Sweet Sounds of Musclecars’ New Release, ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea!’

By: OS Cosa

[Anthony Jamari Thomas – Sugar Honey Iced Tea! Cover Photo and Back Cover]

New York Natives Brandon Weems and Craig Handfield combine musical minds to form the DJ, Producer duo: Musclecars. As musicians they equally share an admiration for the craft of making music. Fostering a desire to blend genres, while expressing their deep appreciation for a wide range of sounds. On a mission that’s focused on community and bringing people together, Musclecars has made their way from residencies at Nowadays in New York, to bookings at Panorama Bar in Berlin. Recognitions in publications such as Rolling Stones, Billboard, and recently a ‘Breaking Through’ feature in Resident Advisor show that Musclecars has been getting busy. An abundance of high quality mixes and releases attest to Musclecars ability to bring a colorful sensibility to the underground scene.  

Launching ‘Coloring Lessons’, the party, in 2018 and ‘Coloring Lessons Records’ in 2020, Musclecars aims to add value to New York’s nightlife culture and share music created by their peers and inspired by their ancestors of color, as well as teach younger generations about the roots of this music. With no specific genres or sound the party gravitates towards house, disco, jazz, and soul, to uplift the music of their Black and Brown ancestors. With an intention to push New York City’s dance music scene in the direction it was during the golden era of nightlife, while pulling from a lineage of inspirational spaces such as The Paradise Garage, The Loft, Body and Soul, and 718 Sessions, Musclecars is fully devoted to the task of spreading the music and sensibilities that have been influential to them. 

[Musclecars – Photo by Presse for Groove Magazin]

Recently released, Musclecars’ LP ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea!’ allows certainty when saying that they’ve made meaningful moves on their mission of honoring, uplifting, and generating soulful sounds that do much more than make the body groove and move. 

As warm melodies and soft rhythms build into layers of higher vibrations Musclecars seduce and entice the sonic receptors in our brains. Smooth blends of natural instrumentation and electronic synths, woven with thoughtful use of soulful and spiritual vocals makes the traversing through this soundscape ever so effortless, as if floating through the realm realized by the duo. 

Starting with sounds that resemble the divine string strumming of Alice Coltrane’s harp the opening song “The Afro-American Conundrum”s soft sounds guide and ease the mind while poetic prose, snippets of nature and city sounds are used as meaningful ornamentation throughout the rest of the album, be it in cars driving on asphalt, heels clicking on concrete, or a conversation between friends en route to the club.

Music flowing between House and a sort of spiritual Jazz at times. 

[Musclecars for Pirate Studios]

Rhythmic and spiritual chants sway smoothly like a springtime breeze on a sunny day in songs like “Ha Ya” and “Hello?”. Through warm and light sounds they lay praise to life and the vibrations that encompass our reality, as well as the unknown. Poetic preludes, and compositions that range from orchestral jazz to club music populate the project. With no shortage of heavy hitting house music bops that bring the body to bounce, jack, and pulsate. Melody sustaining organs are coupled with Brazilian rhythms to create sonic juxtapositions and angelic voices swoop in to uplift already bright grooves.

Jazz rhythms and bouncy house rhythms coincide with Afro Diasporic rhythms on the tracks “Circles II” and “Ha Ya”, while the sounds of Brazil’s samba can be heard on “I Don’t Remember The Last Time I Saw Stars”. The rhythms peppered with translucent flutters of sounds from electronic equipment. 

A soulful marriage of traditional instruments and electronic sounds grace the entirety of the album, with poetic prose over powerful melodies, narrated by Lindsay Zae Summers or Lovie as many know her from her party Soul Connection and her wonderfully soulful DJ sets. A weaving together of diverse rhythms from the techno heavy grooves of “Running Out Of Time”,  hitting hard with alarms blaring,  to the prayer-like interludes of “ Hello?” acting as subtle incense softly setting a different tone and mood. The use of a voicemail from a mentor in “Carlos Sanchez Interlude” as they pay homage to a dear mentor/DJ and friend who transcended, using his words coupled with angelic light bearing sounds.

[Lovie – Photo 1 by Vanessa Lynn, Photo 2 by Michaela Quan]

Musclecars enacts another aspect of their mission in the plentiful collaborations with their New York based contemporaries in the dance music, house music community, working with Kamaal for vocals on “Tonight (feat. Kamaal)”, who also offers writing, performance, composing and production work on “Every Party Must Come To An End” and with Cesar Toribio lending a hand in either composing, producing, and performing on “Hello?”, “I Don’t Remember The Last Time I Saw Stars”, “Carlos Sanchez Interlude”, and also writing on “Circles”, while featuring on “Circles II”. Truly moving in the spirit of sharing and creating music by and with their peers that is inspired by their ancestors of color. 

[Kamaal photo by d3nt_ and Toribio for musictech.com]

From catching Musclecars bring the funk and soul to a jam packed Fort Greene Park as they DJ’d a Soul Summit summertime park party to hearing the jazz, house & soul prevalent in this recently released LP ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea !’ it’s safe to say this duo of musical minds is making haste on their mission to uplift, honor, and continue bringing us into a golden era of  New York City dance music parties. 

Delve into ‘Sugar Honey Iced Tea!’ on all platforms right now, delight in the sonic soundscape, and go show Musclecars some soulful love. 

[Musclecars for musicis4lovers.com]