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Monthly Archives: April 2014

Rockabilly chantress returns with forth album, its business as usual

 

 

Imelda May returns this week with her fourth album. Her first in four years. That is a long time for someone to be away. Luckily Tribal is everything that we’ve come to expect from an Imelda May album. There are subtle differences this time though. Not all of the songs are the fast paced tracks that have populated her previous albums, there are more meditative songs. This is probably because May and her guitarist husband have had a baby. This new tenderness isn’t out of pace. On her previous album there was the beautiful Kentish Town Waltz (my first dance with my wife at my wedding), but these songs feel more touching than that.

 

 

This is the album of someone who is in control of their career. It rocks when it needs to and sways when that it needed too. The only problem is that we’ve heard it all before on her previous three albums. When she broke out on to the music scene in 2003-2007 she was like a breath of fresh air. She went against the grain of what was happening. Her retro sound, social commentary lyrics worked well and breathed new life into an old sound. In 2014 though I’m feeling that it’s not as new, fresh as interesting as Love Tattoo or Mayhem. In no way am I saying that this is a bad album, far from it, my only complaint is that it’s far too predictable. I fully understand that May’s stitch is that she’s the embodiment of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s golden age. Big hair, leather jackets and attitude and if she started throwing in stuff that didn’t sit with this it wouldn’t work. However after four albums I think that the formula is starting to get a bit thin.

 

 

7/10

 

 

Imelda May – Gypsy In Me

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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Finally Damon Albarn’s solo album is released, it’s great but I’m not sure how often I’ll play it

 

 

Any album that opens with a Lord Buckley sample is on to a winner in my book. This is exactly how Everyday Robots starts. As the more regular readers will know I really liked this single when it was released earlier in the year. The rest of the album follows its blueprint. The songs are mainly introspective and the music is downbeat, but with a pop sensibility.

 

 

You can tell that Damon has matured from his twee Blur days and the pastiche of what a pop band should be in the Gorillaz. This doesn’t mean that the music is all ‘serious’ and hard hitting, it’s not. Mr. Tembo (today’s pick) and Parakeet a chocked full of fun and playfulness (more of that in a bit), but the album does sit somewhere between his previous projects. Imagine Blur during their most inward phases backed by Gorillaz most downbeat moments. Bad analogy, but it is true.

 

 

Personally the stand out track is Mr Tembo. It has a jaunty guitar riff that can’t help make you smile. It bobs along until the chorus, then the Leytonstone City Mission Choir join in and make the song far more grandiose and epic. The rest of the song follows this pattern until Lord Buckley unexpectedly appears again. Albarn then recites a few lines that could easily have been an outtake from the Blur classic Essex Dogs. Mr Tembo has SINGLE written all over it.

 

 

So is the album worth the wait? Yes I think it is. Had Albarn not been releasing stuff under different guises this might have seemed a bit flat, but it’s not. If this isn’t your thing the silver lining is that considering how prolific he is at the moment he probably will release something soon that you will like.

 

 

My only complaint with the album is I don’t know how often I will be playing it. Yes its subject matter is very personal, and the production is flawless (as we’ve come to expect from Albarn’s albums), but I really know how often I’ll be in the mood to play it. If I was having a dinner party this would get played (more than once I’m guessing) and if I ran a shop I would play this for my customers, but in my day-to-day life I don’t know when I’ll feel the mood to play it. I’m not saying that I only listen to bangers, punk and techno (far from it), I regularly listen to laidback, down tempo stuff, but I don’t know how often I’ll give this a spin (or click).

 

 

Overall this is a great album and should feature in most-end-of-year reviews, but I don’t know how high up it will feature. It’s not the best thing I’ve heard all year, but it’s by no far the worst. If it sounds like I’m moaning and slagging this off then that isn’t my intention, I just don’t know how often I’ll generally play it. Which is a shame as this album deserves to be played so you can fully decode what the songs are about.

