May 2014 24

For those who missed (or didn’t miss) the live stream this week…

Earlier this week D’Angelo sat down for an extremely (extremely) rare live interview with Nelson George as part of Red Bull Music Academy Festival New York. The one hour and twenty-four minute conversation covered an host of topics including the motions behind Brown Sugar and Voodoo, the studio techniques he uses when recording (he records vocals between two speakers in a tipi!); And also saw Mr Archer sharing personal anecdotes about writing and recording ‘U Will Know’ for the Black Men United project, having transcendent conversations with Sly Stone, and the story about how he first came to meet Questlove (told by Questlove).

A lot more was lightly discussed, but disappointingly questions about D’Angelo’s new music were apparently completely off limit – a few things were alluded too, but nothing worth writing home about – a great shame considering, but hey – when D speaks, we listen…

May 2014 24

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Of the seventeen tracks on Mariah Carey’s new album Me. I Am Mariah… The Elusive Chanteuse (lets not get into it), only one grabbed my attention. Nestled ten tracks deep, ‘Meteorite’ is the serendipitous gem jostled within a void of underwhelming, middle-of-the-road songs.

Bewilderingly produced by Q-Tip, the track features a warm house beat, a lush disco backdrop and an album-highlight vocal performance from Carey. I wasn’t aware Tip was involved until a few reloads after but it would make sense that amidst some of the worlds biggest hit makers (Hit-Boy, Rodney Jerkins, Mike Will Made It) it would be left to The Abstract to come through with the albums only noteworthy offering. Go figure.

While the album version had me at hello, a new ‘Q-Tip version’ has appeared online boasting a slightly softer and richer sound. The differences between the two versions aren’t enormous, but this rendition offers slightly more atmosphere than the original. Listen to the album version here, and the alternative version below.

May 2014 19

jamie isaac

Following the video for his single ‘She Dried’, Jamie Isaac stirs up another heartfelt track titled ‘Mother’s Love Don’t Stretch’. The songs desolate memorandum is filled by Isaac’s stylised melody, a sunken piano and an undercurrent of ornate glitches & subtle drums. And although its clear he is an artist very much about carving his own path, parts of this brushes on the ground that sits somewhere between James Blake and King Krule.

May 2014 19

Banks

BANKS just premiered her latest single ‘Drowning’ on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show, which she has now shared online for everyone to enjoy. The melancholy ballad is yet another striking single from the Los Angeles singer, who is currently preparing the release of her debut album.

May 2014 18

Take a look at Jay and Bey’s new ‘fake-movie-music-video’ which casually stars some of Hollywoods biggest names including Sean Penn, Don Cheadle, Jake Gyllenhaal, Blake Lively, Emma Rossum, Guillermo Diaz, Rashida and Kidada Jones. Directed by Melina Matsoukas, the clip has been released to promote the couples forthcoming ‘On the Run’ tour – which starts in the States in June. And although I’m still confused as to why the Carter-Knowles’, with all their business acumen, feel the world needs another tour from either of them (following Jay’s run with JT and Beyonce’s year-long world wide tour), I must admit this is exactly the type of star power video that will make people want to buy tickets. And we’re purposely not getting into the chronology of this video appearing just a week after that video smacked the world upside its head.

Timing is everything.

May 2014 17

Huge news for our girls Juce who this week signed a record deal with Universal/Island Records following the release of their universally adored debut single ‘Call You Out’. Announcing the big news on their Facebook page, the girls were pictured celebrating with label boss Darcus Beese and the Island team that will be helping the London trio to craft their debut album. Furthermore the girls have also been announced as performers at BBC Radio 1′s Big Weekend . A huge look. #Proud.

With a new song promised for this Monday, take a look at Georgia, Cherish & Chalin performing ‘Call You Out’ live at the BBC. Beaut.

May 2014 15

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After a premature breakup Diddy’s ex-girls Danity Kane finally reemerge with a new single called ‘Lemonade’ – and it’s hot. It’s easy to ignore the fact that these girls delivered two stand out pop-R&B albums before their boss realised breaking them up would be far more TV-worthy than if they stayed together. Internal dramas aside though, and a member down, ‘Lemonade’ once again brings DK’s sassy, no-nonsense flair to the fore and reminds us just how sparse legit-girl groups are these days. Oh, and recognise that sample?

May 2014 12

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The return of Jazmine Sullivan has finally arrived!

She took a break amidst label/industry frustrations, but she’s back and hopefully (seemingly!) in full control of her output. ‘Dumb’ features the raspy, powerhouse voice thats been missing from our collections and reflects the best of her previous material.

Artists like Sullivan often get lost in labels – CEO’s trying desperately to create a commodity that will sell to the masses, while the artist desperately tries to impart genuine reflections of themselves into their material. This struggle is audibly evident across both Jazmine’s first two albums –  projects half filed with sultry bangers like ‘Lions, Tigers & Bears’ and ‘Holding You Down’, next to watered down label-fodder. Hopefully the arrival of ‘Dumb’ marks the dawn of a new day in her career and hopefully she’ll be left to her own musical devices t0 create the body of work we all know she’s capable of producing.

Welcome back.

May 2014 05

Since Usher has been taking care of business on The Voice, the landscape for male R&B-pop singers has shifted quite a bit. Granted young guns Chris Brown and even Justin Bieber still have a long way to go before they’re considered genuine threats, but with the return of Justin Timberlake and the universal smash hit ‘Blurred Lines’ was for Robin Thicke – Usher has a lot to contend with. But as ‘Good Kisser’ proves, Raymond has little to be concerned about; Taken off his forthcoming eighth album his new single is every bit the smash we’ve come to expect from one of R&B’s longest reigning frontmen (and yes, we’re purposely ignoring all the Euro-trash shit that came after Confessions). Musically confident, vocally ferocious and generally well put together – everything here signals great things to come from that new album. This is a smash.

Well come back Ursh.

May 2014 05

Boots

Having burst onto the scene after writing and producing for Beyonce’s self-titled surprise album, singer/songwriter/producer Boots has been steadily leaking samples of his debut solo project. Released today WinterSpringSummerFall is Jordy Asher formal introduction and like his previous offerings tis a tape full of twists and turns. Like ‘Haunted’ on Beyonce much of WinterSpringSummerFall centres around murky notions of post-naughties R&B – punctured along the way with aching reverb, cascading chords and eccentric production. Joining Beyonce on the tapes featured-artist list are ShlohmoJeremih,  Kelela, Son Lux and Margot.

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