Rihanna – Anti review

Superstar divas Rihanna and Beyoncé were playing a very public game of who could be the most provocative temptress, and still get their songs played on the radio, for the a good few years. That’s the way it seemed at least, what with all the flesh on display in their music videos and other controversial moments, all of which prompted tea-sipping elitists and defends-of-taste to decrying them both.

By now, most us are familiar with the Barbadian queen and her rumpy-pumpy reggae and steamy pop. She’s gone from an innocent island girl (‘SOS’) to a whip-loving dominatrix (‘S&M’). Anti is her eighth album, and sees the pop star crossover to the trap and alternative R&B sounds of the moment. Continue reading

In Praise of Frank Ocean

Frank Ocean - 2012 press photo 01 (1448x815)It’s incredible how little I have written about Frank Ocean considering how many times I have played his music over the last four years, and how deeply it has touched me. Following the release of his second album, Blonde, in August, it’s high time I remedied this fact with a piece in praise of this singular artist. Continue reading

Frank Ocean – Blonde review

Frank Ocean - Blonde promo art 1 (1200x675)The curse of the difficult-second-album hangs over Frank Ocean’s Blonde like an unforgiving spectre. As if following up his critically acclaimed debut, Channel Orange, wasn’t hard enough already: there was the endless rumours, the delays and the never-ending storm of desire and derision on social media. No wonder Ocean prefers to keep himself to himself these days.

For better and worse, Ocean’s second album is the product of personal struggle under the weight of intense expectation. It doesn’t reach the dizzying perfection of his 2012 debut, but it is a profound listen nonetheless. Continue reading

Daughter – Not to Disappear review

Daughter 2015 press photo (800x450)Daughter’s 2013 album, If You Leave, was a graceful arrival by frontwoman Elena Tonra, guitarist Igor Haefeli and drummer Remi Aguilella. And who can forget the group’s killer cover of Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’. Three years on, Not to Disappear is a record of boy problems and a stride for independence. Continue reading

Choice Cuts: Millie Jackson – Still Caught Up

Spring Records, 1975Millie Jackson - Still Caught Up (1280x720)

Millie Jackson will make you blush. We’re used to the idea of Marvin Gaye, Ike Turner or Bobby Womack hollering passionately about how much they’re yearning to get on down with their respective ladies. But when it comes to soul sisters, mainstream radio, and society in general, seems far less tolerant of the women of this era expressing their experience of love and desire in an equally candid manner, lest it shatter their demure professional persona. Coming from a young black woman, Jackson’s raunchy soul music – along with kindred spirit, Betty Davis – almost certainly broke sex and relationship taboos in music during the 70s, and remains an empowering step for female artists*. Continue reading