This Week’s Albums: September 29th, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

September 29th, 2015

 

 

 

 

IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…

 

that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to!  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.

The Old: Tom Waits- Rain Dogs (1985)

 

9/10

 

One of the quintessential albums of the ‘80s; it stands out as one of Tom Waits’ finest creations- it followed the spectacular Swordfishtrombones.  Waits’ voice and persona- that he has cemented in earlier recordings- is that louche and poking songwriter: that whiskey-soaked burr wraps itself around 19 tracks of curiosity, beauty and weirdness.  It is hard to label Waits and Rain Dogs: the album cover so much ground; visits diverse and colourful  territory- it takes many listens to absorb everything; really get down to the album’s roots.  With Marc Ribot’s dominating and dangerous guitar adding bite and drama- the album saw Waits change his tactics.  Less honed and focused than Swordfishtrombones; Rain Dogs is nevertheless a triumph.  Regarded as one of the 1980s most cherished albums- the likes of Rolling Stone and Slant Magazine have placed it in their top 20 (of the ‘80s); you cannot deny its power.  Waits established himself as a surreal master on Swordfishtrombones– his wordplay and lyrics delved into some pretty far-out back alleys- which continues on Rain Dogs.  With more romance and musical innovation across the board, the album remains one of the ‘80s moments.  Whilst Waits would never quite match his 1983-’85 regency; Rain Dogs laid down a tremendous standard- one that not showed just what a tremendous songwriter Waits was.

 

DOWNLOAD: Singapore; Jockey Full of Bourbon; Gun Street Girl

STAND-OUT TRACK: Jockey Full on Bourbon

 

 

The New: Eagles of Death Metal- Zipper Down (Released 2nd October, 2015)

 

8.5/10

The band’s fourth album- and their first in seven years- Zipper Down does not sound like an over-perfected and inconsistent album (what one might expect if the entire record takes seven years to gestate).  With Josh Homme touring and promoting Queens of the Stone Age; Jesse Hughes looking at solo projects- it is impressive the album was made at all.  Clocking-in at just over 34-minutes; it is an L.P. that showcases typical Eagles of Death Metal hallmarks: the sleaze and tease; the humour and wit; the raw riffs and primal purr.  Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M.) boasts electrifying and sexy riffs; a scuzzy and leather jacket-wearing hook- something that showcases what exceptional song-crafters the duo is.  Lead-off single Complexity is a simple and scintillating jam: the vocal (from Hughes) proclaims “It’s so easy without complexity”.  Swaggered and confident; doubting and nervy- the song is one of the album’s highlights.  It shimmies and shakes; grooves and slithers- just what the band are all about.  Elsewhere, their cover of Duran Duran’s Save a Prayer is reinvented and reborn: fully exposing the lyrics and meaning- the one-night stand and all it beholds.  In Eagles’ hands, the song takes on a fuzzed-out and lip-licking quality- something that wouldn’t have seemed possible when Duran Duran recorded the original in 1982.  It is clear Eagles of Death Metal and back and loose as ever- good news indeed!

 

DOWNLOAD: Complexity; Silverlake (K.S.O.F.M); Save a Prayer

STAND-OUT TRACK: Complexity

 

 

The Influencer: Mary J. Blige- What’s the 411? (1992)

9/10

 

In 1992, What’s the 411? lead to Mary J. Blige being crowned “Queen of Hip-Hop Soul”- by the way she mixed modern Hip-Hop and classic soul.  This is reflected in her voice, which expresses soulful and strong edges; cutting and sassy Hip-Hop elements.  Where (in previous releases) Blige focused on Soul and Pop motifs; here she borrows from Rap heavily- in no small part due to collaborators Sean “Puffy” Combs; R&B producers Dave Hall and DeVante Swing; Rap mogul Tony Dofat and rapper Grand PubaYou Remind Me shows how effective and stunning Blige’s voices- a pure weapon of soulfulness.  Real Love marries a street-real beat with a huge vocal performance- as our heroine yearns for a new love; someone to satisfy her needs.  Elsewhere; Sweet Thing mixes Gospel into the agenda- earning Blige comparisons with Chaka Kahn.  In a time where the likes of En Vogue were splicing Gospel, Soul and Hip-Hop- creating stunning milestones like Funky DivasWhat’s the 411? surpasses them all: not only setting a blueprint for ‘90s Hip-Hop; its sample-heavy sound compelled a range of artists.  Few albums remain as influential and inspirational: with such rich and vibrant fusions; stunning productions throughout- few albums remain as compelling and fascinating.

