Luke Vibert is a virtuoso of the electronic music scene. He’s dabbled in what seems like every genre under various guises — himself, Kerrier District, Wagon Christ, Amen Andrews, Spak Hand Luke — they’re all evidence of his ability to take the sounds of a scene and put his own spin on them. We Hear You combines his forays into disco, trip hop, house and acid into one accomplished album.
Finnish multi-media artist Heidi Kilpelainen, aka HK119, is an electro-pop bitch with issues, apparently not from this planet. Her crazy live shows have to be seen to be believed: once dressed in slinky black catsuits and booming-out brittle, DIY electro ditties about consumerism, radiation scares and censorship, she delivered her message in style with her tongue firmly in her cheek. As Bit-Phalanx re-launches itself as a new independent electronic net label for 2009, HK119 has teamed up with its artists to remix tracks from her more glossy offering Fast, Cheap And Out Of Control to show what they have to offer.
Shir Khan made his name by putting out regular mixtapes which were heard and downloaded around the world via the Internet — now the Berliner is known for his eclectic taste which spans all forms of dance music to set dancefloors on fire. This second compilation showcases his label’s finest moments and much like the boss, it genre hops from Italo and disco to electro, minimal, techno, house, downtempo and glitchy badness. Presented in a two CD format for a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it mash up mix by Shir Khan himself as well as the tracks in their purest form, it’s got famous names such as Crookers, Modeselekto, Milanese and Zombie Disco Squad alongside fresher acts to make it hot property for danceheads.
DJ 3000’s third artist album Galactic Caravan is an ethnic journey through Detroit techno, reflecting his upbringing. Born and raised in the Detroit enclave of Hamtramck, the sights and sounds of a highly ethnic neighbourhood as well as the music of his parent’s native Albania have had a major influence on his music. Board this caravan to embark on a winding road on which the beat is always 4/4 and Eastern sounds can always be heard. It’s an album full of character and geared towards a cohesive listening experience which takes the ears on an inspiring trip.
The Dorset region might not currently be considered the a hive of musical activity, but looking closer at the area, it is soon apparent that some of the biggest names in British music hail from the area. Guitar genius Robert Fripp, Garage star Craig David, sultry soul sensation Joss Stone and Gothic princess P.J Harvey are all products of the county. Madonna, Noel Gallagher and Billy Bragg are just a few of the stars who have setup second homes in the region. Perhaps it is for this reason that The Ersatz Press have decided it was about time that someone exposed the upcoming talent to the public. Random Play is a collection of 19 songs (singles, live recordings and b-sides) from 14 of the areas potential notables (Jayetal, Kumiss, The Confederate Dead, Andrew Foster and Please Will all apparently warrant two appearances).
Of all the 80s influenced acts that currently dominate the airwaves, there has been one name that has consistently been heralded as being the tip of an ever growing iceberg — La Roux. Fronted by Elly Jackson (who I am sure you all already know is none other than Trude Goodwin’s (a.k.a Sgt. June Ackland in The Bill) distinctively styled ginger-haired daughter. Jackson provides the disturbingly soothing vocals and is backed by her publicity shy partner in crime, producer and co-writer Ben Langmaid (former writer for Kubb and one half of Huff and Puff). As a duet, their 80s driven synth pop has been growing in popularity since their initial 2008 single “Quicksand”, which though it charted at disappointing low of 133 was swiftly followed by the far more commercial “In For The Kill” (number two) and the subtly catchy “Bulletproof” (number one). Inevitably, having won over critics and fans with their attack at the singles chart, commercial success in the album charts beckons with their eponymous debut effort.
Put the house party in slo-mo with the second edition of Cosmic Baleric Beats. Featuring 16 exclusive and unreleased tracks of sun-kissed cosmic house, disco and funk, this is music to watch the stars go by.
rude_NHS has been a fixture on the South’s electronic music scene for many years as a producer, guitarist and arranger. Famed for unique improv live sets strumming his guitar or bass over the wildest amen breaks and acid sounds, he is a pioneer of dead rock, guffstep and shoe rave. But he can also be compared to artists such as Squarepusher and Luke Vibert for innovative sounds. Tango6 brings together four of his tracks.
