Category Archives: R & B

Bill Withers grants rare interview ahead of Carnegie honors

Bill Withers posing for a portrait around 1973.

Bill Withers posing for a portrait around 1973.

OkayPlayer has put out an interview with musician Bill Withers ahead of a tribute honoring the legendary musician.

The interview is part of several retrospectives about Withers, who penned the romantic acoustic classic “Ain’t No Sunshine” when he barely had experience as a musician.

Earlier this year Withers was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Tomorrow (Oct. 1), Withers will be honored at Carnegie Hall by artists like Michael McDonald, Anthony Hamilton, Sheryl Crow, Ed Sheeran and others. D’Angelo bowed out today due to unspecified illness.

In the interview, Withers speaks about his songwriting skills, his concerts, such as his Zaire event in 1974, and sampling. He also acknowledges he’s 77 and admits he fits squarely in that age group:

I would like to run and jump and roll over and stuff like that, but I don’t want to hurt myself.

Check out Withers’ scathing, honest funk-driven “Use Me”:

And watch him as he sings “Ain’t No Sunshine,” one of the most iconic songs of the 1970s. What has always been striking to me is the song’s simplicity, and beginning with just a minimal acoustic guitar melody sets the tone as the song builds, and then quickly fades. “Ain’t No Sunshine” seems built to go on and on, and the melody is so beautiful that you wish it would last longer than a couple minutes.

Maybe that’s part of the song’s appeal, but Withers packs in so much soul, from the lyrics to his pained voice to the tune’s rolling beat, it’s almost too much to bear. Like all good things, it’s over much too soon.

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Filed under Acoustic, Blues, Funk, R & B, Rock, Soul, VIdeos

Autre Ne Veut faces judge and jury in a cappella video for “Panic Room”

The video for Autre Ne Veut’s new single “Panic Room” is an a cappella version of the song. Autre Ne Veut (aka Arthur Ashin) walks in front of a panel of three people and unceremoniously starts singing against a black background. Even though he’s putting all he has into the performance, eventually a panel member puts a stop to it and Ashin slinks off into the darkness, the audition a flop.

The video was meant to call up the anxieties artists can have when they’re performing in public, and was inspired by a Swedish Idol audition. The panel is actually Autre Ne Veut’s manager, his sister, and Pitchfork writer Ian Cohen. Ashin’s sister is the one who stops his performance.

Watch the video below.

Listen to the non-a cappella stream of “Panic Room”:

Autre Ne Veut’s latest album “Age of Transparency” follows his critically acclaimed 2013 album “Anxiety” and is a fusion of alt R&B, jazz and electronic sounds. The album’s title is also apparently a marketing phrase — a way to sell things.

According to Ashin: “

“I’’ve been listening to jazz since I was a kid and wanted to experiment with it. “For me, it taps into this comforting and antiquated image of the truth.””

Autre Ne Veut’s “Age of Transparency” is out Oct. 2 on Downtown Records, and he’ll be touring with GEMS next month.

U.S. Tour Dates
Fri Oct 09 – Los Angeles, CA – Troubadour*
Sat Oct 10 – San Francisco, CA – Social Hall SF*
Mon Oct 12 – Portland, OR – Star Theater*
Tue Oct 13 – Seattle, WA – Barboza*
Fri Oct 16 – Denver, CO – Los Lake*
Sun Oct 18 – Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall*
Tue – Oct 20 – Toronto, ON – The Hoxton*
Wed Oct 21 – Philadelphia, PA – Boot & Saddle*
Thu Oct 22 – Boston, MA – Middle East Downstairs*
Fri Oct 23 – Washington, CD – U Street Music Hall*
Mon Oct 26 – New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom*

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Filed under Fusion, Jazz, R & B, VIdeos

Night Beds releases a helluva good mixtape from the “Ivywild” recordings

I just have to post this right now — Night Beds’ Winston Yellen today released “Strangers In Paradise Mix,” a mixtape of sounds and songs they were listening to “in heavy rotation” while recording “Ivywild,” out today on Dead Oceans.

Drawing on Winston and Abe Yellen’s influences from J Dilla, Bill Evans and others, “Strangers In Paradise” is a mellow, diverse and highly compatible mix of R&B, electro-pop, Motown and hip-hop, with a Kanye West cover of “I Wonder” thrown in. Also sneakily embedded in the mixtape are “Ivywild” B-sides.

Listen to Night Beds’ “Tide Teeth” and “[9-6] slack-jaw” below:

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Filed under Electro-pop, Hip-Hop, Mixtape, R & B

Watch and hear the mesmerizing Mahaut Mondino

With a voice that seems beyond her years, singer Mahaut Mondino’s videos play to her strengths. On “Jungle,” she’s boldly facing the camera, using theatrical hand gestures that are mesmerizing all by themselves. The new video for “The Great Elements”  looks like it was shot in Kodachrome in all its saturated glory. Either way, her powerful voice still stands above those visual effects.


“The Great Elements” is sensual with an R & B/soul groove. Mondino’s sassy vocals is a solid earmark for future diva-hood.