 

 

8/10

 

 

Damon Albarn – Mr Tembo

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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Sad news as a true legend dies before his time

 

 

Over the weekend it was reported that DJ Rashad had died. He was only 35. A lot of the facts are still a bit vague, but the cause of death is looking like a drug overdose. This is such a senseless waste. DJ Rashad was beyond talented.

 

 

Last year he released Double Cup through Hyperdub and it was one of the standout albums of the year. This is what makes the news that much harder to take. DJ Rashad was still relevant and releasing amazing album.

 

 

I’m sure that over the next few days more details will be revealed, but at the moment the dance music community is coming to terms with losing another member. The news of Frankie Knuckles passing was just starting to sink, but this seems more shocking and sad.

 

 

RIP DJ Rashad

 

 

DJ Rashad – Acid Bit (feat. Addison Groove)

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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Contender for song of the year has arrived!

 

 

Sasha Siem is the future. Last week saw the release of her new single Proof. Since then I can’t get it out of my head. It’s two minutes of haunting pop music that require repeat listens your full attention. It’s bewitched me. I can’t remember the last time a new artist did this to me. The single (7” only) has a different mix of the song on both sides. I usually think this is lazy, but in this case I can see why. Both versions are different in composition and structure, but neither loose the power and point of the song.

 

 

Side A is produced by David Kahne. Kahne is a big name in music and has worked with a log of people that I admire and respect (and some I don’t too) The Strokes, Regina Spektor, Paul McCartney, Linkin Park, Tony Bennett, The Bangles, New Order and Lana Del Rey to name a few. His version sounds classic and large. The B-side is produced by Valgier Sigurõsson. Sigurõsson is the founder of Iceland’s Greenhouse Studio. His mix is more ethereal, stark and epic. If you think of anyone Icelandic you’ll have a good idea as to what this might sound like. Personally the B-Side is my favourite version. It has a quirky string section and a wonky beat that work together perfectly! This is forward thinking stuff!

 

 

 

My only real criticism is that both versions are too short, I’d love to hear have had the orchestration last a bit longer, to emphasise how beautiful and clever this song is. I’m not saying that I want a 5-7 minute song (although that would be interesting to hear), but another minute wold have been great. Siem has such a distinctive voice and the words (and tone) of the piece make be long to hear more.

 

 

As usually happens after I hear something that gets more excited I want to hear more, but I think that Siem is still recording and mixing her work so I’m going to have a to wait a while to hear the fruits of her labour. All I can hope is that if it’s half as decent as this, she might have the break out album of the year on her hands, and that’s little more than she deserves for releasing something as perfect as this!

 

 

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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The weekend starts here, but what to do…

 

I love weekend. Just over 48 hours to do whatever you want. This weekend I am going to an AGM of a non-profit organisation. I won’t say the name, but I’m really really looking forward to it. There will be speeches in the morning and then after lunch breakout groups, that will discuss the latest issues of the day and how they pose to affect our rights. I’m sure that there will be a lot of people who are more clued up than I am, but as long as I can sit at the back and listen to the interesting debates I’ll be happy. After it finished I hope to go to a pub and have a nice relaxing evening.

 

Sunday looks like being a day of sloth (and playing computer games). It all depends on how rough I feel though. I’m sure I’ll be well enough to watch TV is all else fails.

 

 

The Shins – Saint Simon

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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The best mash up I’ve heard in recent times, so phat!

 

 

Sometimes you hear a song that stops you in your tracks and makes you go “WHAT!”. This is one these tracks. The genius of this track is it composite parts. The first part is a sample of this absolute classic, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble-War

 

 

 

 

The second part of the track is the acapella version of the Beastie Boys Body Movin’

 

 

 

 

Individually they are great, but combined they make an unstoppable force. What is truly amazing about this track isn’t really the final result, but HNDRSN thought that mixing these two together would be interesting. How right he was! It’s this level of forward thinking that impressed me the most. Everyone has heard a mash up. 90% of them are rubbish, but this song re-defines the mash up. It shows what is capable with just a little bit of imagination and some records. The original hip-hop pioneers would be proud!

