soul

Grandma Mousey: “When I’m Not There”

Ever since we first caught sight of them in 2022, we’ve continued to make room for Grandma Mousey in our wheelhouse, even after their initial nest expanded from three members to five. Yeah, Granny M’s grown on us so much over the past couple of years, that we don’t mind ratting on their talent again at all.

Because between endeavorous concert stage props, Apollo program-era influences spanning from psych and classic rock to jazz, a humble refusal to take themselves too seriously, and an ongoing obsession with grasshoppers in their song titles (see the previous point), this Austin indie rock lab experiment feels like an anthropomorphic version of Fe, Fi, Fo, Fum, and Phooey, spacey tastes included. And coming off their third studio installment Couch Surfing from last October, they’ve stirred local show rodents into a modest following…at least enough to keep the Orkin man from shuttin’ ’em down.

Now, a half decade out of their hole, Grandma Mousey’s stickin’ their not-so-elderly indie rock whiskers into something that’s a little less Mothers of Inventions and a little more your grandma’s speed – Motown-inspired modern rock. And that’s on behalf of “When I’m Not There”, the lead single from Grandma Mousey’s upcoming EP Slime Community – out this Summer. Where Vanilla Fudge famously put a decelerated, painfully melodramatic twist on The Supremes, Grandma Mousey maintains the powerhouse harmonies, infectious hand claps, upbeat tempo, and major chord progressions of soul’s golden era, albeit into strange places of softly sweet, paradisal psychedelia thanks to some choice synth swells, liquid bass lines, and far out lead guitar.

In terms of Grandma Mousey’s gig next Friday at Anderson Mill Pub? We hope you’ll be there. To Grandmother’s mouse we go!

Stephanie Rodd: “Stronger Than Ever”

For us uncultured Americans, we tend to invent a caricature when we hear about a “French songstress”. Yes, we let our assumptions automatically paint a picture of a smoky nightclub against a traumatic war torn backdrop, a slender figure in haute couture wardrobe, cigarette in one hand, microphone in the other, and lyrics toutes en français. The reality, of course, is much more of a mixed bag; I mean c’mon…we’re talking about a massive nation with a century-plus of cross cultural influences here.

Enter: Stephanie Rodd. The Parisian-Londoner up-and-comer pardons herself past the stereotypical chanson midcentury chic of Edith Piaf or Juliette Gréco and instead slides towards the more contemporary energy of acts like Adele, Estelle, and the late Amy Winehouse. Based on what little we’ve heard so far, there’s no doubt that Rodd’s time in England has helped her find the right R&B-soul-pop soundscapes for her singing style that’s reminiscent of Jorja Smith.

And in 2024, as part of a rapid trajectory, Stephanie Rodd’s shooting for the moon with the release of her debut EP next month. Following her mid-February introduction “Worth It”, Rodd’s sophomore single “Stronger Than Ever” finds Stephanie sounding…well…just like the song title. It’s an intriguing, minimalist arrangement filled with passionate chord pads, seductive synth squeaks, carnal guitar, trap-type drums, and soul-warming subs – all anchoring a bold vocal mix of triplet rhythms and unconventional melodies.

The Reverend Shawn Amos: “It’s All Gonna Change (For the Better)”

Search “reverend” on any streaming platform and you’ll see just how many clergy folk make the most out of their musical passion – and not just in the world of gospel. You’ve got Al Green, Gary Davis, hell we’ll even throw Horton Heat in there. Here in Austin? We don’t get on our knees and pray, because The Reverend Shawn Amos makes us want to get on the dance floor and slay.

Born in the Big Apple to a nightclub singer and a talent agent turned cookie mogul, Amos has been releasing records for nearly three decades – and as “The Reverend” for ten years now. Throughout, his sonic proselytizing through blues, soul, and roots has converted casual listeners into hardcore fans, made clear by Amos’ collective millions of streams. And following the release of last October’s “Revelation” and February’s “Back to the Beginning”, the good Reverend is getting settled into his next set of sermons.

That’s right, the anticipation for Soul Brother No. 1 (out May 3rd) has been building up for months now. The album stacks ten tracks – nine originals and a Sly Stone cover – which we only mention because the LP’s latest, “It’s All Gonna Change (For the Better)” boasts major Family Stone energy, wailing organ, wah guitar, brazen vocals, optimistic outlook and all. To best soak up this groove, we recommend checking out its succulent music video, one that captures that earthly essence of fluid transformation in a really fascinating and satisfying way.

