Silk Rhodes

Text by KralTunes

***Opinions expressed in this article are not endorsed nor representative of Tonight At Dawn***

Baltimore’s Sasha Desree and Michael Collins pay homage to the soulful funk of the late 70’s in their self-titled release, SILK RHODES. The intro (aptly dubbed INTRO) serves up some funky R&B instrumentals that segue into the lead single. Ultimately, “Pains” serves as a precursor for the entire album; it imbibes slinky and simplistic beats with grooves that encompass Desree’s sultry, falsetto lyrics.

Still the duo veers away from straight R&B at times and makes a satisfying hard left into a funk, with tracks like “Face to Face” and “Reeltime”.  Then the album takes a smooth right into the slow, booty bumping instrumental “Personal Use” before easing into drone-funk. Each of these sparsely laid tracks feature one specific instrument that is accompanied by the bedrock bass/drum combo.

Although a formula of limited instrumentation can drag along like a monotonous landscape, Desree and Collins do a fine job of shifting gears just enough to make the trip enjoyable (it also helps that the whole album clocks out at 30 minutes).

Still, the interludes are hit or miss; the 30 second “Horizon Line” may exceed the useless “Laurie’s Machine” by miles, it is still unnecessary.  Armed with a nice looping groove, “Group 1987” is the best of these scenic overlooks.

Its ultra mellow lounge act may be more BEE GEES than COMMODORES for my taste, but SILK ROHDES still has the charm of taking you back to the music you heard while buckled (or not) into the backseat of the family car.

Silk Rhodes

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I Did Not Intend To Raise The Dead: Cold Specks

Text by Joe K.

DOOM SOUL; who would have thought a genre dubbed doom soul would ever exist, or be the least bit enjoyable.  It sounds like something Darth Vader unwinds to after torturing a village of Ewoks.  Yet here we are, about to talk about the new COLD SPECKS album, “Neuroplasticity”.  Aside from never having heard the term ‘doom soul,’ I just added neuroplasticity to my vocabulary.

Apparently, I’m about to get an edumacation.

(Neuroplasticity: The brain’s ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections throughout life…SCIENCE, bitches!!)

Cold Specks vocalist Al Spx is a 20-something who takes her musical cues from deep south Gospel (with a dash of Goth) and cites her musical influences as ranging from James Carr to Tom Waits.  In fact, the band’s second album reflects everything from Neo soul to modern jazz, R&B, and, hell, even indie rock.

Whatever genres it borrows from, “Neuroplaticity” has some dark, coarse music, and, yet it’s also comforting and relaxing.

From the get-go, I knew that I was in for a sinister ride. Ominous organs and trembling trumpet notes start the album on “A Broken Memory”.

The thrills continue on “Old Knives”; its uneasy melodies, moaning, almost twangy, guitars and sudden, eerie conclusion filled with horns and synth, make it a contender for song of the album.

Each track in the middle stretch of the album (from “A Quiet Chill” through “Let Loose The Dogs”) have very similar tempos and structures that make them all sound a bit samey…GOOD, but samey.  The gloomy vice persist and are complimented by Spx’s wonderful vocals and intriguing lyrics such as:

“This will be an indecent year”-Cold Specks

“All is calm, nothing is right”-Cold Specks

At this point, I was swooned by song of the album contender #2-“Absisto” The muted horns, delicate keys, synths, vocals…effin’ perfection (I’m not aloud to say fucking, my boss @tonight at dawn would have a fit, but if it is ever justified, its right here). The perfection is beautifully edged with a dramatic pause in the middle of the track. Bravo!

The album concludes on a note that is as menacing as the one it began on, particularly with its final Vader breaths on “A Season Of Doubt”. The track builds a chilling effect with solo, solemn trumpet notes and skeleton-like piano keys, followed by a chorus and vocals.

This may have read like a Halloween album review but I see it as is a gorgeously moody, atmospheric collection of tracks that could be featured on a Quentin Tarantino soundtrack.

Doom soul or Halloween, “Neuroplaticity” definitely has reorganized my synapses.

Some more Cold Specks:

Bodies At Bay