DOWNLOAD: Real Love; You Remind Me; Love No Limit

STAND-OUT TRACK: Real Love

 

The ‘Other One’: The KLF- The White Room (1991)

 

9.5/10

I ‘rediscovered’ this album a few weeks back: when playing The KLF’s stunning track Justified and Ancient (featuring the late Tammy Wynette on vocals) my heart leapt.  One of the ‘90s essential anthems, take a listen to The White Room– one of Acid-House’s most essential cuts.  There is Justified and Ancient’s heavy beats and hypnotic chorus; those rebellious and authority-defying lyrics- masterfully presented by the British masters.  3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.) and Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix) complete the album’s ‘holy trinity’- yet there is plenty of invention and majesty to discover.  Released in 1991, the album not only evokes images from a golden age in music- it remains well-aged and contemporary.  The songs and beats translate; the sonic innovations still sound fresh and alive- the songs compel the listener to swing their head; move their feet in a frenzy of submission.  The KLF disbanded in 1992- a shock that reverberated around the music world- yet their masterpiece shows that imagination and silliness; the stunning grasp and confidence.  The White Room is a creation to unwind to; get lost inside; let its dreams and realities shock and seduce- a work that is designed to

DOWNLOAD: 3 a.m. Eternal (Live at the S.S.L.); Last Train to Trancentral (L.P. mix); Justified and Ancient

STAND-OUT TRACK: Justified and Ancient

This Week’s Albums: September 22nd, 2015

This Week’s Albums

 

 

September 22nd, 2015

 

 

 

 

IT is a case of “Something old, something new/something ‘borrowed’, something…

 

that doesn’t rhyme”.  I do a D.J. gig every week at The Stoke Pub and Pizzeria (https://www.facebook.com/TheStokeGuildford?fref=ts); I have the opportunity to play four different albums: one that is ‘old’ (to my mind, anything pre-1985), something ‘new’ (released brand-new that week); something influential (and has inspired a genre/other acts) – in addition to dealer’s choice (any album I choose).  Having done this for over a year-and played everything from Graceland to Pearl Jam; FKA twigs to Beastie Boys- it is enormous fun.  I get to talk to people about music; play some awesome stuff- turn people on to some great/forgotten sounds- well, I try to!  I shall publish this every week; try and highlight some fantastic albums- maybe some you have forgotten about.

The Old: Tim Buckley- Goodbye and Hello (1967)

 

8.5/10

 

One of music’s most underrated voices; Tim Buckley was synonymous with his gymnastics and vocal dexterity.  Whilst his later work suffered fatigue and washed-out songs, his early work brims with invention and revolution.  Goodbye and Hello sees the U.S. master in fine voice: from the haunting poetry of No Man Can Find the War; Buckley sets out his stall.  Pleasant Street sees Buckley at his most elastic best: his voice has rarely sounded as gripping and seductive.  With its images of “Christian licorice clothes” and “concreted skies”, the song mixes oblique and direct; fantasy and the fantastical.  Though some critics derided its dated and ‘too nice’ image upon release, the album has gained retrospective acclaim.  Larry Beckett (who would conspire with Buckley throughout his career) helps to pen half the lyrics; a stunning band providing backing- the album spills-over with colour, emotion and possibilities.  The title track (almost hitting the nine-minute mark) is a multi-part adventure; Elizabethan musical touches and grand-standing horns all in the mix.  Once I Was sees Buckley go into Country territory: casting himself hunter and soldier; lover and hero- the song showcases some of the album’s most romantic offerings.  I have wondered why Tim Buckley inspires so few modern acts- it is a strange thing really.  Perhaps they should listen to Goodbye and Hello and change their thinking- an extraordinary record.

DOWNLOAD: Pleasant Street; Once I Was; Goodbye and Hello

STAND-OUT TRACK: Pleasant Street

 

 

The New: The Dead Weather- Dodge and Burn (Released 25th September, 2015)

 

8.0/10

The Dead Weather’s third album sees them hitting their peak- following on from 2010’s hit-and-miss Sea of Cowards.  All the components are here: the bat s***-crazy riffs and Zeppelin-esque epics; the peculiar and delirious vocals- the fascinating stories and peculiar characters.  With its players having a busy schedule- Jack White and Alison Mosshart particularly so- the songs are the results of combined jam sessions- laid-down in Nashville over a year-and-a-half.  Lead-off track I Feel Love (Every Million Miles) is a rip-roaring blast/Immigrant Song retread- and although White’s drum work is not as fierce as it should be- Mosshart’s lead vocal makes up for it; it buzz-saws cut through the track.  On this L.P., The Dead Weather up the eccentricity: Three Dollar Hat is an eerie and demented murder-love-tale; boasting a peculiar and crazed vocal.  Open Up and Mile Markers see the band at their ferocious best: the former is a whacked and snarling Punk-Rock gem; the latter sees an odd tale of strange boys and girls; a twisted offering- one that sees each band member at their peak.  Whilst there are few mis-fires- the ballad Impossible Winner seems out of place; too distinct to fuse with its brothers- the album proves the band have grown in confidence and ability.  Let’s hope they get time to tour Dodge and Burn: Jack White seems incapable of slowing; Mosshart is becoming a more assured and unique vocalist; Jack Lawrence and Dean Fertita complete a tight and phenomenal band.

