Watch Jungle Fire get the party started live, with DJ NuMark…
My intention with Funkish is to compile & curate funky music from around the world, of various genres rooted in the African diaspora, as well as their magnificent modern hybrids. Sign up to the Funkish mailing to get 2 free Spotify playlists each week, plus bonuses & other curated content celebrating diverse music from around the world.
I’m always scouring the internet looking for diverse music that I’ll love because I enjoy doing it, and love the way I feel upon finding a marvelous musical gem. So, I’m putting it all together into this blog, and the Funkish free playlists I make on Spotify to share what I discover with other like-minded musical adventurers.
A lot of great funky music from all over the world came out in 2014. These are my favorite Top 15. It was too hard to keep it at 10, and there could be several more too. They represent my mission with Funkish — to highlight funky, percussive, syncopated, joyful, organic grooves spanning the globe. Not always pure funk music exactly, but funky in their own sort of way — that’s why I say funkish.
Anyway, enjoy these 15 awesome albums! Maybe you’ve heard them already, maybe I can introduce you to something new that you haven’t heard & will surely love. I include links to their websites, or record labels so you can learn more about these amazing artists.
Many have links to where you can buy the vinyl because all of these records are worth adding to your collection in their most optimal listening format. Listen to this Spotify playlist that has them all together.
Bookmark this page so you can come back to it when you want to just turn on astounding music for a few hours & listen to the year’s best albums without having to think about it or look for them. Then, buy the vinyl to impress your friends & your ears.
Get ready to listen to some awesome music! Enjoy the Best Albums of 2014…
1. Jungle Fire – Tropicoso on Nacional Records
Jungle Fire is B.A.D.! These cats bring the heat with their debut record. They’re a superb, modern Latin funk band from Los Angeles. They hit hard with a powerful percussion line-up right up front (literally, you’ll see in the live videos).
Horny horn stabs, scratchy guitar, and brilliant bass carry the music all along, and make it impossible for you not to move your body. Big thanks to Paris DJs Soundsytem for turning me onto to them on a couple of their previous compilations, I was very eagerly awaiting this full length album.
2. Ikebe Shakedown – Stone By Stone on Ubiquity Records
The Brooklyn-based collective, Ikebe Shakedown’s, powerful instrumental soul takes “big unison horns, slinky bass lines, tight little guitar licks—and blends them with tasty grooves culled from ’70s-style horn-driven funk (WNYC Soundcheck).”
All that & more — Ikebe Shakedown is one of my favorite bands of recent years! These guys throw down dope instrumental funk more consistently than anyone else out there.
They are unique. I love the way they incorporate 70s style funk instrumentals, a little Afro-Beat, even a little Ethio Jazz sprinkled about, and make it all their own, outstanding distinctive funky music.
This Brazilian band is amazing! I got turned onto them from the Mais Um Discos compilation of new São Paulo music, Various Artists – Daora: Underground Sounds of Urban Brasil – Hip-Hop, Beats, Afro & Dub. Now I can’t get enough of these guys!
They masterfully mix Afro-Brazilian sounds with Afro-Beat, and make it marvelously modern & original. Their music is powerful, joyful, and irresistible. They have a big band with a big sound, and never cease to amaze me with their incredible genre-bending musicas.
And, now they’ve outdone themselves by following up one of the best albums of 2014, by making the #1 best record of 2015!
4. Orquestra Imperial – Fazendo As Pazes Com O Swing (Making Peace With The Swing) on Mais Um Discos
Mais Um Discos comes through with another Brazilian classic in 2014. Orquestra Imperial is a huge band led by Rodrigo Amarante, Moreno Veloso, Domenico & Kassin from the seminal +2 projects. They’ve been swinging on the samba scene of Rio De Janeiro for several years, mostly just playing live. To see these guys in a sweaty, grooving Lapa Samba club would be a dream come true for me.
This is their first full-scale international release, and is one of the best Brazilian albums of recent years. It’s pretty traditional Samba/MPB type Brazilian music, and yet, it’s modern & unique. This is very joyful music that makes you feel the tropical vibes, and goes straight into your heart, hips & soul.
