Sunday, 14 December 2014

Albums of the Year 2014

Well it's been a crazy year! Apologies for not updating this blog more, but i've lacked the time, life just kinda took over. As Lennon didn't say, "life not blogging is what happens whilst you're busy making doing other plans things."

So to my fave records and gigs of this year then, in no particular order..
You can listen to some of the music here in this playlist too


Emma Tricca- Relic Straddling a line somewhere between folk, soundtrack and indie, Tricca’s softly spoken east-end melancholy create a perfect soundtrack on which to pause to and consider, or to happily idle away an hour in the afternoon. A beautifully written second album from Hackney's ‘Giallo Princess'.

Honeyblood- Honeyblood
Stina Tweeddale and drummer Shona McVicar are two lasses from Glasgow making some pretty catchy and addictive indie music. Tracks like Fall Forever, Killer Bangs and Anywhere But Here lead the way.
Shabazz Palaces- Lese Majesty Not the easiest of hip hop albums but like Egyptian Jazz legend Pharoah Sanders, you can't just stick this on and let it slip into the background. As the Seattle duo of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire put it themselves the album is "a series of astral suites, recorded happenings". This 18 track odyssey  more than stakes a claim as the 8th wonder of hip hop

Orlando Julius & The Heliocentrics- Jaiyede Afro The Heliocentrics have been busy this year,  and this album recorded with afro-jazz legend and pioneer Orlando Julius has only enhanced his reputation.  Another high calibre release on Strut who had a great 201.

Damien Jurado- Brothers & Sisters of the Eternal Son A real renaissance album from  Jurado, with my personal highlight Silver Timothy.

Jennifer Castle- Pink City
Her sweet pitch is steeped in the spiritual folk of Carol Kleyn and akin; the Toronto singers heartfelt album will have you yearning for the simple life. Highlights include Down River and Sailing Away.

Space Daze- Follow My Light Back Home Delightful, sweet and this years perfect summer record from Seapony's Danny Rowland. A super little album of dreampop - watch out for remixes next year.. 

Jane Weaver- The Silver Globe Picadilly records described this in their end of year list asn " analogue synth-laden pop-krautrock-folk epic." and i don't think i can better that description!

Taylor McFerrin- Early Riser Emotive basslines, zappy moog play and good toplines make this album work to a deeper level, whilst Decisions with Emily King has been on repeat. 

Matthew Halsall- When The World Was One “Grooving through time on the spiritual sunship.” (Mojo), this album of modal, spiritual jazz echoes of Coltrane and the greats that have gone before. A real highlight from A Love Supreme Jazz festival too.

Just missed the list: SZA, Mr Twin Sister, Sharon Van Etten, Merchandise, Alvvays

Re-Issues/ Catalogue

Eddy Giles- Southern Soul Brother (Kent)
2014 saw a bit of a renaissance and focus on Northern Soul, and when i heard Roger at my local record store play this, I had to buy it- super super soul from the singer who is became a preacher man. There's a nice video of the CD here .

Brothers & Sisters- Dylans Gospel (Light In The Attic)
Alongside Strut, Light In The Attic had a good year with this the highlight for me, the 1969 recording by Sam Cooke's longstanding producer Lou Rawls and featured Mary Clayton, Glora Jones and others all taking on Bob Dylan's most stirring songs.

Marshall Allen Presents Sun Ra
Have you heard the latest news from Neptune, Neptune, Neptune? Marshall Allen has and put together this excellent double comp of highlights from the Jazz legends extensive catalogue. Also my favourite artwork of the year.

V/A Too Slow To Disco As purchased from Rise in Bristol this is a fine selection of AOR/Yacht Rock.

Daptone Soul Revue- Academy Shepherds Bush
Beck- iTunes Festival
Courtney Barnett- Islington Assembly Hall
Sharon Van Etten- Koko
Matthew Halsall Band- Love Supreme Festival
Smashing Pumpkins - Lauren Laverne 6Music Session (Bonus)

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Mr Twin Sister

With an odd name like Mr Twin Sister (They used to just be called Twin Sister but had to revise), you can expect something a little arcane..

