Retro soul

The Tibbs: “Ain’t It Funny”

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again; the retro-soul renaissance of the last 10-15 years has been one of the most refreshing trends to break into the mainstream. And it’s been especially intriguing to hear countries outside of the U.S. tackle that classic Motown/Stax sound with their own takes on those brassy, upbeat, vocal-driven formulas.

And of those who’ve represented Western Europe, few have done it quite as long as Amsterdam’s The Tibbs. Starting off with their cover-stuffed 2014 LP Cleaned Out, this septet’s spent the past decade-plus scoring millions of streams thanks to a tenacious work ethic and unwavering dedication to the iconic ’60s-’70s aesthetic, even down to their album artwork. In terms of American soul interpolations, The Tibbs don’t just make a pastiche of the classics; they mix in a timeless potpourri of garage grit, sophisticated jazz-funk, mid-century pop, and even a little bit of blues and ska to boot.

Well, with a respectable amount of records already under their belt, last Friday The Tibbs announced their third full-length, Keep It To Yourself, set for release late next month. At a dozen tunes, Keep It To Yourself is expected to at least go toe-to-toe with Fall 2020’s Another Shot Fired. Yet with that extra element of post-COVID compassion, and the invaluable few additional years of experience, Keep It To Yourself may turn out to be The Tibbs finest work to date. And based on the LP’s lead single, which came last Friday alongside the release announcement, we’re willing to take that bet straight to the bank. Because between the transparency of its music video (which shows off the seven-piece’s live chops), some unforgettably in-the-pocket horn lines, an undying rhythm section that effortlessly support keys and guitar, and of course Roxanne Hartog’s soon-to-be-iconic pipes, “Ain’t It Funny” can only make us laugh in terms of how friggin’ good it is.

Donovan Keith: “Cruel Fools Eye”

The mainstream success of Black Pumas has made Austin a destination for lovers of retro R&B-soul. But of course, that style’s not strictly property of the Pumas, and certainly not the only act in town to flaunt the sound. Take for example, Donovan Keith, who moved down here from the midwest in 2009 and began unleashing some serious dance skills and killer pipes. Choreography aside, Keith and his project Soul Track Mind couldn’t stop captivating local dive bar crowds and eventually graduated to opening spots for Erykah Badu, Fastball, Tower of Power, Snarky Puppy, Enrique Iglesias and even the late, legendary Charles Bradley.

More recently though, Donovan Keith has doubled down on an eponymous solo adventure, which received a Black Fret nomination in 2018 and has continued to capture the vintage magic of mid-to-third-quarter-century funk-soul-R&B. In the next couple days, Donovan Keith drops his debut solo album Hot Off The Wire and celebrates with a release show 8PM Thursday night at Antone’s alongside Aaron Stephens and Emily Keeley. So for this cloudy week, invite Keith’s sunny vocals, call-and-response chorus singers, and warm horn riffs into your home with Hot Off The Wire‘s final lead single “Cruel Fools Eye”.