Rosie Oddie is the latest in a long line of celebrity offspring to try their luck a the music industry. Lily Allen, Josh Weller and Ellie Jackson are just a few of the success stories. However, does anyone remember any of the songs by Ashley Hamilton or Jakob Dylan? So what bracket will Rosie Oddie, daughter of former Goodie and popular TV ornithologist Bill Oddie, fall into?
Experimenting and exploring techno music is the drive behind Bristol duo emptyset’s sound, inspired by their city’s bass lead production and detail sound design. Veering away from simple hooks or the obvious 4/4 beat that pleases dancefloors, their brand of techno borders on the electronica of esteem acts such as Autechre and Boards of Canada, and, at times, the dubstep of Flying Lotus and Burial. Such ambition can be heard on this eponymous debut, though it is rarely accessible and becomes a far too alienating experience to be appreciated in the way its creators might hope.
“Let’s tear down the walls on this hotel” declares a far too mellow John Garrison on “Let’s Run”, the relaxed opener to his second solo release Departures. The former lead singer of Budapest has recently relocated from London to New York, departing a secure existence for the unknown. Having built up a secure base in London, Garrison got itchy feet. His debut solo release Above The Cosmos was both a critical and commercial success, once again creating room for security. Leaving it all behind for a new challenge, does Garrison’s omnipresent desire for leaving the secure pay off?
The build-up to Christmas is always notable is the album release schedule for it’s novelty albums and greatest hits compilations. 2009 is proving to be no exception. Former Pop Idol contestant is amongst the artists to release a retrospective collection, whilst former X Factor contestants Alexandra Burke, JLS, Leona Lewis and Laura White all have new albums pencilled in. So, it is only appropriate that one of this year’s novelty releases comes from 24-year-old 2007 X Factor contestant (he reached the Boot Camp stage) Ryan Idzi alongside two fellow soldiers currently serving in the British Army. Lance Corporal Idzi is joined by Gulf War Veteran Sergeant Major Gary Chilton and Sergeant Richie Maddocks to form classical man-group The Soldiers. Nick Patrick (Russell Watson, Katherine Jenkins) has produced a stereotypical easy listening pop cover album in aid of the Army Benevolent Fund, Help For Heroes and The Royal British Legion. The question is, then, apart from the good causes, does the album really have any merit?
It has been five years since Norwegian easy-listeners Kings of Convenience decided to take a break from producing their subtle guitar based melodies for the geek chic crowd. Consisting of childhood friends Erlend Oye and Eirik Glambek Boe, the duo have been playing as Kings Of Convenience for a decade. They had previously worked together in the quartet Skog, thought they disbanded after just one EP (Tom Tids Tale). Signed to Columbia in 1999, their 2001 Ken Nelson produced debut album Silence Is The New Loud saw them establish themselves on the folk circuit, whilst the remix album Versus displayed Oye’s flair for dance music. Inevitably, after 2004’s Riot On An Empty Street, Oye and Boe decided to take a break. While Oye explored dance music both under his own name and the alias The Whitest Boy Alive, Boe reunited with his former Skog band mates in the shape of Kommode. Unable to live without one another, Kommode supported The Whitest Boy Alive on tour, allowing the duo to set to work at re-exploring their more relaxed selves. The resulting album is suitably titled Declaration of Dependence.
Norway is not really thought of as the hive of cutting edge music in Europe. Sure, in the 80s they gave us A-Ha and more recently Royksopp and Kings of Convenience via Aqua (lead singer Lene Nystrom hails from Norway) and Lene Marlin, but these contributions are often overlooked. All that appears to be changed in 2009. Having won the Eurovision Song Contest with Aleksander Rybak’s “Fairytale”, other successful Norwegians have decided to try their luck on the British shores. With his pal Sondre Lerche going down a treat on the live circuit, Sandnes’ Thomas Dybdhal has put together a self-titled collection of the best cuts from his four home country releases for his British debut.
Catriona Irving is the softly sung DIY queen who is about to find herself breaking through into the mainstream. Having co-founded her own record label Need No Water with her friend a collaborate Philippa Latimer, Irvin is ready to embark on her first major project. Following the critical acclaim of Stitch EP and Running On Empathy, Irving is set to release Sitting On The Shelf EP as the first in a trilogy of EPS exploring her latest partnership.
Swiss duo Filewile were once a laptop act, but for this second album they have expanded into a full, four-piece, dub-driven band. It’s paid off, as the addition of singer Joy Frempong and bassist Mago Flueck to the original producer pairing of Dustbowl (Andreas Ryser) and Dejot (Daniel Jakob) gives them a more versatile approach and the result is a diverse, fun-packed album which draws together the band’s various influences including jazz, psychedelia and rock.
