Monday 28 December 2020


In the first of our week-long celebration of the fantastic music 2020 gifted us with that originally aired Monday 21st December, Imran presents an extended, bumper-sized edition of FunkOn///WaxxOff - the show that typically celebrates the incredible funk, soul & afrobeat music from around the world. 

And there were genuinely some awesome releases which saw the return of some of our heroes as well as some new projects by artists who this year established themselves with some jaw-dropping projects.  There was music this year that made us dance to forget our troubles and there was music that made us stand and face up to them as well.  Check out a few spotlighted releases below and catch up with the show in its entirety here:

'Untitled (Rise)' by SAULT
[Forever Living Originals]

Despite having released two exceptional albums last year in '5' and '7', SAULT did the seemingly impossible again by releasing another two exceptional albums in 'Untitled (Black Is)' and 'Untitled (Rise)'.  With more politically charged and socially conscious themes running throughout this year's releases, the unstoppable force of the Inflo-helmed collective - also comprising the vocal talents of Cleo Sol and Kid Sister - absolutely grew in strength continuing to raise their own bar for subsequent releases.  On top of their four albums in two years, there was also time for the Inflo-produced release of Cleo Sol's excellent 'Rose in the Dark' which also makes the cut for the show today.

Vintage League Music

Several releases from Vintage League Music made the cut for the show today showcasing the fantastic year of releases that the label were able to bestow upon funk and soul fans the world over.  With releases from Alan Evans (under the guise of Crushed Velvet & The Velveteers and The 7 Day Weekend), Crowd Company who unveiled their third alnum 'Lowdown', and single releases from BT ALC Big Band and On The Spot Trio, capped off with the excellent compilation album 'Vintage League Family Album vol.1' - 2020 will surely rank as the label's most successful year to date.  And with 2021 already looking to boast full-length projects from Alan Evans and hopefully more from vocalist Brother GoodLove, Vintage League look set to dazzle all over again next year.

'Manifest' by Dragondeer
[Color Red Records]

Helping Dragondeer achieve their vision on this release is an inspired all-star line-up of musicians including Eddie Roberts of The New Mastersounds on guitar, the TNERTLE horn section including Leah Concialdi (baritone sax), Alice Hansen (trumpet) and Jon Kenney (trombone), Jordan Linit from Analog Son on guitar and Todd Stoops from RAQ on electric organ.  Clocking in at just under eight minutes, 'Manifest' is a glorious and anthemic number; a powerhouse afrobeat charge that generously allows each of the track's guests to shine while showcasing Dragondeer as another name now enshrined within Denver's rich tapestry of contemporary funk and soul.

'The Devonns' by The Devonns [Record Kicks]

The debut self-titled album from The Devonns this year absolutely delivered as a wonderful soul release befitting of the Record Kicks logo.  Record Kicks have had the distinct privilege of showcasing funk & soul projects from across the world including Italy, the US, Canada, the UK, Amsterdam, Portugal and more, and this string-laden, 70s-inspired, orchestrally-rich debut album from the Chicago quartet also marks a stunning inclusion into Chicago's lineage of quintessential soul music as established by icons Curtis Mayfield, Louis Armstrong and Earth, Wind & Fire.

'Roll$ Roy¢e' by Roll$ Roy¢e

On paper alone, the concept behind Roll$ Roy¢e and the fantastic trio of musicians involved already secure this as a real gem.  Jake Leckie, Nadav Peled and Shawn Baltazoe - three incredible artists, each with a wealth of experience as solo stars in their own right coming together to form this super group-esque faction that relishes that Brooklyn-styled soul initially popularised by names like The Budos Band and The Dap-Kings - that authentic and dusty analog aesthetic masterfully permeates throughout the music right at the outset and it's just a joy from there. 

'Which One Are You?' by ATOMGA [Color Red Records]

Formed in 2011 from their home in Denver, Colorado, this afrobeat orchestra have long been one of the most creative and unique collectives amidst a thriving funk & soul scene.  Produced by ATOMGA's baritone saxophonist, the incomparable Leah Concialdi, 'Which One Are You?' continues in that vein of ATOMGA releases that straddle that line between either being a song that is a meticulously crafted sonic masterpiece or one that was created just because it felt good.  Particularly evident through their recent singles, there's a real ease and fluidity to ATOMGA's music that, despite being a mouth-watering melting pot of musical styles, are just made to look easy.  Their energy is infectious, the musicianship is flawless and they just find the joy in what they do.  The brilliant ode to the Stones's 'Miss You' near the song's completion is further evidence of that.

'The Cycle' by Mourning [A] BLKstar
[Don Giovanni Records]

The Cleveland, Ohio, collective unveiled what is surely one of the most inspired releases this year, whether the discussion be about music rooted within the realms of funk & soul or beyond.  A thrilling amalgamation of musical styles, fantastic production and powerhouse vocals, this socially-charged project reflects a voice in the US that demands to be listened to and seeks to spark change within a country struggling with its own identity. 

'My Life at 45' by Dr Rubberfunk [Jalapeno Records]

Dr Rubberfunk has been a staple within the UK's funk & soul scene for years - professing to be "Not a real Doctor since 1992" and a Jalapeno Records recording artist since 2008 - his name has become synonymous for inventive and innovative projects epitomised by this year's album release, 'My Life at 45'.  Boasting an excellent array of musicians and vocalists including IzoFitzRoy and Stephanie Whitelock, 'My Life at 45' is a fantastic release to add to the Dr Rubberfunk legacy of releases as well as that of Jalapeno Records.  

'Try' by Kim Dawson
[Color Red Records]

With numerous collaborations with funk & soul heavyweights over the years, including work with The Pimps of Joytime, The New Mastersounds and as vocalist for the super group collective of Matador! Soul Sounds, the news of Kim Dawson's debut solo single was long overdue but massively welcome.  While past musical offerings have positioned Dawson as an incredibly powerful funk vocalist, 'Try' sees her steer towards more R&B and soul territory where she revels in the more elegant nature of her own exquisite production.

'Reflections of Self' by SARASON [Dala Records]

While past Sarason-affiliated projects have often found themselves more upbeat affairs, 'Reflections of Self' is that proverbial blank slate where a whole host of new techniques and musical styles are incorporated throughout.  There's the quintessential Brooklyn soul aesthetic of 'No Time Left For Wasting', the genuinely luxurious single release of 'Let's Make Room' and the album's centrepiece, 'Conceal & Carry', which boast a series of evolving movements to the song that starts like a walk in the park on a summer's day and ends with a psychedelic trip on the rainy, cold streets at midnight.  It's glorious!  With a strong showing from Dala Records this year, check out the show to catch this year's single release from Camellia Hartman as well.

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