Jamaica’s Ventrice Morgan a.k.a Queen Ifrica has had a long road to the release of her debut album Montego Bay. Having first been spotted back in 1995 at a talent contest in her hometown of Montego Bay, she has been a consistent figure at Reggae Festivals ever since. 1998 saw a successful union with Tony Rebel’s Flames Crew. However it would appear Queen Ifrica was content with performing as opposed to recording. Renowned for heart wrenching lyrical honesty and energetic performances, it is no surprise she is already being touted as the new Queen of Reggae. With strong musical routes in the Rastafarian race, Queen Ifrica has finally decided to take the step of putting live favorites onto record, with the notable omission of classics like “Randy” and “Jus My Brethren”.
Jet Project are Belfast duo Timmy Stewart and John McIver, two music enthusiasts who have seen the city’s club scene move from its acid house beginnings to its post-troubles renaissance. The dozen tracks featured here are a showcase of their finest moments for Silicone Soul’s Darkroom Dubs label covering deep and dubby house, off-kilter electronics and the odd dancefloor bomb. Jet Project prove they may have their heads in the clouds, but they know why they’re there.
Butane, AKA Andrew Rasse, claims to be the future of electronic music, exploring fresh directions and experiments in sounds while evoking a myriad of warped sensations. This, his first album for Crosstown Rebels, has a title that’s a homage to Darwin and takes inspiration from his concepts “that all the complexity that surrounds us has developed from ultimate simplicity”. Essentially it all boils down to lush, minimalist techno with an organic sound that is charming though unlikely to be thought of as particularly futuristic.
Family Force 5 should be riding high. EMI North America snapped the group up and they got introduced to the mysterious world of the corporate music industry. However, the Georgian quintet decided that the old school route of independent music could suit them better. Resultantly, they founded the Transparent Media Group to work in coalition with EMI North America, thus ensuring greater control over their music, marketing and merchandise. After releasing their single “Dance Or Die” in the States, they came to the attention of the already successful 3OH!3, whom they subsequently supported on tour. That tour and their numerous festival appearances resulted in the hard working bands extensive touring helped the band’s independent release sell over 100,000 records and achieve nearly 2,000,000 views on YouTube (that is nearly as many as Susan Boyle!)
‘2am in my hostel bed, I got butter but I ain’t got bread.’ 26-year-old Londoner Speech Debelle has had a far from easy life. Born in Crystal Palace, raised in Mitcham and kicked out onto the streets at 19, she has made her way from the hostel to the recording studio. Music is her release, an attempt to make rhyme and reason of a difficult existence. Debut album Speech Therapy is a softly spoken, brutally honest rap album, which due to its light pop flavour will have instant cross-over appeal. This is nothing new to the world of music, which is often used to confront demons and open up to the world around you. Does Speech Debelle offer a refreshing take on a tried and tested formula?
Chester French may currently be known for Maxwell Drummey’s short-lived marriage to socialite celebrity Peaches Geldof, but the release of their debut album “Love The Future” is an attempt for the duo (Drummey is joined by singer Andrew ‘D.A’ Wallach) to be taken seriously. Many thought the marriage was for promotional purposes and their follow-up tour was deemed a failure. The duo returned home to rethink their motives and the hope is now for the music to do the talking. The question is, will the release allow the Harvard graduates to Love The Future or not?
You are probably not fully unaware, but Canadian duo Jon and Roy’s sleeper hit “Another Noon” will by now have worked its way into your subconscious. Victoria BC’s Jon and Roy struck it lucky with their fireside hand-warmer when VW decided to use it in their latest adverts. Not a bad feat for the duo who started working together back in 2005 and are still releasing their music independently. When they first met, Jon was busy reading about the Politik and Roy was in a period of self reflection about the similarities between apes and humans. They released their debut album Sittin’ Back in 2005, before Jon went off to release his solo effort After A Trip. Roy didn’t let the time go to waste and spent it learning the drums. After the hiatus, they decided to contact Sittin’ Back’s producer Stephen Franke and set about pursuing their real dream. Brushed aside were the potential roles as beer brewers, teachers and chefs whilst they took a final joint attack on the murky music world. They also managed to talk bassist Ryan Tonelli into quitting his film-maker ambitions and become a formal member of Jon and Roy — making the duo named band a trio.