DOWNLOAD: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles); Three Dollar Hat; Mile Markers 

STAND-OUT TRACK: I Feel Love (Every Million Miles)

 

The Influencer: Elvis Presley- Elvis Presley (1956)

10/10

 

This 28-minute album stands as one of Rock ‘n’ Roll’s most vital statements.  Presley was a relatively new name on the scene; he was not considered a vital artist- up until this point at least.  With Heartbreak Hotel gaining momentum and respect around this time- upon its initial release it was met with muted acclaim- Presley launched an audacious debut.  Representing every side to his artistry- Blues to Rock ‘n’ Roll; everything except Gospel- the album tackled recent tracks (from artists of the time) and gave them a new spin.  With that inimitable and distinct voice adding life, candor and energy to each number; it was no surprise the album reached the number 1 spot- the first Rock ‘n’ Roll album to do so.  Before the likes of The Beatles and The Rolling Stones existed, Presley transformed the music landscape- putting Rock ‘n’ Roll directly into public consciousness.  In 2003, it was ranked number 56 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Elvis Presley was also one of three Presley albums accoladed in the reference book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die, the others being Elvis Is Back! and From Elvis in Memphis.   It was certified Gold on November 1, 1966 and Platinum on August 8, 2011 by the Recording Industry Association of America.  Few debut albums have sounded as urgent and groundbreaking: in an age where most genres have been saturated and exhausted- it’s unlikely anything will touch Presley’s 1956 milestone.

DOWNLOAD: Blue Suede Shoes; Tutti Frutti; I’m Gonna Sit Right Down and Cry (Over You)

STAND-OUT TRACK: Blue Suede Shoes

 

The ‘Other One’: LCD Soundsystem- Sound of Silver (2007)

 

9.5/10

It has been a few years since James Murphy has released an LCD Soundsystem album (2010’s This is Happening was the last).  More emotive and focused than LCD Soundsystem (the band’s debut); demonstrated by the heartbreaking Someone Great– the lines “To tell the truth I saw it coming/The way you were breathing” are devastating in their honesty and beauty.  Get Innocuous! opens the album with furious beats and huge passion- a stunning Dance music number that demonstrates how skillful Murphy is.  North American Scum is political and socially-charged; charming and quirky- how North Americans are judged and perceived; propelled by a buzzing and cosmic jam.  All My Friends– with its New Order-sound and disordered thoughts- is a mid-life consideration in the middle of a packed and sweating dancefloor.  Murphy constantly amazes with his musical depth and innovation; he as skilled a beats-maker; exceptional wordsmith- effortless when mixing Punk and Dance; compelling when writing about love’s woes and New York-pathos (on New York, I Love You’ it appears the city is “bringing me down”).  The songs- and the album as a whole- are textured and supremely accomplished: it is not a Dance music-only collection; there is something for every music-lover.  The U.S. band have been in hiatus- or perhaps sequestered to record their next album- but let’s hope they return soon.  Sound of Silver was one of 2007’s finest albums- one of the best albums of the decade, in fact.  If you are new to the band, fear not: it is an accessible and endlessly rewarding treat for the ears, mind and body.

DOWNLOAD: Get Innocuous!; Someone Great; New York, I Love You but You’re Bringing Me Down

STAND-OUT TRACK: Someone Great

Track Review: Well Hung Heart- Throw It All Away

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Well Hung Heart

 

 

Throw It All Away

 

9.4/10.0

 

Throw It All Away is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85EfMRv2hes

RELEASED:
1st June, 2015

GENRES:
Alt-Rock; Punk-Blues; Garage-Rock; Proto-Punk

ORIGIN:

Orange, C.A. via New Orleans, L.A. + Devizes, U.K.

The E.P., Well Hung Heart is available from:

http://wellhungheart.bandcamp.com/album/well-hung-heart-ep-new

TRACK LISTING:

Throw It All Away– 9.4

Touch the Sky9.3

Play Me a Song9.3

Lights Out– 9.4

Killing Time– 9.4

DOWNLOAD:

Throw It All Away; Lights Out; Killing Time

STAND-OUT TRACK:

Throw It All Away

_____________________________

WELL HUNG HEART (Self-Titled) E.P.

 

RELEASED SEPTEMBER 2015 to Digital Retailers and 500 Limited Edition Custom Tin Deluxe Packaging.

Released 01 September 2015

Lyrics and Melodies by GRETA VALENTI.

Vocals & Percussion by GRETA VALENTI.

Guitar & Bass by ROBIN DAVEY.

Drums by KEVIN CONROY.

Mixed & Mastered by WILL MOTT at 73 PRODUCTIONS.

Recorded by ROBIN DAVEY & WILL MOTT at GROW VISION STUDIOS in Orange, C.A.

Assistant Recording Engineering by BRANDON RAMIREZ.

