Mahalia – Diary of Me review

For a girl who hasn’t yet entered her twenties, Jamaican-Irish singer Mahalia Burkmar has achieved an awful lot already. She’s performed with Emeli Sandé, opened shows for Ed Sheeran and Tom Odeel, and appeared on the big screen in Noel Clarke’s Brotherhood.

Raised in Leicester, and now living in Birmingham, the 18-year-old’s first full-length mixtape, Diary of Me, is a mellow amalgamation of acoustic guitar melodies and chilled pop, which form the beds for her autobiography songs. Continue reading

Best albums of 2015: 50 to 41

AOTY 2015 50-41 college, Miguel, Jess Glynne, Rudimental, Summer Twins (1448x815)Here we go – somewhat later than planned this year, it must be said. The first set of albums from my picks this year includes some of the year’s catchiest chart music to some seriously overlooked gems for jazz and surf rock fans. Let’s get stuck in.

50. Black Rivers – Black Rivers
49. Peace – Happy People
48. Miguel – Wildheart
47. ASAP Rocky – At Long Last ASAP
46. The Chemical Brothers – Born in the Echoes
45. Summer Twins – Limbo
44. Rudimental – We the Generation
43. The Gene Dudley Group – Zambidoose
42. Ella Eyre – Feline
41. Jess Glynne – I Cry When I Laugh
Continue reading

Cover songs and why they spice up life

Busker Charlotte, London riverbank, Feb 22, 2014, by Nate Edwards (3840x2160)Sometimes a good cover version will bring out a side to a song – and the musician performing it – that you never knew was there. This week I’ve been reminded of that in three ways.

The first was Ella Eyre’s version of ‘Going On’ by Gnarls Barkley. This song falls into the category of ‘nearest-and-dearest-so-don’t-you-dare-mess-it-up’. Famed for featuring on Rudimental’s ‘Waiting All Night’, Eyre is a stupendous singer, but I think there’s always going to be some trepidation when it comes to covers of songs that mean a lot to you. Continue reading

Best albums of 2013: top 10

Aaron's best albums of 2013 collage 10-01 (2500x1000)Here we are. The final 10 and my chosen favourites. Over the first and second parts of my album round-up, there have been disappointments (yep, no Bowie, no Kanye), there been surprises and there has even been some grief.

A picture may tell a thousand words, but music can paint a million different images. Which is why no amount of text could ever capture how those moments of musical elation feel. Still, if you’ve faced struggles and doubt this year, then, in their own way, each of these 10 albums offer reasons for you to press on in search of better days to come. 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