Friday, 23 December 2011
So below are my favourites, but what are yours?! Be great to know what music has inspired you or that you would put in your end of year lists!
Top albums of 2011 (in no order)
Oddisee- Rock Creek Park
Inspired entirely by nature and Gods creation! The hiphop producer fell in love with Rock Creek park in Washington and dedicated an album to it, soundtracking the different areas within the nature reserve. Funky and filled with vinyl crackle in all the right places this instrumental ode has stayed on the stereo and been revisited often.
Charles Bradley- No Time For Dreaming
With a voice that sounds world weary and weathered it'd be fair to say Bradley hasn't lived the easy life. With his voice drawing close to the great James Brown at times, this is an excellent stateside debut. Backed by the impressive Menahan Street band this includes the song 'why is it so hard to make it in America', modern funk at it's best.
Featuring an all star cast including Jack White and Norah Jones, this album is something akin to a modern Ennio Morricone soundtrack, but without the film.
Tigran Hamasyan- A Fable
Delicate in places this undulates excites and saddens in equal measures as the 24 year old piano virtuoso took folk songs from his native Armenia and spins them to an american style. Without doubt my favourite jazz album of the year.
Gardens & Villa- S/T
Mixing slow, cosmic boogie with 80's influences such as Talking Heads this is a perfect post 9pm album to segue Autumn nights into Winter.
Real Estate- Days
Melancholic but dreamy and melodious the New Jersey acts second album is indie rock brilliant..
Samiyam- Sam Bakers Album
Funny thing is i used to know someone called Sam Baker at school, but this is a different Sam Baker. On FlyLo's Brainfeeder imprint this is geared towards after-hours listening, or post-club (if you 'club'), soft, vibey keys blur with looped vocals, film samples and various beats, flittering between hip-hop, broken beat and dubstep!
The Kramford Look- 1970
Flying so far below the radar it could easily have been missed or overlooked, but the Manchester duo have literally hopped into a time machine, gone back to 1970-80, watched a heap of blaxploitation and action films and then put pen to stansa. Thanks to Gaz in the office for putting me onto this one!
Raphael Saadiq- Stone Rollin'
All prepped and ready to dislike this but Saadiq who crazily is nearly 50 now, has come up with the goods as he looks towards prairey house folk, chunk funk and the odd slice of honeyed R&B. The cover art reminds me of Cassius' 1999 too.
Glen Campbell- Ghost On The Canvas
Sadly due to his terminal illness, this is the country star's final album but fittingly it's heartfelt with a touch of nostalgia and thankfulness and is as catchy in places as some of his hits.
Best of the rest:
Venice Dawn- Something About April
Dawes- Nothing Is Wrong
Austra- Beat And The Pulse
Dennis Coffey- D.E.T
Seapony- Go With Me
Beastie Boys- Hot Sauce Committee Volume II
Common- The Dreamer, The Believer (rel: 19th Dec)
Listen to all of these albums here: BristolFunk- Approved Albums of 2011
I managed to read about 6 books this year, most of which are included below, in 2012 i'm going to try and read some more music biographies too..
A. Dom Joly- The Dark Tourist
Disturbing but hilarious Joly journals his visits to some of the least likely tourist destinations including Iran, North Korea and Chernobyl
B. Canon Andrew White, The Vicar of Baghdad- Faith Under Fire
C. Michael Baughen- One Big Question (why does a God of love allow suffering)
D. Chris Evans Autobiography part 2
E. Malcolm Duncan- Kingdom Come, The Local Church as a Catalyst for Social Change
Thanks for reading and I hope you all have a blessed and peaceful Christmas and a prosperous 2012
Friday, 16 December 2011
So here's a little playlist, including every available, original, sample from their 1992 opus!
Showbiz & AG - Samples from Runaway Slave
(please subscribe and pass on!)
Friday, 9 December 2011
Armenian born piano virtuoso Tigran Hamasyan releases his first album via the Verve imprint and impresses with the perfect winter album.
