Jam of the Week: SZA – Drew Barrymore

Missouri singer SZA has been a firm favourite of mine since discovering her in the early half of 2014. She makes wavy, psychedelic R&B and neo-soul, similar to Kelela and Jhené Aiko, and she has a voice that will say with you for days. Continue reading

Kano – Made in the Manor review

Hip hop artist, Kano, is one of the UK grime scene’s godfathers. He’s had hits such as ‘Typical Me’ and ‘This is the Girl’, and has appeared on albums by Chase & Status, Gorillaz and many more. Made in the Manor is his fifth album, and pulls no punches in reaffirming the MC’s greatness. Continue reading

De La Soul – And the Anonymous Nobody review

De La Soul, press photo 2013, 01 (1738x978)Hip hop is a young man’s game. Or at least that’s the impression you get when the Rolling Stones are selling out worldwide arena tours, and the likes of Blackalicious, People Under the Stairs, the Pharcyde and Slum Village – celebrated purveyors of hip hop during its teenage years – are still playing small and mid-sized venues. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Gorillaz – Demon Days

Parlophone Records, 2005Gorillaz - Demon Days artwork, wallpaper edit (1024x576)A gimmick. That’s what they put Gorillaz’ success down to. Despite everything that had been achieved by this unusual musical concoction in the 18 months since the launch of their 2001 debut album, detractors still labelled them a here today, gone tomorrow band. But little did they know that the virtual band, created by musician, Damon Albarn, and cartoonist, Jamie Hewlett, would front what would later be acknowledged as one of the most influential and progressive records of the noughties: Demon Days. Continue reading

Blur – The Magic Whip first impressions

Blur - Graham Coxon, Damon Albarn, Mode, London, Mar 20, 2015, by HelDavies, 01 (1280x720)On Friday, March 20, 2015, Blur played the entirety of The Magic Whip, the band’s first new album as a four-piece in over 10 years, for fans, competition winners and selected media at Mode, London.

A one-time video stream of the concert was broadcast tonight, so I thought I’d scribble down some impressions as I watched it. This is a summary of those impressions. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Blur – Go Out

Blur - British Summer Time, Hyde Park poster (1416x797)As if news of Gorillaz return in 2016 wasn’t enough already. Yesterday, Blur announced their first new album as four-piece in 16 years. Should the rumoured The Good, the Bad & the Queen follow-up somehow be in the mix, I’ll be doing back flips down the street. Blur’s new album, titled The Magic Whip, started from jam sessions in the “claustrophobic and hot” confides of a Hong Kong studio, following a cancelled show in Japan. Guitarist Graham Coxon and long-time Blur producer Stephen Street developed these sessions until, as drummer Dave Rowntree put it, “we all realised we’d done something quite special there”. Continue reading

The allure of live albums

Corinne Bailey Rae - Life is Good Fest, Sep 12, 2010, Peter Lee (1920x1080)If you’re not able to attend a concert, live albums are the next best way of immersing yourself in a more intimate matter with a performer. It’s more than simply the music. They audibly capture the atmosphere. The energy of the performer(s). The yelps of excitement that greet fan favourites. The chatter, the odd fault and the ticklish laughter that often follows. Triumphant solos, guest appearances, live-only cover songs and affecting finales that sweep you up with the crowd.

No wonder live albums – and live music in general – has become a cure for those lonely nights or times when overtime is unavoidable. Continue reading

Best albums of 2014: top 10

(Clockwise from top left) Damon Albarn, Kelis, St Vincent, Little DragonHere it is. The final countdown. We’ve had club bangers, blazing rap debuts, plenty of pop and atmospheric opuses. But the best is yet to come from albums that challenge the social order, boggle your mind and take you to new plains.

10. Jungle – Jungle
9. MØ – No Mythologies to Follow
8. Essa – The Misadventures of a Middle Man
7. Little Dragon – Nabuma Rubberband
6. Broken Bells – After the Disco
5. Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – Give the People What They Want
4. Neneh Cherry – Blank Project
3. Damon Albarn – Everyday Robots
2. Kelis – Food
1. St Vincent – St Vincent Continue reading