In honor of the 21st night of September (as referenced in Earth, Wind & Fire’s hit song “September,”) I wanted to introduce a new segment of my Off the Record music column.
While listening to some up-and-coming musicians on Spotify, I found myself frequently comparing them to musicians popular in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s. I quickly realized how fun it would be to share these comparisons with people, so they could discover new musicians they love.
Now, I’m not the first person to do this.
After some research, I found Val Haller’s “Music Match” series in the New York Times — although it looks like Haller stopped writing it in 2014. I’m a fan of hers in general. She creates tons of cool music content on ValsList.com.
My point is I’m sure plenty of other talented writers and music critics do something similar, but I never let that stop me.
My first vinyl record was Earth, Wind & Fire. My second Off the Record column was Earth, Wind & Fire. So, my first “If you like this …” will feature — you guessed it — Earth, Wind & Fire.
If you like Earth, Wind & Fire, you also might like Aloe Blacc.
It’s likely you’ve heard Blacc’s popular, catchy anthems “The Man” or “I Need a Dollar.” And, if you haven’t, you should. I think I once heard “The Man” on a commercial.
One of the reasons Blacc came to mind with Earth, Wind & Fire is because he sings with the same joy-to-soul ratio that Earth, Wind & Fire nails every album. His 2014 album, “Lift Your Spirit,” makes this apparent.
The second track, “Love is the Answer,” even sounds like the title on an EWF album. The song sounds like it belongs on one, too.
He experiments with funkier rhythmic and slower R&B styles, too. This is more noticeable with his 2010 album, “Good Things,” and the 2006 album, “Shine Through.”
He also made my favorite ever holiday album in 2018, “Christmas Funk.” I almost don’t want to tell people about it because it’s that good. So, you’re welcome.
While it’s obvious Blacc’s music has evolved since he first gained prominence, he has always possessed stand-out vocals. I get the same goosebumps listening to Blacc as I do EWF.
Now, I know Blacc is a solo artist, and EWF could nearly field a soccer team, but Blacc is an MVP contender. Funk has always been my favorite genre. There are plenty of new musicians passing the genre on to the next generation, but it’s neat to see Blacc doing so in a mainstream capacity. This music belongs on the radio.
I know it’s a tad early for a Christmas song, but my favorite Blacc song is “All I Have is Love.” Don’t tell anyone, but I listen to it all year.