Nakia: “Thrill-O-Matic”

If you’re already planning out your weekend and want to offset the Sunday scaries with some fresh visuals, consider checking out a three-act bill that coincides with a music video premiere.

The ringleader behind the affair is Nakia, the mononymous grifter of Austin’s vibrant blues scene. With only two records to his name at the time, Nakia started off the 2010s strong as a semi-finalist on The Voice‘s inaugural season. That’s absolutely an accolade worth bragging about, but nothing compares with new content, right? Well, keeping pace with his already-robust post-pandemic output, Nakia’s got some new optics he’s about to drop under the spotlight.

This Sunday Nakia commemorates the music video release for last October’s “Thrill-O-Matic”, a tune that was actually penned right after The Voice‘s finale, demo files long lost to the aether before a recent recovery made it a reality. Doors are at 7PM, Junerise kicks it off at 7:15, Nakia does his thing at 8:15 (your only opportunity to see “Thrill-O-Matic” before it hits the internet on Monday morning) and our June 2023 Artist of the Month Pelvis Wrestley wraps it up a quarter past 9. Until then, vanquish any Tuesday blues with the soul-rockin’, Abbey Road-mastered, Dolby Atmos-mixed mechanics of this Nathaniel Rateliff-esque original.

Kev Bev: “History Books”

It doesn’t matter whether or not lyrics are written before or after the instrumentation; there’s always room to build contrast between subject matter and sonic character. Like for each individual genuinely troubled by the texts of “Pumped Up Kicks” or “Semi-Charmed Life”, there’s a multitude more who just love what they’re hearing without second guessing the words or inspiration. Which proves you can appeal to the masses based on a great groove alone – without having to sacrifice any lyrical integrity.

That just about tees us up for the new one from Kev Bev. For more than a decade now, multi-instrumentalist/singer-songwriter Kevin Collins has helmed this eponymous Austin thirteen-piece, formerly known as Kev Bev and The Woodland Creatures. This hefty ensemble is about as festive as it gets, thanks to the bevy’s proclivity towards dance, loyalty to the jam (sans genre constraints), and especially their collective grasp of historical musicology.

But Kev Bev’s knowledge of history isn’t limited to sound alone. In fact, they’ve just reflected on the heavy lessons from a poignant chapter in our nation’s past: that of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. And this where the power of positivity comes into play. History Books (the lead single and title track off KB’s next LP) confronts some tough stuff for sure, but balances the abysmal with killer brass, incredible rhythms, slick transitions, and easily accessible choreography, even if you’re in the library. The movement-inducing music video arrived just in time for International Women’s Day, not to mention a pop-up performance 5:45PM this Saturday at Austin City Hall for the Falasteen Street Museum and a record release show 8PM next Friday at ABGB alongside Bali Yaaah. So credit to Kev Bev, ’cause edutainment is rarely this infectious.

The Peterson Brothers: “Family”

We here at KUTX have kept a pulse on the local scene long and close enough to realize that we’re essentially tracking the progression of individual talents in real time. And though we’re admittedly quick to stick up for twenty-somethings who’ve bottled lightning for their debut releases, frankly there are very few youngsters that genuinely make us think “oh, they’re only gonna get better and better from here on out” each time we see them play live.

Think about The Peterson Brothers, who initially entertained us almost a full decade back when they made their first Studio 1A appearance as mere teens. Just as they did back then, Glenn, Jr. and Alex both continue to slay it on vocals, but their deft instrumentation on guitar and bass, respectively, always steals the show. Which totally tracks, considering up until 2020’s The Intro, The Peterson Brothers were primarily a live staple. So just when we began to fear that their mature emulsifications of blues, funk, soul, and jazz might’ve hit a limit, The Peterson Brothers have bested themselves yet again with their full-length Experience, out April 12th.

