28 November 2011
Radio City with Bajka | The Hop
Gazeebo | School Boy Chubby
Red Astaire | The Right Thing
Sly & The Family Stone | If You Want Me To Stay
Patrice Rushen | Forget Me Nots (King Storm edit)
Dawn Penn | You Don't Love Me (No, No, No)
Grandmaster Flash | The Message (Roots Manuva remix)
Rick James | Mary Jane
The Spinners | It's A Shame (Frico edit)
Stretch | Why Did You Do It?
Mark Capanni | I Believe In Miracles
T-Connection | Do What You Wanna Do
Guru with Erykah Badu | Plenty
Wee | I'm All Changed
Lord Echo | Wang East
Huba | Man Brings The Bread
Kologbo with The Deacon | Freedom Back
Earth, Wind & Fire | Evil
Killer Funk Disco Allstars | Shake Your Booty Baby! (Peak Time Disco re-edit)
Marvin v Bob | Healing In Vain
Salmonella Dub | For The Love Of It (David Harrow remix)
Dubxanne | Roxanne (dub)
23 November 2011
Jameson and Barrio Present
Soul, Funk, Boogie, Disco and Rare Grooves
With SWEETPANTS and NYNTEE
And Special Guest JAY JEFFREY
From 8pm Saturday 3rd Dec
21 November 2011
J-BOOGIE'S DUBTRONIC SCIENCE
Undercover is the third album of original material from San Francisco DJ/producer J-Boogie, in a career which stretches two decades, countless remixes and a host of DJ and radio accolades. Spanning a diverse selection of styles, Undercover sees Middle Eastern-flavoured psychedelic hip hop (Salaam) and heavy cumbia rhythms (El Ritmo) nestling alongside languidly drifting reggae (Blue Mountain Dub) and '80s lazer funk (Magik). Regardless of genre, summertime grooves abound, with loads of Latin influences, big fat brass sections, guests like Lateef The Truthspeaker, Raashan Ahmad (Crown City Rockers) and The Pimps Of Joytime - and that indefinable sunny Cali sumthin sumthin. I've always preferred J-Boogie's slower cuts, and that remains true, with the two standout tracks here both deeply chilled: the nu-soul bump of Space And Time, featuring vocalists Gena Rene and Rich Armstrong; and the aforementioned Blue Mountain Dub. However, some of the songs suffer from being overproduced, with a slickness which seems to have squeezed much of the soul from the final product. Oh, and there is actually a track here with the chorus "There's a party on the roof / don't look now, I think it's on fire". Undercover maybe, but certainly not subtle, nor groundbreaking, for that matter.
2 and 1/2 stars from 5
See if you think if I'm being too harsh by checking out Undercover here - and cop yourself some free J-Boogie downloads (inlcuding the DJ Nu-Mark (Jurassic 5) remix of Undercover) here. Just steer clear of It's On Fire...
Jimi Tenor & Tony Allen | Up Against The Wall
Loop Professor v Gilberto Gil | Stop & Gil
Gecko Turner | Un Limon en la Cabeza
Quantic | Only A Little While Here
DJ Angola | Bailalo (Quantic remix)
Paul Simon | Diamonds Dub (Tangoterje edit)
Jean Claude-Gavri | Kalifornia Dreamin' (Jean Claude-Gavri re-touch)
George Shearing | Aquarius (Tangoterje edit)
Ben Sidran | About Love (Seegweed edit)
Seu Jorge & Almaz | Everybody Loves The Sunshine
D'Angelo | Everybody Loves The Sunshine
Quantic & His Combo Barbaro | The Dreaming Mind (Pt. 1)
Oneself | Bluebird
DJ Day & Miles Bonny | Learning To Fly
The Black Seeds | Make A Move (Downtown Brown remix feat. Mighty Asterix & MC Switch)
PPP with Dwele | Open Your Eyes
Crazy P | A Night On Earth
PPP with Zeno | Fever
Raphael Saadiq as Ray Ray | This One
Soul Village | We Gettin' Down
Bootsy Collins | Fat Cat
20 November 2011
The Hunter EP
Noel Gallagher of Oasis once famously described Bloc Party as "a band off of University Challenge". While he was trying to be disparaging, he was actually bang on - and Kele Okereke, the on/off frontman for the accused, did little to disprove that statement with his debut solo album, The Boxer (2010). His new, 7-track EP, The Hunter, continues in a similar, brainy vein. Yes, this is electronic indie-pop music, sure, but there's thought and heart in every groove. Again working with album producer XXXChange (Spank Rock, The Kills), Kele has crafted a diverse collection of tracks, with his keening vocals the common thread. Opener What Did I Do (featuring Lucy Taylor on vocals) sits comfortably alongside the pop-dubstep of Katy B, while Devotion blends New Order with Vangelis by way of Magnetic Man. Love As A Weapon begins with a glitch-laden, bubbling beat with gives way to a mesh of swelling samples and layered pianos, and closer You Belong To Someone Else sounds like an Eastern European accordian festival being raided by rave horns and fat bass drops. And Kele's retort to Gallagher? "They've made stupidity hip." No danger of that here, as The Hunter keeps listeners on their toes throughout.
