Lamarr on the B-3.
Like almost all of Colemine’s roster, The Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio has done their research giving the legends of this music the necessary level of study for their own performances to be both a history lesson and fresh interpretation of the genre’s tradition.
There is a clear versatility to the group. Both bebop and more gospel-based tunes hit hard throughout the album. On the gospel side of the sound, the influence of Booker T Jones and The Reverend Al Green are explicitly celebrated on the tracks “Little Booker T” and “Al Greenery.”
While study and imitation play a large role in this album and this trio’s sound, their versatility extends to tracks such as “Between the Mayo and Mustard.” This is one of many moments on this project where the individuality of this group is highlighted. This vamp-based jam is rich with percussive licks from all members while Lamarr explores the pluckier high end of his instrument.
“Raymond Brings the Greens” trudges forward with a dirty solo from James cementing the clear chemistry between the trio. Lamarr lays a solid and lush foundation for the guitarist to dance over while McGraw never ceases to leave the pocket.
In my opinion, the organ is an instrument that brings life to music unlike any instrument–it quite literally breathes. What is so special about the organ is how its addition to any musical setting instantly transforms a piece into a piece about timbre. The organ has such a vast possibility of sounds that an organ trio becomes a ballet between the overtones and timbres of the instruments involved. It is a beautifully colorful sound that is easy to get engrossed in.
Close But No Cigar is a masterful exploration of this classic trio format. While they don’t reinvent the wheel, Lamarr and his trio do drive this vehicle with an undeniable swagger.