(c) WELL HUNG HEART

www.wellhungheart.com

______________________________________

FRESH from reviewing the always-mind-blowing-and-beautiful ADI…

I am crossing continents and oceans; across the genres- to a completely different proposition.  Before I reach my featured act, I have been thinking about the band market; the composition of bands- and those that will ascend to the mainstream.  At the moment, I am keeping an eye on the mainstream bands: those that are well-established and leading the way- seeing what they are coming up with.  This year has been defined by some underwhelming efforts; unexpected bands coming through- and stealing top honours.  I have banged-on about the merits and virtues of Royal Headache: Australia’s finest have nailed the short and concise Punk-Rock song; mixing heart and heartfelt vocals- plenty of gritty riffs and colourful compositions.  Nobody expected them to record a new album- since they split following their debut- and fewer expected such a unified and flawless album.  If you have not heard of the band, make sure you check them out- High is an album that should not pass by.  Away from the out-of-leftfield gems, the bigger boys have not fared wholly well: from the likes of The Libertines and The Vaccines; The Strypes and Mumford and Sons.  The Libertines had a world of expectation on their shoulders: critics were looking for an Up the Bracket sound-alike; something that harked-back to their young days- that same freewheelin’ spirit and under-produced chaos.  What we got (on their album Anthems for Doomed Youth) was something developed and matured: gone were the fireworks and scuzzy riffs; replaced by something more controlled and grown-up- perhaps you can’t relive the past; just have to accept the future.  The album has some classic ‘Libertines moments- about 4 or 5 solid efforts- but the rest is a little lackluster and distilled.  The Vaccines and The Styrpes are duo that had fairly impressive debuts: this year’s efforts have been somewhat underwhelming and stale; by their own standards really not up to the task.  Throw into the mix Mumford and Sons- to be fair all of their albums are gutless and completely banal- but they hardly reinvented the wheel- choosing to bore in a whole new way.  It seems the mainstream’s finest can’t always produce reliability and consistency; we have to look to lesser-known acts- and discover something different and new.  That is good, I guess: if the music industry were predictable and formulaic; then people would be turned-off- the pleasure comes from unearthing a terrific new band.  My concern is that the band market is starting to wane and crumble: the solo artists of the land are producing more innovative and spectacular music; again, the underground acts have to salvage respect.  I am thankful there are so many great under-the-radar bands; the new generation coming through- it leads me to believe there can be an overhaul and renewal; replace the old guard with some fresh and pioneering artists.  My featured artists are a transatlantic group; one of the most exciting groups out of the traps- that are renowned for their stunning live performances.  Before I raise a couple of new points- compositions of bands and the styles/sounds they make, let me introduce Well Hung Heart:

Well Hung Heart is a part American, part English Alt-Rock Trio band residing in Southern California and founded by Greta Valenti and Robin Davey. Well Hung Heart’s reckless and raw live performances earned the band a reputation as well as numerous awards including the Best Live Band & Best Music Video OC Music Awards 2014. The rock trio has have spent their first couple years in existence focusing on touring and songwriting; self-releasing a series of sold out Limited Edition Albums and EPs and booking tours across the US, UK & Europe. Appearing at the prestigious venues such as London’s O2 Academy, the Paradiso in Amsterdam and many festivals including SXSW 2015, Warped Tour, Rocklahoma, Center of the Universe Festival, Sturgis Buffalo Chip, Ink N’ Iron, Make Music Festival, Denton35, and more. Their high-energy performance and new rock sound, derving from a classic rock/blues foundation with a blistering edge and a front woman that the rock world has never seen, has earned them a diverse collection of shows ranging from Indie/Alternative to Hard Rock, playing alongside names as Linkin Park, Fitz & The Tantrums, ZZ Top, Motley Crue, Awolnation, Alice Cooper, Panic! at the Disco, Kongos, Grimes, Young The Giant,  Grouplove, The Pretty Reckless, Halestorm, Social Distortion, John Fogerty, and Mohave Lords (members from QOTSA, Eagles of Death Metal, Kyuss). Well Hung Heart are touring worldwide in spring/summer 2015 in support of their forthcoming self-titled EP and summer single releases.

Well Hung Heart’s rise has been completely self-propelled and boosted by their inventive audio-visual output via their YouTube Channel. The duo direct and produce their own award-winning music videos and TV Shows; including the award-winning web series “Made in 48”, in which two artists collaborate to create a new song and video in only 48 Hours.   (Photography by John Hampton & Aerovision.)”

Vocals, Keys, Percussion / Greta Valenti
Guitar + Bass / Robin Davey
Drums / Kevin Conroy

In terms of the most successful bands- when it comes to their sound and make-up- I find the all-male/all-female line-up creates limitations and issues.  Not only are your vocal tones and possibilities reigned-in, the sound can be somewhat hampered.  There are more all-male bands (than all-female); when groups mix gender- that is when the most exciting and varied music comes-about.  I am seeing more female-fronted bands come through- which is pleasing and adds diversity to the scene- which has been long-overdue.  The boys usually dominate bands and the band market: having the girls become more prominent is a very good thing.  A lot of critics and sceptics think female leads have limited vocal potential (when compared with their male counterparts) which is not entirely true.  Whilst most of Rock’s- and indeed music itself- biggest and most range-spanning voices are male; that is not to say the girls are lacking- they can cover ground and emotions the boys cannot.  In my opinion, so long as the voice is strong and impressive, it should not matter the gender- diversity is much-needed in music; breaking the rigid structures currently imposed.  Well Hung Heart not only has a boy-girl formation; their sounds are hard and heavy; they contain heart and composure- at its core is bags of riffs and plenty of rampancy.  Based out of California, the band is one of the most impressive in the U.S.: their unique songs and stunning performances are just the start of things; they dig that bit deeper- create music that steps-away from the mainstream acts.  Whilst the mainstream has some great acts- that are capable of seducing at every turn- Well Hung Heart are heading for the big leagues very soon.  Having supported some wonderful acts, the band’s self-titled E.P. is out there: initial reaction has been positive and impassioned.  It is always baffling seeing a great band like Well Hung Heart- who have produced a stunning E.P. – garner so few reviews and column inches.  Maybe the U.S. press has been busy and productive, yet scanning Google- there seems to be little press dedicated to the release.  The band have worked hard to get where they are- and have staved off the pitfalls of young bands (creative droughts and financial issues) – to establish themselves in the U.S.

