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JET Magazine's 5 Rising Indie Artists include The Foreign Exchange and YahZarah

by +FE on December 27, 2010 at 9:03 AM · Comments
Check out the current issue of JET Magazine (Russell Simmons on the cover). Their "5 Rising Indie Artists" list includes both The Foreign Exchange and YahZarah!
THE FOREIGN EXCHANGE: This collective, helmed by artists-producers Nicolay and Phonte, has at different times included YahZarah. The group's new album, Authenticity, came out in October and extends the percolating and idiosyncratic rhythms of 2008's Leave It All Behind. The band will tour behind the album in 2011.
YAHZARAH: This Washington DC native has been around for nearly a decade, singing background for Erykah Badu and others. Her latest album, The Ballad Of Purple St. James, released in May, is her fourth and most accomplished effort. Graceful and salient, YahZarah's music recalls the funky, adventurous side of vintage Teena Marie with the buoyancy of Minnie Riperton.

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in: News

SoulBounce honors The Roots & The Foreign Exchange as their 2010 Groups Of The Year!

by +FE on December 23, 2010 at 4:48 PM · Comments
As mentioned earlier, we here at the SB headquarters don't always agree on things. While most times it can lead to a flurry of back-and-forth emails, in some instances, we just accept things as they are. Nowhere was that more evident than in the category of Group of the Year. When it came time to cast our votes this year, we were split right down the middle between two outstanding outfits, giving us the first-ever SB Honors' tie. That's right, The Roots and The Foreign Exchange are sharing the title this year. Why choose between the two when both seemed to reach into their musical stashes to bless us with multiple projects in one year?

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in: News

SoulBounce honors Zo! as their 2010 Producer Of The Year!

by +FE on December 23, 2010 at 2:51 PM · Comments
While here at the SB headquarters we don't always see eye-to-eye in terms of music, one thing we do agree on is that 2010 was, indeed, the year of Lorenzo Ferguson better known to all as Zo!. Many of the Detroit-bred, D.C.-based multi-instrumentalist and producer's melodies provided the soundtrack to our 2010. Let's face it, he seemed to be everywhere this year. Zo! managed to hit us off with stellar production work nearly every season this year, making him easily the SoulBounce Honors 2010 Producer of the Year.

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in: News

SoulTracks Critics select Authenticity and SunStorm among their Best Albums Of 2010!

by +FE on December 21, 2010 at 2:01 PM · Comments
SoulTracks have published their Best Albums Of 2010, as chosen by their critics. +FE Music is proud to have two albums in the list: The Foreign Exchange's Authenticity and Zo!'s SunStorm. And if that is not enough, YahZarah's The Ballad Of Saint James received an honorary mention!
Foreign Exchange: Authenticity - Crisp, cool, and yet darkly emotional, this stellar electro-soul project explores the brisk winters of love, hope, and heartache. Lyrically wiser than its writer/producer duo's numerical years, this contemplative work inspires with bare-knuckled honesty (L. Michael Gipson).
Zo!: Sunstorm. Listening to this artist/producer evolve from minimalist 80s inspired hip hop productions to lush, spacey, panoramic soundscapes worthy of Norman Connors, Pharaoh Sanders, or at least Rod Temperton is a joy. Joined by A-list underground vocalists like Phonte, Monica Blaire, and Sy Smith, Zo's Sunstorm shines. (L. Michael Gipson)
Check out all of SoulTracks' Best Albums Of 2010 here.
in: Reviews

TGRIOnline.com reviews N'Dambi and Zo! & The SunStorm Allstars at Black Cat, Washington DC

by +FE on December 20, 2010 at 2:13 PM · Comments
On paper, a night featuring heralded underground soul songstress N'Dambi and local DC cause celebre with national trending aspirations Zo! (government name Lorenzo Ferguson) sounds like a recipe for success. The two artists represent the twin hopes for traditional rhythm and blues style in the 21st century. N'Dambi, a former backup singer for Erykah Badu, carries forth the Nona Hendryx meets Nina Simone style artistry of her mentor, music as art, art as music, a funky melange of rock and soul. Zo!, alongside his Foreign Exchange Records supported "Sunstorm All Stars" supporting cast is a producer, composer and songwriter par excellence, a little bit of Isaac Hayes, a little bit of Smokey Robinson, with a spoonful of Ramsey Lewis tossed in for good measure, a feel good sultry blend of adult contemporary music. He's not concerned with popping bottles, he's concerned with getting deeper into the heart of the matter. However, on this night in Washington, DC, what was drawn up on paper, failed to materialize, as a night with the best of intentions fell short of their destination.

