This year I’m doing something new here at Flea Market Funk. I am compiling a Top 10 list of my favorite 45s that came out in 2013. There were so many good releases, it was tough, but I was able to pull it off. 2013 was the year that Afro Beat came back once again (did it ever go away?), with releases from Austin, Seattle, Los Angeles, San Diego and other areas around the country. The Midwest was taken by storm as Colemine Records put Ohio Funk and Soul back on the map. Frank Raines and Funk Night Records kept the Motor City Funk pumping, and we saw the release of great, cinematic Soul out of the West Coast and places in between. Whether it was Hip Hop out of NYC or a live band with a DJ out of Israel, some pure Columbian roots music via Amsterdam, 2013 had a wide array of great releases. The artists and people pressing these records put their entire heart and soul into each production, and we here at Flea Market Funk applaud you loudly. It’s not easy being different (we know that), and in the deep sea of 7″ releases each week, it can be easy to get lost. However, we are weeding through the junk and highlighting the cream of the crop, because we feel that this music needs to be heard. If you are into any of these releases, support the artists by picking up a copy and playing it loud. So without any further delay, drum roll please…..here is the first annual Flea Market Funk Top 10 Forty Fives List.
1. Jungle Fire – Firewalker/ Colemine Records
If you bought 45s this year, you got a copy of Firewalker. If you didn’t, you best grab one. Colemine Records could have easily made this list multiple times with efforts from The Grease Traps, The Jive Turkeys, or any another band they put out this year. The label just can’t miss, and years from now when Terry puts out a box set like the Soul Fire set that just came out, you’ll remember that FMF raved about the label and this fine Afro Beat 45. A copy even made it into Cut Chemist’s record box, not an easy feat.
2. Alpman – tintm/ Kept Records
Alpman is the artist you never heard of. Istanbul’s youngest and hardest working multi-instrumentalist is making music like nobody’s business. Hard hitting Psych and Funk with plenty of organ, you will be hearing a lot more from this man in 2014. When he’s not drinking strong coffee or taking great photos, he is creating music like they don’t make anymore. Kept Records discovered a good one here. Don’t sleep!
3. Myron & E – They Don’t Know/ Timmion Records
If you had “Cold Game” back in the day, well then it’s no surprise that these guys got picked up by Stones Throw and are currently taking over the world. Let’s not forget the sound behind them, the Soul Investigators. Timmion has put out a few great sides this year, but it is the time of Myron & E, so this 45 on the Timmion imprint is a keeper for sure. Who says Rap guys can’t sing Soul? This duo blew up 2013 and 2014 looks even better for these two.
4. Professor Brian Oblivion – Hopscotch/ Clockwwise Records
This 45 was my sleeper of the year. Sample based, instrumental Hip Hop with a dark, funky vibe is right up our alley. Residing in The Bay Area, Professor Brian Oblivion got maximum spins this year from Flea Market Funk. To make it even sweeter, the hand stamped 45 sleeve put it over the top. Looking forward to even more good stuff coming from this talented DJ/ Producer in the ’14.
5. The Sure Fire Soul Ensemble – Layin’ Low/ Timeless Takeover
When a band describes themselves as “Cinematic Soul”, it’s time to take note and listen. No schlep band is describing their music like that. The band, influenced by motion picture soundtracks, Funk, and Soul, as well as having a flugelhorn on their side (and damn proud of it) is lighting a fire in the San Diego music scene that is quickly spreading through the nation. Pretty soon, this band will be the influence to others trying to imitate the sound. TSFSE is another one to watch, and this 45 is superb.
6. Duke of Soul b/w Vin’s Beat/ Swing-A-Ling aka NYC Trust
Here in Brooklyn, the talented cats at NYC Trust (Eric and Monk-One) put on a series of backyard Reggae BBQ’s this past Summer. I missed the series (but will definitely get down in the ’14!), and for the last jammy they pressed up a limited quantity of these babies that were only available there. I got one, and am a better music collector and DJ for it. Hot fiyah! Beg, borrow, and steal (no don’t steal it’s bad karma) and get a copy of this. NYC Trust has put out some hot discs this year as well as their Independent Grand project that is a marketplace online for all indie record labels. Good people putting out great, original vinyl for DJs.
7. Freqnik & WDRE – Party Vibes/ Boro Records
I wouldn’t take the job to do a label for a record I didn’t back 100%, and Freqnik and WDRE’s Native Tongues Party Vibes 45 blends the best of the Golden ERA with their signature hard hitting drums and samples. This record which sold out fast, (repress please!) was so good that the Jungle Brothers did a freestyle over it. Freqnik and WDRE’s beats and remixes are so hot that a free track they gave away was nicked by a prominent 90’s Hip Hop group and sold on their site as their own. Imitation is the greatest form of flattery, but that is just ridiculous. Where’s Rerun and Roger? At any rate, these two producers are killing it with the 45s.
CRuNCH 22 were born out the Israeli band The Apples, and they released an interesting 45 that not many people heard of. When you pair a turntablist up with a drummer and organ player, you don’t always get the results like you get on this 45. With a world flavor and an infectious beat, search for this 7″. If they have any left, grab it! Hoping to see some more vinyl pressed up from this crew.
Secret Stash’s rise in the ranks of the indie Funk and Soul labels is due to the hard work, research, and pure love of music from the whole crew. They are not afraid to waltz over to world music, and this African influenced release from Black Market Brass is a belter. Afro Beat has dominated a lot of the releases here on FMF , and this one is definitely something to put into your box of little records with big holes. MPLS stand up!
10. Lord Finesse – Signature Sevens Volumes 1-3/ Slice of Spice Slice of Spice has single handedly put the independent Hip Hop label on the radar in 2013. With a tremendous amount of specialty releases, flexi-discs, and these seven inch sets from Lord Finesse, you will not find another label doing it the way Richard Smith does it. Proud to have this man repping Brooklyn, and finally doing a lot of music justice. We are all waiting for more releases to see how he can top the past records he has put out. It’s going to be tough, but if anyone can, Spice can do it.
Honorable Mention: Conjunto Papa Upa – Vintage Voudoo/ Music With Soul
Venturing away from the Brazilian Psychedelic music the label has put out and diving head first into his roots, Alex Figueira has now introduced the public to the music of Columbia via Amsterdam. An off the beaten path 45 for sure, its diverse sound makes it get the honorable mention.
In conclusion, it’s difficult to really do a list, but I tried to give my honest, humble opinion on these 45s released this year and featured on the site. I would be remiss to not mention the great music put out by labels like Cherries, Funk Night, Cultures of Soul, Liquid Beat, Electric Cowbell, Truth & Soul, Daptone, Freestyle, Record Kicks, Hope Street, Heavenly Sweetness, Spoke, and others. It’s labels like this that keep Flea Market Funk going to spread the good word of great music to the people. For that, I thank each and every one of you (and if I forgot to mention you, I still thank you!) Keep buying independent 45s and supporting the artists and labels who are grinding every day. On to 2014.