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

The Right Now – Carry Me Home (Review) & Upcoming Shows

I’m always concerned when an established band decides to change their name.

Chicago band The Right Now started life back in 2005 as R&B/Funk band Eli Jones and the Bare Bones by Brendan O’Connell. A live EP was recorded by this band in 2006. A few lineup changes and the addition of Stefanie Berecz as lead vocals prompted the truncating of the name to just Eli Jones. The album Make It Right was released in 2007 under this moniker while still continuing to hold true to the band’s R&B and Funk influences.

History shows that bands with names that seem like they would belong to one person tend to be confusing– just look at Jethro Tull, for example. Add in the fact that Eli Jones didn’t have the domain name for the band and the name was becoming somewhat cumbersome. So, it was the switch in name to The Right Now in 2009 that allowed the band to kind of re-invent itself. All of the fans of Eli Jones who had seen the high-energy shows in the small bars across Illinois, Wisconsin and Iowa were going to follow the band even after the name change.

When I saw the band in December of 2008  at Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids, they were still called Eli Jones, but had already incorporated a lot of the songs that would make up their new album which they had planned to release in 2009 into their live setsCarry Me Home is the first release by the band under it’s new name, and listening to the CD, I was taken back to that show with its memorable performances of “Ain’t Going Back,” “I Could Really Hold On,” “Doing Nothing,” “Carry Me Home,” “Nobody,” and “Before I Know Your Name.”

Getting ready for this review, I pulled out my copy of the Eli Jones album Make It Right for comparison. It’s an album I listened to quite a bit back when the band was rolling through the area. I thought it was really good– certainly the work of a band accomplished in R&B and Jazz, but felt ultimately  it didn’t capture the energy of their live set. Make It Right really seems to be the sound of a band in a transition– some of the tracks have the familiar throwback R&B strut, while other tracks evoke a more jazzy step.

Carry Me Home is the result of a very focused effort in the studio, apparently. The whole CD sounds like it was recorded in one marathon session– a balanced, almost live-to-tape sound. It has a polished production for certain, but not at the risk of the continuity. I find myself listening to the whole album when I put it on– I anticipate the next track at each song.

In some respects Carry Me Home is an album out-of-time– at once holding true to a retro R&B sound with its horns, stomps and claps and sneaking in a more current R&B edge in the form of lead singer Stefanie Berecz powerful lead vocals.

The album runs the gamut of emotion and energy from bright, sunny Tower-of-Powerish horn-driven songs like “You Will Know,” to the Motown harmony-mixed with clean funk picking “Before I Know Your Name” to the distinctly Southern R&B swing of “Doing Nothing” to the slow burner “Carry Me Home.” “Before I Know Your Name” was co-written by Stefanie and Brendan O’Connell (the conductor of this Soul Train) to her then-unborn child– the idea of which makes me smile when I listen to the lyrics.

The Right Now - 7 to 10 7"

It’s also worth noting that The Right Now also has a 7″ out of a non-album track “7 to 10”  which they recorded in Memphis in September 2009 at Scott Bomar’s Electraphoic Recording Studio live to 2″ 8-track tape! The flip is “The One You Love” from the album. On the return trip they took the master to Larry Nix at the legendary Ardent Studios who cut the plates. They hand-delivered the plates to United Record Pressing in Nashville and got a tour. Here is Brendan’s MySpace blog article about the experience (with video!).

It seems there are a lot of notable acts delivering the Stax/Motown-influenced sound today– Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings seems to be leading this front, certainly the last Amy Winehouse album (which uses members of the Dap-Kings), Joss Stone— so it takes a strong but distinguishable effort for a band to not get lost in the comparisons. It’s clear that The Right Now shows respect for the legacy of R&B, Soul and Funk that came before it, but in my opinion the band is building from that tradition.

One can consider the new band name as the answer to the question of what period of popular music they might draw from– no specific period, but obviously writing and performing in The Right Now.

The band just kicked off a run of shows which will bring them back to Eastern Iowa in April. On Friday, 4/16 they will be taping a second Java Blend show (the first as The Right Now), doing an on-air on IPR and hitting The Blue Moose Tap House. On Saturday, they’ll be performing at The Redstone Room in Davenport opening for Daphne Willis and hitting their favorite Iowa stop, Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids on Sunday, 4/18.