 

 

https://soundcloud.com/hndrsn/beastie-brass

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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I can’t get Brighton’s finest out of my head, I’m not complaining mind!

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Dead are amazing. They effortlessly merge noise, pop and rock together to create something different. Imagine the Smashing Pumpkins, but instead of Corgan’s nasal whine they have Karen Carpenter (and some great boy\girl harmonies). Does this sound like your sort of thing? I knew that we’d be mates!

 

 

Earlier in the year some bright spark decided to put together a compilation of all the early T-Dead EP’s and singles. Listening to all their best tracks back to back it makes me long for them to release the debut they have been promising to make for so long. After yesterday’s bile loaded piece about compilation albums, you might find it weird that I really like this one. Well the answer why is simple. Collections of singles and EP’s like this show the bands progression. It shows how far they have come in such a short period of time and what we have to look forward to in the future. Tyrannosaurus Dead-Greatest Hits is equal to the Death of Pop-Two Thousand and Thirteen. In fact I find them to be weird companion pieces to each other. Both are new bands making music shaped by the music they love and their environments\experiences. If only they’d play together…

 

 

Today’s track is taken from this comp (as it’s a banger). Oyster Boy You’re a Blast follows the formula they’ve worked so hard to craft. Its title is taken from a Tim Burton nursery rhyme\poem. I won’t tell you what happens to Oyster Boy, but I’m sure you can work it out given the nature of Burton’s work. I also won’t ruin the song as it’s one of my favourites in recent years.

 

 

I recommend all of you to buy this comp. It could be one of the best albums you hear all year!

 

 

Tyrannosaurus Dead – Oyster Boy You’re a Blast

 

 

http://oddboxrecords.bandcamp.com/album/greatest-hits

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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Possibly the worst album ever made has been released, I can hear the horsemen’s hooves already

 

 

This week a new edition to the Now series has been released. It’s called NOW That’s What I Call 21st Century. The idea is the same as every other Now album (put as many hits and under performing artists on a comp as possible and sell it to as many people as possible). The only difference is that it’s all of the biggest ‘hits’ since the start of the 21st Century.

 

 

The track listing’s looks like the worst night out ever, well since the start of the 21st Century. Every song on the comp makes me cringe and gag. Let’s just look at the first six tracksSee what I mean? Robin Thicke has the biggest downloaded song in the UK’s history, shame it’s horrible. Maroon 5 wouldn’t know a good song if it one night standed them. Black Eyed Peas have been making atrocious music since 2003. Pharrell is old enough to know better, but I guess it’s hard to turn down money. I had no idea who Carly Rae Jepsen was until I heard this song, and now I’ve heard it I want to go back to the blissful state I was in before. She makes the kind of music that make Kelly Clarkson look edgy. As for the next two I can’t really write how I feel about them. Needless to say it isn’t favourable.

 

 

  1. Blurred Lines (Featuring Pharrell Williams) – Robin Thicke
  2. Moves Like Jagger (Featuring Christina Aguilera) – Maroon 5
  3. I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
  4. Happy – Pharrell Williams
  5. Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Japsen
  6. Wake me Up – Avicii
  7. Party Rock Anthem (Featuring Lauren Bennett & GoonRock) – LAMFO

 

 

My main problem with this comp is who is it aimed at? Lobotomised tweens? I get the impression that this comp is aimed at people who buy NOW albums, but if you’ve bought any of them over the past few years you’ll probably have most of these songs. This is the problem with the music industry at the moment. Instead of trying to find new artists, they have decided to repackage old stuff. I know that this is what has always been done, but after the Record Store Day fiasco (re-issues for the sake of re-issues), this makes sense.

