This is the perfect album review to finish the year off with – hypnotising, entrancing jazz tinged with hip hop and electronica – ideal for dark evenings and a glass of something strong. This type of genre-melding can go horribly wrong but these four chaps from Bristol have made such a good job of it it’s surprising that they’re not more famous than they are.
This LP is all about the beats. Julien Dyne (who unsurprisingly happens to be a drummer in his day job) has managed to construct some very complex, yet dazzling, rhythms and built some very exquisite songs around them. The addition of the vocals (as a Meme regular you will know of Ladi6 and Mara TK already) only adds to the appeal of the album. But, beware, this album is a grower; some of the tracks that we dismissed a little too easily on our first listen have become solid favourites.
The blurb says ‘an addictive listen, Chapters reveals more with each play’ and we couldn’t agree more. The danger is that people dismiss this elegant and alluring album too early, without really getting under its skin. And there are plenty of skins – Masaaki Yoshida builds layer upon layer of rhythms, melodies and harmonies in each of the exquisitely crafted tracks, and these take a good few listens to really appreciate.
We’ve been listening to this album quite a lot since we discovered it a few weeks back – it’s one of those that is perfect when you are travelling, or running, or cooking, or even reading, which means that we keep coming back to it again and again.
It’s lovely down at the Hollow with Adam Scrimshire. You get to listen to all sorts of beautiful and mesmerising music accompanied by some great singers and even a brass band. With this album, Scrimshire has managed to create an collection of diverse songs with a common vibe – one that is both soulful and sombre, sexy and sultry.
Go back in time to when music was simple, soulful and superb, when songs had titles such as ‘Somebody’s Been Lovin’ You (But It Ain’t Been Me)’ or ‘I Couldn’t Love You (More Than I Do Now)’, and when gifted artists such as Jean Wells were considered also-rans…
This is the album that M83 always promised too deliver, following his successful debut ‘Saturdays = Youth’ – grand, sweeping synths, plenty of emotion, heaps of melancholy and drops of irony. But ‘Hurry Up We’re Dreaming’ is more than that: it is a ‘tour de force’ for Anthony Gonzalez. When listening to the album one can sense the fervor and energy that has been expended in getting it to this level: this album delivers intensity from start to finish, and, for a double CD, that is no mean feat. Let me give you an example: the opening track is called ‘Intro’, which on most albums would be a little one and a half minute ditty, but Anthony makes it a 5’22” build-and-climax epic.
You may have noticed that we are quite big fans of the label known as BBE, or Barely Breaking Even. Their output is both prolific and diverse – there is the BBE ‘foundation’ of hip hop (e.g. Beat Generation), as well as soul (e.g. Jean Wells), afrobeat (e.g. Spoek Mathambo), disco (e.g. Al Kent), reggae (e.g. Dave Rodigan), house (e.g. Louie Vega) and electronica (e.g. Julien Dyne) music from original atists and on superb compilation series.
Ashley Anderson, aka Katalyst, seems to have carved his own little niche at BBE, sitting somewhere between the hip hop roots of the label and its inherent soul spirit. ‘Deep Impressions’ is a fine collection of tracks with deep beats, gutsy vocals and catchy tunes.
Buzzin’ Fly does indie! That could be the headline for this album, if it weren’t so simplistic. This is actually a complex and highly satisfying album that manages to marry indie and electronica together with grace and style. The mood of the whole album is deep and sensuous, never getting over-excited but never losing the inherent tension created by the Buzzin’ Fly beats.
Regina carry on a long-tradition of bands that we think started with the ethereal sounds of Cocteau Twins, and is now called ‘shoegaze’ or ‘dreampop’. There are plenty of other bands out there doing similar stuff (just have a listen to the latest Late Night Tales compilation from MGMT for evidence) but Regina seem to do it very well.
The blurb from the label gives a pretty good rundown of the tracks on this LP, so let’s get right down to the nub of question. Is this album just another ‘coffee table’ selection of retro soul tunes (as some have claimed) or does it stand up in its own right as a new and original work?