If you want a complete picture of the band- where they come from and how they have progressed- you have to look back.  When the band’s debut album was released- 2013’s Young Enough to Know it All– there was plenty of spunk and gravitas- right from the off.  Devil was one of the album’s highlights: beginning with a sturdy and crunching riff- that put me in mind of Queens of the Stone Age- the song is a swaggering and Blues-Rock beauty.  The song looks at Devil imagery and trips to Hell: our heroine’s voice crackles with urgency; she is being driven to the fiery depths- whether speaking of a relationship or something more oblique- you can sense that pain and anger come through.  Inspired by Alison Mosshart- little flecks of her vocal style come through- the song swings and shakes its fists.  With a pummeling and insistent percussive slam; a twisting and head-spinning set of riffs- the song implores you to get on your feet; throw your arms in the air- it is a huge anthem for the festival masses.

   This is Not Love is a more gentle and building introduction: our heroine comes in alluringly and deceitful.  Speaking to her man/a friend she “will hurt you”- before taking it away.  Whatever is being felt (“This is not love”) it is causing a lot of anxiety and confusion.  When the chorus is delivered- that mantra that comes back again and again- you pick up English accentuation; northern vowels and a very charming Britishness- whether intentional or not.  Contained within a song that is a distinctly U.S. offering- shades of Blues-Rock bands like The Dead Weather and The Black Keys- there is that bond with the U.K.  The song builds on that repeated chorus; its central message is in focus: you cannot help but be sucked into that chant- wonder just what is behind it.  Whether the relationship has broken up; or the couple is going through the motions- it is an unnatural and breaking bond.  Valenti’s voice is more expansive on this number: from the teasing lows of the beginning it rises in the chorus- reaching an ecstatic scream towards the latter stages.  Remaining authoritative and compelling, the track never becomes repetitive or predictable- keeping the listener guessing until the very end.

With their debut album being so commanding and instant; Go Forth and Multiply– the follow-up album released April, 2014- carries on that quality control.  Big Plans is a racing and dizzying assault: beginning with a fast-paced riff, the song snaps and jumps into life.  Hooks are in skin- of the song’s focal figure- and twisted and distorted imagery is brought in.  Our heroine’s voice is at its most natural and assured- less reliance of Mosshart-esque delivery- whilst the song itself contains plenty of vividity and quotable lyrics.  Since the debut cut, the band’s confidence had grown; the music on their sophomore effort seems more rounded and nuanced- with more dimensions and sides.  Big Plans has a huge and arena-sized chorus; the music is less grizzled and raw- than on their debut- projecting a more Pop and Alt-Rock elements.

   Sweet is one of the most straight-to-the-gut tracks.  The introduction has some twanging and heavy strings- one of the most fascinating riffs the band has produced- whilst the lyrics look at hazy dreams and reality.  The song sees a guy walk away; perhaps leave for good- our heroine seems wracked and lost.  That passion and pain comes through in the vocal: never has Valenti sounded as fevered and compelling as on Sweet.  The composition ties in more radio-friendly lines with a druggy and dingy undertow- the combination works superbly.  Uplifting and hugely powerful, the song is a monster: the riffs build and ignite; the percussion and bass keep everything tight and focused.  So much detail is thrown into the track: some loose and rambling notes; pummeling beats and electrifying riffs- all seamless and natural; working away to elicit the biggest emotional reaction.  Go Forth and Multiply tops their debut album- which was pretty damn good and spectacular to begin- with no fault to the band.  Their debut showed how assured and fully-formed they were from the start: there are no fillers on the eleven-track L.P.; plenty of anthemic moments and huge numbers.  What the sophomore album did was to expand their sound: the sonic palette is richer and more vibrant; there are more Pop and Al-Rock sides; the songs are more wide-ranging.  Not that the band gave into market forces: if anything, their sophomore work goes against the mainstream expectations.  Their debut had a lot of sweaty and gritty riffs; more direct and gut-punching assaults.  Here, they have plenty of those; yet there are softer moments- songs that rely more on lyrical resonance as opposed to the primacy and hardness of the composition.

   Well Hung Heart ties the Blues-Rock smash with melodic considerations: the set of songs (on the E.P.) are the band’s finest.  The overall sound/lyrical themes have not changed-up too much- the guys did not need to up-sell or radicalise their music.  What you get is that additional confidence and assurance: with each new release the band sounds more solid and formed.  The songs are still loose and live-sounding, yet there are fewer nerves; every note sounds completely compelling and confident- not many bands can offer you that.  Their latest cut is abound with inspired tracks and wonderful performances- the band have hit their stride in terms of tightness- and everything sounds more authoritative and layered.  The songs are more nuanced and uncompromising; the music has that extra edge- something indefinable but definitely true.  This bodes well for the future- increasing and improving with age- so I would advise checking-out the entirety of the band’s work; but make sure Well Hung Heart is at the centre.