And since The Peterson Brothers have already shared a stage with The Roots, who better to help translate their live energy to the studio than Grammy-nominated Roots/Lauryn Hill/Mark Ronson producer Ray Angry? Mixed for ATMOS and mastered at Abbey Road Studios, the resulting Experience is exactly what it claims to be, an eight-track sonic excursion best enjoyed in surround sound. So while mid-January’s “Too Soon” teased that hyper-polished production value with echoes of The Brothers Johnson, yesterday’s “Family” sounds more like The Whispers rejuvenated their signature synth sound with organic sonics and some playful brass. It’s an embrace of everyone who’s supported them along the way, blood relations be damned, and holy moly does it make us feel like Experience will be TPB’s alma mater…at least until the next one.

Silver Skylarks: “Power Moves” (feat. Adrian Quesada & US!)

We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: we’ve been loving the recent ride of this retro soul-funk renaissance, especially with so much dynamite coming right out of the central state area. And today a new name emerges within that ongoing saga of nostalgia: Silver Skylarks.

Fly like the birds, and slick like the cars, Silver Skylarks is the DFW duo comprised of songwriter Danny Balis and producer Jeff “Skin” Wade, born from early pandemic demos. Taking cues from the ’70s vinyl rarities that crate diggers crave, Balis and Wade have been steadily elevating those ten demos into Silver Skylarks’ debut LP The Number One Set and Sound – out May 3rd.

But the pair didn’t go it alone. Instead they called up some of the best session players they’ve met, plus a few superstars to really spice things up. On top of the mix that includes Large Professor, Robert Ellis, and The D.O.C., Silver Skylarks also tapped into some outstanding Austin talent; Uncle Roy & Spice, the Austin vocalists better known as US!, lends their pipes to the record’s Side A closer “Power Moves”, while Adrian Quesada commandeers the six-string. The result is a progressive groove that’d quickly catch Roy Ayers’ ear, complete with horn swells, Coffy-esque vocals, and an intoxicating breakbeat-indulging bridge, that all just scream to be played over some sassy vigilante’s intro credits.

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.

Chief Cleopatra: “December All Year” (Live in Studio 1A)

Apologies in advance to all the Scrooges out there, but the winter holidays are on our doorstep. So if you haven’t already, prepare for in-store speaker systems, radio spots, TV commercials, and hell even carolers to give us our annual fill of festive favorites. And while the Bing Crosbys and Brenda Lees of generations past still pack an iconic charm into this last month, we love that the novelty of “Christmas music” hasn’t negated the creation of holiday-inspired originals from modern artists of all backgrounds, like our February 2022 Artist of the Month Chief Cleopatra.Cleo combines soul, rock, gospel, hip-hop, funk, R&B, and more into a non-genre-denominational sound that perfectly complements this singer’s eccentric and often ornamental sense of fashion. She blew us away at the onset of COVID with her eponymous three-tune debut, and made an even more memorable impact last spring with her Walker Lukens-produced follow-up EP Luna. Chief Cleopatra also wowed us with the wide arrangement on this past March’s “Weekend Warrior”, yet it’s the piece of DSII-produced yuletide joy we found under our tree this morning that reassure us how special this Austin treasure is.So much so that we invited Chief Cleopatra and a backing sextet to cut an extended live edition of December All Year in our very own Studio 1A. A mellow Christmas miracle from its first full-band downbeat through its closing keyboard quote of “Jingle Bells”, Chief Cleopatra makes Mrs. Claus seem more like Ellen Griswold with register-spanning vocals that have us second-guessing if there’s mistletoe above us.

Honey Made: “FYC”

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, we’re already salivating over all the fixings, dressings, and sauces that await us next week. But if you want something homegrown that’ll slather up your ear drums and keep you full ’til the proverbial turkey gobbles, serve yourself up some Honey Made.

The Austin-based nine-piece started oozing out of the jar at the turn of this past decade, and in 2020 alone put out not just their debut EP Couple Few but also their first full-length Brand New. Now, as with any horn-heavy stage-filling ensemble, Honey Made is best enjoyed in a live setting, so we can’t really blame them for taking their time in terms of subsequent studio releases. That said, this Friday Honey Made unfurls their sophomore EP Charge It To The Band Fund.