Hayley Sanderson has taken the long and traditional road to fame. Having won a talent competition at the tender age of 12, she spent her prize money on a PA system and started gigging. At 19, she joined a girlband that never took off, then came Think Floyd (yes, you guessed it — a Pink Floyd tribute band). She considered drama school, but felt the debts didn’t justify the cause and instead phoned Ronnie Scotts and bagged herself a two week stint. The stint proved such a success that it lasted two years. Whilst working as a session singer for Marti Pellow, she got a call asking her to record “Something In The Air” for Talk Talk. This of course lead to 2007’s offer of Strictly Come Dancing, where her smooth vocal charmed the programme’s many viewers. Just Songs is the inevitable release of some of her more successful turns for the series.
The son of folk singers John and Julie Gleave and brother to musicians Tom Baxter and Vashti Anna, it is not surprise that Charlie Winston is set to release a record. Like his siblings, Charlie has dropped his surname in favour of his middle name for his recording surname. Signed to Real World Records, owned by Peter Gabriel, whom he supported on tour in 2007, Winston’s work is much celebrated in France. Brother Tom Baxter received much critical acclaim but limited commercial success with his releases, will Charlie Winston be able to supersede with his debut album Hobo?
Blame Jack have changed line-up and finally released debut album Over The Rooftops. Having spent a few years as a London based gigging quartet formed of Jason Newton, Tom Palmer, Katie Meehan and Matilda Smith, they originally recorded a selection of tracks for a never released EP a couple of years ago. However, the girls left but Newton and Palmer decided to badger on recruiting Emma Wheelhouse as their new vocalist. Gone are the signature Meehan-Smith harmonies, but a lot of the material remains, with Newton as the group’s central songwriter joining Wheelhouse on vocals.
As the new genre on the street, dubstep has been picked up quickly by the trendsetting ravers and has found itself a common sound you can hear in clubs week in, week out around London. With it has come a danger that affects all music when it becomes too popular: tunes breed tunes that are engineered too close to sound too similar to each other and the freshness which once made dubstep stand out from the crowd threatens to push it back into the pack where innovation is sacrificed for sure-fire dancefloor success. Thankfully it’s people like 2562, aka Dave Huismans who named himself after his postcode in The Hague in Netherlands, and his brand of dark, cerebral dubstep, who are ensuring the future of dubstep is an exciting one.
18-year-old Sarah McIntosh first grabbed everyone’s attention with last year’s Warriors, her self-produced four track EP. Having discovered her Grandma’s 1980s Casio keyboard, she set about pouring her heart out for the magical electronic introduction. Her MySpace went crazy and she attracted the attention of everyone from Steve Lamacq to The Guardian with declarations of being the new Kate Bush with lyrical guidance from Morrissey. A year later, McIntosh has sat her A-Levels, split up with her boyfriend and recorded four more delicious slices for her second EP Your Body Is A Machine. With all the external stress caused by exams and a troublesome love life, has McIntosh managed to live up to the high expectations?
Jazmine Sullivan claims to be Fearless. This may not be a surprise, given that Missy Elliott’s latest protege has been singing in public from a young age – most impressively in a duet with Stevie Wonder at his grandson’s birthday party. At the tender age of 16, she signed a deal with Jive only to be dropped before the album she’d recorded got released. However, the opportunity allowed Sullivan to hone her performance and songwriting skills. Fearless was eventually recorded in 2008 and saw the ilk of Missy Elliott, Stargate and Wyclef Jean offer their production skills. Now aged 22 and with her album about to be released, Sullivan will find out whether she was right to “Dream Big”.
The quirky American singer-songwriter has held a place in the British hearts long before the bespectacled Lisa Loeb asked us to “Stay”. Now, following in the footsteps of Fiona Apple, Tori Amos, Michelle Branch and Vanessa Carlton comes Ingrid Michaelson. Michaelson is good friends with Sara Bareilles, who had a big hit with “Love Song” last year and comes with a similarly styled package. As with Bareilles, Michaelson has been on the slow burner to success. Her debut independent release Slow The Rain saw the light of day in 2005, but it wasn’t until Grey’s Anatomy featured 2008’s “The Way I Am” that mainstream success was assured. Following in her friend’s footsteps, Michaelson is set to unleash her brand of indie-pop with debut UK release Everybody.
The story goes that Katsen formed after music lovers Chris Blackburn and Donna Grimaldi met at a craft market in Brighton. Grimaldi was there to sell her boldly colourful covered mixtapes and caught the eye of Blackburn. Blackburn couldn’t resist the covers and a partnership was formed. A little while later, the pair were sat round at Grimaldi’s listening to excerpts from her extensive record collection when they decided to dispense with the already recorded and make some musical magic of their own. Out came Blackburn’s synth and they would let their musical souls run wild for the night. The result It Hertz, 12 tracks of occasional electronic interest.