Throw It All Away begins with an insatiable clatter and rush.  Before you can speculate and imagine what is coming; the band unleashes a feverish and racing introduction- mixing ‘70s Glam and modern-day Blues-Rock.  The tight and compelling opening beckons-in our heroine: her early words are introspective and pained; looking at love and loss- there seems to be some anger and regret afoot.  Cryptic and mysterious- “A black hole/isn’t what it seems to be”- things have come to an end.  It seems her sweetheart has let her down; we are looking into the black hole of a dislocated love- something that has hit the rocks.  As the verse continues- and that composition continues to strike and viper-attack- that anger and annoyance begins to grow.  “I followed you somewhere in my mind/Oh lately, you’re such a waste of time” can leave no room for misinterpretation.  The vocal is impassioned and determined- with little flecks of Gwen Stefani, oddly enough- as the song becomes looser and more swaggering.  Although the composition is razor-sharp and disciplined; the riffs and percussion relax slightly; swing and jive- the bass keeps the song focused and directed.  As is typical with the band- and what we have seen on previous releases- is their attention to detail.  The sonic coda is not a lazy paint-by-number jam: there are clever little asides; a rich and nuanced centre- the performances throughout are stunning.  The focal point is our heroine, who is in the quagmire of a break-up; the lyrics seem to look at dissatisfaction- also that ability to hold onto a fantasy; keep an image alive.  As the next verse unfolds, the words are intriguing: “Chemicals/when we two combine/A power flows/through our body line”.  It seems like there is still a passion and power there; the two have a history and legacy: when they get-together, there is electricity and magic.  Maybe I am misreading or misinterpreting; it seems like there is a physicality and intensity: when things get beyond a molecular level; that is when the issues start to surface.  When it comes to trust and faith- and relying on her man- that is when things start to slip.   The lyrics have an obliqueness that could lend themselves to a different speculation.  Maybe a friendship is being assessed; perhaps something less tangible and human- a general feeling or sensation.  Keeping my mind within the realms of romance and break-down, you cannot deny the vocal commitment: our heroine’s performance is constantly electric and enflamed; her voice breaks through the composition- never coming across too raptured or insincere.  A lot of singers tend to be overwrought and over-dramatic; many plainer anodyne and generic- no such issues here.  The composition is such a details and snaking thing: from the hit-and-run smash, it mutates to a woozy and addled crawl- mixing elements of Garage, Desert-Rock and Blues-Rock.  The riffs are particularly colourful and intense: always keeping the tension high, they change shape and consistency.  Backed by that central vocal line- that becomes more seductive and breathless when looking at physical chemistry- and Throw It All Away keeps you guessing and alert.  The chorus is one of the most catchy the band have produced in their career.  Coming back to roost- the lyrics are economical and do not use too many different words- it becomes more gripping with every injection.  Upon the second introduction, the composition swirls and spins; guitar is delirious and intoxicated; the percussion hissing and dangerous- the bass mixes melody and rhythm; passion and intensity.  Before the song comes to its end- and the chorus is brought in for an encore- there are some intrigued words.  “Unpredictable/well it changed night to day/And now I know/well there’s no other way”- so much curiosity and emotional possibility can be extrapolated.  If we stick with romantic possibilities; it seems the game has been changed- the dynamic has shifted and there is no going back.  Whatever has caused the ruction; whoever is to blame- it seems the two can never rekindle what they once had.  Again, my mind is always looking elsewhere: the words are not clear-cut (they do not name a man or mention love) so you could consider friendships or other relationships.  The vocal elongates and rises; really capturing that sense of distress and confusion- and taking the listener in.  With the chorus being brought back in (twice in fact) the song ends its campaign; leaves it marks- ending with a mazzy and dramatic riff; some exceptional bass and percussive notes.

Having dug through the band’s annals; investigated their past work- Throw It All Away ranks as one of their key moments.  Combining their heavy and melodic sensibilities; tying-in all their preexisting threads- it is a song that sees them at their most confident and assured.  Since their debut-days, they have increased this confidence: the performance (here) seems completely intuitive and tight; never a moment of weakness or inattentiveness.  This leads to a rich and passionate song that has plenty of nuance and depth- not just your run-of-the-mill Garage slammer.  In the contemporary climate, similarly-themed bands (that play Garage and Blues-Rock) vary in quality- the very best of the breed stick in the mind.  Well Hung Heart are a band that get better and better: their entire E.P. is alive with inspiration and commitment; they are clearly having a lot of fun making music.  This ease and relax is reflected in the music, which does not sound stifled or forced: throughout Throw It All Away it is the sound of a band jamming with alacrity; in love with what they are doing.  The song does have that great live-sounding quality- the production does not polish the track; it gives it an edgy undertone- which means the listener is transported into the mix.  Greta Valenti shows herself to be one of the scene’s most assured and exciting vocalists.  Most singers tend to stick too closely to someone else- you can easily detect the influences- yet Valenti has her own style and voice.  Employing the hallmarks of great Punk and Garage singers- the rawness and power; some emotive and tender sides- everything comes to life throughout the track.  Robin Davey lets guitar and bass run a gamut of emotions: striking and ballistic; spiraled and cool-edged- his strings perfectly soundtrack our heroine’s plight.  Whilst the lyrics and vocals summon a huge amount of emotion and evocativeness; the guitar matches it note-for-note: the two works seamlessly with one another; supporting as they go.  Using his bass to lead and guide the song; keep everything in-check; there is a huge amount of melody and rhythm- it also augments and propels the vocals and drum work.  On that note, Kevin Conroy’s percussion is consistently assured and fantastic: creating such an atmosphere and sense of occasion, his sticks are ignited from start to finish.  Reminding me of Dave Grohl’s most complex and committed performances, we get plenty of primal power; some nice fills and asides- one of the most talented and powerful drummers on the scene.  The entire band is tight and together throughout: each player knows their role (and plays it superbly); they highlight and motivate each other- leading to a song that shows lesser bands how it should be done.  The stand-out track from Well Hung Heart; make sure you check this track out!

