Review: Longstanding San Fran soul troupe Monophonics celebrate the release of their fifth album last month with this cheeky 45". Taking The Four Seasons' forever-faved standard "Beggin'" and adding their own uptempo charm, polished guitars and yearning vocals, it's an impressive and respectful cover that's backed up all the way with a stone cold instrumental on the B. Some classics never grow old...
Review: San Francisco psychedelic soul ensemble Monophonics were once described by Stax Records co-owner Al Bell as "one of the best soul bands I have ever seen", which is high praise indeed. Mirrors, which comes pressed onto clear green vinyl, is the combo's fifth full-length and first album for three years. It's a surprisingly breezy and eclectic affair, with the band variously turning their hands to bluesy, Rare Earth style funk-rock ("Lying"), Hammond-heavy peak-time business (a tasty cover of Frankie Valli's "Beggin"), spiraling instrumental wig-outs (fabulous closer "California Dreaming"), heart-aching torch songs ("My Heart Cries") and laidback, acid-fried Balearic soul (opener "Summer Breeze"). In other words, it's a fine album that sparkles from start to finish.
Review: Having previously toured with bands including Orgone and Monophonics, Venice Beach vocalist Terin Moswen Ector is trying his hand as a solo artist. Transistor Sound has snapped up his forthcoming debut album, and here offer up a tasty two-track teaser. "Rise" is utterly gorgeous and sees Moswen's inspired, Bob Marley influenced vocal rising above a brilliant bed of skittish, Afro-Cuban jazz influenced grooves, clipped guitars, fuzzy Hammond organ motifs and rich horns. He moves further towards Fela Kuti style Afrobeat territory on heavyweight flipside "Tobacco & Sage", a killer instrumental club-rocker and a half.
Review: Alanna Royale has been active in the funk and soul scene for quite a few years now, though her releases have previously been limited to a handful of self-released EPs and a sole album (recorded live and thrown out to raise funds for Puerto Rico hurricane survivors). Here she debuts on Transistor Sound, with Kelly Finnigan of label owners Monophonics handling production duties. "Go" is a great chunk of fuzzy, retro-futurist soul, with Royale's superb Alice Russell style vocal simply soaring above a bustling backing track rich in parping horns, skittish drum breaks and razor-sharp funk guitars. Royale remains in fine form on flipside "I Know", another distorted stomper of the sort that should excite both Northern Soul diehards and modern soul aficionados.