X-Factor has had a hit and miss history of success stories. Alexandra Burke, winner of Series 5 might just be in luck — the only really successful winner to date has been fellow female soloist Leona Lewis. While Steve Brookstein and Leon Jackson saw themselves dropped after one record, to be shelved ‘has-been’ within a year of winning the competition, Alexandra Burke’s debut single “Bad Boys” has been praised as pop perfection by critics and fans alike. A promising start, given that Leon Jackson’s “Don’t Call This Love” didn’t even get radio playlisted. However, Burke faces a couple of strong challengers in her quest for super stardom. Not only does Leona Lewis have a new material out, but so do fellow Season 5 contestants JLS and Laura White. Can Alexandra Burke really Overcome her competitors?
Liam Frost was a determined youngster, even purchasing a fake ID at 15 to allow him to perform in Manchester’s famous Akoustic Anarchy. His determination paid off and 2003 saw him move from being a shouty, punky youth to a serious folk vocalist. Unafraid to draw on his personal experiences, most importantly the deaths of his father and brother, Liam Frost soon established himself as a competent musician to be reckoned with. A deal with Lavolta Records in 2006 saw Frost and The Slowdown Family record and tour the critically acclaimed Show Me How The Spectres Dance. Record sales didn’t match the acclaim and Frost saw himself dropped from his first deal. However, Frost had not lost his fire and soon found himself a new home at Emperor Records. He in turn dropped his band to go solo, with We Ain’t Got No Money, Honey, But We Got Rain as the fruit of his toils.
MySpace may have brought the world The Arctic Monkeys and Sandie Thom back in 2005, but it didn’t take Facebook long to catch up in the shape of Blake. Formed three years ago and signed within 48 hours, classical boyband Blake have a new line up and a third album Together about to hit the shelves. After switching allegiances from Facebook to Twitter, and replacing the departed Dominic Tighe with new recruit Humphrey Berney (Barney), the quartet have established their own independent record label, Blake Records.
New Jersey born, Devon raised singer/songwriter Cosmo Jarvis never intended to be a musician. An all round artist, Jarvis started experimenting with filmmaking on VHS when he was barely 12 years old, often focusing on the ‘Jackass’ style dare film. From his early dabbling, his artistic flair has developed and he has grown into a storyteller, poet and songwriter. Having come to the attention of Wall of Sound’s MD Mark Jones at the tender age of 18, Jarvis has refocused his attention on defining his sound for his debut double album Humasyouhitch/Sonofabitch.
Do You Want The Truth Or Something More Beautiful? is the interestingly titled debut album by equally interestingly named 25-year-old, big-voiced Hackney actress turned singer Paloma Faith. Having made her name with appearances in films including St. Trinian’s and The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Faith realised that her distinct voice warranted exploration. Given her remarkable vocal, there have naturally been the inevitable Amy Winehouse, Adele and Shingai Shoniwa comparisons. However, with such strong competition, does Faith offer something intrinsically beautiful enough to fight a battle with her chart contenders?
Italian duo Crookers may have scored a number one with their remix of Kid Cudi’s “Day ‘n’ Night” and become darlings of the electro scene in the process, but they are out of their depth following on from Dave Clarke and Boys Noize in producing a mix for Belgium’s famous I Love Techno festival. They are famed for combining hip hop and house over bass heavy sounds with the intention of creating twisted, crooked mixes — hence the name. This mix is anything but as the sum of the parts fall woefully short of any inventive genre blends as the 18 tracks add up to a tiresome 20 minutes.
The Leaf Label have been responsible for some of this year’s most delicately beautiful releases, from Essie Jain’s The Inbetween to A Hawk and A Hacksaw’s Delivrance. With such strong label mates, the expectancy is high for Lancashire lass Nancy Elizabeth’s second album Wrought Iron. Having come to public attention with 2007’s subtly elegant Battle and Victory, Nancy Elizabeth Cunliffe continues on the theory that less is more.
Bernard Fevre’s 1975 album The Strange World of Bernard Fevre featured such electronic trickery that even now people struggle to believe it was really recorded more than 30 years ago. No midis or computers back then meant his was a unique sound which even predates his 1978 Black Devil Disco Club album, another collection of work which has been held up as a pioneering piece of electronica. The space-age sounds are revisited here with new mixes of the original tracks along with previously unheard compositions.
The release of Illa J’s “Sounds Like Love” this week brings his album back into the spotlight. The younger brother of the late producer/hip hop artist James Yancey, AKA Jay Dee and J Dilla, took his siblings unused recordings to forge the album James never got the chance to create. The smooth, soulful hip hop is soft on the ears, just lacking in an edge to make it stand out from the crowd in the same way as Yancey senior achieved.