Best albums of 2016: 20 to 11

In my penultimate 2016 albums post we have David Bowie’s final album, crisp hip hop from Kano and Common, Bat for Lashes’s latest art piece, Kate Tempest’s thunderous spoken word epic, plus we two of best hidden gems in the form of Tall Black Guy’s second LP and the debut album from London jazz-hip hop collective, Fur.

20. David Bowie – Blackstar
19. Corinne Bailey Rae – The Heart Speaks in Whispers
18. Common – Black America Again
17. Fur – Soon at the Latest
16. Tall Black Guy – Let’s Take a Trip
15. Bat for Lashes – The Bride
14. Kano – Made in the Manor
13. Kate Tempest – Let Them Eat Chaos
12. White Denim – Stiff
11. BadBadNotGood – IV
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BadBadNotGood – IV review

BadBadNotGood are four friends from Canada who have been make progressive jazz. Building steam after their well-received third album and 2015 collaboration with Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul, the band’s latest album, IV, pushes their appeal further still. Continue reading

Kaytranada – 99.9% review

Kaytranada is only 24 years young, but already this Canadian whiz kid has been become one of the most sought-after producers of the moment. His debut album, 99.9%, includes features from GoldLink, AlunaGeorge, Syd tha Kyd, Anderson Paak, Vic Mensa and others. It’s a moreish album held back by some slight, but noticeable, structural flaws. Continue reading

Charlotte Day Wilson – CDW EP review

Charlotte Day Wilson, 2016, by Devon Little (569x320)Charlotte Day Wilson is an analogue girl living in a digital world. You may have come across her name if you’re familiar with ‘In Your Eyes’ by BadBadNotGood. This unsigned, 23-year-old Toronto singer projects a classical kind of wisdom with her voice, and yet has a deft talent for producing contemporary soul and R&B. Such an alignment is rare nowadays, and her debut EP, CDW, solidifies her as one of 2016’s most arresting new talents. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Charlotte Day Wilson – Find You

Charlotte Day Wilson - CDW (600x338)It takes a special kind of singer to enchant you with the caffeinated-cool of an old-school jazz club moonlighter. Amy Winehouse is the obvious choice. But there are others: Claudia Brücken, Alice Russell and, now, Charlotte Day Wilson. Continue reading

Best albums of 2015: top 10

AOTY 2015 10-1 college: Ghostpoet, Andreya Triana, Little Boots, Blur (1448x815)Here we are: after 40 albums, we’ve reached 2015’s top 10. Before we get to the albums themselves, allow me to briefly reflect on the year that was and what it meant for music.

In more ways than one, 2015 has been a year of conservatism: UK voters elected the Conservative party for its second consecutive term; acts of terror have caused many to adopt conservative, even prejudicial, attitudes towards those that do not share their skin colour, beliefs or culture; and, in the world of music, known quantities continue to attract the most marketing dollars, media attention and consumer sales. On the surface, it would seem that the nonconformists, the mavericks, the idealists and those that would dare to dream have all been ignored.

Accept they haven’t. From the millions of artists and creators honing their talents and sharing them with the world via the numerous online avenues, to musicians and technologists combining their expertise to change the business of music royalties, and perhaps make it easier for people to make a living off of their creativity in future, 2015 has been a year of perseverance.

Hopefully these final 10 albums will express what I mean by that, each in their own way.

10. Ibeyi – Ibeyi
9. Benjamin Clementine – At Least for Now
8. Little Boots – Working Girl
7. Blur – The Magic Whip
6. BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul
5. The Skints – FM
4. Ghostpoet – Shedding Skin
3. Denai Moore – Elsewhere
2. Kendrick Lamar – To Pimp a Butterfly
1. Andreya Triana – Giants
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Record Store Day 2015: a vinyl collector who’s pleased to be getting out of the rat race

Dave Grohl, Foo Fighters, Apr 3, 2012, by Facundo Gaisler (1000x563)This year’s spate of Record Store Day releases were announced yesterday to the delight of ever-eager vinyl-buyers. Some 592 exclusives will be available in independent record stores on Saturday, April 18, 2015.

Vinyl is the most beautiful physical music format there has ever been, in my opinion. But it can very quickly become an expensive vice for the music aficionado who craves every limited release from the dozens of bands in his/her ever-expanding library. That was me for a time. But as well as space issues forcing me to reflect more seriously on all the possessions in my keeping, after realising that certain so-called ‘limited editions’ I’d forked out for at full-price on previous RSDs were still available for half that months later, I’ve wised up. (Lord knows I love Disclosure, but first their label, PMR Records, offers us a mispress, then a single-sided 12” that is in no way ‘limited’.) Continue reading

BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah – Sour Soul review

Ghostface Killah, BBNG - Sour Soul, press photo 02, (1200x675)An album with a consistent mood can spawn a legion of imitators, all eager to replicate the aural nectar the originator has managed to bottle. We saw it with Massive Attack’s Blue Lines and the xx’s debut. And BadBadNotGood & Ghostface Killah’s Sour Soul could well be next, because the alchemy at work here is mesmerising. Continue reading