3 and 1/2 stars from 5
Yeah, I know it's his official site, but it's the best place to check out his new EP. And hilariously dramatic/dramatically hilarious cover art.
Originally appeared in Waikato Times
17 November 2011
When We On
If it ain't broke, don't fix it. While that hoary old chestnut may be a tired cliche, Crazy P are anything but, despite having spent the last thirteen years and five albums mining similar-sounding ground. When We On won't surprise anyone either - though Crazy P are more reserved here than ever, with their slow-burning disco funk pop stripped right back to the essentials. At first listen this does make some of the tunes sound a little sparse, or even underdone, but chief songwriters and co-founders Jim Baron and Chris Todd understand the strength of a song lies in what is not played as much as what is - and that it usually takes more than one listen to get under your skin. And these do get under your skin. Frequently. As does frontwoman Danielle Moore, still one of the most compelling performers in dance music. Oh yeah, they still on, alright.
3 and 1/2 stars from 5
Check out previews of When We On here...
16 November 2011
Thursday 10 Nov 2011
"Evening. Bit of a shaky start."
Those were singer Beth Gibbons' first words to the crowd at Vector Arena, three songs into what was actually a triumphant return for Portishead to New Zealand, fourteen years since they were last here. She didn't address the audience again until the end, when she simply repeated "Thank you, thanks!" as the band took their deserved bows.
And yet she - and the rest of Portishead's touring party - had us enraptured throughout.
Gibbons was joined on stage by fellow core members Geoff Barrow (percussion, scratching, keys, guitar and goodness knows what else) and Adrian Utley (guitar, keys); a drummer, bass player and additional keyboardist. When VOLUME magazine spoke with Utley a few weeks back he professed the band had been rehearsing hard to play as much as possible of the material live, rather than relying on loops and samples. This approach paid rich dividends, as the bands' playing was close to immaculate, with many genuinely breath-taking moments - particularly the big drops and drums, eerie harmonies and hip hop scratches of tracks like Cowboys, Glory Box and Machine Gun.
Those moments - indeed, most of the show - were enhanced by the syncing of the absolutely massive - and equally impressive - LED screen behind the band, which took up the entire width and height of the stage. The visuals segued from underwater shots of seaweed to oscillating whirlpools; from an incredible bright orange-red rising sun to crackling, scratchy, grainy and extremely (mis-)treated live footage - often layered atop one another. The lighting too was spectacular, with one particular standout moment the stark, bright red backlighting during a crackling hot reading of Glory Box.
At several points mobile phones were held aloft in the audience in a manner not unlike lighters at a rock gig; and there were moments when crunching guitars, the power of two live drummers and layers of keys created an epic, stadium-like feel despite the confines of a truncated Vector.
A friend remarked, "...they're so much better live!" and that summed it up nicely: the show was everything you would expect from Portishead if you'd only heard their albums - moody, eerie beats and a cinematic, widescreen sound - with that extra bit of polish which goes a long way to explaining their continuing appeal, despite their famed "relaxed" album released schedule.
A master-class in tension and release, both musically and visually, and a hugely impressive - and appreciated - return.
This review originally appeared in VOLUME magazine issue #011
Read the interview with Adrian Utley of Portishead here.
