Seen live: Kwame Binea & the Shakedown at Apollo Music Cafe

“Are you ready?!” Kwame Binea howls into the microphone, keying in the audience for what’s about to come. This is the Apollo Music Cafe--a series specializing in the curation of diverse, independent artistry, hosted by the iconic Harlem-based theater--and tonight’s sold-out performance is coming from the spirited Kwame Binea Shakedown, a roots-rock band with a dash of funk, blues and good vibes. As the frontman of a band that bears his namesake, Binea is 6’5” of boundless charisma with a voice that threatens to bring the stage down. Backed by his full band, an arsenal of skilled musicians practiced in tight sets and big sounds, Binea effortlessly navigates through originals and covers all of which align with the band’s mantra. It’s a phrase that the singer will energetically repeat several times throughout the set: peace, love and positivity. Stand out moments of the night include an explosive cover of James Brown’s “I Got You (I Feel Good),” an homage to the live version recorded by the artist on the very same stage, and an electrifying performance of Hendrix’s “Fire,” that came after the audience demanded an encore.

Maybe the real magic of the Shakedown is magnified by they way they command a crowd. During their original “World on Fire,” Binea managed to get a filled-to-capacity room to echo the word “love” to him during the outro, and “Let Go,” one of the first singles released from the band, had the audience flocking to the dancefloor. With lyrics like “Early morning, up with the sunrise/ Man, what a blessing it is to see another day” it’s easy to see the appeal of the band’s positive message. Amidst the tumult of recent events, Kwame Binea Shakedown’s commitment to love and unity is a welcome ray of hope that is poised to melt even the steeliest of hearts. To follow more from the Apollo Music Cafe, check out their site here, and be sure to check out the band's original track, “Let Go," streaming below. - Olivia Sisinni


Buzz Alert: Crumb leaves us hungry for more of their jazzy soul psych tunes

Boston-based Crumb offers laid-back tunes for reflective mornings. Layering singer/guitarist Lila Ramani's effortless, nonchalant vocals over a bed of sometimes-funky-often-jazzy psych rock, the band delivers dulcet tunes with a serious side of haze. The lyricism invites introspection, and instrumentals often wind down unexpected turns, but Crumb's music manages to be engaging without being overly demanding of their listeners. Right now, the band's Soundcloud account description is simply inscribed with the words "More to come." We'll certainly be looking forward to the next release from the band, but in the meantime, you can stream Crumb below.-Olivia Sisinni


Buddhagraph Spaceship lands 11/11 at the Velvet Lounge

Though Buddahgraph Spaceship's sound certainly can feel astral at times, don't be fooled--the band's strong funk sensibility keeps them firmly planted on earth. With tasty basslines, ethereal synths, and infectious grooves, the VA-based group manages to create hip-swinging funk with a prog-y twist. Catch them live at the Velvet Lounge 11/11 with NAH. and Woodgrove, and be sure to tune them in below.-Olivia Sisinni


Sun-Drenched Harmonies Shine Through on SMILE's New Release

The Austin music community is rife with ironic and self-serious bands, and SMILE is certainly not one of them. This six-piece power pop group, fronted by Jack Miles, can certainly light up the room with their sunny demeanor and chilled optimisitic vibes.  Blending elements of soul with purist Beatles-esque melodies, the group released a sun-drenched single "I Dunno" to generate interest in their soon-to-be-released new album.  Crooner vocals float over doo-wop inspired harmonies to create an atmosphere of love and postivity. While there is a strand of jam band DNA in SMILE, their music is overhwelmingly and unabashedly an homage to 60's artists like the Beach Boys and Harry Nilsson.

-Lee Ackerley



Prowler EP/Beer Release Show at Ortlieb's Oct. 8

Twisted transmissions from an alien planet, Prowler invades Ortlieb’s this evening. The band cultivates an intoxicating blend of oddball rock and funk; a satisfyingly strange, soul stew riding the space boogie. Tonight, the crew celebrates their collaboration with Highway Manor Brewing Co., “Funky Prowler” (a dry Irish stout), with a bottle release show. A free glass of Funky Prowler comes with your admission, while bottles of the brew will also include their new EP Hand Disease. With a new EP Good Knight, Sweet Dreams freshly released on cassette, the enchanting psych pop-rock of The Fantastic Imagination emerge from a mysterious magical territory, while the kaleidoscope jams of Hueman Group and the comic styling of Greg Trout fill out this slate. Ortlieb’s, 847 N. 3rd St., 8pm, $10, 21+ - Michael Colavita