The impassably cool 5 piece are from Long Island , and boy have they crafted a record with some good night groove, perfectly balancing beach-certified moments such as the ambient Blush alongside tracks that borderline house records from Detroit circa 1990 onwards - as evidenced In The House of Yes. With it's subtle disco strings, floor welcoming beat and moody bassline this could well be a keeper.

Opener Sensitive has a hint of Sade with  twinkling keys, brushed percussion and the lyrics 'Romantic Dreaming' topside. After Sade, we go to Rah Band who had a hit with Messages In The Stars in 1983, which could well be the influence for Rude Boy. The pull was so strong that I actually checked with one of the band but they hadn't heard of Rah Band, so maybe a bit of musical osmosis here!

There's a Berlin nightclub moment on Out of The Dark which is a little more DFA but it gives vocalist Andrea Estella another chance to hold everything together with perfect quasi robotic information delivery. The pace picks up even further by Twelve Angels which edges the album closer towards techno and Karl Hyde territory but that intensity they so easily gear up to, is effortlessly let go on the ethereal Medford, which acts as a short interlude before a lovely album closer in 'Crime Scene'.

A beguiling and worthy follow up to 2011's In Heaven, this should appeal to fans of Nite Jewel, Mazzy Star, Gardens & Villa, Rah Band and Cocteau Twins.

Follow & Subscribe to my updated set of Yearly Highlights below!

Saturday, 13 September 2014


Afro-Jazz legend Orlando Julius has just teamed up with the Heliocentrics, who previously released with Lloyd Miller to create a new album called Jaiyede Afro, out now. I can't wait to pick a copy of this.

Check out this mini doc on the album at The Ransom Note, or just click play below.

There's also an afro futurism exhibition at the Watershed in Bristol in October which will be well worth a visit.

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Relic (100)

Wow, post #100 , happy birthday me! Do I get a card from the internet? Either way it's been a blast to write and share some of the music I love and am thankful for. Thankyou for reading.

And with that thought in mind, here's a super little album to check out from Emma Tricca.

Relic straddles a line somewhere between folk and indie, with Emma Tricca’s softly spoken east-end melancholy creating a perfect soundtrack on which to pause to and consider, or to happily idle away an hour in the afternoon. A beautifully written second album from Hackney's ‘Giallo princess’ and one that deserves to garner her more attention.

One of my top 10 albums so far this year.

Key tracks: Sunday Reverie, Coffee Time and Distant Screen.

listen here or click play below to listen alongside some of my other faves

Friday, 1 August 2014

Early Riser

Taylor McFerrins debut album was one I wrongly expected to be folk by association to his father, but upon reading the label tag -Flying Lotus' Brainfeeder imprint- those suspicions were instantly dismissed.

The scene is set very early on with Postpartum, which creates a downtempto mood, soft vocals underlaying live recorded drums and some keyboard play that gets expansive as the tune moves on. From there the twinkley keyed moments continue and guest vocalists come in, such as Nai Palm, Emily King and RYAT. Moment of the album is reserved for King on the super 'Decisions' which would be equally at home on Radio 1, Rinse or a coffee shop. Although the album may be cousined with Ben Westbeech or a brownswood 'bubblers' comp, it's emotive bassline, zappy moog play and toplines make it work to a deeper level.  Taylor has created a tapestry of electronica here that deserves a large amount of praise. *And his dad does sing on the penultimate track

Key Tracks : Decisions, Postpartum, Place In My Heart

Listen to Taylor's new album and other 'best of' selections Here or click play below

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Shabazz Palaces : Lese Majesty

Earlier today i sat and listened to the second album from Shabazz Palaces 'Lese Majesty' on my headphones and it wasn't in the background, it wasn't the secondary thing holding my attention, it was the main focus of my attention because it demanded it.

This album should be the defining album of the genre this year, but in reality it barely clings on to the roots of rap and hip hop such is it's flirtation with the experimental. The Seattle duo of Ishmael Butler and Tendai Maraire  journey to the centre of the earth and back again, finding exotic and weird things on the way.