MARK DE CLIVE-LOWE
Uncompromising. That's the first word I'd choose in describing Mark de Clive-Lowe's approach to music making. Over a career which spans nine solo albums and countless collaborations across the globe, MdCL has developed and delivered a style which has become all his own; and while he may have a new label (Tru Thoughts), that uncompromising approach remains on his latest album, Renegades. Running the gamut of his preferred genres, with a heavy emphasis on contemporary funk, hip hop and broken beat, Renegades displays a consistent thread from go to whoa, giving guest vocalists Omar, Bembe Segue, Tawiah, Sandra Nkake, Ovasoul7 and Nia Andrews plenty of space to deliver compelling performances. Andrews is the standout, appearing on three of the best cuts here: We Renegades, with its crunchy head-nodding lope; the loose-limbed, jazz-tinged Hooligan; and the future-soul bounce of The Why. MdCL's love for working with like-minded, virtuosic musicians remains strong, with percussionist Sheila E. (Prince), bassist Pino Palladino (D'Angelo, The Who) and string master Miguel Atwood-Ferguson also among the guests. Despite the superstar line-up though, the songs are more than good enough to stand up, marking Renegades as MdCL's best work since Tide's Arising - and maybe even his best yet.
4 stars from 5
Check out a preview of Renegades here...
10 November 2011
Some Cold Rock Stuf
"Brilliant! More awesome driving music!" That was the first thought that crossed my mind when this album appeared before me. I'm a long-time fan of Stones Throw, and I've found many of their releases, particularly those by Madlib and J Dilla (J-Rocc has worked closely with both) best suit being listened to at a high volume while driving. Surprisingly, when you consider the length of time J-Rocc has been around - he founded the turntable crew Beat Junkies in 1992 - Some Cold Rock Stuf is his debut artist album. Unsurprisingly, it's a diverse and challenging listen, with a dramatic, widescreen scope spread across flavours which range from Bollywood-styled party beats to treacle-thick hip hop. His turntablist abilities are on point, and an array of spoken word samples provide a kind of otherworldly narrative on an otherwise largely instrumental album - and also show J-Rocc has a healthy sense of humour. Let's roll!
3 and 1/2 stars from 5
Check out Play This (Also) here...
09 November 2011
Chequered Thoughts is the debut album from Funkommunity, the brainchild of musician, songwriter and producer Isaac Aesili (Opensouls, Solaa) and vocalist/songwriter Rachel Fraser (Recloose, Sola Rosa); who first collaborated on I'm All In, the standout track from Aesili's excellent solo debut album Eye See. Soaked in future soul and funk, Chequered Thoughts treads a similar path to the likes of Electric Wire Hustle and Platinum Pied Pipers. The key difference is provided by Fraser: while her voice isn't technically amazing she has soul and gravitas, recalling old school jazz divas with her ability to draw listeners into the heart of songs; songs which are cleverly constructed, showing the kind of deft touches which belie Aesili's prolific musical experience over the years. Squelchy basslines and wobbly beats underpin bubbling keys and washes of horns and harmonies, while Fraser's voice ties it all together on what is an assured and accomplished debut.
4 stars from 5
Check out more from Isaac Aesili here...
05 November 2011
Nightmares On Wax | Flip Ya Lid
Bob Marley & The Wailers | Buffalo Dub
Roots Manuva | Witness (Drums Of Death remix)
Red | I Should Tell Ya Momma On You
Red | I Should Tell Ya Momma On You (Dam-Funk remix)
Timothy McNealy | Sagittarius Black
Diplodocus | Thingamajawn (Birney Elementary version)
Sugar Pie Desanto | Git Back
Orgone | Duck & Cover
Myron & E with The Soul Investigators | It's A Shame
Fabulous Souls | Take Me
Big Pimp Jones | The Smokeout
LA Carnival | Blind Man
Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings | How Long Do I Have To Wait For You?
Kylie Auldist | Made Of Stone
Opensouls Presents Tornadoes with Tyra Hammond | Huihui
Sunlightsquare Latin Combo | I Believe In Miracles
Kool & The Gang | Dujii
Tuomo | Don't Take It Too Hard
Breakout | Planet Rock (Pt. 1)
Aiff | Watergirls
The Haggis Horns with John McCallum | Hot Damn!