The Well Hung Heart clan are preparing for a U.S. tour: traveling around the country, they will be taking their E.P. to the masses.  As I write, they have just played California; they move to Texas today- exciting new faces and ears.  Throw It All Away is the centerpiece of a remarkable E.P.; one that bristles with inventiveness and life- I shall touch on the E.P. below.  Coming into the music world can be a lottery: there is no guarantee your music will resonate with the public; longevity is never a guarantee- regardless of the quality and ambition.  The Californian-based band has already stamped-out a reputation; are growing in stature- still to hit their absolute peak.  Their brand of music will never go out of fashion: the public will always crave something hard and heavy; music that is meaty and filled with riffs- that has intelligence and originality too.  The band does not remind you of anyone else; their personalities and directions override conceptions- their sounds are among the most fresh and fervent about.  The confidence with which they play; the exhilarating live performances: these are just a couple of sides to an incredible act.  I opened this review by looking at the band market; where they are based- and the mainstream in general.  I have been a little disheartened by 2015’s supposed ‘best’ albums: this year has seen some great releases for sure; the big players have left me a little cold- seemingly their best days are starting to disappear from the rear-view mirror.  It is the under-proffered acts like Royal Headache that are providing most excitement- it seems 2016 will see some potential big-hitters release some new material.  For now, we must look elsewhere; see what is happening in new music: here there are some incredible bands emerging; providing unique sounds and some memorable jams.  Well Hung Heart were new to me- having seen The Dutch Guy recommend them; had to investigate- and I am glad they are no longer strangers.  That is the issue with the masses of artists and social media: there are no real channels that can filter the good from the bad.  I often come across some great acts- and wonder why the hell they remained a mystery- only to find they are established flourishing.  This is the case with Well Hung Heart: a band that have been plying for a while; just wish I could have got in on the ground-level- and supported them from the off.  I guess you can’t be aware of every great act that comes about: you just have to follow the words of the best music reviewers; steal from some groovy Dutch divining rod- and keep your ear to the ground.  Regardless, Well Hung Heart are here, and well, it is not just the hearts that are hung- their music is among the most febrile and head-spinning around.  Gritty and ballsy enough to mix-it with the pedigree bands- I can see them schlepping on the road with Royal Blood.  With Throw It All Away wetting appetites and exciting fans; the band’s E.P. is seeing them in-demand.  I love that fact the band market is becoming less homogenised: it is not just all-male bands out there; a great deal of all-girl groups are showing their stripes- and mixed-gender balances like Well Hung Heart.  The dynamic works really well: with Valenti up-front; letting her powering and seductive voice own it- and the boys providing bass, guitar and percussive support- the blend is phenomenal.  London is coming back to the fore; the city is overtaking cities like Manchester and Leeds- housing the most diverse and prosperous musicians in the U.K.  In the U.S., I feel L.A. (and California) is overtaking New York and Nashville: there is that extra edge; that additional passion and direction- hard to put my finger on it.  I love American music: from the busy communities of California and New York; to the traditional highs of Seattle and Nashville; the lesser-known cities and regions- the nation is certainly on a hot streak right now.

The rest of the E.P. contains the same amount of verve and oomph: there is not a weak spot on the record to be found.  Touch the Sky is a head-banging and violent beginning: the song spares no time in getting underneath the skin.  There is a mixture of juvenile delinquency and rebellion; a little naivety and vulnerability- our heroine is singing into her best microphone; forgetting her relationship dramas.  The entire track never relents its fast pace and endeavours: the composition mutates and changes course- going from a straight-laced attack to something winding and contorted.  Images of our heroine- high and forgetting about her guy- she is the master of her destiny; fully in control of things- touching the sky through narcotics, alcohol, and music, it seems.  You picture the heroine losing herself inside various illicit things; there is some cockiness and wit- the lyrics are some of the band’s most interesting and quote-worthy.  An incredibly tight and passionate performance, the song is economical and memorable- it is exactly three minutes long and does not waste any moments or notes.  Full-bodied and blood-lusting, the vocal is charged and determined- you can practically smell the sweat bouncing off the microphone.  Less gritty and raw than previous numbers, it provides a perfect balance of their debut and sophomore work: those low-down and grumbling riffs; the more sky-scarping and multi-dimensional sounds.

   Play Me a Song starts with a teasing and catchy lick: the song begins with composure and calm.  Our heroine is looking at the wreckage of a relationship; how they fought and quarreled- if they had thought things through they could have grown.  Not surviving the fall-out you think everything is beyond repair- if a certain song were played; things would be okay.  Mixing in child-like and school-time images (a scrapbook filled with memories for example) you can sense that vulnerability and emotion- the vocal is tinged with tears and sadness throughout.  A potent and lustful vocal, the entire number is both radio-friendly and deeply personal.  You can imagine this touching and uniting crowds: there is universality to the words; the sentiments can be appreciated by everyone- it is likely to gain quite a following.

