New Track: Van Hunt – “June” + MP3

 

Last time we caught up with Van Hunt was during an interview in August of 2009 while he was still working on the record he’s now about to release. Close to two years later, the ever-funky soul maestro is ready to share a new track called “June” (free for download below). But this is just the beginning; Van plans to sprinkle some free download goodness on us every month leading up to the release of his new album, What Were You Hoping For? (out September 27th). Among the freebies will be the album’s first single, “Eyes Like Pearls,” which is slated to hit radio this summer. Sir Hunt has also relaunched his official website, www.vanhunt.com – it’ll be another place you can download and find out more on the awesomeness ahead.

Van Hunt – “June”
 

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Artist Spotlight: Mara Hruby + “The Panties” Video

 

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Mara Hruby may be new to most, but in the Bay Area this talent is already thriving, gracing the famed Yoshi’s in her first year of performing. Her vocals are haunting; folky, jazzy, soulful – she truly sounds like a dream. Her first project is called, From Her Eyes, where she remakes popular songs by men (November 2010). Recently, she put out her video for Mos Def’s “The Panties;” a whimsical and dream-like feel is complemented by blue tones and soft-focus visuals – add in the stunning Mara and it’s quite a breathtaking sight. The rest of the EP includes covers from The Roots, Andre 3000, D’Angelo, Van Hunt, Bob Marley, and Jamiroquai. Take a listen to that and download below! This lady is a real treat.

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Van Hunt Interview

vanhuntBy Seher Sikandar

If you haven’t heard of Van Hunt, consider this your official warning: you will be perpetually whack if you don’t get on – right – now.  Now.  This funkaholic is performing live at Yoshi’s Oakland this Thursday, August 20th at 8pm only.  Tickets are $18 at Yoshi’s website.

“There’s no greater happiness than to be able to be yourself and pay your bills,” says Van after what he calls a “tumultuous two-and-a-half years” following his parting with Blue Note in 2007 (which took over his former label of about 5 years, Capitol Records).

And now he’s reemerging.  Waist deep in a new project he hopes to release in February 2010, Van describes his mental spaces for creating this record as having an ‘extreme range with lots of up’s and down’s.’

“It’s a vast project; I can’t imagine needing to make another record after it.”  Kind of a big deal.  But!  To hold us over in between what seems to be a monumental project, Van just independently released a free compilation of demos, acoustics, and b-sides titled, Use in Case of Emergency.  Featuring work recorded between 1997 and 2005, it’s kinda the ish – and his original cut of “Hot Stage Lights” (called “Man of the Year”), I have to say – is sorta amazing.

It’s clear this man is a true artist at heart – first and foremost and without a doubt – so it doesn’t come as surprise when he says the album won’t be released unless it’s done completely right.  ‘Doing it right’ this time around includes having a live band help with the tracks (instead of Van playing all the instruments like he usually does) – and that costs money.

I spent half an hour catching up with Van and getting a little peek into his world – all the way from his five-year-old, to records he’s bought, to what keeps him waking up in the morning.

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Giant Step’s Resident: The City, The Sounds, The Soul Part 14

Photo © Collin LaFleche

By Mawuse Ziegbe

You know that part in The Wiz when Evelline dies and all the workers unzip their fug suits and reveal themselves to be finely crafted specimens of muscular excellence swathed in cherubic linen? That’s how I felt this weekend. The sun finally dropped its deadbeat ways and while picking out miniskirts on Sunday, I felt like a liberated Oz worker.

The journey to freedom started with an acoustic set featuring Van Hunt at soul haven, S.O.Bs. Van is one of my favorite artists ever. Take a whole mess of grunting, sweaty Prince, mix in the panty-droppin’ falsetto of Maxwell and toss on stage. With no band and just his guitar and piano, he strummed and hummed through songs like “Hot Stage Lights,” “Dust,” “Being A Girl,” “Character,” and “Down Here In Hell.” All the while, he regaled the army of Van nuts with tales about everything from his penniless musician days to getting his dranky drank on. Sadly, he didn’t play his last Blue Note single, “The Lowest 1 Of My Desires” but he did take it back to the Dionne Farris slow jam “Hopeless” from the Love Jones soundtrack.

Friday night, I hit up Madison Square Garden to take in a performance from some rapper named Jay-Z and this rhythm and blues singer, Mary J. Blige. I think they’re big on the internet or something. But for serious, I’d never seen Mary in concert and only one word can describe her performance: Wooo!! Homegirl was squatting and bellowing hits like “Real Love,” “Be Happy,” and “Work That.” She shouted out celeb pals in the audience (Oprah, Jodie Foster) and ended the set with “Just Fine,” replete with hair-singeing pyro. “Lil’ Project Mary J. Blige” – as she charmingly referred to herself – put the “hot damn!!” in the Heart Of The City Tour. Sadly, Jigga was packing more “ho-hum” than heat. His set, although peppered with hits like “Can I Get A…” “H to the Izzo” and “Give It To Me,” withered into tedium. I genuinely screamed when Beyonce swished on stage for a 10-second booty wiggle but that’s only because I was really bored.


Photo © Collin LaFleche

The summer continued to blossom anew as Studio B unveiled its spiffy new rooftop with a par-tay featuring NuBlu stalwarts Brazilian Girls. Getting to the venue was on some ‘ol MacGyver foolery (Dear G Train: Get it together!) but I slid into the B’girls set just as they were in mid-song and the crowd was in mid-rapture. This night had a gang of potential. But, Spank Rock , who always brings sunny, good-natured debauchery, had to bow out due to illness (Curses!). The rooftop we were feting became too crowded (Rats!) and the music was almost amazing. However tinny, crowd-thinning tracks were not mixed out quickly enough (Foiled Again!).

I wrapped up the week with a beer at Habana Outpost, which is basically day camp for Brooklynites. Swiggin’ my draft in the cool night air, I knew that summer, in all its blockbuster tour and rooftop splendor, was finally rolling in. I felt like I could unzip my face and toast to a brand new day. Bring on the flying monkeys.