Composed and sequenced to create the impression of being submerged underwater and then released to the surface, the second album from Dialog> is a dreamy affair bookended by a brisk opening and uplifting climax. Inspired by the metaphor of water being the unconscious mind at threat from the monsters of the deep wanting to drag us down into the dark depths of our psyche, it transports the listener into a darkly tranquil audio experience yet drifts on by too easily.
Though far from a household name, 31-year-old Londoner Imogen Heap has already produced two critically acclaimed solo albums (2005’s Speak For Yourself garnered two grammy nominations) as well as her side project Guy Sigsworth collaboration Frou Frou. Not one to rest on her laurels, in the time between 2005’s Speak For Yourself there has been no end to her side projects. Having recorded the now world famous “Chrismukkah” and an ethereal version of Cohen’s “Hallelujah” for teen drama The OC has brought Heap to the attention of a new generation of fans. More recent collaborations include artists as wide-spread as ex-Busted singer Matt Willis (his album track “Who You Gonna Run To”, British electro popstrels Temposhark (“Not That Big”) and the multi-award winning American easy listener Josh Groban (“Now Or Never”). If that is not enough, the likes of Tiesto and Jason DeRulo have sampled her hit “Hide and Seek”. Eleven years has now passed since her debut effort i-Megaphone and Heap is ready to unleash home recorded Ellipse for her ever-so hungry fans.
It was once said to me that at the end of a decade, everyone stops to reminisce and learn lessons before attacking the future with the dawn of the new decade. Therefore, it being 2009, we have a fresh start on the horizon, everyone is caught up with the past. The music industry is overflowing with 1980s tributes, so it is somewhat refreshing to put on a new record and hear something different. The different may not be new, but it still feels fresh. Meet exLovers, whose sounds could easily define the chilled out Britpop on the mid 90s. exLovers could easily be the illegitimate love child of Sleeper’s Louise Wener (now an acclaimed author) and Belle and Sebastian’s Stuart Murdoch (now a hot shot producer, via a brief spell as a Church caretaker!), with their definitive airy male-female vocal set to a guitar heavy instrument romp.
Hot on the heels of his second solo album, Swervedriver’s Adam Franklin has teamed up with Interpol’s Sam Fogarino to work under the combined name Magnetic Morning. A collaboration created entirely outside the material world, composed via email to satisfy geographical differences due to touring with their respective bands. Magnetic Morning finally met up in Athens, GA to record their debut album A.M. Produced by Andy LeMaster (REM, Conor Oberst) and former Sugar bassist David Barbe (REM, Drive By Truckers) is a dark, brooding introduction.
Aesthetically, the case and inlay to 6 Day Riot Have A Plan is one of the simplest but most novel I have seen in a long while. The cardboard case has cutout characters to allow the listener to play the inlay’s board game (a musical instrument themed Snakes and Ladders). Though perhaps it should not have such direct connotations, in my mind it automatically conjures up a record aimed at children, or at least one that reminisces about childhood.
6 Day Riot are not about to fall into that trap, what they present is a record full of contradictions. Formed by the Glaswegian former Olympic Gymnast-hopeful Tamara Schlesinger, who, post a career-changing accident, pursued music via a brief stint at Central St. Martin’s School of Design. Her 2004 debut album From Home To Home sparked interest in her, but instead of sticking with the solo act she conscripted Daniel Deavin (drums), Caspar Riis (guitar), Edd Harwood (upright bass) and Sophie Loyer (violin, accordion, saw) to the fold. Schlesinger provides the vocals, ukulele and guitar and acts as the sole songwriter. The result of the new collaboration led to 6 Day Riot’s acclaimed debut Folie à Deux.
In stark contrast to its beautifully designed packaging, 6 Day Riot are more than a child friendly troupe.