Having heard of this album and Tigran's American upbringing via Giles Petersons producer @cushtilla , I set about discovering more and was instantly hooked by the dramatic bounce of 'What The Waves Brought' and the pensive tinkering of 'Legend of The Moon', both just from watching on youtube.
Amongst several other moments of genius on the album are the scatty title track and 'The Spinners' where melancholy meets hope, originally an arrangement of the philosopher George Ivanovich.
When he plays live, hunched double over the keys, it's with such intensely that at times he mutters to himself like he's absorbed in another world. You can even hear his jitter on this concept album, where folk songs from his native Armenia are reworked to American jazz.
With jazz great Herbie Hancock calling him 'amazing', i'd definitely recommend checking this album out over Christmas :)
Tuesday, 22 November 2011
Midnight Marauders is my favourite Tribe record and this looks to provide a great insight into an act that defined a classic era of hip hop. Here's the trailer added a playlist i set up :)
Friday, 11 November 2011
On the 25th of October at Hammersmith Apollo I did something that i've never done before at any gig, a couple of tears actually rolled down my cheek. My brother had spent much of his teenage years playing on Zelda and i'd picked up a tune or two off the N64 game and his ocarina.
2011 marks 25 years since the first carnation of the game released in cartridge format on the NES, which spawned versions on the 64, DS, Gameboy, Gamecube and currently, Nintendo Wii. This night was to be a timely celebration of the game but more so, of it's legacy of music. The Royal Philharmonic took charge of the proceedings for a concert which had previously only been performed in Tokyo and Los Angeles. This was to be the finale of the trio of performances worldwide, and as such, tickets had been selling fast for up to £100 each.
Behind the orchestra was a humongous screen, on it during the performances were to be clips (including battles) of gameplay from Zelda's finest moments across different formats. From the cute blocky Zelda's of 25 years ago, to the slicker more grown up player he is now.
Throughout the night we were treated to the themes of Hyrule Castle, Princess Zelda, Kakariko Village, Ocarina Melody suite, and lastly the theme tune to the new game Skyward Sword which as it ended prompted a few whoops.
On any other night, grown men walking round in Link costumes would have been an odd occurrence, not so tonight and i've never felt more akin to Big Bang Theory as I did here.
For purely nostalgic reasons, and even though i've never played the game before, this was a brilliant concert. Shame I didn't get better pics..
Friday, 21 October 2011
I've been meaning to review this one for quite a while but it felt too summery and this is a debut album you should really only listen to when it's dark outside..
Hailing from Santa Barbara, California, Gardens & Villa got their name from their house on Villa Street, where they often got stuck in to a bit of gardening (the modern man knows no limits!).
I often imagine most bands from CA to be a bit like the beach boys, full of poppy melodies that are instantly gratifying and catchy. Not so though with this four piece, who whilst retaining choruses that are darn memorable, are built by intricacy, melancholy, disco and take influence from the likes of Talking Heads and importantly, indie rock.
With a languid boogie groove meeting a casio beat, the opening of Orange Blossom is one of the best you're likely to hear, whereas Chemtrails is another slow mover, punctuated with echoing tamborines, a tinkly piano and Chris Lynch's tenor vocals leading a reflective verse. Flipping on it's head three and half minutes in, Lynch finishes the line Dandylions Flying High... and drops uhooo uhoo uhoo' most satisfyingly. A well constructed song and as infectious as they come.
The album draws to a close on another highlight in Neon Dove as finger picking guitars intertwine with bossa beats, the band again choosing the right moments to drop out the instruments to focus on the core of synths and those sweetend vocals.
A perfect post 9pm album to segue Autumn nights into Winter
You can check out my other top albums of the year (so far) on Spotify here
Gardens & Villa - Chemtrails by electricsoundofjoy
Thursday, 29 September 2011
|Old Magazines featuring the band and rare formats of the album|
|Posters from gigs and a framed whiteboard (bottom right)|
|Lyrics from the album adorned the stairs and walls of the gallery|
|A famous photo of Kurt|
|That picture from the album, but bigger, and £500(!)|
It was a privilege to go but overall I was slightly disappointed by some of the items on display, maybe 20 years isn't so long ago and seeing a framed whiteboard or one of Kurts hoodies wasn't enough to induce nostalgia. Nevermind still powerfully speaks to the listener and has kept it's relevance; is it too early to look back on it with a rose tinted fondness?