It’s difficult to know where to start, when faced with two (full-to-bursting) CDs of the very best of a prolific, brilliant, genre-transcending artist on one of the most innovative record labels around. But it’s a very nice problem to have. After 10 years and 12 albums on Tru Thoughts Records, this retrospective of Quantic’s full range of work will provide much aural satisfaction to anyone who appreciates quality music
The attraction of the ‘pureness’ of this record, with its vintageness and analogueness (if they are real words), especially when applied to reggae music, is certainly enough to peak your interest. And with that amazing album title, which must have come in a very inspired moment or as a bet, this is already a record that you will want to listen to whatever the genre. But none of this will matter a jot if the music isn’t good enough…
This album came out a few weeks ago, probably whilst you were sunning yourselves on the beaches of the Riviera, so it’s worth highlighting, through the unquestionably authoritative power of a Meme Review, exactly how good the record is.
We sincerely hope you read past the ‘radio-friendly three minute pop anthems’ bit in the blurb, because, whilst pretty much all the songs are radio-friendly, three minutes long and have an anthemic pop feel to them, they are also much more than that over-used phrase would suggest. Ste has managed to create an intelligent, uplifting, consistently good and even humorous album.
Kid Creole and the Coconuts have been neither underground nor mainstream (despite a collaboration once with Barry Manilow) during a career that has lasted over 30 years. So, with a new album now due 10 years after the last one (the live ‘Too Cool To Conga!’), the big question is whether August Darnell is going to go all freaky on us, producing a cutting-edge but undanceable mess or go for the sell-out approach with instantly-forgettable pop powered by auto-tune vocals. Well the good, and bad, news is that ‘I Wake Up Screaming’ is neither of those nightmares
We’ve got to admit, we were really surprised at how good this record is. We had assumed that it was going to be another retro-funk effort like all of the others, but the diversity of the music, the quality of the playing and the knock-out vocals make this album really stand out. And I’m sure Greg and the band would be the first to admit that Sulene Fleming’s contribution in front of the microphone is definitely what makes this record special.
The Salsoul label, founded by brothers Joseph, Stanley and Kenneth Cayre in 1975, was fundamental in the development of dance music, right from the point that they released the first commercially available 12″ record in 1976. Therefore it is extremely welcoming to find that Harmless Records have put this 3xCD set of the labels best mixes.
If you go way back in time to 2009 you will find a track by The Mighty Show-Stoppers called ‘Hippy Skippy Moon Strut’ on our MemeMix006. That stand-out track was pure, concentrated funk, but the band was completely made up. ‘Made up’ in the sense of it not being a regular set of people making music – in this case it was one of a number of ‘ideas’ from the prolific Lance Ferguson that together made up an album of other ‘virtual’ bands from Lance’s mind, called ‘Black Feeling’. Now, fast forward to today, and we have ‘Black Feeling Volume 2′
When you’ve collected pretty much all of the Good Times compilations as they’ve been released (Volume 6 being our favourite, by the way) then it’s tricky to see what a ’30th Anniversary’ disc will do. Well, what it does is it puts the whole thing into perspective – this is a man who took his sound system to a completely new level, in effect creating a brand around it and him.
The minimalist blurb from the label belies the fact that this is a really lovely record to listen to, and, to be quite honest, it deserves more hype than it is currently getting. We covered one of the tracks’ videos recently (Tobrok’s ‘Take Em Off’) which really epitomises the type of electronica music you will find through the album’s 36 tracks…
There is a sub-sub-genre of achingly-hip brass bands around at the moment, including The Hypnotic Brass Ensemble from Chicago and the Hot 8 Brass Band from New Orleans. And now, from our very own London town, we have the Hackney Colliery Band…
With its Tru Thoughts credentials, this was never going to be a disappointing album, but even we were surprised at how much we actually enjoyed the whole listening experience. Mr Boko has made a well-balanced, soulful, danceable and even humorous record, and he has managed to do it using a wide variety styles, ideas and singers