On top of an edit of last summer’s “Upstairs”, CITTBF totes six new tunes that attest to Honey Made’s impressive perseverance and undying efforts towards shaking rumps and sating the parched. As someone who used to play in a fifteen-piece, I can tell you that the band fund is all-too-real, and honestly a better bet for pooling towards the next big thing. So chip in as much as you can at the Charge It To The Band Fund EP release show 10PM Saturday night at the Skylark Lounge with openers The Reverent Few at 8PM. And if you want to get some mileage out of your stank face before settling in with your relatives, loved ones, or whomever you share Thanksgiving with, turn the volume all the way up, plow onto your couch, and get kickin’ with “FYC”. Whether or not you take your shoes off is up to you…

NOA: “Ba Li” (feat. CHRON!AC)

For as many hurdles as it faces, Austin’s hip-hop/R&B scene only seems to keep getting stronger in recent years. And for the sake of variety, thankfully it’s not just macho monotone mumblers either; there’s been an influx of soul-informed female acts whose styles straddle between rapping and singing.

Among those to keep an ear out for is Noa Belillti, better known mononymously as NOA. Now, NOA’s been doing her thing here since 2011, but only dropped her debut EP In Your Dreams this past February. The Israeli-Moroccan’s since gone on to share a stage with KUTX favorite BLK ODYSSY at SXSW, compose and perform for Iram Reyes’ From Where I Stand, and continue to enjoy a residency at Half Step on Rainey Street every fourth Wednesday. It wouldn’t be fair to call NOA’s talent dynamite, because that would imply that a fuse that eventually fizzles, a big bang that begets silence. No, NOA and her pulchritudinous pipes are more like a never ending sequence of firecrackers, sparkling with sassy sensuality and popping with deservedly cocky confidence.

Just yesterday NOA stamped her hip-hop passport with an east-of-Java jet-setter that finds her once again teaming up with international producer CHRON!AC, (who lent their talents to the In Your Dreams closer “Call Me Up”). Eastern sensibilities surge throughout the instrumentation of Ba Li, building a tropical trap backdrop for NOA to absolutely go off. Between its bangin’ BPM and rapid-fire lyrical style switches, we’re wondering how much of “Ba Li” is NOA’s idea of self-empowered security versus the manifestation of an indulgent rager yet to happen.

Sasha Ortiz: “On Your Side”

Back in 2013 the documentary 20 Feet from Stardom shed light on the often overlooked lives of backup singers. And since there’s strength in numbers when hitting harmonies alongside a fellow vocalist or two, it can still be easy for some to discount individual talent. So while there’ll always be perks to performing in a chorus, huge kudos to those who take their rightful place in the center stage spotlight.

Folks like native South Austinite (and T Bird and the Breaks original member) Sasha Ortiz, who spent the decade between 20 Feet and now in New York supporting soul royalty like Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones, and Lee Fields, not to mention The Kills, Carla Morrison and more. These days Ortiz calls L.A. her home, and it’s in that city of angels that Sasha’s finally ascended from must-have backup to main attraction.

Last Friday Sasha Ortiz unleashed her top-tier first solo installation Superblue, a four-track, dance-driven foray into cutting-edge R&B-soul. Superblue‘s sensual and exotic sound was realized with the help of rising producer-multi-instrumentalist Reef Boii and J Dilla/Blood Orange mastering engineer Dave Cooley, who together turned the album into an outstanding introduction for this not-so-newcomer. At just under seventeen minutes, there’s no real good reason to pass up Superblue, at least if you’ve been tracking the fascinating evolution of soul-R&B in the digital age. So start it off right with the EP opener “On Your Side”, whose UK-inspired liquid bass line, floating synth chords, and uncomplicated drum patterns pad a bed of forget-me-nots for Sasha Ortiz’s dynamic falsetto, all of which send this future superstar straight into the hyper-periwinkle stratosphere.

Les Imprimés: “You”