The exhibition will be running for two weeks only from Tuesday September 13th to Sunday September 25th at The Loading Bay Gallery, Brick Lane from 1pm-7pm daily. Entry is free.
Saturday, 24 September 2011
A labour of love over the last few months, there's a couple of slower numbers in here as well for good measure and popping up are Angela Bofill's Let Me Be The One and Stephanie Mills 'What Cha Gonna Do With My Lovin'" amongst a couple of others.
Also check out Rare Pleasure's 'Let Me Down Easy', the sample behind David Morales house smash Needin U.
BristolFunk : Super 8'0's Playlist- Spotify
Saturday, 13 August 2011
|The big chill campsite, looking towards the main stage from the guest area|
This was definitely one of those trips where the journey was an integral part as leaking what smelt like a large quantity of petrol from Bristol, we shambled our way down the motorway towards the picturesque Eastnor deer park with most windows open and the small black Fiat threatening to be driven apart into pieces at any moment (mum don't read this!). We actually managed to put the tent up in daylight, a step forward on last years pitch black pitching, and tented ourselves near a tree (theory being a good landmark makes it easy to locate).
Having done the transporting and pitching, we made it down into the main stage for Chemical Brothers Friday headline slot after being drawn to 'cubehenge' for some jungle. Chems put on a fantastic show though, dropping their hits in all the right places and with some expansive visuals on the big screen to support the Djing and samples. Our tickets were a kind gift from Vodafone so we were amongst the few who made it into the TV gallery, looking over the 30,000 strong crowd, it was a great experience.
|Janelle shakes her Monae maker|
A 3am finish, we woke on the Saturday and hastily set about making a plastic cups worth of tea, and eating disco's (the crisps). First up after we'd managed to get down to the main stage was Janelle Monae, who put on a great set once again (I was lucky to have seen her at wireless festival earlier in the season). Towards the end of her show she likes to put people to sleep, the aim being everyone at the front sits or lies down, as the band wind down and pretend to go to sleep on the stage, then kick right back up again with some rawkus. This also brought rain, which amusingly resulted in the guy in front hastily shaking his fist in anger at the sky. Luckily this year an umbrella was to hand.
Saturday night and we went to see Aloe Blacc play in the Revellers Tent, he created very much a lounge vibe and enjoyed one of his best album tracks in Green Lights before we skipped out to see if Kanye had turned up yet. Half an hour late he did but the performance, or what we saw of it, was fairly flat. Starting out singing from the tv tower, which turned heads (literally), he moved to the stage and sang a further 3 album tracks, before launching a 10 minute monologue about being lonely, persecuted, picking up a dud award at the German MTV awards and complaining he had lost his voice to 'bring y'all a great show, a great product'. It was a strange but also a sad moment. The crowd had been upbeat; now those who had been seeking to hear a carousel of his hits were leaving in their droves. From there we went to see Buraka Som Sistema with some samba house and set about finding a fire to sit round in the guest area.
Sunday AM heralded sitting in the tent rustling up some fish sandwiches, getting through the remaining supplies and reading the newspaper whilst listening to the excellent Delta Swamp Rock compilation on SoulJazz. We wondered down the hill to the stage area and the sun really did come out with DJ Derek's brilliant reggae set and Norman Jay before that with his mix of dnb, house and good times. On the Saturday a hyperactive but enthusiastic Craig Charles brought us some of his favourite records on the cubehenge stage, the former Red Dwarf actor and Robot Wars host turned 6Music DJ and funk champion.