Focus track 'They Come In Gold' is a fine case in point, with chanted lyrics over oily drums and an corkscrew r&b sample -  because the production rarely sits still, it seems constantly fluid.  The former Digible Planets frontman takes things to the brink and time and again, during which time the narrative seems to consist of squawked lyrics, sometimes barely audible, chanting and short repeated mantras.

As they put it themselves the album is "a series of astral suites, recorded happenings" . And at 18 tracks, this is an ambitious soundtrack which more than stakes a claim as the 8th wonder of hip hop.

Hip Hop just got some new science fiction heroes.

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Love Supreme : 4th - 6th July

Love Supreme, 4th- 6th July

Tucked away in a beautiful village in Sussex, England is a fledgling Jazz and Soul festival called 'A Love Supreme'. It's sponsored by Jazz FM and for the second year played host to some international stars of the genres as well as some local heroes.

Upon arrival you can tell it's all pretty plush. The grass is green, you walk under an villagey clock tower and of course, there is a country manor in the background - although it was fenced off to the riff raff, aka me, of course.

Despite the over-zealous bag searching and security, once inside it was a decent experience. The campsite was not over crowded, you could pick a spot, and the people all seemed very friendly and laid back.

During Friday night's initial perusal of the site i bumped into an old friend working at the Rough Trade shop and we scarpered off site to watch the Brazil quarter finals.

Saturday morning and some delicious columbian coffee was served from one of the stalls. It was good stuff, i had to go back Sunday morning!

So to the music. Midday Saturday and the first act i saw was Matthew Halsall. It walked straight into one of my gigs of the year. As a live experience his band play what Mojo mag described as if “Grooving through time on the spiritual sunship.”  It's modal, it's spiritual jazz, there was a harp, the musicianship was incredible and to be honest, nothing else could top this moment. When the band took it in turns for their solo's i would smile at the summit. Even the drummer gets involved on Patterns taken from new album 'When the World Was One'. Buy the album, it does not disappoint. That's what I did after the gig.

After that the Computers came and conquered the event stage with their rollicking, sweary Rock & Roll that had the whole audeience dancing. Not jazz but well done them.

Incognito on main stage got the crowd up and remembering some of their hits and later on the Saturday Lalah Hathaway (Donny Hathaways Daughter), was okay but such a slow pace, she seemed slightly pre-occupied at times. The 15 minute version of Gershwins summertime was just too long to hold attention. I needed something more upbeat ahead of Earth Wind & Fire so i snuck out after 45 minutes.

Earth Wind & Fire ripped through some of their classic songs which had the crowd dancing whilst Laura Mvula i thought was a bit dull, though pulled a huge crowd to sign her album afterwards.

After 11pm i went dancing in the jungle/dub reggae tent before Ty and Harleigh Blu played. 2am and exahusted i crashed.

Sunday started off with the playback of the Miles Davis Jazz classic 'Feeling Kinda Blue' which was presented by the Jazz writer for the independent and a Jazz FM DJ, a good start to the day.

Later on Brighton local Alice Russell got the crowd going ahead of sets by Courtney Pine, Jose James and later on Gregory Porter.

All in all a super festival and one which will only get better!

The clock you walk under as you go in


The on site record shop was run by Rough Trade and did some very good business

Campsite at night

Best coffee around was this Colombian blend

Inside one of the tents

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Playlist: Soul Trip, Part 3

Another playlist that was about 6 months in the making for me is Soul Trip 3! Looking at some classic music from 1970 until 1974, this time round it's about the covers, we have a little bit of the Ruffin brothers, performing the classic Hollies track 'He Aint Heavy..' . Then there's Sarah Vaughn's super version of Inner City Blues by Marvin Gaye and Joe Bataan's The Prayer, from his 1971 album 'Mr New York And The East Side Kids' a very good vocal album and different to some of the his other work, it's a beautiful song.