Presenting a mix of klezmer, bluegrass and folk sensibilities deals with a wide range of subject matter. Opening with an assessment of the current media-obsessed national climate “Run For Your Life” is a rousing rant. It moves into disbelieving “O Those Kids”, which inspired by missing canoeist John Darwin, examines what people will really do for financial gain.
In stark contrast to its beautifully designed packaging, 6 Day Riot are more than a child friendly troupe. Similar to fellow Scots folk/rock star Amy MacDonald are pleasing but unchallenging listening. Schlesinger is a strong but not distinct songwriter who has constructed an easy to listen to, non-offensive record. If 6 Day Riot’s plan was to get noticed, then 6 Day Riot Have A Plan fully succeeds.
It only takes one person to change a trend, could Richard Walters be the man to do that? Female solo artists and 80s inspired synth fests are currently dominant in the music scene, Walters is neither of these. Going back to basics, he is a simple old-fashioned singer/songwriter. He writes his own music and plays the majority of the instruments that appear on debut album The Animal (including piano, guitar, bass and keyboards). For the exception, strings, he has called on the services of Izzi Dunn, who just happens to be Kanye West’s cellist. Add to all of this, the featuring of track “All At Sea” on the soundtrack of “CSI: Miami” and all indicators point to Walters being a star in the making.
Compilations by definition offer a mixed bag. Someone somewhere has sat down and chosen what they believe to be the best selection of songs for their demographic. The format is something that does not particularly appeal to my cynical self. I have nothing against mix CDs, in fact I absolutely love making them for friends to demonstrate what I think is ‘cool’ at that time. However, someone sat in an office has a very different reason to the individual and often I find compilations full of sub standard B-Sides that are better best forgotten. Sisters is the current selection being offered as an insight as to what the label Sisterphunk has to offer. With a retro cut-and-paste case of a sun-kissed bikini clad babe with a moustached mans face covering hers, a clear-cut sign that Sisters is aimed at the ‘trendies’. On appearances alone I am expecting a record full of chilled out retro beat wonders. Upon listening, will Sisters manage to defy my already prejudiced judgement?
To his credit, Jack White is one of the music industries top achievers. Alongside ex-wife Meg, he formed the wonderous White Stripes in 1997. They eventually hit the big time with 2001’s White Blood Cells, which won them global acclaim for their stripped back garage rock. 2003 saw the White Stripes phenomenon strengthen with the more commercial Elephant which has spawned “Seven Nation Army”, the duo’s largest selling single to date. Since then, White has worked alongside notable musicians including Beck, The Rolling Stones, Jeff Beck, Alicia Keys and Bob Dylan. He even played a large role in resurrecting his musical icon Loretta Lynn’s career, by producing her Grammy award winning Van Lear Rose. 2005 saw his first side project, The Raconteurs (a collaboration with Brendan Benson, Jack Lawrence and Patrick Keeler) achieve a mixed reception and a modicum of success. Now, in 2009 he attempts to take another step on his route to rock superstardom with his second side project The Dead Weather.
It is rare thing, a debut pop album that is both stunningly simplistic and excitingly experimental at the same time. But Finnish-French duo The Do are promising just that with their debut album A Mouthful. Opening tracks “Playground Hustle” (demonstrating a fun and infantile view of life) and “At Last !” (a charmingly warm ballad) immediately epitomise what can be expected from the musically named The Do (coincidentally also the initials of their first names). Formed of singer Olivia Merilahti and musician Dan Levy, such an eclectic approach to music should be expected from the arty duo. Having met whilst both working on a soundtrack for the film “Empire Of The Wolves”, there was an instant bond. With a combined passion for free form jazz and melodic vocals a musical partnership was inevitable.
The music industry always has fads that come and go, as you may have noticed the current trend is for the 80’s influenced sound. Acts like Little Boots and La Roux manage to blend the two big selling points of ‘09 in one, purely by being female singers. However, there has been a growing hype surrounding Vincent Frank, the Essex synth based popstar otherwise known as Frankmusik. Having honed his skills by remixing for everyone from Mika to the Pet Shop Boys, he is finally unleashing his debut solo album Complete Me to his hungry fans.