When a genre breaks out of its birthplace, it opens itself up internationally to interpreters and innovators of all kinds. So while we most closely associate the soul sound with Detroit and Memphis, especially amidst this blissful retro-soul resurgence, you can find fascinating takes on soul from corners of the globe you might not expect. Say for example Kristiansand, Norway. That’s the home base of producer/arranger/multi-instrumentalist Morten Martens. After scoring Norway’s equivalent to a Grammy for hip-hop production back in 2006, Martens’ creative craftsmanship has only evolved alongside his low-key lifestyle; a turn away from touring led Martens to construct his own home studio and turned recording and producing others into a full-time gig. Yet it was only the onset of COVID that gave Martens the time, even in an already-isolated setting, to revaluate all the skills he’d accrued over the years and funnel them all into his ’60s-’70s inspired soul-funk-pop project Les Imprimés. As heard on Les Imprimés’ upcoming debut LP Rêverie, Martens doesn’t exactly have the kind of pipes you’d expect from the classic Motown/Stax era. But backed by vintage-style arrangements and recording techniques, Les Imprimés transcends “blue eyed soul” with truly beautiful originals, all the product of Martens dreaming big. So before getting lost in the dozen-song daydream when Rêverie drops on August 11th, take a step into the time machine with the album’s latest lead single, “You”. Because at a clean three minutes, “You” presents those throwback chart-topping pop formulas in a way that makes it sound like a long-lost Delfonics rarity just got a healthy remaster. We’re calling it now – Morten Martens is on the fast track to becoming Norway’s answer to Kelly Finnigan.

Sami Stevens: “Tonight”

When a songwriter relocates to a metropolitan music hub, they often do so with the hope that that their new surroundings will inspire a higher level of artistry, that the scene will spark something not yet uncovered. But the reality is that, with some rare exceptions, the passion, perspective, and potential that separate the best from the rest all arrived long before relocation. So sure, keyboardist-singer Sami Stevens resides in Brooklyn, but her adolescent exposure to bucolic depression in rural Maine and subsequent attempt to understand that morbid underbelly within an otherwise majestic landscape arguably outweighs anything else in terms of personal outlook. Those nuanced viewpoints complement a love of complex jazz, soul, and folk characters like Carole King, Sarah Vaughan, Minnie Riperton, Donny Hathaway, Joni Mitchell for a bittersweet blend of ’60s/’70s sounds. And on top of those foundations, Stevens has an incredible set of pipes, which’ve made her stand out even in BK’s bustling performance culture. And yet outside of some turn-of-the-’20s collaborations with saxophonist Kazemde George, Sami hasn’t really shared any solo material offstage…until now. Sami Stevens’ solo studio career dawns next Friday with her debut full-length Morning an eleven-piece portrait of life as Stevens sees it. Conceptually informed by a degree in Psychology and sonically enhanced by its counterpart in Jazz Performance, the once-sparse arrangements on Morning crest over the horizon anew with vibrant orchestral flourishes that match Stevens’ idiosyncratic reflections. On the LP’s latest offering “Tonight”, Sami seats you right in the swing set and nudges you through a three-and-a-half minute cycle of delicate instrumentation, perfectly-subtle percussion, progressive chord structures and Stevens’ one-of-a-kind featherweight falsetto.

Dante Bowe: “Wind Me Up” (feat. Anthony B)

Happy Juneteenth! Although Juneteenth has been recognized as a U.S. federal holiday for three years now, of course its roots lie here in Texas. So in the rich century-and-a-half tradition of spiritualism, resilience, and commemoration, today we’re celebrating Juneteenth with a North Texas gospel inspiration. Hailing from small town North Carolina and now based out of the Big D, Dante Bowe‘s been blowing up pretty quickly over the past decade; beginning with his self-released 2017 debut Son of a Father and continuing with 2021’s Circles, Bowe’s empowered, contemporary approach to gospel has scored his original tunes tons of streams across the globe. On top of a win for his contributions to Maverick City Music’s Old Church Basement, the past two years at the Grammys have also seen Dante Bowe earn an impressive number of self-earned nominations. Closely coinciding with the recent launch of his own label, TRUE Music, this summer Dante Bowe bestows us with a passionate, self-titled full-length. This eponymous entry finds Bowe bringing his deep gospel roots and persevering voice into the worlds of hip-hop, and reggae with the help of some top-tier collaborators including Jekalyn Carr and Vic Mensa. Just last Saturday, Dante Bowe took part in Hartsville, South Carolina’s Juneteenth Celebration, marking a pretty sturdy midpoint between Dante Bowe‘s drop date on July 21st and the release of its latest single at the top of June. Thanks to Jamaican Rastafari reggae revolutionary Anthony B, “Wind Me Up” circumnavigates the constraints of Christian music with a beach-party-ready bop. “Wind Me Up” lets loose with tack-sharp timbale rolls, steamy rhythm guitar, dancehall-proven drum and bass, and just the best of both worlds when it comes to vocals.

