New Diplomats of Solid Sound Album What Goes Around Comes Around on 10/11

I’m really happy about the number of great new releases coming out this fall! One release that I’ve been waiting on for I think two years, is the new album from Iowa City’s own Diplomats of Solid Sound! I first heard songs that would make up What Goes Around Comes Around (Record Kicks, October 28) back in August 2008 when they performed at KCCK’s Jazz Under the Stars. In fact, I’m pretty sure I remember the title song from that show. In the shows I’ve seen since then, I’ve heard most of these songs so I feel like I’m already familiar with the album!

The line up for The Diplomats has changed since their 2008 release The Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring The Diplomettes which was released on Italian Boogaloo-loving label Record Kicks and domestically on Pravda. The Diplomettes was a trio before Abbie Sawyer moved to New Zealand for a year leaving Sarah Cram and Kathy Ruestow to handle the vocal duties as a duo. Original drummer Jim Viner departed at the end of 2008 and is these days behind the skins for Brother Trucker. Viner was replaced by Paul Kresowik.

Like their 2008 release, What Goes Around Comes Around was mixed and edited by Adam Gibbons aka Lack of Afro. Just listening to the track “Give Me One More Chance” which you can hear below on their Soundcloud link (below) I can hear an evolution in their sound. While still firmly planted in classic Ameican soul and R&B– it seems a little more evolved to me. The strings on this track are a fantastic flourish to the song. On the song “What Goes Around Comes Around”  they have developed a hot buttered jazz funk that I’d like to hear more of.

What Goes Around Comes Around is due to release on October 11th and will be available from the band, on Amazon and other places like Dusty Groove (likely) in LP and CD and digital download. Prior to the release of the album there will be a 7″ of “Back Off” and “B-O-O-G-A-L-O-O” the center label will look like this:

Record Kicks has made this single available before its release date of 9/27 as a digital download from their site. You can get both sides of the single in 320Kbps mp3’s for £ 0.79 apiece. After PayPal fees and currency conversion, I got both tracks for $2.77 US.

Click Here to visit the Record Kicks page for the “Back Off” b/w “B-O-O-G-A-L-O-O” single to order your mp3’s or to purchase the 7″ single. You can listen to the tracks here, too.

Tracklisting for What Goes Around Comes Around:
1. B-O-O-G-A-L-O-O
2. Back Off
3. Promise Of A Brand New Day
4. Gimme One More Chance
5. No Man
6. Fascination
7. Bailout!
8. Jealous
9. What Goes Around Comes Around
10. I Can’t Wait For Your Love (Pistol Allen)
11. Get Out Of The Way (So I Can Get Back To My Life)

THE DIPLOMATS OF SOLID SOUND – Give Me One More Chance by Record Kicks

Upcoming Show: New Beat Society w/ The Uniphonics at the Yacht Club 12/18/08

It was with surprise that I read the e-mail blast from Iowa City Yacht Club which said that New Beat Society was going to be playing a reunion show. I was also surprised to find out that Kathy Ruestow– one of the soul sirens from The Diplomettes was the vocalist for New Beat Society! The even more embarrassing part is that the whole-house mp3 player has been playing three mp3’s from the band for a couple of years, now, and I never put it together that her very distinctive voice was in both bands…

Anyway, I’m pretty excited to see this show. New Beat Society brings the slinky jazz-funk that recalls some of my favorite Acid Jazz from the mid-90’s.

The opening act is the Uniphonics which is a HipHop MC with live jazz/funk band– also very Acid Jazz. The couple of tracks on their MySpace page proves that they are a very complimentary opening act and worth showing up early for.

The show starts at 9PM and the cover is a measly $7. What are you waiting for?

Click Here for New Beat Society’s MySpace Page

Click Here for The Uniphonics MySpace Page

Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring The Diplomettes US Domestic Release on Pravda Records 7/8/08

Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring the Diplomettes on Pravda RecordsFinally a domestic record label has the sense to release the great new release from The Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring the Diplomettes! Longtime Chicago Indie label Pravda Records. Although the instrumental releases were primarily on Estrus Records, this release coming out on Pravda makes sense as the Andre Williams album Aphrodisiac which utilized The Diplomats as his band as well as future Diplomette Sarah Cram on backing vocals.

The album is set to drop on July 8th and should be available via your favorite independent record store as well as Amazon and other online spots. This is good news for US fans of the band– the Italian Record Kicks releases are imports and really pricey! At the moment Amazon has one for $23! seems to be out of the CD at the moment with more coming at “the end of June,” but has the tasty vinyl version in at $18. According to the press release from Pravda these should be $14.98 MSRP, and indeed this is what Amazon lists the price to be.

This release has new cover art and packaging (you can see the Record Kicks cover art here). Otherwise, this is an identical release to the import version down to the “Hurt Me So (Lack of Afro Remix)” bonus track. The album was recorded live in the studio by Justin Kennedy at Minstrel Studios in Iowa city and subsequently shipped to Lack of Afro for final mixing and production. I think it is the live recording that gives the record its energy and ultimately why it stands up to repeated listening so well. Ultimately, the album was recorded in 2007 but it took a while to sort out what label was going to release it. In the meantime the band had very smartly put early mixes out on their MySpace pages. By The time the record was released most of their fans were already very familiar with the funk and soul of tracks like “Lights Out,” “Hurt Me So,” and “Come In My Kitchen.” Around my house, these songs are as familiar as any major label release would be and very much a soundtrack to our lives.