Coke Escovedo | I Wouldn't Change A Thing
The Brothers Johnson | Stomp
The Isley Brothers | That Lady (Pt. 1)
Natalie Cole | Sophisticated Lady (She's A Different Lady)
Ohio Players | Fire
Average White Band | Pick Up The Pieces
Sly & The Family Stone | Family Affair
Stevie Wonder | Too High
01 November 2011
Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Words which propelled The Naked and Famous into the ears and record collections of tens of thousands of New Zealanders. The huge chorus of that song struck a chord further afield than our shores too. After a year playing shows around the world, and on the eve of what looks set to be a successful return to our shores, front-folk Thom Powers and Alisa Xayalith sat down for a yarn with VOLUME about tall poppies and living up to the hype.
"I feel privileged and a little confused as to why it's worked out for us," says Powers.
"We never really thought things would get this grand, to the scale of what it is," agrees Xayalith, "Or we didn't think it would happen for us this year!"
It's certainly been a rapid rise for the five-piece. The single Young Blood went straight in at number one on the New Zealand charts and earned the band a coveted Silver Scroll Award. The debut album Passive Me, Aggressive You was also a number one, and the group have received six nomintions at the 2011 NZ Music Awards. They've spent the last year performing shows throughout Europe, and at major festivals like Reading, Leeds and Glastonbury. They're currently in the US, where they played the famous Lollapalooza festival, gathering some famous fans along the way.
"I don't know of any greater achievement that when people who have inspired me say that I've inspired them," says Powers, recalling recent tweets from Mark Hoppus (Blink182) and Danny Lohner (Nine Inch Nails, A Perfect Circle), "I grew up listening to those bands, walking around brooding to them at high school, and here's this guy saying 'dude, it's awesome'. It's those kinda moments you just get stopped in your tracks."
"I mean, I had my sights set on the bFM Top Ten," he recalls, "And we did that and then it just snowballed from there. Now it's to the point where things are happening for us that we had no ambition for. Sometimes we have to work out what it is and sometimes it's just whatever, let's not be too pretentious about this. If we can reach anyone - it doesn't really matter what the avenue is - if we can convert someone to be a fan of our band then that's great."
Some in the scene here in New Zealand bandy about the term 'overnight success', and there's a feeling these opportunities have come to you too easily. Do you think that's fair?
"Nah," says Powers, pointedly, "I don't know how anyone could say that."
"Sometimes it can annoy me," says Xayalith, "It reminds me how much New Zealand can be a goldfish bowl and people just get caught up in that very small town mentality."
"The tall poppy thing in New Zealand seems kinda cute to me now seeing how the rest of the world works," agrees Powers.
"If you want to put it in simple terms," continues Xayalith, "Somebody liked our music and wanted to take it to the rest of the world. We got our big break with someone from overseas fell in love with Young Blood and we got plucked out of New Zealand, and that was more than we could hope for."
Do you feel pressure to create a "Young Blood Part Two"?
"I've always been thinking about that and the challenge really excites me," enthuses Powers.
"And Thom's so good, so driven, he can write anywhere.He does little bits here and there every day," explains Xayalith, "We've already got a lot of songs built up and I know there are some really good ones in there."
"We've met bands who can't write on tour," says Powers, "And we're going 'wow, we're really a little further ahead here'."
Part of the reason the band have moved ahead so quickly is their crack management team.
"What happens behind the scenes is a large part of why bands get out of bed in the morning," says Powers, "Paul and Campbell at CRS have helped us out in more ways that I can even remember. They're like surrogate fathers!"
"We also have a great record label," adds Xayalith, "When Fiction Records heard our album they didn't want to change anything. They knew we had a very strong vision of what we were, and they really respected that. I think that's what a lot of bands need to have these days if they want to be able to survive - they need to have a strong vision of their own."
Almost a year to the day since the band showcased their vision, performing their lauded debut album, they're returning to our shores to play at the Music Awards and the Auckland Town Hall. What's changed in the live show since we saw you last?
"The touring live band we've become is something I don't think we would ever have had an opportunity to become in New Zealand," says Powers, "But nothing's really changed. We're still showcasing an album that we feel very confident about and proud of."
"I remember going to see my favourite bands and hearing the songs in all their glory, so to speak, and it just felt like such a privilege and such a pleasure," he explains, "You had this expectation of wanting to hear your favourite songs, and your expectation gets blown away because it's just so fucking loud!"
This interview originally appeared in VOLUME magazine issue #009.
With Your Hosts
JAY JEFFREY & BRO 90
Good Time Soul, Funk, Boogie and Rare Grooves
Old School Vinyl Records Selected With Love
Sat 5th November
No Cover Charge