Sidney Scott: “Maybe You Were Right”

Historically, a native Austinite status set you on an accessible, auspicious trajectory towards making music. But of course, as tech culture eclipses the “weird” Live Music Capital character that Austin’s clung on to since the ’70s, it just doesn’t happen as much any more. So while simply being born within the city limits isn’t enough to guarantee the songwriter’s lifestyle, having musical parents sure as heck helps. See: Sidney Scott. Raised by a professional singer and a professional woodwind player, Sidney’s childhood in the Scott household was always chock full of good tunes. So when Sidney started discovering her own pipes, her folks weren’t necessarily looking to maintain a family legacy in music…but they certainly weren’t hypocrites either; they encouraged Sidney to follow her own passion, and we’re awfully glad they did. In 2021 Sidney Scott shared a pair of standalone studio singles, showing off her proclivity for soul, jazz, folk, and blues, not to mention an incredible grasp on vocal performance. Today, as part of her patient plans to drop her debut EP tentatively in 2024, Sidney Scott gives us a sneak peek at her unique hybridizing process. What began as an iPhone voice memo attempting to capture the best of both Brandi Carlile and Lake Street Dive was fully fleshed out by seasoned Austin producer Ray Prim and a form-fitting four-piece backing band. This latest original is a sensuous piece of gospel-soul that from its first organ-vocal unison through its sparkling firecracker choruses, billowed arrangement nuances, and Shirley Bassey-meets-Amy Winehouse final falsetto vibrato, years from now, when looking back at those of us who recognized Scott’s promising potential, might just make you say “Maybe You Were Right”

The Sextones: “Without You”

Whether or not it’s a frequency bias we picked up within the past few weeks, we’ve been loving this recent resurgence of retro soul. And for those who’ve been following that particular trend, you probably already know that Monophonics frontman Kelly Finnigan is a leading voice in this genre renaissance. Today, however, we’re not talking about Kelly’s pipes. Instead we’re letting Finnigan’s production skills shine alongside some fellow vintage soul savants.

Enter Reno four-piece The Sextones. What began as a mutual infatuation over ’60s-’70s soul and a clever fetishization of a family surname has, since the release of The Sextones’ 2017 debut Moonlight Vision, excelled exponentially. And while founding guitarist-vocalist Mark Sexton and bassist Alexander Korostinsky also moonlight an intrinsically-cinematic style through Whatitdo Archive Group, The Sextones instead adhere to a sextant of truly classic R&B-soul songwriting. In doing so The Sextones have earned the professional respect of Finnigan, and subsequently, the caress of his keen ear for their upcoming sophomore full-length.

That LP Love Can’t Be Borrowed drops September 29th, and each lead single (now half the album’s ten tracks) eases us closer to settling the debt and resetting a heritage for the next generations of retro-soul curators. Between the interpersonal simplicity of its title, call-and-response, unison-to-harmony vocal structure, razor sharp rhythm section, vibrant brass and beguiling ivory chords, “Without You” sounds just like an analog-tracked Stax standout or a Motown mainstay remastered for the modern era.

Tina Piranha: “A Budding Interest in Treason”

The power of lyrical impact can be timeless, but as great as words over melody can be, there’s a whole different appeal to sans-lyrical explorations. For example, when added onto styles like funk or soul, the genre modifier “cinematic” usually tips listeners off to a strictly instrumental experience, where the lack of lyrics not only allows extra space for meditation, but also opens up your imagination to fill in the blanks – be it with visuals, Rod Serling-esque internal monologue, or just abstract emotional reactions to exotic sounds.

A top notch purveyor of such is Austin’s Tina Piranha, whose eight-player appetite chomps out the rarest bits of ’60s soundtracks, Turkish psychedelia, Ethiopian jazz and beyond into accessible, bite-sized soul tracks. Last year Tina Piranha teamed up with Grammy winner Beto Martinez to record and mix the octet’s debut EP Komissar 13, the ultimate horn-heavy score for any wannabe jet-setting G Men with too many jazz cigarettes on hand. This year, in an effort to change up the sonic scenery, Tina Piranha’s joined forces with Quiet Company’s Matt Parmenter, who’s already ushered in four new singles within the past five months.