Mondino, from Paris, originally composed music for top fashion houses such as L’Oreal and Yves Saint L’aurent. She’s also been featured in French Vogue Elle and Stylist.

Keep listening, and she might just start to bury herself into your soul.
Mondino’s new self-released EP is due early next year at

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Filed under R & B, Uncategorized, VIdeos

Kimbra’s new song “Miracle”: Welcome to the 70s

Kimbra Golden Echo

New Zealand’s own Kimbra has released a new disco-infused single off The Golden Echo,” “Miracle,” which unabashedly channels early Michael Jackson harmonies but brings a lighthearted twist. The song also features Michael Jackson/Daft Punk drummer John JR Robinson, so it’s a win/win.

“The Golden Echo,” Kimbra’s second album, will be released Aug. 19 on Warner Bros. Records

Kimbra has also announced a U.S. headlining tour that kicks off Oct. 20— tickets are on sale beginning Friday, July 25.

10/20  San Francisco, CA – The Independent*

10/23  Los Angeles, CA – The Roxy*

10/24  Santa Ana, CA – The Observatory*

10/25-10/26   Las Vegas, NV – Life Is Beautiful Festival

10/27  Salt Lake City, UT – In The Venue*

10/28  Denver, CO – Sherman Street Event Center*

10/30  Minneapolis, MN – Fine Line Music Café

11/01  Chicago, IL – Lincoln Hall

11/06  New York, NY – Bowery Ballroom*

11/07  Philadelphia, PA – World Café Live – Downstairs*

11/08  Washington, DC – U Street Music Hall*

11/09  Allston, MA – Brighton Music Hall*

* w/ Empress Of


Filed under New Music, Pop, R & B, Retro Soul

Lightboxes’ “Something Else” a hidden gem

This is why blogging about music is so vital: A band like Lightboxes comes along and you wonder why they haven’t been picked up yet.

The hip-hop/soul duo has a short blurb in‘s “The Neu Bulletin,” neatly tucked between links for Hockeysmith and TRIXY. Lightboxes, from southeast London, is John Atterbury and Donna Thompson, who met at Goldsmiths College.
On the song “Something Else,” Thompson’s youthful voice, like Joss Stone or early Adele, brings a bright flavor to the tune, which wakes you up with its ingenuity. (Additional vocals by Sarah Williams White.)


The sound feels a bit like Fugees or Feist, as it walks a funky jazz bass that skips along with the beat and jumps it once in a while. It keeps you on your toes, and after all, shouldn’t music keep you guessing?

Catch “Something Else” and a bit about Lightboxes and its EP “Let It Grow” on bandcamp.

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Filed under Electronic, Experimental, R & B, Retro Soul

Harding’s “Soul Power” shines bright


Curtis Harding’s new album deserves far more media attention than it’s gotten.
His neo-soul debut, “Soul Power,” is multi-faceted, complex and easygoing. It’s as if he’s been a successful solo artist for decades, not a man whose recent gig was as backup for CeeLo Green and, more recently, in Black-Lips side group Night Sun.

Harding’s already done a couple of videos for “Soul Power,” worth noting if only because they’re polar opposites. “Next Time” is black and white and glossy and features St. Laurent model Grace Hartzel walking topless on the beach. You’d think he took a cue from Chris Isaak.


On the other hand, Harding, in the single “Keep on Shining,” plays a somewhat dysfunctional puppet who’ll do anything he has to for love. The puppet visual is odd, but it sticks. “I can finally see the light,” he says.


Harding’s vocals are rich and sincere and is what drives the fresh, upbeat sound of “Soul Power.” The horn section sounds like they’ve been doing this for years– a well-oiled soul machine. Harding rides high on this 70s soul vibe he’s created, mixing it up with 60s doo-wop and R & B stylings. The influence of Amy Winehouse is thankfully still alive.

“Next Time,” takes on a 50s feel with just a few guitar changes and some distortion, and all without dating the sound. “Heaven’s on the Other Side” is fun and light and has a little bit of a disco feel. He can play hardball too, as on “Drive My Car,” but without taking it all too seriously. A bad-ass, undulating guitar hook rules “Cruel World” and ends the album.

Like many good albums, the first few listens might not bring the revelation that it has the mileage to last. But the sometimes gritty, often heartfelt “Soul Power” shows Harding’s versatility, an attribute artists don’t always reach on a debut. “Soul Power” is something special.

Dig it or Ditch it: Definitely Dig it

Listen to the “Soul Power” stream via  The “Keep On Shining” video (link above) with Harding as lovestruck marionette is worth watching.
Harding’s album, which came out May 6, is available through Burger Records and iTunes. He’s also heading out on a short summer tour:

Wednesday, June 11 – Brooklyn, NY @ Glasslands

Thursday, June 12 – Washington, DC @ DC9

Friday, June 13 – Pittsburgh, PA @ Three Rivers Arts Festival

Saturday, June 14 – Chicago, IL @ Schuba’s

Thursday, July 17 – Nashville, TN @ Exit / In

Saturday, July 19 – Asheville, NC @ Orange Peel


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Filed under News, R & B, Retro Soul, Review, Soul