Friday, January 31, 2014

Southside Desire / Black Diet split single on Pinata Records

Really great cooperative split single to finish the week from two contemporary soul bands out of Minneapolis, Southside Desire and Black Diet. They've shared more than just vinyl before, the sleeve shows them sharing a bill together at "In The Entry" and according to the insert they share members on each others recordings as well with Sean Schultz lending keys to both sides. But mostly they approach their sound with a similar modern take on this heavy genre without sounding at all like an imitation.

That sleeve says a lot about where "Casualty of Love" from Southside Desire is headed; the scrawled track list on a wall, the front announcing their show together. It's a welcome punk attitude to the usually mellow RnB aesthetic. This isn't going to be as safe and categorizable. With Marvel Devitt on vocals she takes this smooth soul to an epic, slightly indie pop place. It's kind of working in between Jens Lekman or Beirut in the way they've adopted their own idiosyncratic nostalgic mood. You can hear this had to be recorded all together in one studio with lots of background ahhh vocals and solid backing instrumentation but Marvel is running far away with this covering the whole mellow shuffle groove with her vocal that comes up with it's own melodic path in a way only the seriously trained and confident. "Better" opens with Gloria Iacono's slow dance, prom feel. Dancehall reverb on the vocal and soft then impossible loud vocal about heartbreak of course. Third person to someone else describing this terrible scene and delivered like this you actually feel something. The dynamics on those drums, the slow rim shot quiet beat that rises with her vocally with low end thuds. A breathier sweeter delivery than Shannon from the Clams but working in that same kind of throwback way with a modern style... Real devotion to this sound that doesn't come around much these days. Did I mention they like Ween?

Black Diet opens the B-Side with "You Did it to Yourself" and it's bass line centric heavy back beat foundation with a melodic guitar line that meanders into focus. Jonathan Tolliver comes in live with his genial roar and slight echo sounding like this is right over the next baffle on a PA. The seven of them in a room, take after take to get this warm orchestral sound. It's an understated soul track led by Jonathan who is even going falsetto in the chorus. He doesn't overwhelm with a lot of vocal gymnastics even though he could obviously go there. Nice higher register gentlemen backing this chorus not admonishing as a narrator but just stating the obvious. Riding that line between a groove based soul and a jazzy rock track it's not the usual sort of thing to come across my desk. For as much as Lee Fields is delivering a perfect nostalgic snapshot in Faithful Man, Black Diet is very much hard lined into 2014 while still referencing that classic stuff. "Slow it Down" does just the opposite with this doubled up tempo and hardcore Wurlitzer stabs. The bass line drives this scaled blues tempo number so Jonathan can take things faster and higher. Fast electric blues down the fretboard so Jonathan stays frantic slipping into that higher register to nail home how fast we're actually going no matter how many times he keeps asking 'to slow it down'. This screaming guitar solo isn't helping to calm things down either. Falling on deaf ears this plows right through the end. Really incredible contemporary soul from these two. Hope this finds an audience with the format as it ought to live on the 45 still. Colemine and Electric Cowbell should be listening.

Black vinyl on Pinata Records.

Wouldn't you know it, there are pinata records:

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