This is not to say that it was a night that was without spellbinding performances. Zo and his Sunstorm All Stars are the best live act in soul music today. Having witnessed their live show twice this year, it's easily the best ticket in the genre. It has everything you'd expect from the more mainstream side of R & B, just not wrapped in a broadcloth of tawdry behavior. This is classic music by extremely talented musicians who know what that means. Lead single from Zo's latest album Sunstorm, "This Could Be The Night" is a sensual jam with a George Benson swing, meaning that for more modern ears, it recalls Montell Jordan's "Get It On Tonight," in that it's grown and sexy without being debased. The set features the ever dapper Ferguson behind a dual decker keyboard and organ, a consummate band leader, leading his charges through a tightly produced set that highlights exquisite artistry. Though Monica Blaire was not present, Deborah Bond's take on the 11 minute suite "Make Love To Me" was absolutely magical. The song is a moody jazz winner, allowing for a virtuoso female vocalist to improvise and reach an orgasmic peak under the blanket of restrained elegance. If not aware, it is the year's finest soul performance, and absolutely worthy of consideration for achievement.

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in: Interviews

Beatnik Online interviews The Foreign Exchange

by +FE on December 14, 2010 at 1:37 PM · Comments
Leave It All Behind, the second album by The Foreign Exchange, is a beautifully produced piece of work. Producer Nicolay and vocalist Phonte released the album in 2008, surprising fans with a lush, complex soul record. The album sounds as if it could have been made at a studio like Electric Ladyland or The Hit Factory, and the elements of its production are a testament to the work that went into it. Some songs contained 64 separate vocal tracks, all expertly mixed and blended. The lead single, Daykeeper, went through dozens of different mixes alone, and took over a year and a half to complete. This was a big, powerful, major league sounding album.

But Leave It All Behind was not made at Electric Ladyland or The Hit Factory. It was made in the living room of an ordinary beach house in Wilmington, on the coast of North Carolina. There, Nicolay (Matthijs Rook), newly arrived in the US from his home country of the Netherlands, sat down to mold the raw material into a cohesive album. And he did it without anything that could even remotely be called a classic studio setup.

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Prefix's Best Albums Of 2010

by +FE on December 14, 2010 at 5:03 AM · Comments
Prefix Magazine has selected Authenticity among their Best Albums Of 2010!
32 The Foreign Exchange: Authenticity

The Foreign Exchange's Authenticity, Phonte and Nicolay's third album together, is easily their finest yet. It's an honest, revealing glimpse into the complexities of romantic relationships -- a welcome change of pace at a time when R&B/soul is mostly filled with sex-fueled romps. Where Authenticity excels, though, is in Nic's experimental blends of synthesizers, keys, and acoustic guitars paired with Phonte's increasingly melodic and refined songwriting.
in: Reviews

Oh Drat reviews Authenticity

by +FE on December 7, 2010 at 1:41 PM · Comments
Authenticity is the third album from the Grammy nominated collaboration of Phonte and Nicolay, and shows a further maturation of The Foreign Exchange. If the leap from their first album Connected to second Leave It All Behind was a revolution, Authenticity is an evolution in the Foreign Exchange's sound.

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in: Interviews

Oh Drat interviews The Foreign Exchange

by +FE on December 7, 2010 at 1:40 PM · Comments
After meeting on the internet in 2002, Phonte and Nicolay have made waves with The Foreign Exchange, both as a hip hop and a soul group. The lead single from their last album Leave It All Behind was nominated for a Grammy, and they recently released their third album Authenticity to across the board praise (check my review here). I caught up with the guys to talk message boards, sampling, leaving a legacy and more...

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in: Upcoming Shows

The Foreign Exchange at Cargo, London UK | Jan 12 2011

by Aimee Flint on December 6, 2010 at 12:18 PM · Comments
soulBEAUTIFUL inc presents: The Foreign Exchange's (Phonte & Nicolay) with live band, performing at Cargo in London
soulBEAUTIFUL inc. presents:

The Foreign Exchange (Phonte + Nicolay) with live band

Doors 7pm - 1am. Tickets £13.50 in advance

Sounds provided by
BARRY KING (Lifenotes Music)

Wednesday, January 12, 2011 at 7:00 PM
Cargo, 83 Rivington Street, London EC2A 3AY UK | 020 7749 7844

in: Reviews

Textura reviews Authenticity

by +FE on December 1, 2010 at 8:00 AM · Comments
Just as The Foreign Exchange's 2008 album Leave It All Behind stylistically departs from its predecessor Connected, so too does Authenticity shift away from Leave It All Behind. Connecting the dots between the three releases, one finds the Nicolay-and-Phonte-led outfit moving from hip-hop to exuberant soul-and-funk to, on the new release, mellow soul balladry and acoustic folk. Ironically, such a seemingly safe move turns out to be the most risky: rather than courting new listeners with in-your-face exuberance, the duo opt for something closer in spirit to...adult contemporary? Yes, it's true, and most of the time it works too.

Continue reading Textura reviews Authenticity

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