Even with the seemingly long career arc this band has had– I remember talking to Doug at a Bo Ramsey show in 1997 or 1998 at the Green Room in Iowa City about his “New Project” and the five albums since 2001– it seems like with the constant touring with the Diplomettes in tow has started to build a well-deserved buzz.

The Diplomats have at the moment about 11 shows coming up including three live shows in between Cedar Rapids, Iowa City and Coralville and a handful of festivals. Make sure you get out to see them and pick up this album while you’re at it.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound MySpace Page with samples from the new album.

The Diplomettes MySpace Page with songs from the new album

Jun 20 2008 9:00P
Silver Dollar Cantina Dubuque, Iowa
Jun 27 2008 9:00P
Triple Rock Minneapolis, Minnesota
Jun 28 2008 8:00P
The Bottom Lounge Chicago, Illinois
Jul 3 2008 9:00P
The Picador Iowa City, Iowa
Jul 4 2008 7:15P
80/35 Festival Des Moines, Iowa
Jul 11 2008 4:00P
Camp Euforia Lone Tree, Iowa
Jul 12 2008 5:00P
Riverside Casino & Resort Riverside, Iowa
Jul 26 2008 9:00P
Linneman’s Riverwest Inn Milwaukee, Wisconsin
Jul 31 2008 6:30P
Music In The Park Coralville, Iowa
Aug 28 2008 8:00P
KCCK Jazz Under The Stars Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Aug 29 2008 6:00P
Friday Night Concert Series Iowa City, Iowa
Aug 30 2008 4:00P
New Bohemian Festival Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Aug 30 2008 8:00P
Rock Island Brewing Compnay Rock Island, Illinois
Aug 31 2008 9:00P
Blankfest / Funny Bone Comedy Club West Des Moines, Iowa

IT’S STAR TIME! – The Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring the Diplomettes at 3rd Street Live 1-26-08

The Diplomettes

“It’s Star Time!!!” Doug announced to the Saturday night crowd at 3rd Street Live after a quick instrumental set of songs from The Diplomats of Solid Sound. “It’s Star Time!!” he repeated and introduced the lovely ladies of The Diplomettes who were greeted by enthusiastic cheering and clapping.

The announcement style is a tribute to the emcee Danny Ray who used to exclaim “Star Time!” before James Brown hit the stage. It’s with this knowing wink that The Diplomats of Solid Sound pays homage to the work of soul greats like James Brown who is arguably the architect of the music that influences them. The B3-fueled sound of The Diplomats draws equally from the Stax houseband Booker T and the MG’s and Brown’s band the JB’s.

Nate Basinger on the keys

The band seems very comfortable in the role of backing band to the three vocalists of the Diplomettes. Prior to July 2006 when the girls joined the group, The Diplomats of Solid Sound were largely an instrumental act with three albums under their belt; two of which on independent label Estrus Records. They were enjoying a modicum of popularity mostly in the EU where they had been doing touring and by the finicky tastes of TV producers needing a juicy instrumental vamp for some scene on VH1 and MTV’s regular diet of reality shows. In a similar fashion to Booker T and the MG’s each of the members of the band are noted regional sessionmen performing on most of the noted Eastern Iowa recordings in the last ten years.

Jim Viner and Doug Roberson from the Diplomats of Solid Sound

I guess the last time I saw the Diplomats was March of 2006 at Martini’s. I’ve seen the guys since then– Nate and Jim at the two Bo Ramsey shows and Doug a couple of times at the Picador. There always seemed to be something conflicting with convenient shows. As such, I hadn’t seen any performances with the Diplomettes other than catching some clips on YouTube.

Back then, the Diplomat shows were pretty much low-key affairs. The band pulling out chestnuts from Booker T and the MG’s as well as Blue Note acts and the occasional surf tune in addition to their own material. A great band to kick back and listen to while drinking and hanging with friends. The 2008 version of the band delivers a completely different show.

In fact, the show Saturday night was almost more of a revue in the classic ’60’s sense focusing on showmanship. The focus of the show was the Diplomettes who brought a vintage girl group sensibilityto the act. Each of the three ladies provided lead vocal turns while the other two provided harmonies; sometimes singing in a three-part harmony. I could hear similarities to Motown acts like the Supremes and Martha and the Vandellas, but also Southern Soul/Stax styles, or a Phil Spector girl group influence. At times the vocals seemed to have a 40’s Andrews Sisters feel (at least in the three-part harmonies). Visually, the Diplomettes are stunning– color coordinated dresses and choreography all add to the appeal. I particularly like the palms-out and drop done to “Lights Out.”


I was fairly familiar with a lot the songs as I’d been listening to them streaming from the Diplomettes MySpace page— it seemed like the crowd was as well. Original songs like “Hurt Me So” and “Come In My Kitchen” are certainly crowd pleasers. One cover that took me by surprise was the “We’re Doin’ It (Thang) (pt. 2)” by Eddie Bo and the Soulfinders! I’m familiar with this song due to its inclusion in the DJ Shadow and Cut Chemist Brainfreeze all-45’s mix. Very nice choice. I guess these shows are also an education in rare R&B!

The crowd Saturday night was great– lots of folks up dancing of all ages. My wife had a great time and we are talking about going to see them again in February– possibly in Dubuque or in Iowa City.

Go see them if you get a chance!

Here is my photoset of the show with more pictures.

The Diplomats of Solid Sound Website

The Diplomats of Solid Sound MySpace Page with songs

The Diplomettes MySpace Page with songs

The Diplomats of Solid Sound Featuring the Diplomettes on Facebook