With that rapid of output, Tina Piranha’s definitely far from having their fill for 2023, so keep your ears peeled on your preferred streaming platform. ‘Til next month’s meal, go ahead and take “A Budding Interest in Treason”. Just don’t let your boss catch you working on your midcentury espionage spec script.

Paige Hill: “Sticks and Stones”

As much as us at KUTX sing the praises of native Austinites, we’d never dream of detracting from their adjoining contemporaries who are essentially a stone’s throw outside our city limits. Take for example Austin born-and-raised singer Paige Hill, who’s currently headquartered in Dallas. As part of her steady ascent to statewide stardom, Paige partakes in a regular routine of entertaining her fellow Dallasites, characterized by all kinds of Central Texas ridges – Americana, country, blues, and soul.

Weekends off are largely a thing of the past for Paige; when Hill’s not crushing it with her outfit The Kitchen Section, she’s supporting Evan Boyer & The Remedy or contributing her pipes for more pious purposes at her neighborhood church. In keeping up with her fervently feminine counterparts, Paige Hill’s lyrical prominence lies in relating personal experiences of heartache, infatuation, brood pride, and comeback character arcs. And thankfully, alongside her willingness to offer up services as a vocal accompanist or co-writer for hire, Hill’s original works inspire listeners to dance through the damage, laugh through the tears, or cry out frustration when stuck in a rut.

That gendered sense of strength surrounds Paige Hill’s upcoming debut EP Good Woman, a five-song summit that embodies some of the most resilient female characteristics. This handful of tracks tackles ’70s-style country and classic soul on top of contemporary rock and blues for an Americana-anchored odyssey of well-intentioned, bricks-bouncing-off-bones toughness. So before Good Woman arrives, take a page out of Hill’s book by overlooking life’s more paltry remarks with the the one tune on the record not entirely penned by Paige herself. A collaboration between co-writer Guillermo Murillo and horn arranger Preston Lewis, the optimistic soul of “Sticks and Stones” (complete with sax and trumpet stabs, adroit organ and keyboard work, plus Paige’s powerhouse vocals atop it all) soars far above expectations for a newcomer like Paige within a succinct three-minute runtime.

Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints: “One Tribe”

Even though it’s been five years since Charles Bradley left us, the sensation’s parting message still stands strong: that it’s never too late to break out and follow your dreams. Bradley’s experience is plenty inspiring on its own, but imagine having a bona fide genre legend tell you they remind you of themselves in their midcentury heyday.

That’s exactly what happened when church-taught, wedding-refined singer Bobby Harden was recruited into The Blues Brothers Band a little over a decade back. Harden’s passionate pipes quickly earned endorsements from Blues Brothers co-founders Steve Cropper, Lou Marini, Matt Murphy, and most notably – touring frontman and Stax superstar Eddie Floyd. These auspicious affirmations eventually enticed Harden to form his own outfit – Soul Purpose – a formative but relatively short-lived endeavor that passed on right around the same time that Charles Bradley did.

That’s not to say Harden’s spark died alongside Bradley; instead, with the help of veteran trumpeter/producer Billy Aukstik, Bradley’s backing group reformed behind Bobby Harden as The Soulful Saints. Between the band’s canonized handle and the passing of torches from Floyd and Bradley, the spiritual weight within Bobby Harden’s most recent chapter can’t be overstated. But rather than revert back to his developmental gospel days, Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints are revitalizing the best of retro-soul.

This Friday Bobby Harden & The Soulful Saints release their debut full-length Bridge of Love, ten tracks that pave a soul expressway between urbane ballads, elegant ’70s-style pop, rudimentary R&B, and more. These originals would’ve been incredible had they been performed by Harden alone, but the Soulful Saints really bless this collection with seductive strings, heavy horns, buoyant backup vocals, and a bit of Latin-tinged rhythms to top it all off. Hear for yourself on Bridge of Love‘s latest lead single “One Tribe”, which channels the progressive psych-soul arrangements of early-mid-’70s Curtis Mayfield and The Temptations – almost like an equal-and-opposite companion piece to both “Freddie’s Dead” and “Ball of Confusion” – while retaining Harden’s idiosyncratic howl. From its initial snare taps straight to its final exclamation mark of a horn hit, we’re positive you’ll find more than “One Tribe” who’ll love this record.