The Decoders are the brainchild of LA-based duo Itai Shapiro (producer and arranger) and Todd Simon (trumpeter/arranger). As their name might suggest, they deconstruct classics (like “Hey There Lonely Girl“, then rearrange them with a talented production team of experts who’ve worked with bands like Quadron and Rhye.
The Decoders are prepping ears for a second volume of their compilation album (appropriately referred to as Volume 2). Recently, they released an interpolation of the Burt Bacharach classic “Walk On By.” Soul and r&b heads who know and love the Dionne Warwick and Isaac Hayes renditions of the song may initially be on the fence about The Decoders’ interpretation, sung by Los Angeles soprano Noelle Scaggs (of the band, Fitz & The Tantrums). If I can offer any advice, it’s to listen to this version first as a compilation of the Warwick and Hayes versions, then as a take of its own. I say all that because my first listen rendered me a hater. Only thirty seconds into the track, I wondered Why the Western/James Bond element?But snap judgements fled and admiration soon settled as I fell into Noelle Scaggs’ fresh voice, which dynamically takes on the song with Hayes’ emotional quality and Warwick’s sleek register. After awhile (and maybe I’m wrong; you tell me), you just can’t help but throw your head back and bounce to the lovers rock backbeat, the original Hayes horn arrangement, and those strings. This is not music, it’s chemistry. Get into the science: