Colemine Records, out of a metro Cincinnati neighborhood called Loveland, has burst onto the scene as of late, releasing funk, R&B, and soul records reminiscent of a nearly bygone era of music collectives with full-time organ players writing music that evokes the mood and temperament of entire communities. Among their growing and impressive stable of artists is San Diego’s Sure Fire Soul Collective. 

 
Their self-titled “Sure Fire Soul Collective” serves up impressionistic aural paintings of San Diego as we both know it now, and as we knew it then. Opening track “Layin’ Low” demonstrates their devotion to old-school masters and pioneers. There’s a decidedly cool Quincy Jones feel to the track as it opens, but then we’re hit with an organ solo that immediately transitions to a horn treatment that would not be out of place in a more moody Miles Davis invocation. 
 
Genuinely great bands bring with them the sum total of their influences and build upon them. While the ensemble’s influences are clear, albeit myriad, they build upon the archetypes and create textures within the framework. There’s no escaping the Spanish influence in Southern California – it’s in the names, the streets, the neighborhoods. The band goes out of its way to illustrate this on the album tracks named after well-known districts in San Diego. On “City Heights,” the album’s second track, the horn refrains build and build on top of a solid bedrock of Spanish rhythm, and then a horn solo is uncorked -the brass steady stays busy on this whole effort – then the breakdown of SoCal lowrider smoothness comes. Indeed, this band never forgets from whence it came. 
 
“Strollin’ Adams,” doesn’t hesitate or tease. From the opening drum beat, the funk comes early and does not let up. Adams Avenue connects University Heights, Normal Heights, and Kensington over the course of three miles. The east-west avenue takes you past antique shops, bodegas, coffee shops, bookstores, yoga studios, tattoo parlors, barbershops, and pubs. Stroll down it, and you’ll feel it in the soles of your feet. The Ensemble hits with vague waves of psychedelia, plenty of horn funk, and deep groove from an Isaac Hayes-era just at home around Memphis barbecue joints as it is San Diego’s taco joints. This is mood music for the avenue. 
 
The album’s seventh cut, “The Blvd.” opens with a full-on soul freak out. Cacophony reigns, but there’s a low-end theory rumbling underneath. Out of this stew, the bass emerges as the lead instrument with the omnipresent horns rising up underneath. A psychedelic guitar emerges from the hands of Nicholas Costa. We’re on some different vibe altogether now. The horns again, AGAIN, rise to the occasion, painting the soundscape with the colors of San Diego’s El Cajon Boulevard. We’re on the same street as dive bars, fading neon lights, and ladies of the night, but at the same time, we’re treated to evocations of that famed Southern California car culture, carne asada, and inimitable cool that spawned a thousand copycats. 
 
This record is an impressionistic painting of America’s Finest City. When Quentin Tarantino decides to make a film in San Diego, the Soul Fire Soul Ensemble should provide the cinema soundscape.  
 

Jason Thompson

Boogie Magazine

‘Soul Fire Soul Ensemble’ is also available in vinyl at www.fatbeats.com