July was an unbearably hot month in most of the country and August seems to rolling in with some dangerous thunder and lightning this weekend across the Jersey Shore. Some great new releases this month from Ike and Tina Tuner who knew a lot about rolling, a refresh of Alice Russell’s classic album from 2013, and the debut album from a potential star down to end the month. Maple Glider might be one to watch going forward.
Ike and Tina Turner: The Bolic Sound Sessions
Buy at Amazon (Release Date: 07/02/21, Sunset Boulevard Records)
Bandleader and guitarist Ike Turner was a control freak both on and offstage with the band and his wife, but there was nothing that he could do to keep Tornado Tina from sending the audience into a frenzy once she found her rhythm. Tina Turner deserved every ounce of her success in the 1980s with a string of hits that helped to pave over the cruel cycle of abuse that she underwent during her marriage to Ike Turner — but we’re willing to go back in time and remember the energy of this hybrid funk/soul duo that left a huge mark on the music world.
The Bolic Sound Sessions are a 2 CD collection that runs more than 2 hours in length encapsulating their recording projects at Ike Turner’s Bolic Sound Studios which he started building in 1970 in California. Turner, having been burned already in the music industry, decided that he would be the master of his destiny and use the studio to help other artists (aside from himself and Tina) benefit financially from their music. Turner was already aware that the music labels were not paying artists what they deserved for their work and used his profits from their first successful release to finance the project.
The 36 tracks are a mix of studio and live performances including multiple versions of “Proud Mary” with the explosive Tuner hitting her trademark high notes and overtaking Ike at every turn. Tina could sell everything from a slow ballad to an explosive funk number with her soulful voice and powerful onstage presence; she could dance, sing, and drive the crowd into ecstasy like few who came before or after. A fantastic collection from one of the best soul acts in music history.
Stubborn Heart: Made of Static
Buy at Amazon (Release Date: 06/04/21, One Little Independent)
Almost 8 years have past since their eponymous debut in 2013, but the London electronic duo are back with Made of Static; a 10 track release that mixes trip hop, electronica, and a smattering of dubstep.
Stubborn Heart have been classified as post-dubstep and downtempo, but the team of Luca Santucci and Ben Fitzgerald — describe themselves as electronic soul. “Talking Gold” feels like a lightweight version of Massive Attack; a more stripped down version without the bombastic feel of Mezzanine.
Santucci’s calming voice on “Oh Stephanie,” and “Out of my Hands” turns the two tracks into soothing medicine for those looking for meditative bliss. The beat feels rather repetitive and the bare bones instrumentation might not inspire multiple listens for some but I found it rather perfect for a rainy summer day. “Drop the Ball” is the most atmospheric track in the collection but lost me with its infantile lyrics. Santucci has been a solo artist for a few decades and his best work can be found as a musician on As One’s Planetary Folklore which was a fantastic blend of Detroit-techno, jazz, and soul music.
Alice Russell: To Dust (Bonus Track Edition)
Buy at Amazon (Release Date: 07/09/2021, Tru Thoughts)
Originally released in 2013, To Dust features the extremely soulful Alice Russell who is a definite cross between Chaka Khan, Minnie Ripperton, and a pinch of Amy Winehouse. The last comparison won’t resonate as strongly with many listeners who are probably confused because they sound nothing alike; Russell has the same kind of energy and I like how she takes command of every song.
To Dust feels more pop than R&B and that’s perfectly fine because Russell has the singing chops to pull off this collection of neatly constructed tracks. She’s been around longer than Adele or the late-Winehouse and her repertoire of soul music could fill multiple albums. What makes Russell so good is that she can transition from soulful ballads to gospel with very little difficulty. She’s an emotional performer who knows when to hold back and when to unleash her powerful expressive voice.
Maple Glider: To Enjoy is the Only Thing
Buy at Amazon (Release Date: 06/25/21, PTKF)
Melbourne-born, Maple Glider (Tori Zietsch), probably won’t complain if she garners any comparisons to Lana Del Rey; her delivery and sparse recording style almost immediately remind one of Chemtrails Over The Country Club. Her musical style isn’t quite as cinematic but the subject matter that covers sadness, a recent break-up, and her decision to abandon her religious upbringing feel oddly similar. This emotional collection of tracks including the poignant “As Tradition” works on many levels because Zietsch’s vocals bring genuine gravitas to each song. A surprising release that is worth more than a few listens to catch every bit of storytelling.