Smooth Sailin’ – Leon Bridges

It’s no surprise that Leon Bridges draws comparisons of Otis Redding and Sam Cooke. Or that his largest listening-base is in London. (Those Brits are fairly soulful, after all.)

My craving for modern soul always leads me down interesting paths, and it caused me to knock on Leon Bridge’s door, seeking reprieve from the Twenty One Pilot’s of the world.

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Bridges is only 26, and his maturity both as an individual and a musician, greatly predates his current generation. Even in interviews, his demeanor is relaxed, respectful and open.

He’s taken an interesting stance on his sound, though. Bridges has been quoted as saying that he thinks he was born in the right generation. He understands that it’s his throwback sound that draws attention now, whereas in the 50s or 60s, he’d probably get swallowed up in the sea of soulful musicians.

“Smooth Sailin'” boogies the way an old Stax-produced track would. It’s a refreshing pick-me-up in the recent trend of moody, echoey, beat-laden tracks.

I can see Bridges forming himself as less of a breakout mainstream artist, and more of an under-the-radar artist that sticks around for awhile, like The Gaslight Anthem. Substance is the name of the game when it comes to this young, striking musician.

S.O.B. – Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats

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That’s pretty much the reaction I had when I heard this song initially.

As mentioned before, I have a few amazing friends with good taste. And I’m not ashamed to admit that I leech off of them from time to time. Katie Krueger is my most visited victim in this audio-assault. Her taste is outstanding.

Rateliff and Co. are an incredibly refreshing old blues/Chicago sound that WILL remind you of the Blues Brothers. And that’s intentional – after all, Stax is in the picture with this group.

Their first album was released this year, and I have a feeling that they’re going to creep into the music scene like a slow-acting poison. They’ll getcha when you least expect it.

Many fans are coming from Jimmy Fallon, and I can appreciate that. It’s always refreshing to hear good music on television.

Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff's Twitter account, @NRateliff.

Photo courtesy of Nathaniel Rateliff’s Twitter account, @NRateliff.

Initially, I swore this song was “Little Bitty Pretty One,” and I had to rewind a few times to figure out if they were sampling the “hums,” or actually humming them.

In the past, Rateliff released two albums of singer-songwriter material that’s far more subdued than his work with The Night Sweats. This album is where is talent really shines.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Rateliff admitted that some might feel his latest effort is “just more stupid blue-eyed soul.” But the fact that Rateliff is finally being more true to himself is really shining through. The whole album is immensely fun to listen to, and it’s quite the treat to hear such Stax-influenced music being released.

So, go ahead and listen to “S.O.B.” Or the whole album. And I dare you not to dance like Jake and Elwood.

Pedestrian at Best – Courtney Barnett

No lie, I heard about Courtney Barnett through a post a friend put on Facebook. She was referencing the clowns in the video, but when I heard the song, it wouldn’t stop spinning in my head.

Then, this morning as we were pulling up to work, Brandon had put on WNKU, and they mentioned Barnett. It put her back into my consciousness, so I figured it was only appropriate to post about her.

Barnett’s album, Sometimes I Sit and Think, and Sometimes I Just Sit is WNKU’s album of the month for July and she’s received multiple accolades, including rave reviews in Rolling Stone, Paste, Pitchfork and The Guardian. Barnett has also been featured on shows like the Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, further cementing her encroach into the mainstream.

The Aussie musician is being hailed as a rising star, and no one seems to know quite how to define her. Some say she fits in a category called “slacker rock,” while others say that her lyrics defy that, and shine a light on the mundane parts of life, echoing Bob Dylan’s approach.

Regardless of her place in music, Barnett has a knack for making her presence feel natural to the listener. The slight twinge of her Australian accent gives her away in most songs, and her choices are always on-point and deliberate.

If you find yourself hopping from one song to the next on Sometimes I Sit don’t be alarmed. While “Pedestrian at Best” is her leading cry, the rest of the tracks provide a casual sound that will drag you in.

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