Also chipping in we have some instrumentals, first up MFSB's keyboardtastic version of Family Affair, which is preceeded by O'Donel Levy's Carpenters cover-  'We've Only Just Begun'. Emotive jazz guitar from his Breeding of Mind album where the top line is often replaced with his heartfelt strum.

Other appearances come in from Soul brother number 1, James Brown who makes the cover star for the playlist,  an early Chaka Kahn joint, Al Green, Leroy Hutson, Gil Scott Heron's Black & Blues project , Howard Tate and Ann Peebles amongst others.

I had alot of fun creating this, hit play below and let me know what you think!
Blessings, Simon

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Daptone Soul Revue : 27th June 2014

A packed Shepherds Bush Empire witnesses 3 hours of top notch soul and afro Jazz from some of America's biggest soul artists.

It's 8.13pm on a warm Friday night in West London. As we enter through the doors on 1st, on stage is Charles Bradley, a man who has inspired many to keep chasing their dreams and never give up. His first record deal was only signed when he was 62. Down and out in New York City and living on the breadline, Bradley had lived a tough life. He was looking after his elderly Mother whilst he was continuing to live with the loss of his brother who was gunned down and murdered. Having acted as a James Brown covers act for years just to survive and having lived through many an ordeal, Bradley was spotted and asked by Thomas Brennick to cut a single record with the Menehan Street Band. The rest is history and inspiring history at that.

Now on his second album 'A Victim Of Love', Charles Bradley moves, dances some decent jigs and manages a decent low split that would leave some 40 years younger struggling. His stage craft is bore of 40 years of gigging experience. In short he learned through experience and stacks of difficult crowds. London is simply bowled over. With an audible sweat his songs groove and his voice and story are so powerful and full of emotion, it's hard not to get caught up and both celebrate and cry with him. "Why is it so hard to make it in America" rings out in the auditorium but seconds later he says 'i love you all' . A man of faith too, Bradley uses a 5 minute jam to tell part of his story. He talks about roses and gifts of God before he says "and then there was one more rose, a black rose!". The crowd cheers and the band start up again. The soul fans are dancing on the seats and applauding, not just because of the outstanding quality, but because Charles Bradley epitomises the person who never gave up, who's being blessed and getting his reward. Watch 'Soul of America' for more.

So a tough act to follow, the bridge between the former James Brown impersonator and Daptone legend Sharon Jones, is Antibalas, a group who i'd heard of but didn't know much about. Flooding the stage with a 12 piece band, the afro-jazz groove was often hypnotic and built the audience into a different type of frenzy. The only thing the venue was missing at this point seemed to be a big dancefloor, a low ceiling and free flowing rum but it was of good stuff. An especial highlight had to be Sáré Kon Kon a 10 minute opus Fela Kuti would have been proud of. Had to buy the album after the gig too!

Finally it was Sharon Jones who came on and to be fair was following two acts of an exceptional standard, but she is a pro. Having battled health issues 12 months ago she still had more energy than alot of youngsters, dancing across the stage, firing the crowd up and belting out some classic songs from her catalogue.

The encore involved all the bands on stage singing Sly & Family Stones 'It's a Family Affair' , a true soul vintage and great way to finish the evening.


Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Space Daze- Line Up On The Solstice (Premiere)

A new artist i'm helping out is Danny Rowland of Seattle soft rock band Seapony. Lots of fantastic summer vibes on his album and this debut single!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Hollie Cook: Twice

A dusting of disco drops, cosmic swirls and the occasional set of well scored strings lift this second album from Londoner Hollie Cook. It still lilts in all the right places as on her 2011 album, with Hollies carefree vocals hooking onto the reggae beat. Her voice will have fans of Lily Allens first album re-drooling all over again.

Opener Ari Up starts like psychedelic folk piece before the beat drops whilst 99 is just pure space reggae and should bring a warm smile to the most windswept of faces. Tiger Balm meanwhile is a real story 'Where Are You Now' Cook sings and single Real Love is a little bit fuller and hooky, the sort of song that could close, or a band set could be hinged on.

