This here my best of 2013 list…and of course it is limited to the best of soul and funk-ish, music last year. Since that’s what we know about over here. I’m not sure anyone even reads this stuff but I’ll say a few words from the soul about each of the albums. Enjoy, and download the heck outta some stuff ova heay. Here’s the top 25 soul/funk albums of 2013.
25. Adrian Younge Presents…The Delfonics
Back from near extinction the Delfonics are laying down some iconic windy soul. The distinctive vocals and live production make this album a must hear. You can catch Mr. Younge backing the likes of Ghostface Killa, and the Souls of Mischief as well. Check him out over at waxpoetics.
Adrian Younge Presents the Delfonics-Enemies
24. The Bamboos-Fever in the Road
Holy Mackerel…do these blokes ever stop or even slow down. They almost made the list last year too. Constantly throwin’ down a form of revitalized soul/funk from down unda.
The Bamboos-Helpless Blues
23. Melt Yourself Down-S/T
Free form jazz and experimental funk instrumentation is not dead, and Melt Yourself Down is here to prove that fact. So get hip to it hipsters…or more like beatniks.
Melt Yourself Down-Release!
22. Mayer Hawthorne-Where Does This Door Go
The boy has lost some of his edge recently, but he’s traded it in for a shiny glossy pop sound that fits him well. The music on this album still exudes a confidence and character matched by few, as Mr. Hawthorne faithfully looks to the past for inspiration. This baby still got soul.
Mayer Hawthorne-Back Seat Lover
21. Orgone-Fuzzed Up
Now seemingly veterans in the game, Orgone is still presenting us with the raw, gritty, funky stuff we like to dance to so much, adding a rockin’ edge to the milieu.
20. Nicole Willis w/ the Soul Investigators-Tortured Soul
Over the years this group has put out countless hits and backed numerous talented artists, including Myron and E, who you will find down the list further. This effort finds the band experimenting with different styles and sounds, but always landing back firmly on all fours like a cat. They don’t call them the Soul Investigators for nothin’.
Nicole Willis and the Soul Investigators-Light Years Ahead
Probably the smoothest ish you will hear all year. Swimming in soul, floating around in a dreamland of tropical, laidback grooves that are so infectious you will be hooked instantly.
18. Alice Russell-To Dust
Adding a hint of electronic experimentation to the mix on here, Miss Russell still stands out as one of the most beautiful voices in the industry, and she still can muster the soulful crooning as well as anyone. Check out the interesting instrumentation on this album, you’ll be sure to dig it.
Alice Russell-For A While
17. Mop Mop-Isle of Magic
A fine mix of African rhythms and drums, mixed with great guests, and fun jams. Soul, funk, afrobeat, and world collide in this ecclectic journey around the world.
Mop Mop-Run Around
16. The Sweet Vandals-After All
Comin’ outta left field, this disc is soo solid and soulful it’ll have you wondering what decade this is.
The Sweet Vandals-Waves and Wings
Much like the name implies, this release from the fine people over at Freestyle Records is true heavyweight soul in the style of Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions. I’m all in.
Frootful-Baby It’s A Fine Line
14. Owiny Sigoma Band-Power Punch
Not just traditional African highlife music here. This album mixes the sounds of modern pop and disco, into the mix of African instrumentation, the unique nyatiti lyre. Attempting such a feat is no problem, pulling it off is another matter all together, and this band has got it down perfectly. This disc is highly addictive.
Owiny Sigoma Band-Harpoon Land
13. James Hunter Six-Minute by Minute
Specializing in an authentic form of soul and r-n-b revival sounding like its from early in the 60s, the James Hunter Six gives us the real goods on this newest release. A gem.
The James Hunter Six-Heartbreak
12. Elvis Costello and the Roots-Wise Up Ghost
I was reluctant to put this on the list because Elvis Costello isn’t really my idea of a soulman, but after listening to this, I have to hand it to em, they made some soulful, funky, and relevant tunes.