Wearily returning to London late on Sunday night meant I missed Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings which was a shame, but for what was to become a week of riots and madness, Big Chill did not disappoint, and is still one of the UK's best festivals for dance, pop, soul and reggae fans. ****
|DJ line up in the guest area|
|Sunset over the site|
|A magical setting for Aloe Blacc|
|Cubehenge, where DJ Derek & Craig Charles played|
Monday, 11 July 2011
'Sam Bakers Album' is the self titled and newly released Samiyam break. It's also the follow up to Rap Beats Vol 2. and the first album that's come through Flying Lotus' label Brainfeeder that has really caught and kept my attention. The man from Michigan relocated to the musical hub of Los Angeles and was previously known for his use of video game inspired 8-bit hiphop beats. His newest effort goes above and beyond that calling.
Seventeen tracks, essentially presented as mini-ideas, breathe with electronic soul taking in influence from deep eighties jazz funk, films and sounds that could have turned up on a re-modelled nite flight compilation.
An album geared towards after-hours listening, as warped, vibey keys blur with looped vocals, film samples and various beats, flittering between hip-hop, broken beat and dubstep. There's alot of limiter placed on each loop, which moves it to the notion that you've discovered a pirate radio station late at night, under the covers.
Whereas some concept albums can spread themselves too thinly, the majority here are thoroughly enjoyable. And whilst it's difficult to hum them after, when the record ends, it leaves you with a niggling to come back for more. It's more a soundtrack than a traditional album with singles, now all we need is the great film to match.
Listen to the full album here: BristolFunk- Approved Albums of 2011
SAMIYAM - Where Am I by BRAINFEEDER
Wednesday, 8 June 2011
If you've checked out spoof blaxploitation flick Black Dynamite then you'll know about the highly authentic soundtrack composed by Adrian Younge (who also edited the film). The soundtrack itself stands when compared to those Younge took influence from, the likes of Marvin Gayes 'Trouble Man' , Shaft by Isaac Hayes and Willie Hutch's score to Foxy Brown to name a few. It was high time to catch up with the man himself and ask a few questions about Black Dynamite, his newly launched record shop and his next venture under the guise of Venice Dawn. Thankfully, he agreed, so peel your eyes and enjoy BristolFunk viewers :
"An essential component, in old soul, is the warmth of the tape" - Adrian Younge
BF: The artwork for Black Dynamite was an integral part of promoting the movie and album, have you decided on the art for the new album and are there any tips you'd give to artists when thinking about it?
Adrian: "The artwork was designed by Freddy Azures, of wax poetics magazine, for the black dynamite album. He was also commissioned to create the artwork for “something about April.” The artwork is an integral part of the new album because it explores notions that were frowned upon by many in a historically racist society. Can’t say too much now, but you should get it when you see the artwork. The time frame for the album is about 1969."
Sounds like a classic. You favoured an analogue only approach on Black Dynamite, do you think that some music today is over produced or could do with a return to warmer, more organic sounds?
"It all depends; if you are creating old soul music, I think it is unfortunate when recorded with exclusively modern technology. An essential component, in old soul, is the warmth of the tape. With the digital age, some music isn’t supposed to be that warm; however, some is. Modernly, many producers are lazy, or uneducated, and do not feel the need to inundate themselves with analog technology. Ironically, these producers spend so much time in post (trying to create an analog sound) that they should have just started the right way: recording in analog!"
How excited are you about the new album? Do you have a title and has it been hard work?
"Very excited. It was a lot of work and well worth the effort. I believe it is my greatest artistic accomplishment as a composer."
"The new album is entitled “Something About April.” The album depicts the ups and downs of a relationship through the eyes of a male and female. It will follow in the steps of Black Dynamite, but it is more progressive. For the BD soundtrack, I had to somewhat stay within the boundaries of classic Blaxploitation; with Something About April, I had the freedom to do whatever I desired. That being said, the new album is a darker album with more emotional content."
"I believe Something About April is my greatest artistic accomplishment as a composer."
If there is a message for people to take from the new album, what would it be?
