Best albums of 2015: 20 to 11

AOTY 2015 20-11 college: Raury, Lianne La Havas, Dornik, Eska (1448x815)Contrary to what the collage above may lead you to think, albums 20 to 11 are not an all-black soirée – I just wasn’t going to pass up the opportunity to get the gorgeous faces of Raury, Lianne La Havas, Dornik and Eska on a single spread.

We’re steaming towards the top-crop by way of these first 10 phenomenal records, which include avant-garde works, retro-chic disco and stupendous acts of personal atonement.

20. Golden Rules – Golden Ticket
19. Jamie xx – In Colour
18. Dornik – Dornik
17. Paul Weller – Saturns Pattern
16. Eska – Eska
15. Raury – All We Need
14. The Milk – Favourite Worry
13. Björk – Vulnicura
12. Lianne La Havas – Blood
11. Rae Morris – Unguarded
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Lianne La Havas review – a plutonic performance from a shining star

Brixton Academy, LondonLianne La Havas, Brixton Academy, London, Dec 14, 2015, by Aaron Lee

Somewhere in the midst of touring her first album, and writing her second, Lianne La Havas’s popularity ballooned. At Brixton Academy, it was stretched to humongous proportions. “I’m trying very hard to remain calm,” La Havas whispered, as she gazed out at the thousands of faces that had assembled before her. Yet, not even the shrieks and exclamations of affection disrupted the singer from putting on a confident, spirited show to please more than her devotees. Continue reading

MOBO Awards 2015: uniting with one hand, dividing with the other

MOBO Awards 2015, Section Boyz, by MOBO/PR( 900x506)It’s got moxie, that’s for sure. Because even after 20 years of handing out awards for music of black origin, and taking flak left, right and centre for it, the MOBO Awards are still with us. The MOBOs shouldn’t, and never will, be all things to all people. But, even as it unites its award-winners in celebration, it continues to divide its audience. Continue reading

Jam of the Week: Lianne La Havas – Unstoppable

Lianne La Havas - Unstoppable (900x506)2012 was a phenomenal year for music, and, for me at least, British singer-songwriter Lianne La Havas was the crowning jewel. Her debut album, Is Your Love Big Enough?, was a record of astounding colour and emotional depth. So it’s encouraging that La Havas has steadily been refining new songs, and a little under three years later her second album is at last ready to be released. Continue reading

Singer-songwriter: the label of authenticity that’s lost all meaning

Jake Bugg, Brussels, Apr 30, 2012, by Kmeron / Vincent Philbert, 01 (2048x2394)What goes through your head when you hear the term: singer-songwriter? Is your mind filled with images of ginger-haired Ed Sheeran, innocent Nina Nesbitt and boyish-looking George Ezra? Or perhaps passionate Laura Marling, the watchful Bob Dylan or a smiling Carole King?

All of these musicians are frequently described as singer-songwriters. But the degree to which they are responsible for the creation of their songs – in other words, songwriting – is where the real distinction lies. Continue reading

Best albums of 2012

Aaron's albums of 2012, 2500x1000It’s been a momentous year for music – or at least that’s the conclusion I glean from my record collection, which has never been healthier. We’ve had new albums from artists in their prime and a cacophony of fresh-faced newbies all helping to expand the musical spectrum ever more. The critics have laid down their end of year verdicts, and so too have some of my friends.

Now, it’s time for my own subjective list of the year’s top ten albums. Continue reading

Can’t stop listening to… Lianne La Havas

Her album may have only just arrived, but I’ve been enraptured by Lianne La Havas for eight months already.

It was listening to the 22-year-old singer-songwriter from south London explain how she met Willy Mason on the Victoria line (via the Huey Show), which led to them collaborating on her debut single ‘No Room For Doubt’, that got me to pay attention. “We all make mistakes, we do / I learn from you”, she sang, cleansing my mind inexplicably of the worries that lay within. Continue reading