5. D’Angelo – Black Messiah on RCA Records
After 14 years without releasing a new album, D’Angelo at last comes back with Black Messiah. An album that has been in the works with an all-star cast of musicians, calling themselves The Vanguard, including work from Questlove, Pino Palladino, Q-Tip and others — has finally appeared after many false starts & derailments the past 14 years.
It’s dope! It’s unique, it’s timeless, it’s hard to pin down. Recorded using classic analog equipment, it has a wonderful, fluid impeccable sound quality with a lot of depth and various layers. There is a lot going on here and it deserves multiple listening sessions to catch its groove.
Nobody else in popular music is putting out stuff like this. This is a singular performance from D’Angelo and his tight, distinctive band making a one of a kind album – Black Messiah.
This album is a long time coming, and worth the wait. It could take you another 14 years to get all the nuances of it. And, you won’t get sick of it — it’ll be a classic.
6. The Funk Ark – Man Is A Monster on Rope-A-Dope Records
Washington D.C.’s finest funkateers come though with their highly anticipated third album, and first for Rope-A-Dope. It’s a wholly unique & real groovy genre-bending record.
Hear the story from its creator’s mouth: “Man is a Monster is a collection of songs from a period of two years during which I traveled more than I ever had before, spending time in countries, most of which, I had never visited. The songs were conceived in that spirit of exploration, in a global sense, but also of our musical and technical abilities. This album’s eclectic sound is an indication of the many influences and experiences of the group, as well as our intent to take the emphasis away from traditional 4/4 rhythms and channel those influences into something deeper and more challenging than our previous work.” (Will Rast)
7. Akalé Wubé – Sost on Clapson Records
I love these guys from Paris. Based on Jazz, traditional Ethiopian music, and other interesting influences these amazing musicians make music that sets a uniquely cool mood when you hear it. Sost is their third album, and it sounds like they just keep getting better. Definitely check them out more!
Here is their story from their website bio:
In their 6 years of existence, Akalé Wubé have never stopped widening the canvas onto which they lay their music, which keeps becoming richer and deeper just like the their primary source of inspiration: the popular Ethiopian repertoire of the 60s and 70s.
The band started off covering music from the “Ethiopiques” series, after which they immersed themselves deeper into Ethiopian music, all the while multiplying their collaborations with musicians and dancers from Ethiopia, Africa and Europe. Slowly but surely, clocking in at around 200 concerts in Europe, Asia and Africa, the band has become one of the world’s leading ambassadors of Ethiopian groove.
8. Paris DJs Soundsystem – Dis Is Reggae Soul Vol.1 – Jamaican Grooves on Paris DJs Records
European producers are making the best throw-back Reggae music these days. Guys like Grant Phabao make remarkable Rock Steady, Ska, and Roots Reggae — always with their own unique style. They pay homage to the classics, while crafting songs that are modern & unique with perfect production quality.
Some of these are originals, and some are funky, soulful songs given the Paris DJs treatment and born again into something new — tropical, fresh Reggae soul. When you put this album on, your day just gets groovy & happy. Buy the vinyl album, and listen to it everyday — that’s the secret to happiness.
9. The Third Coast Kings – West Grand Boulevard on Record Kicks
This is some bad assss, straight forward funk from Detroit. It’s mostly instrumental funk, just how I like it, and the vocal tracks are dope too.
“The Third Coast Kings are a seven element proper deep funk and soul outfit from Michigan. They make it a point to remain true to the style and technique of playing proper deep funk and soul to a live audience that might otherwise only be heard on dusty 45s. They are proud to be a part of the growing number of acts putting the right kind of funk back onto the stage, bringing the hot heat to wherever they perform, like only the Kings can. These cats will put the dip back into your hips and the jive in your stride.”
Check them out here.
10. 10 Ft. Ganja Plant – 10 Deadly Shots Volume III on ROIR Records
10 Ft. Ganja Plant is an off-shoot of John Brown’s Body. They are the tightest instrumental Reggae band in the USA. They play real Roots Reggae, and have been a prolific force on the American Reggae scene the last several years. Their all-instrumental series of 10 Deadly Shots is real feel-good music — joyful, tropical, deep, groovy, and with horns & guitars that transport you to the Jamaican beach of your fantasies.