"From a producer standpoint, there is one message: be yourself and don’t be negatively influenced by people critiquing your new sound. You must be the judge of your own music, and make your new music for yourself; then think of others. Basically, focus on your personal expectations of greatness."
You recently opened your own record store, were you inspired by record store day and what is your favourite record from the racks currently?
"The record store component, to our record store/salon, is operated by myself and my close friend Patrick Washington. We were just inspired by our love for vinyl. My favorite record on the racks currently is Portishead’s “Portishead.” "
Nice choice, is the Haircuts and records idea a new one? Why not a milk or juice bar?
"I’m sure that someone has thought about it; however, I have never seen another recordstore/salon. Also, this picture is our stylist, “Snag,” cutting Rob Swift of the Executioners:: "
The first records I bought were Babylon Zoo- Spaceman and The Luniz- I Got 5 On It, both on tape, what was your first record and any regrets?
"My first record was michael jacksons thriller; no regrets."
If we were just playing musical top trumps, you would've won.. 11 and a half minutes of Greg Carmichael's Barely Breaking Even do it for me, but do you have a 'guilty pleasure' record in your collection?
"Everyone does…R.Kelly and public announcements first album: “Born into the 90s.”"
BF: Haha, that's some honesty! Thanks for your time- Anything to add??
Adrian: "Wax Poetics is releasing an EP of Venice Dawn soon. It will be a free digital download. And possibly playing UK at the end of the year"
-Venice Dawn's New Album 'There's Something About April is out Soon. Thankyou to Adrian Younge for humbly allowing me to interview him-
Sunday, 29 May 2011
Friday, 13 May 2011
So this mix came about, a soundtrack for the city in the summer. Rare northern soul, funk and party to travel the trams to.
James Brown- Down And Out In New York City
Abraham & The Metronomes- Party
New Yorkers- Don't Wanna Be Your Fool
The Harvey Averne Dozen- Think It Over
Karmello Brookes- Tell Me Baby
Betty Harris- Ride Your Pony
Gene Williams- Don't Let Your Love Fade Away
Carol Woods- Why You Wanna
All The People- Cramp Your Style
Kashmere Stage Band- Super Strut Pt 1
General Crook- Fever In The Funkhouse
Blackbyrds- City Life
Dennis Coffey- Getting In On '75
Sunshine Band- Black Water Gold
The Positive Sounds- Fired Up
Cymande- The Message
Cloud One- Spaced Out
Kool & The Gang- Summer Madness (Magics Groove Mix)
Saturday, 16 April 2011
So I set off from the breezy Parsons Green station at 9.30 this morning, cup of coffee in hand, tired but intrigued. My destination was Sounds of The Universe on 7 Broadwick Street, a shop i'd not been in before but had wanted to visit for quite a while. Their close affiliation to SoulJazz records means it's pretty much the shop for me, recent excellent releases and re-issues made sure of that- two Bossa Beat compilations, a Delta Swamp comp and a Roy Ayers vinyl amongst them. They don't stock indie rock (Guitar bands), but do stock crates of Disco, HipHop, Rare Soul & Jazz LPs a bit of techno, reggae and plenty of Funk. There's also some educational music dvd's and books.
Outside, it's 10.15 and a motley set of punters had started to form an orderly queue - "An Englishman, even if he is alone, forms an orderly queue of one."- (George Mikes), and so i joined 9th in line awaiting opening. Whilst there several of us, who hadn't previously known each other, started chatting about records we liked, what we wanted to get on the day and also traded some music stories. One remarked that the queue outside Rough Trade East was '500 strong' with a 2 hour wait, so it was quite nice to know that there was only 20 or so of us standing outside this shop.
At 11am there were over 30 in the line queuing just around the corner and then the wood framed doors were opened. Most of us went straight to the till to ask about the exclusives, no Beastie Boys but a decent number of 'Ubiquitous' by Dennis Coffey which I picked up along with the excellent Charles Bradley album on Menahan (Daptone).
Later and journeying back home to write this and listen to some music, I was quite chuffed to have been a small part of Record Store Day. In these times of uncertainty, with the news about HMV and the decline of physical sales, Record Store Day could yet be the fulcrum that the wider music industry would do well to take further note of.