Her debut was given extended vitality by a Prince Fatty dub album which proceeded the original record called Hollie Cook in Dub, a bonus point Fatty should hopefully be up for repeating.

Hollie's gaining the sort of natural momentum that some bands would give their right arm for. Fat Freddys Drop did it, Little Dragon did it, and on 'Twice' Cook takes things to the next level.


Thursday, 15 May 2014


Theo Parrish has been exciting fans about his soon to be announced album with Footwork. An old bass, a sampled jumpy break and slow build, it's one of his best yet. Check out the hypnotic video below

Thursday, 8 May 2014

Brothers & Sisters

Sleeve Notes for The Brothers & Sisters: Dylan's Gospel [Cat No: LITA 106]

 In 1969 a group of Los Angeles choir singers, including Gloria Jones (Tainted Love),  Edna Wright (Honey Cone) and Mary Clayton [The Sisters],  were brought together to work on a very special project by Lou Adler.

Adler was already an established producer and song writer by that time having worked with the likes of Sam Cooke and The Mama's and Papas. In March 1969 he was between projects and this time  allowed him to explore his interest in the black music of LA, often from the Baptist churches in the southside of town. He enjoyed listening to Bob Dylans music and "felt there was a gospel feel to them, both spiritually and lyrically". With this in mind Adler formed a crack team of soul singers including Joseph Green,  Jesse Kirkland and Chester Pipkin [The Brothers] alongside the aforementioned 'sisters' . They were to record a spirit fueled selection of Dylan's finest songs to date.

"The word of Dylan has rarely sounded so stirring" 
Light In The Attic

The church based recording took just 4 days, with a few celebs dropping in to have a look, including Carole King. The sessions produced an inspirational collection of covers that align Dylan 's lyrics literally to the good book itself. Across the 10 tracks here my favourites are either The Times They Are A Changing, or I Shall Be Released, both so warm in recording and rich with emotion.

Light in the Attic are, as ever, the label that have re-issued the long out of print album on both CD and heavyweight vinyl with extensive sleeve notes. Check out the below videos for the music and more info. Buy it whilst you can!!!

Light In The Attic Docs Presents: The Making of "Dylan's Gospel" from Light In The Attic Records on Vimeo.

Friday, 18 April 2014

Playlist: London Pirate Radio

In my bedroom I have a vintage 1977 Sharp GF 90-90 Ghettoblaster. With two aerials. Yes 2! So with double the picking up strength , I can get a wide range of unofficial stations including those with slightly weaker signals. In London everything from reggae through to the grime, 2-step Garage and the bassiest of beats is covered. So in celebration of this culturally diverse selection I made a Spotify playlist.

Click here to listen/subscribe or simply click play below::

Friday, 28 March 2014

Flashback Friday: Glenn Jones

Glenn Jones long out of print album and undiscovered disco funk gem 'Everybody's A Winner' is due to be released as an expanded version across Easter weekend on April 21st! Originally released on the year i was born ('83), it features a good number of remixes, including chart hit On The Floor. The album also comes with a previously unheard track. Fans of D-Train should appreciate this!

Friday, 21 March 2014

Say Yesssss

Canadian producer Elaquent, fresh from creating hit latest production call card 'Green Apples & Oranges', has dropped this super RnB version of Floetry's Say Yes.

Lets hope he releases it soon!

Thursday, 20 February 2014

One to Watch: Rochelle Jordan

She might only have 32 followers on Spotify at the time of writing but the Toronto singer has two very decent RnB records up her sleeve. First up is the Illangelo (The WKND) produced track 'What The Fuss' and second is 'Follow Me'. Two late night records set to slow things right down

Saturday, 15 February 2014

Little Dragon: Klapp Klapp

Little Dragon have unveiled new song Klapp Klapp and it's an absolute belter. New album Nabuma Rubberband is coming 13th May. Check it out below.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Kelela Hits Deep on 'The High'

Los Angeles Kelela is prepping for two US Headline shows in NYC and LA later in the year. Today she dropped this futuristic dub via the medium of soundcloud and Twitter to further whet the appetite for a possible album later in the year.

