Durand Jones & The Indications Pick 15 Artists Reviving the Classic Soul Sound
Photo Credit: Rosie Cohe
The soul-driven band Durand Jones & the Indications is comprised of five young men all fueled by their old, for lack of a better word, souls. Their sound and aesthetic are rooted in the golden era of groovy 70's sonics. While they find a majority of their inspiration from artists who made it big in past decades, they are modernizing soul without surrendering the genre's classic funk and grooviness.
Guitarist Blake Rhein explains that the band utilizes sampling mentality in the same way hip-hop producers do. They listen to music from their various inspirations and hone in on what makes the tracks feel electric. After, they experiment to recreate that magic into their own projects, like in their sophomore full length album American Love Call.
Catch Durand Jones and The Indications live on tour to support American Love Call here.
As experts in the category, we asked Durand Jones and The Indications to share a few artists who are inspiring and reviving the classic soul sound. Here are selections from Aaron Frazer (drums/vocals), Durand Jones (vocals), and Blake Rhein (guitar).
Photo Credit: Horatio Baltz
Aaron Frazer's Picks:
1. The Moments - "Not On The Outside"
A perfect summation of the Stang label discography. 70â€²s vocal group where the singing is smooth, but the drums are hard. It’s my ideal balance of sweet and melancholy.
2. Bob Marley & The Wailers - It Hurts to Be Alone
I was floored when I discovered this song was from The Wailers. For a while I was under the impression that it was a young Marley singing, but in fact it was the group’s youngest member- 14-year-old Junior Braithwaite. The vocal performance is legendary, complemented by equally stunning guitar work. It represents this moment to me where Jamaican music was still molten, guided by stateside radio transmissions of Wendy Rene.
3. Gil Scott Heron - I Think I’ll Call It Morning
Gil Scott Heron could write a scathing takedown of governmental corruption, economic inequity or substance addiction. But he was also able to be loving and tender. He was a warrior, but never lost his ability to be soft. This is one of his soft moments, and it feels radical in a time when so many of us walk around with fists perpetually clenched.
4. Foster Sylvers - Misdemeanor
Sometimes I hear soul music from before the advent of hip hop, and I marvel and just how “hip hop” some of their decisions were. I love the Jackson 5, but I’m not sure they ever got this nasty. It’s one of those tracks that make your face scrunch up from the first bar.
5. The Manhattans - The Picture Became Quite Clear
George Kerr is one of the unsung heroes of soul production, and a big influence on our new record. Kerr constructed his orchestration with the precision of a watchmaker. The more you listen to this song, the more you’ll notice tiny intricacies. The way the strings, vibraphone, piano, guitar, harp and background vocals dart in and out, somehow NEVER stepping on each others toes. Each turn of the arrangement leads perfectly into the next, like a beautiful soul machine.
Durand Jones' Picks:
1. Sharon Jones - “Mama Don't Like My Man"
Perfect ending to a beautiful album. What makes it perfect to me? The simplicity. Just guitar accompanying voices. Sharon's vocals shine and soar, while Saun and Angee hold her down with flawless unison and harmony backgrounds.
2. PJ Morton (feat. Pell) - "Claustrophobic”
PJ Morton brings a fresh perspective to R&B and soul music with his topics of choice and this tune is no different - he uses his gifts to sing of issues dealing with black masculinity. Too often, black men are expected to be or fit certain stereotypes to be successful. PJ let us know from the get-go that he's not trying to fit into anyone's small mind of what they think he should be. #blackboyjoy
3. James Blake - "Not Long Now"
My first introduction to James seven years ago. This track attracts me with its musical rawness and minimalism. I love playing this shit as loud as I can in the car, especially for the end.
4. Cheryl Lynn (feat. Luther Vandross) - “If This World Were Mine”
The blaxploitation film, 'The Wood' introduced this tune to a new generation of black teens and adolescents back in the late 90's early 2000's. Of course we heard our parents jamming this out at the cookout or in the car, but the movie added a freshness of young love to it. Something a young heart yearned for or could relate to. I recently rewatched 'The Wood' and forgot about the magic this tune brought to scenes. I've had it on repeat since.
5. Nina Simone - “Do What You Gotta Do”
The High Priestess of Soul just doing her thing. Always have been a fan of Ms. Simone, but this particular track has been on repeat for me lately.
Photo Credit: Rosie Cohe
Blake Rhein's Picks:
1. The Whispers - “It Only Hurts For A Little While”
This is a really lovely doo-wop track from '64 or '65, long before they struck gold with “And The Beat Goes On.” Their original label Dore re-released the cut on an LP 1980 with a bunch of percussion overdubbed. That’s the version that’s on Spotify, and I actually like it more than the original.
2. Jus' Us - “Don’t Stop Smiling”
To me, this is the definition of a soaring falsetto, especially when it gets toward the end of the track and he’s really going for it.
3. Brothers Of Soul - “The Love I Found In You”
It’s hard to pick a favorite from the Brothers of Soul catalog, but this one is definitely up there. There’s an incredible video of the group lip-syncing to this track on a Detroit public access show in the 70s that’s available on YouTube.
4. Sly Slick & Wicked - “Sho Nuff”
This is one of those songs that feels like it should be a lot more known than it is. It’s undeniably catchy and the production is fantastic. Even after a prominent sample in Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie," the song is still pretty underground.
5. Dwight Sykes - "Walk With Me”
I always love discovering music from around my hometown. Dwight Sykes was originally from Kalamazoo, which is about an hour from where I grew up. Most of his recordings are just synths, drum machine, and vocals, which I absolutely love. However,“Walk With Me” features a full band, and I think it’s his best work.