Turns out Saturday, April 21 is a triple holiday. It’s Earth Day, it’s Record Store Day and it’s the release of The Secret B-Sides’ new album, Easy Magic.
It’s been just about a year since the local neo-soul outfit released its sophomore album, Flowers and Chocolate. That record — all retro jams, slinky beats, hits of hip-hop and a platform boots-and-butterfly-collars aesthetic updated with a space age mythology — was an instant hit. And how could it not be? Frontman Juan Holladay has infallible instincts when it comes to music. Though his jumping-off points might seem random (dinosaurs? footie pajamas?), Holladay has a knack for pulling far-flung influences together under the psychedelic umbrella of R&B, happiness and the kind of love that, whether spiritual or sexual in nature, makes us better people.
Advance tracks have been closely guarded secrets. Like Chocolate, Magic is being fine-tuned right up to the drop date. "As usual, we are working up to the deadline," Holladay tells Xpress. "I guess we do this because the pressure makes our lives more exciting." It’s more likely the do with the fact that keyboardist is also an engineer at Collapseable Studios, making extended production possible. And, that each track is dense. “Are You Music?” pulses and thumps with heavy bass and bright jabs of organ. The song breathes, throbs and sweats under Holladay’s supple vocal. “Are you music? Are you so sick? Are you straight up out of the same old new tricks?” he sings. (If so, Magic can probably cure what ails you.)
The album-release party takes place at Asheville Music Hall with openers Sirius.B and Sidney Barnes, and the invite for the show promises that “a piñata will be smashed at midnight, revealing all treasures previously concealed within.” 10 p.m., $5 in advance or $8 at the door.