 

 

Ultimate this comp leave me feeling sad empty. This is partly down to vapidity of the music, but also down to the people who buy these comps. I know that all music (art) is subjective and every song is someone’s favourite, but I feel sorry for someone who spend their life listening to this drivel and will never hear The Velvet Underground, Nancy Sinatra, Principal Edwards, Coldcut, Kate Tempest or the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

 

 

3/10

 

 

Rizzle Kicks – Mama Do The Hump

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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One of the most anticipated debuts of the year is finally released, sadly it doesn’t live up to its title

 

 

Iggy Azalea has finally released her debut album. It hasn’t taken as long (nor is it as hyped) as Azealia Banks as yet unreleased album. As far as debuts go it’s ok. It show’s enough of the early promise that got her, her deal and generated the original hype, it shows that she’s grown as a song writer and is collaborating with some of music hottest names and she can hold her own. Sadly what it doesn’t do is deliver the goods.

 

 

The majority of the songs are decent, but apart from the four singles (YES FOUR SINGLES) it doesn’t really entertain. And let’s face it, that is the point of music, to entertain. The best track on the album is the latest single Fancy. This might be because of Charli XCX and The Invisible Men, but for some reason this track holds my interest and attention more than the others. Another reason why Fancy is so good, is the video.

 

 

Fancy’s video is a parody of Clueless (minus the Britney Murphy character). It’s one of the best videos I’ve seen for ages. Visually the video has nothing to do with the lyrics, but it seems to work perfectly.

 

 

 

Overall The New Classic is ok, but it isn’t a classic. Nice try Iggy, if you try and bit on the next one your might be nearer the ‘classic’ mark.

 

 

5/10

 

 

Iggy Azalea – Fancy

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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Kelis is back and this time she’s brought her recipe book!

 

 

This week sees the release of Kelis’ new album Food, and I have said in a previous blog, she has stripped her sound down and gone back to basics. The change is monumental. Her previous albums weren’t bad, far from it, but on Food she sounds like a totally new artist. Not an easy thing to do after five albums. Food could easily have been released during Soul’s golden age in the 1960’s. The beats are crisp, the bass is fat and it all sounds analogue.

 

 

Forver Be is the stand out track. It sounds retro, but not dated. In places it reminds me of Tomorrow Never Knows, swirling psychedelic strings but a horn riff to die for! This is great stuff. In an age that Soul\R&B is dominated by sound-a-like synthetic pop-tarts, it’s exciting to hear someone mix the old with the new in a way that jumps boundaries. This is partly down to Dave Sitek who pulls off another slick, flawless production job, but praise has to be given to Kelis’ vocals. Her voice is deeper and evokes images of smoke filled music rooms, sequined dresses and backing vocals. This is Diana Ross for the MTV Base generation.

 

 

As with all albums there are flaws. Mostly the sound of the album is the same doesn’t change during the album. This isn’t a bad thing. If Sitek had started putting in tracks that veered away from the albums mission statement, it would sound of out-place and the piece wouldn’t flow. Another flaw if Kelis’ vocals. On each song she delivers the same performance. Husky and emotional. I don’t know if her range has changed over the years, or if she has playing live in mind, but it sounds like she’s playing it a bit safe. My last complaint is that at 13 tracks and 50 minutes, it seems a bit long. One of two tracks could have been shaved off and the pleasure wouldn’t have been diminished. Overall these aren’t massive problems and I’m just nit-picking, other than that this is the best R&B album since Janelle Monáe’s last album.

 

Where will Kelis go from there though? That’s partly down to the public. If this is well received then I think that she can go pretty much anywhere she wants, but if it doesn’t perform as well as expected, then she might end up being a vocalist for hire on dance\electro tracks. The latter would be a shame as she’s far better on her own stuff than guesting on other peoples, as Food shows.

 

 

8/10

 

Kelis – Forever Be

 

 

April 2014

 

 

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