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Mix: Boogie

Here's my newest mix, just for y'all! Some of my favourite boogie records.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Hip Hop's Riot Girl : LIZZO

LIZZO, AKA Melissa Jefferson was raised in Minneapolis and heads up several hip hop acts such as Raise The Chalice and RIOT GRRRL.

2014 could just be her year.

Her debut album LizzoBangerz is a complete rap vintage. A dynamite debut & super statement record 'Bangerz' was produced by Ryan Olson with beats from fellow Minnesotan, Aaron Mader aka Lazerbeak.

Lyrically Lizzo tells the sort of stories that Sweet Tee and Monie Love were penning in the 90's. The classic influence from that era and more contemporary artists such as Missy Elliot and early Kanye West comes through in droves as Jeffersons delivery chops and changes from verse to chorus, with the beats occasionally taking the wheel too. Whilst Lizzo often fires out a sharp shooting style, she also knows how to drop to an aside, like stepping out of a scene to talk the audience, such as 47 seconds into Work Pt 2, where we step out to a gossipy phone call. Bangerz is not an aggressive record, it gets alongside the listener, draws us into her world and teaches something at the same time, the beats are exceptional - isn't this what all great rap albums do?

3 Essential tracks: W.E.R.K Pt 2, Cookies & Batches, Pants Vs Dress

There's also an excellent interview here worth checking out:

Lizzo is featured in my 'Approved Music of 2014' playlist, please listen and subscribe (if you wanna)

Thursday, 16 January 2014

I Want To See Pulaski At Night

I had all day meetings today. It was fun, record labels came in one by one and presented new music. But after the meetings,  the chaos of catcing up with work, and after 6pm when the office emptied out i found myself playing a chilled record i'd heard via the KCRW tune of the day podcast.

Soundtrack is a genre, as ive mentioned here before, i'm fascinated by. So to hear that this was a soundtrack for a film yet to be made, really grabbed my attention. It's a very creative and cinematic 7 tracks, with little or no vocal except for on the jazzy title track which drops mid-set. Other than that the EP is a fine piece of neo-classical soundtrack making Andrew Birds eastern influenced EP an early highlight for 2014.

"The EP’s title was taken from a remark made by a visiting Thai student when Bird was living in Chicago in his twenties. “We thought it was funny and absurd because Pulaski is a street that runs the length of Chicago’s west side and I can tell you, you don’t want to see Pulaski at night,” says Bird. And it’s easy enough to hear the intro and outro tracks, Ethio Invention No’s 1 and 2, as a plucked, Southeast Asian-inspired scene-setter and finale respectively. While Lit From Underneath continues the sonic tour with bright curiosity and the return of Bird’s much admired mellifluous whistle. "- Mojo4Music

Hear more tips for 2014 and stay updated by subscribing to this playlist:

Friday, 10 January 2014

Satin Beretta

 2014 is still in it's infancy but one record that's already caught my attention is 'Got Me' from Jamaican rooted, Brooklyn born Satin Beretta.

Check the record out below. No release date on this yet but got a feeling that she will be an artist to watch this year. A big label deal could await..

Here's another record that she launched via facebook too

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

Best tweets from 2013

Happy new year!! Here's a selection of my favourite tweets from last year

The New HMV on Oxford Street::

Although it's been a tough season for Fulham FC i thought this likeness of Scott Parker to the hero in classic video game 'Doom' was hilarious (but also spot on!!)

One of my favourite gigs this year

A friend ousts me as a Seapony fan..

A promotion i ran with Sainsburys for Arctic Monkeys

A brew from the Aim Awards..

JLS split up..

Kieron from enjoys the Boombox soul playlist

Neighbours Tweets

Alan Fletcher  - I had the immense privaledge this year of working with one of my heroes and i have to say good Neighbours definately became good friends. Bless you Fletch!!

 Morgan Baker (Callum)

Jenna Rosenow (Amber Turner)

Kaiya Jones (Sophie Ramsay)