11. Peliroja – Injusticia on Chulo Records
Peliroja has released my favorite album in Spanish this year with Injusticia. It’s like a current version of the great Our Latin Thing — a real New York City Latin music joint. Producer & guitarist Jacob Plasse united some of his old friends—players from the Daptones, Pedrito Martinez Group, and Los Hacheros—to form Peliroja, a New York collective inspired by the sounds of Ethiopia, Dominican Republic, Cuba, and the Congo. Read the whole story here in Wax Poetics.
12. Orlando Julius With The Heliocentrics – Jaiyede Afro on Strut Records
The new Orlando Julius/Heliocentrics joint venture, Jaiyede Afro, is a funky, polyrhthymic, thing of beauty & an African odyssey. Orlando Julius was quite an influential musician on the 70s Afro-Funk scene, and now he’s teamed up with current genre-bending world wise funkateers, the Heliocentrics. Get the lowdown here.
13. Myles Sanko – Forever Dreaming on Légère Recordings
Myles Sanko might just end up being one of the greatest soul singers of the next many years. This album is truly phenomenal, soulful, and distinctive. The crowd funded ‘Forever Dreaming’ marks Sanko’s official full-length album debut, which comes with the backing of awesome funk & soul labels, Légère Recordings & P-Vine Records. Aside from the incredible label backing, support also comes in the form of an eager and fiercely loyal fan base, all passionate in seeing Myles Sanko’s efforts rewarded with the success so richly deserved. Learn more about him at http://www.mylessanko.com/.
14. The GetUp – Straight From The Hob on Breaking Bread Records
This is so dope – fast furious funk! These guys are tight, I wish I had heard this earlier in the year, so I could listen to it all the time. This music get you fired up!
“Following 4 stomping, storming and sold out 7″ 45rpm singles on Breakin Bread this album shows just how far the band have moved on from their instrumental, Hammond led, quartet roots. The Hammond is, of course, still very much present, but the full album shows the band in a new light, with horns and percussion adding punch and power to an already up-front and in-your-face funk lineup, and Sabina Challenger’s soulful vocals taking the groups sound to a higher plane.” Learn more about them here.
15. Benyoro – Benyoro
Malian musicians in New York City, their debut album is mesmerizing. “An album full of traditional West African grooves and contemporary Afropop filtered through the grit of New York.” – WNYC’s Soundcheck
In the Bamana language of Mali, Benyoro means meeting place, and that’s exactly what this group is. It’s about the meeting of traditional and modern instruments, Malian and American musicians, centuries-old songs and modern arrangements. The band’s unique sound packs dance floors wherever they go, and originates in a deep love for the music of Malian jelis (praise musicians) combined with a strong desire to modernize it. In Benyoro’s music, the sonorous, stately melodies of traditional jeliya (praise-singing) are sped up and reconfigured into infectious grooves, but even in the midst of all the movement, the reflective core of the music remains.
Click to learn more about Benyoro.
I hope you enjoy these amazing albums. Feel free to use this page as a musical discovery resource. Come back to it, watch the videos, listen to the Spotify playlist, learn more about these marvelous musicians, and buy some on vinyl…
Here are some other lists of Best Albums of 2014 to help you discover more magnificent music:
If you like my list of the Best Albums of 2014, you’ll surely love the Spotify playlists I send to subscribers of the Funkish mailing list. Sign up to the Funkish mailing list because you’ll get two free Spotify playlists each week, plus bonuses & other curated content celebrating diverse funky music from around the world.
I carefully curate & compile funky, soulful, joyful music from around the world for your listening pleasure. Once you’re on the list, you’ll be looking forward to your next playlist with bated breath, anticipating the next hour of new, novel, groovy sounds to come your way…and funkify your life.
PS: It was difficult to limit this to 15 albums. There were several more that could have made the cut (and appear in some of the playlists you’ll get when you sign-up). They are also tons of honorable mentions in the full playlist above. You can follow the Best Albums of 2014 Spotify playlist here, that way you can easily access it & listen to it on mobile whenever you need some amazing music.