If you haven’t already heard Dillastrate’s new single Better Than This, stop what you’re doing and go listen to it right now. We’ve had it spinning on repeat since we first laid ears on it, and we guarantee you’ll get hooked just as quickly as we did.
The band ooze out an irresistible blend of soulful sounds, creating a brand of music that’s sure to get your body moving. So we asked the duo for a list of five soul tracks that they think deserve a bigger spotlight. Take it away Dillastrate…
There’s a lot of great soul music out there… New Zealand duo Dillastrate would know. So, we asked them to put together a list of underrated, overlooked soul tunes.
Marvin Gaye – Heavy Love Affair
This was the first single from Marvin Gaye’s 1981 album In Our Lifetime, recorded at Gaye’s own Marvin’s Room recording studio in Los Angeles. It’s a tune that contains a lot of the hallmarks from all of the periods of Gaye’s recording career – particularly the heady combination of the percussion and feel of Got To Give It Up with the horn lines and vocal delivery of What’s Going On. There seems to be a number of amazing Marvin Gaye tunes from that transitional period between Let’s Get It On and Sexual Healing that seem to get overlooked in general – tunes like I Want You and Come Live With Me Angel that, to me, stand up with some of his best songs of the period. Also, one song that has probably my favourite titles of all time – A Funky Space Reincarnation. Brilliant.
Stevie Wonder – Skeletons
I first heard this tune on the Grand Theft Auto 5 radio station curated by Bootsy Collins – Space 103.2. (If you’re able to source a playlist of all of the tunes featured on that station, please do – it’s well worth your trouble. Nothing but 80s boogie goodness.) Now, I understand that a Grammy-nominated first single from an album that reached Number 1 on the Billboard R&B Chart is not everybody’s typical image of an overlooked or underrated soul song… but the 80s were also not necessarily the most memorable period for Stevie Wonder after being one of the most ubiquitous artists of the 60s and 70s. Plus this is my list, so shut up. The bass line is unreal, and only Stevie could make a tune at this tempo and with this amount of space sound so damn funky.
Omar – Tell Me
I first heard this track on MJ Cole’s brilliant Back To Mine compilation, released in 2002. I assumed at the time that this track must have been a hit in the UK because it sounded so fresh, well-written and well-produced, with a modern pop/R&B flavour that could only have meant that this track was in the Top 40. The track features a classically late 90s/early 00s kick-snare combo and compositional style, with a super-wet synth on entry to the song that must be one of the most boudoir lines I’ve ever heard in an R&B song, which is really saying something. Nothing but sweetness.
Jill Scott – The Fact Is (I Need You)
This is the fourth single from Scott’s second album Beautifully Human (2004). Jill Scott’s first album Who Is Jill Scott? was my entry to neo-soul – a real musical light bulb moment. The song is simultaneously uplifting and heart-breaking, suggesting a vital need for emotional intimacy and support pervading an otherwise entirely independent lifestyle. The track is co-written with producer Pete Kuzma (who incidentally produced a brilliant version of Radiohead’s High and Dry featuring Bilal) and exudes pure soul.
Anderson Paak – Miss Right
This is the second single from Paak’s first full-length album Venice, and one of the only tunes on the album produced entirely by Paak himself. It’s unbelievable that this song didn’t get more traction – it’s unbelievably good. The way the song builds, from simmering synths in the first verse, to massive horn stabs in the chorus, gets me every time. We cover this song in our live set with a slight tempo increase and heavy synth stabs and hits inserted, and it never fails to stir up the dance floor.
Dillastrate’s new single Better Than This is available now. Listen here.