Jam of the Week: Hypnotic Brass Ensemble – What It Is

Hypnotic Brass - What It Is video, 01 (715x380)Hypnotic Brass is a group with the power to take your body and soul into the cosmos. Cuts like ‘Gibbous’ and ‘Ballicki Bone’ have always been warmly received when I’ve played them for friends. These eight Adonises of the jazz scene tour more extensively than just about any other band around. But, despite being productive songwriters, regular recordings from them can be infrequent. So when a new Hypnotic Brass cut does appear, it’s like a gift from the jazz gods. Continue reading

Sam Smith, James Bond and the benefits of a hit theme song

Sam Smith - Writing's on the Wall, single (960x540)The James Bond series’ legacy casts a long shadow. And we felt that shadow last Friday when Sam Smith’s theme song, ‘Writing’s on the Wall’, for the forthcoming 007 film, Spectre, premiered on BBC Radio 1, and instantly garnered responses of delight and derision from listeners.

No modern James Bond film has appeared without a babble of disagreement over its accompanying theme song. Though some, including Sir Roger Moore, have praised Smith’s song, others have labelled it “bland”, “excruciatingly wimpy”, and suggested it “doesn’t seem to fit the possible theme of the film”.

Whether Smith’s (over)emotional outpouring makes it to number one or not, a hit theme song can do wonders for the life of a film, and the singer who performs it. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Lyla Foy – Right to Be

Lyla Foy press photo 02, UMi, 2015 (1600x900)The music of Lyla Foy is imbued with the sense that this performer makes no action that hasn’t been carefully considered. Any unnecessary notes and lyrics are discarded, and what’s left is a well-practiced serenity. She’s soon to release a new EP, titled UMi (an abbreviation of the constellation, Ursa Minor, or the Little Bear). The sedate sound of ‘Right to Be’ is strong harbinger of things to come from the patient London songwriter. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Danger Doom – The Mouse and the Mask

Lex Records, 2005Danger Doom - The Mouse and the Mask (800x450)Danger Doom’s album is high-wire fun that’d be an offence to anyone who takes themselves too seriously. So you can bet it’d go down well with smiley Liam Gallagher and today’s hardline extremists, right?

A collaboration between enigmatic super-producer, Danger Mouse, and equally reclusive masked rapper, MF Doom, The Mouse and the Mask is a marvel of audacious jams and masterful short stories, spliced with animated skits and more humour than a Hanna-Barbera classic. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Jr Thomas & the Volcanos – More Than Memories

Jr Thomas & the Volcanos - Beware (500x281)With 2015’s Notting Hill Carnival still fresh in our memories, this week’s jam is a placid dub tune that spurs the gentle hip-swaying of couples on the dance floor. It’s ‘More Than Memories’ by Jr Thomas & the Volcanos. This songwriter, who hails from Minneapolis, USA, writes reggae and soul influenced music in a similar wheelhouse to The Skints. His upcoming debut album, Beware, was recorded at the Volcano Lounge in Los Angeles, and is out later this month on Truth & Soul Records. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Elbow – Lost Worker Bee

Elbow - Lost Worker Bee EP (1024x576)The days are gradually getting shorter and summer is relinquishing its grasp. A fitting time for the title track to Elbow’s latest EP, Lost Worker Bee, then. This song feels as though it was birthed at the height of summer, and brings with it the energy of a job well done under the hot sun. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Sharee Lewis – Thirsty

Sharee Lewis - Thirsty (500x281)There’s a strong air of the tormented soul to Sharee Lewis’ music. A torment which comes from a very real place for this Bournemouth-born singer. Music has become a saviour for Lewis, who was put into foster care during her childhood, and faced her own personal demons as a result of being taken away from her mother. Continue reading