by Dylan Brown for Inland 360A whole new generation isn’t looking to be reminded of the sensual music — aka “baby-making music” — their parents used to listen to, for any reason.
Any reason, Mom and Dad.
Marvin Gaye is long gone — rest in peace, sir — and, at 67, Al Green can only keep a good thing going for so much longer. So, here are some highly touted examples of a new generation of soulful artists setting the modern mood.
Rhye — “Woman,” Republic Records, March 1, 2013
Suspend your ideas of gender and soundscape, but not steamy romance. Michael Milosh’s voice is the spitting image of Sade — think her 1984 hit “Smooth Operator” — and he and partner Robin Hannibal share similar maturity in their jazzy, dry-cleaned smooth electronica. It’s neither crass nor prude.
“The things that really make people happy, you know, it’s intimacy and being loved,” Milosh told the New York Times. Their quiet sense of space has been likened to the sparse sounds of the next artist.
Tracks to try: “Last Dance” and “Open”
The xx — “Coexist,” Young Turks, Sept. 5, 2012
“And with words unspoken/A silent devotion.” One line of “Angels,” the opening track of “Coexist,” sums up the lonely passion of the xx. The pulse of their songs is slow, but it’s between silky beats of quiet electro-pop that the London duo tap deep-seated passions. While many songs are overtly sexual, their dueling male-female vocals whisper of genuine ache and desire, rendering the tracks heartfelt.
Tracks to Try: “Angels” and “Sunset”
Autre Ne Veut — “Anxiety,” Mexican Summer, Feb. 26, 2013
Avant-garde kids in the 1970s had Sun Ra, so if you need more contemporary random bursts of saxophone to add to the heat, Autre Ne Veut has you covered. Anxiety’s mood is off kilter, but the Prince-esque falsetto, especially on “Counting,” is nonetheless gut-wrenching.
Tracks to try: “Counting” and “Play by Play”
James Blake — “Overgrown,” ATLAS Records, April 5, 2013
For a wider audience, there is well-established Londoner James Blake. Overlaying a somber piano with a caramel-smooth-yet-toffee-brittle voice, the electronic sensibilities Blake honed as a longtime producer light the bedside candles and keeps them slow burning.
Tracks to try: “Limit to Your Love” and “Retrograde”
Reviewer Dylan Brown is a deejay for the University of Idaho’s KUOI 89.3 FM. He cam be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org, (208) 848-2278, or find him on Twitter @DylanBrown26.