Visit The Right Now Store to order Carry Me Home or the “7 to 10″ 7”

Click Here to visit The Right Now collection at archive.org for some streaming and downloadable live shows.

Click Here to visit The Right Now website.

Click Here to visit The Right Now Facebook Page

Here is where they Twitter.

Click Here for The Right Now on Bandcamp

Click Here for their last.fm page.

Click Here to visit The Right Now iLike page with videos and mp3’s.

Upcoming Shows (from MySpace):

Mar 8 2010    Bullfrog Brewery – CD Release Show!     Williamsport, Pennsylvania
Mar 10 2010     Puck Live – CD Release Show!     Doylestown, Pennsylvania
Mar 11 2010     Groove – CD Release Show!     New York, New York
Mar 12 2010     The Saint     Asbury Park, New Jersey
Mar 13 2010     Shadow Lounge – CD RELEASE SHOW!     Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Mar 18 2010     Vocalo 89.5FM – In-studio     Chicago, Illinois
Mar 18 2010     Fearless Radio – Live In-Studio     Chicago, Illinois
Mar 18 2010     WLUW – Radio Free Chicago (Interview)     Chicago, Illinois
Mar 19 2010     WGN Television     Chicago, Illinois
Mar 19 2010     Lincoln Hall – CD RELEASE SHOW!     Chicago, Illinois
Mar 26 2010     This Must Be The Place     Lemont, Illinois
Apr 9 2010     KSDK – Show Me St. Louis     Saint Louis, Missouri
Apr 9 2010     The Gramophone – CD Release Show!     St. Louis, Missouri
Apr 15 2010     The Frequency w/ Unicycle Loves You     Madison, Wisconsin
Apr 16 2010     Java Blend     Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 16 2010     KRUI 89.7 FM – In-studio     Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 16 2010     The Blue Moose Taphouse – CD Release Show!     Iowa City, Iowa
Apr 17 2010     Redstone Room     Davenport, Iowa
Apr 18 2010     Mahoney’s Pub     Cedar Rapids, Iowa
Apr 24 2010     Downtown Holland Groovewalk     Holland, Michigan
Apr 30 2010     Marly’s Pub – CD Release Show!     Springfield, Illinois
Apr 30 2010     Alice at 97.7 – Studio A Sessions     Springfield, Illinois
May 17 2010     Cosmic Charlies     lexington, Kentucky
May 20 2010     Rogue Tavern w/ Deep Fried 5     Birmingham, Alabama
Jun 4 2010     Upfront & Company     Marquette, Michigan
Jun 5 2010     Upfront & Company     Marquette, Michigan

Upcoming Show: Chicago Soul Group Eli Jones at Mahoney’s, Cedar Rapids 12/7/08

Eli Jones is an eight-piece band from Chicago that delivers tight accomplished Soul and R&B that draws equally from the annals of classic R&B and Soul of Stevie Wonder and Aretha Franklin or Stax as it does from the contemporary renewed interest in authentic Soul and R&B delivered by Alicia Keys, John Legend or Joss Stone. The seven-piece Eli Jones band led by the tasty guitar tone of Brendan O’Connell deftly supports the vocal powerhouse of Stefanie Berecz.

The band started in 2005 as a trio and added horns and Berecz arriving at their current lineup in 2007. They released their first studio album Make It Right in November of 2007 and are planning to release their second album in the Summer of 2009. The band has been gigging steadily around the Midwest and played Mahoney’s in Cedar Rapids back in April to a receptive crowd.

The group is coming back to the area again next weekend playing The Busted Lift in Dubuque on Saturday, December 6th, and here in Cedar Rapids at Mahoney’s on Sunday, December 7th. I’m not sure about the cover at the Busted Lift, but the Mahoney’s show is FREE! I can’t think of a better way to wrap up a weekend than some soulful, funky R&B, really. You can always watch “Desperate Housewives” online or Tivo it.

Click Here for the Facebook Event Page– let the band know you’re coming!

Click Here to visit Eli Jones’s website. They have four songs that you can stream.

Click Here to visit Eli Jones’s MySpace Page

Click Here to see the shows up on Archive.org

Click Here to listen to an amazing acoustic “Candlelight and Satin Sheets” from Alice FM in May. The song is taken to an intimate singer-songwriter performance.

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