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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David Bowie – Blackstar review

David Bowie, 2013, by Jimmy King (1400x786)David Bowie was an artist to the very end. Since the musician passed away just days after its release, so much has been said and written about Blackstar, the final parting gift from the pioneering figure, that it seems improbable to say anything that hasn’t already been said. I have labelled this a “review”, but really this is an encouragement for you to listen to Blackstar if you haven’t already. Continue reading

In memoriam: David Bowie

David Bowie mural, Brixton, Jun 22, 2015, by Maureen Barlin (1920x1080)News that David Bowie, the musician, fashion iconic and eccentric innovator, passed away today, after an 18-month battle with cancer, has shocked the world.

As I write, tributes continue to be posted by millions on social media, and if all the Bowie obituaries and editorials that have appeared in the last 12 hours were printed out and pasted together there could well be enough paper to cast a tether into space to rescue Major Tom. Continue reading

In Praise of Nile Rodgers

Nile Rodgers, profile photo by Roy Cox (2011)You might not know his name, but you’ll certainly have heard his music. In the wake of his contribution to Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’, his profile has aptly been raised, but this musician, songwriter and producer has been unleashing trendsetting-hits for decades. A fact too few people appreciate to this day.

He is, of course, Nile Rodgers. One half of rhythm kings Chic, along with his late partner Bernard Edwards, Rodgers has masterminded hit, after hit, after hit, and then some. Continue reading

Is the Mercury Prize 2013 shortlist ‘too commercial’?

Laura Mvula in WFUV studio, by WFUV (Apr 2013) (585x329)

If it was any other awards ceremony, commercial success would be applauded. But it’s the Mercury Prize, so, naturally, it’s another reason for the pundits to get their soapbox on.

There are no obligatory ‘token’ albums from folk and jazz acts this year. And no indie starlet, sneaking in at the last minute to become the bookies’ favourite – as The xx and Alt-J have done in the past. Continue reading