Record Store Day : http://www.recordstoreday.com/uk
Sounds of The Universe: http://www.soundsoftheuniverse.com/
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
Take for instance the masterful 'Skyy Can You Feel Me' from critically acclaimed album 'Instant Vintage' or the edgy 'Rifle Love' then juxtapose with records like Sure Hope You Mean It which have such a close an affiliation to Motown that you wonder if it was in fact part of the legendary Detroit label's output.
On this first single from album number 4, he's definitely grasped an opportunity to blend both vintage soul with a modern twist. On Good Man he makes a statement about trying to do the right thing to support his family including working two jobs putting food on the table and loving the Lord.
Here too he has carefully crafted a very decent piece of cinema (directed by Isaiah Seret (Gogol Bordello’s “Immigraniada”) which pauses mid-way for a piece of controversial female fight-club footage whereafter his 'Lady' frames him for a crime he didn't commit and in the process he is humiliated. All because he can provide love but not an abundance of money. However the song doesn't end there and we see the moral to the story come the end.
In a similar vein to Aloe Blaccs I Need A Dollar (see previous album review on this blog), he uses the sample-soul sound to his advantage, overlaying thoughtful lyrics to a sassy RnB-come-neo soul hook written and performed by Taura Stinson (Destiny's Child). If Saadiq wasn't on this record now, then Marvin Gaye wouldn've been. Times are lean and people are more likely to be working two jobs, something Saadiq grapples with on this timely song.
Well worth spinning; this should be considered a modern soul classic. *****
Taken from the new album Stone Rollin , due for UK release on March 21st
Monday, 28 February 2011
About 9 years ago, when at college, I was in Imperial Records on Park Street Bristol, the shop full of people browsing through the racks- new and old vinyl and some cd's and tapes too. It's been sorely missed, as it was one of those shops with an authentic musty smell, the sort you normally only get in 'proper' record shops. Whilst browsing I overheard a fellow punter saying 'This Lewis Parker record is really good' as it was playing over the shop speakers.
It's a true thing that one person's recommendation is worth more than any TV ad. It's person to person that counts sometimes. And 9 years later, this overheard P2P recommendation worked. I found myself strangely drawn to Parker's sophomore album as if a missing friend I hadn't seen for a very long time (and who wasn't on facebook).
So my quest began again, firstly, was the album on Spotify for me to rekindle my memory 9 years ago of the album? Luckily, this was a tick, and so for the next two weeks on and off, I tuned in. Again going through track-by-track, reminded each time of both the great production on the album, the original b-boy beats, Parker's raw voice and homegrown lyrics, spinning stories that make you think and challenged you in the same way that Tribe, Beastie Boys and DeLaSoul did.
Having satisfyed myself that I should own a hard-copy of the album, I went onto HMV, signed up to their Pure card because you get points (good ones), and dropped the album into the online basket.
4 days later and i'm playing the CD at home and boy was the 9 years and 4 days delivery time worth the wait.
Lewis Parker- "It's All Happening Now (The Ancient Series 3)"- hmv.com
Monday, 24 January 2011
Seeing as i've left over a month since my last post, I thought i'd share with you an album with some great artwork, that I appreciate every day as my desktop image.
Dunham Records is an offshoot of the infamous Daptone label (The Dap Kings, Sharon Jones), and their first album came from the Menahan Street Band. Menahan Street is the very same as Daptone studios are situated.
The layout here is hugely enjoyable- the cars, the people and activity going on below all seem perfectly set, creating an impression of hustle without too much noise, and the music is brilliant. The title is apt too, saying life is about the journey and walking the path.
Sometimes with music the artwork can be the last thought when making an album, but getting it right and creating a perception that makes people want to listen to it is critical.
I'm hoping that my next outing here will continue on the artwork-and-music theme, as i'm undertaking a special project, so keep watching this space!
|The cover art to Make The Road By Walking , 2008|