Modern Mystic Soul: Psychedelic rhythm and blues artists with a fresh sound

todayAugust 6, 2022 39 1

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By McKenzie McGuire
Music Journalist

Do you ever feel like your playlist is like a worn-out pair of shoes? You need something new, durable, and classic. Over the past year, my ear has begun to crave this certain fresh sound that I first heard with the group, Khruangbin. This three-person group, from Houston Texas, has created this funky, mystic, instrumental sound that, to me, never seems to get old. Guitarist, Mark Speer, makes pleasing riffs sound so effortless.

Accompanied by warm baselines from Laura Lee, who, besides the point, is stunning, and resonant drum patterns by Donald Johnson. They quickly became a go-to soundtrack primarily to study or work. Then after their release of the EP “Texas Sun” with Texas vocalist Leon Bridges, it opened my eyes and ears to a whole world of similar artists.

Fitting right in this genre, with an extra dash of soul, is the group Monophonics. Their record, “It’s Only Us”, encapsulates that soulful, trippy sound. The title track on this record uses harp transitions and horns that I’m convinced have hypnotic powers. Also appearing on this record, the track “Last One Standing”, is incredibly groovy, while still capturing a wholesome feel. The group recently released another record this past May, “Sage Motel”, where they further experiment with their sound by adding different instrumentation, panning, and other advancements.

If you like the sound of these groups, you definitely need to add Common Saints to your playlist. Their EP titled “Idol Eyes” has zero skips in my opinion and has pretty much been my soundtrack of summer. Sitting by the pool, driving with the windows down, or a great break from binge watching stranger things, this EP hits all of the summertime needs. The tracks “Lovesong” and “Summer Sun”, have the power to make you feel contentment in the moment. The first track on the record, which also happens to be the title track, brings a wondrous sense of unity and peace. Not only in the texture but the lyricism as well.

“This feeling is a heaven where we all belong

Forget discrimination ‘cause we’re made of the same

Everybody’s loving ain’t no time to make names”

The list goes on and on with these exquisite artists, but the last two I will mention are, Gotts Street Park and Sault. These groups aren’t nearly as psychedelic, but still have those fresh sounding acoustics that almost feels a bit old school, with patterns I would compare to some mid-70s soul. Both of these groups utilize strong female vocalists. London singer, Cleo Sol, is featured on a majority of Sault’s records. One of their first studio albums ‘5’, features the track “Masterpiece”. Which, through stimulating baselines and enchanting harmonies, this song is quite literally, a masterpiece.

On the other hand, Gotts Street Park works with a range of different female vocalists. On their records “Volume One” and “Volume Two”, we will see vocalists like Rosie Lowe, bringing blissful melodies to the track “Everything”, and Pip Millet in “Change My Ways”, where you can hear the heartbreak in her voice. As well as a project titled “Compilation 1.1”, with British singer, Celeste, who has the most addicting tonality.

All in all, I believe these artists present such an enlightening sound that I can’t seem to stop listening to. I highly recommend checking them out and, if you hear what I’m hearing, hopefully adding them to your playlist.

Image credit: Album covers of various artists

Written by: ktsw899

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