Elvis Costello and the Roots-Walk Us Uptown
11. Myron and E w/ the Soul Investigators-Broadway
These talented young men know just how to croon over the Soul Investigators hot instrumental work, seamlessly floating through slow soulful numbers and bangin’ funk jams.
Myron and E-Broadway
10. Lord Echo-Curiosities
I guess you could call this Indie-Funk. This young man from NZ has been toiling away on his work for years now and has given us this solid sophomore effort of unique beats and rhythms. Moving away from his reggae tinged work with the Black Seeds, Mike Fabs the producer and multi-instrumentalist has banged it home with this Lord Echo release.
Lord Echo-Street Knowledge
9. Booker T.-Sound the Alarm
Great album from the Memphis soul/blues legend. Still stroking the organ with the best of them, this album combines Booker’s classic style with cross over appeal and fun guest stars.
Booker T.-Sound the Alarm
8. Willis Earl Beal-Nobody Knows
This young man has come onto the scene strong, and its no wonder, since it seems to me that he’s channeling Otis Reddings ghost.
Willis Earl Beal-Burning Bridges
7. King Khan-Idle No More
An album according to Khan himself, that is “about the state of the world we live in today.” The soul/psych/garage griots haven’t let down, and have probed into dark corners.
King Khan and the Shrines-Darkness
6. Luke Temple-Good Mood Fool
Perhaps not 100% soul or funk, this album can be anything it wants to be, its more than good enough to make it high on this list.
5. Charles Bradley-Victim Of Love
There’s very little I need to say about this album. It has the Menahan St. Band, and a veteran pimp of the soul game, Mr. Bradley. Don’t miss him live in his red suit.
Charles Bradley-Where Do We Go From Here
These ladies know what’s up with putting together a great soul record, I expect big things from them in the future. This brand of soul/funk revival is authentic and sweet, a great disc for fans of 60’s Motown.
Lady-Tell the Truth
3. Mavis Staples-One True Vine
The combination of Jeff Tweedy and Mavis Staples was a match made in heaven, as evidenced by the amount of gospel influence on this album. However that does not deter the non-religious person from thoroughly enjoying this near masterpiece. With the amount of soul output on this album its enough to turn the non-spiritual into a regular snake handler. This one’s so good it nearly made me weep.
Mavis Staples-Can You Get To That
2. Jamie Lidell-S/T
With amazing chops that can’t help but remind you of Prince, this release from early in the year has enough soul and feeling to power it through all year long, and to land it high on the list for best of 2013.
Jamie Lidell-What A Shame
Jamie Lidell-I’m Selfish
Jamie Lidell-Do Yourself a Favor
1. The Stepkids-Troubadour
…and finally the number one spot. Troubadour by the Stepkids. The second full length from this experimental pop jazz combo, couldn’t have come at a better time. When this album dropped the scene was awash in indie hipster core, and dreamy bedroom gaze. Thankfully the smooth, jazzy tunes on here were a needed breath of fresh new air. Mixing enough soul, funk, and fun beats to get a dance party started, this album also has important introspective tracks that aptly tells the tale of a group of serious musicians trying to make a difference in an atmosphere of musical hive mindedness. Pandering to the masses is not what the Stepkids do, instead they find their own musical inspiration and run wild with it, popular or not.
Quoting the website, newalbumstreams, they say, “when you manage to attract the short attention span of Odd Future’s Tyler, The Creator you know you’re doing something right. On The Stepkids’ second album Troubadour it’s hard to pinpoint what that exactly is, but their kaleidoscopic blend of sixties psychedelica, seventies soul and modern production techniques sure keeps fascinating.” Yup, true.
The Stepkids-The Lottery
The Stepkids-Sweet Salvation
The Stepkids-Moving Picturesad
So you see, even sluts on wrecking balls couldn’t ruin 2013.