Apr 2014 08

bayou

You’ll remember we featured London singer/producer Bayou and his single ‘Varsity Jacket’ back in June ’11. Today he releases a new number called ‘Airlock’, a far less fragile follow up to its predecessor, the song is punctured with staccato hi-hats, acoustic chords and foggy electronic synths. Like ‘Varsity Jacket’ though the new single features Bayou’s delicate and warm falsetto.

Apr 2014 03

Drake

Despite finishing his takeover world tour just last week Drake is clearly not keen on slowing things down. This week has already seen the release a new Lauryn Hill-sampling freestyle called ‘Draft Day’ and now today, he lets loose another new cut titled ‘Days in the East’. Produced by fellow Canadian PARTYNEXTDOOR, the new slow jam features Aubrey’s astute melodic word play that this time even sees him shouting out our beloved Erykah Badu (“remember one night i went to to Erykah Badu house, she made tea for me, we talked about love and what life could really be for me”). Take a listen.

Apr 2014 02

ratking-so-it-goes

XL Recordings’ RATKING has offered up a full stream of their debut album So It Goes ahead of its April 8th release. The new album builds on the bands already acclaimed New York grime-rap sound and features previous singles ‘So Sick Stories’ featuring King Krule  and ‘Canal’. RATKING’s approach to stuttered beats is met with unapologetically hardened verses. Listen up – this is beautiful.

Head over to NPR to listen to So It Goes in full.

Apr 2014 02

Even  three years after his passing the power of Gil-Scott Heron on record is still palpable. ‘Alien (Hold On To Your Dreams)’ is the first single taken off Heron’s forthcoming posthumous album Nothing New which will be released by XL Recordings on Record Store Day (April 19th). The album will consist of material recorded during the I’m New Here sessions in 2008. The LP will consist of stripped-down renditions of some of Heron’s best known tracks and will be packaged with personal notes from XL Recordings founder Richard Russell. Only 3,000 copies will be available to buy on the day, so if you want one you’ll need to be quick… And herein lies the difference between good and bad posthumous releases.

As for the track – just listen, you don’t need me to tell you how awesome it is.

Apr 2014 02

dangelopb

Sony announced this week plans to release another posthumous Michael Jackson album titled Xscape which will hit shelves on May 13th. The news was accompanied by the albums, quite frankly ridiculous, artwork and was met (by me) with large scepticism. And even despite the latest news that our hero D’Angelo will have a production credit on a track featuring Questlove & Mary J. Blige – my scepticism is still vigilant.

Of course the very notion that D’Angelo has even glanced at a song graced by Michael Jackson is enough to make our heads (and presumably, the universe) explode but the truth is, these are songs Jackson never intended to see the light of day. These are incomplete songs void of MJ’s true completed vision – I can’t imagine any true artist (past or present) feeling satisfied at the idea of their music being released without their approval; hence why Stevie Wonder, Prince and Madlib all intend on having their masters destroyed after they die – to protect the integrity of their legacy… Not to mention everything that Sony has touched since MJ’s passing has been utterly shambolic.

So yes, a pretty significant, albeit selfish, victory for us fans but we’ll wait until we hear the full thing before we embrace an illegitimate Michael Jackson album.

Mar 2014 27

Producer and one third of cult-band The xx, Jamie xx, has announced a new single featuring ‘Sleep Sound’ and ‘Girl’, the former of which can be heard up top. The gentle track is build on padded drums, densely layered vocal samples and Jamie’s trademark tropical ethos. ‘Sleep Sound’ builds into a really beautifully sonic venture – but then, when doesn’t Jamie’s productions?

‘Sound Sleep’ and ‘Girl’ will be available on 12″ and download on May 5th via Young Turks. These tracks mark Jamie’s first solo release since the release of his seminal Gil Scott-Heron collaboration We’re New Here in 2011. Pre-order the new single here.

Mar 2014 25

Drake-20-3-2014-25-of-31

Drake opened the final leg of his Would You Like a Tour show last night at London with a display of confidence and charisma befitting the superstar he has become. Through a well thought-out, crowd pleasing set list Aubrey reminded us of the journey he’s been on since quietly [relatively speaking] releasing So Far Gone in 2009, the mixtape that first sparked his global grip.

Relying mostly on material from his third and most recent album Nothing Was The Same, Drizzy poured over hit after hit from across his discography and dedicating a section to his extensive feature repertoire: ‘The Language’, ‘Tuscan Leather’, ‘Worst Behaviour’, an extended (if not slightly over indulgent) rendition of ‘Hold On We’re Going Home’, ‘From Time’ assisted by R&B’s rising starlet Jhene Aiko, ‘Take Care’ (sadly sans Rihanna), ‘Over’ and the shows encore ‘Started From the Bottom’.

The overwhelming response to which was: “shit, Drake has hits!” – something that is perhaps a little easy to underestimate between twitter-memes, Drake shake apps and teary eyed tumblr gags that populate timelines and feeds on a hourly basis.

But its undeniable at this stage and has been for a long time now – hip hop’s reigning prince is also one of pop’s biggest superstars; Drake is without question a global artist who can shift huge numbers, balance die-hard fans with casual radio-listeners and sell out stadiums around the world. It wouldn’t take a lot of arguing to assess Drizzy as a poster child by-product of a post-Kanye world (even down to his elaborate, awe-inspiring stage set), but giving credit where credit is due – Drake is sitting confidently at the top of his game with very few competitors eyeing for his spot.

Boy did good.

Mar 2014 21

597012c7

And so the weekend officially begins.

In lieu of a new D’Angelo album, the heavens have granted us three previously unreleased, entirely glorious new songs from D’s forthcoming re-release of his Live at the Jazz Cafe album. Due for release on March 25th, the newly titled Live at the Jazz Café, London: The Complete Show will feature the entire recording of D’Angelo’s legendary 1996 show – including new renditions of Al Green’s ‘I’m Glad You’re Mine’, Ohio Players’ ‘Sweet Sticky Thing’ and Brown Sugar’s ‘Jonz In My Bonz’.

Fuuuuuuck!

via Pitchfork / Billboard / Rolling Stone

Mar 2014 20

5-new-music-artists-for-june-2013-2-banks

We’ve shown a lot of love to BANKS over the past year or more, and while theres absolutely nothing wrong with this cover of ‘Are You That Somebody’ – it’s actually quite good – I just can’t hide my growing frustration with the amount of Aaliyah covers/samples floating around.

… And as an avid supporter of the shelved Aaliyah/Noah ’40′ Shebib project it has absolutely nothing to do with being “too precious” about Babygirl’s discography and everything to do with the general mindset that the only representation of weird, future-90′s R&B began and ended at Aaliyah. Has everyone forgotten Timbaland produced for everyone during this period – why is no one flipping Destiny’s Child ‘Get on the Bus’ or Nicole Wray’s ‘Make It Hot’?

I know, I’ve digressed. I’m sure Banks has a personal connection to ‘Are You That Somebody’ and had reasons for choosing to cover it and as far as covers go, her ‘Live Lounge’ rendition is befittingly well arranged and performed. I’m just not screaming from the rooftops about it – mainly due to the reasons outlined above.

BANKS also did an acoustic version of her single ‘Brain’ – take a listen here.

Mar 2014 17

kwabs_2

Kwabs’ latest power ballad ‘Pray for Love’ was produced by none other than Ben Drew aka Plan B. Surprisingly tender, Drew frames a vivid landscape of muddy production with flooded drums, poetic strings and a gorgeously reserved piano. The songs crowing glory is of course left to Kwabs – whose masterful, awe-inspiring voice commands every ear in reach. Beyond.

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