The E.P. started with a bracing swagger (Throw it All Away); then followed it with two ‘softer’ numbers- that took the mood down and projected beauty rather than concrete.  Lights Out returns to the opening-song projection: beginning with a racing and spinning riff, the band are on fire.  Back in the groove and alive, the song is a rampant and furious thing.  The vocal is Punk-edged and visceral; the song mixes sexual innuendo and innocence.  With every utterance and thought- our heroine on her knees in front of her man- that is that knowing wink.  Perhaps not as sexualised as intended, the lyrics have a wonderful edge to them- half your mind is in dirty and late-night rendez vous; the other half is somewhere more sanitary and clean.  At its heart, the song’s chorus takes a hold: wordless vocals/coos mingle with that subject title- elicited and repeated with aplomb, it is endlessly catchy.  It is a song that will spark-up the crowds and get them singing.  In addition to the catchy lyrics and chunky riffs, the song lasts 138 seconds: like older Punk songs- think of The Ramones for instance- it says all it needs in a short space.  Concise and tight, the track is one of the E.P.s best; one of the band’s best- a stunning gem.

The final number is no real slouch: Killing Time is the album’s most feral and hard-nailed track.  The gutsy and primal riff beckons in a vocal (that at the beginning) is quite tempered and controlled.  Our heroine has attack on her mind: a girl is in her thought; she will give her a piece of mind- put her in her place.  Political and social messages come into the song- the realities of living in the U.S. – a new era dawning- reminding me of Rage Against the Machine’s early works.  Certainly that innovative guitar work is comparable: the riffs swing between gut-punching to intergalactic; twisted to sensual- taking the song to strange new places.  The lead vocal is endlessly determined and urgent: our heroine is pulling the trigger and letting Hell reign.

The entire E.P. benefits from the unity of the band: each performance is close-knit and tight; each player supports the other.  An insatiable and layered E.P.; songs that mix emotion and heartache with acidity and double-cross; it is an E.P. for the times.  Showcasing the band’s most complete and assured set of numbers, there are no loose or weak moments.  Well Hung Heart is sure to recruit new fans; seduce and enthrall new support- and please their existing fan-base.  The production values allow the music to resonate truly- keeping it quite sparse and unfettered- whilst there is enough polish to allow each word and note to be understood.  What impressed me most is the consideration that goes into the E.P.  The track listing is spot-on; the running order is perfectly formed: it means the strongest tracks are not in a block; you get a nice balance- same goes with emotional and sonic contrast.  From sweet-leaf vibes to hard-arsed mixology, the E.P. is flowing with emotion and grit; plenty of sensitivity and heart- meaning it makes a conscious effort to reach the masses.  Showing just what California’s musicians can offer; Well Hung Heart is a brave testament from a band on the rise- with a big future mapped-out in front of them.  If you require music to deliver the coolness and swagger of Queens of the Stone Age; vocals that run the gamut of emotions; a band that are completely in-step and compelling- then make sure you check-out these guys.  With so many of the major players slipping-up; a lot of music mediocre and under-developed, bank on something…

THAT won’t let you down.

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Follow Well Hung Heart:

 

Official:

http://www.wellhungheart.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/wellhungheart?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/wellhungheart

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/wellhungheart/

Tumblr:

http://wellhungheart.tumblr.com/

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/wellhungheart

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGVtNNvW-wjHKB1XevocM7w

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Gigs:

http://www.wellhungheart.com/

Track Review: ADI- Heaven

TRACK REVIEW:

 

ADI

 

PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal

Heaven

 

9.6/10.0

 

Heaven is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/adiulmansky/adi-heaven-1

RELEASED:
August 2015

GENRES:
Synth.-Pop; Future-Beats

ORIGIN:

Tel Aviv, Israel

Produced by Adi Ulmansky
Mixed by Adi Ulmansky and Gil Lewis
Mastered by HP
Pic by Noa Flecker
Graphic Design by Dafna Bloch

________________________________________

BEFORE I return to the world of work…

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

I am feeling a bit nervous.  Not about work itself- although it always causes some anxiety to fit into a new role/team- but the world at large.  I am unsure what has compelled this; whether it general events and news- I am a little ill-at-ease.  Having a who’s-who of neurological quirks- from generalized anxiety disorder (a vague misnomer if ever there was one!) to clinical depression- and all that it brings- memory loss and mood swings; hallucinations and bad dreams.  I could go on and on- and bore/upset a few people- but I can apply my illness to a real-world situation: the effect music has on mental health.  I have always known and suspected music has curative components: properties that can help aid good mental health; ease and dissipate anxieties and stresses- help those with depression and other psychiatric ailments.  As I type this I am being serenaded by the by-gone sounds of Arrested Development (remember them?!) and their barnstorming quote-athon People Everyday.  Music has that rare and unfathomable magic: it can dig into any soul; reveal who we really are- transport our troubles someone paradise and calming.  Over the last few days, life has been getting on top of me: trying to find a flat-share; preparing for new work; having money troubles- it has been a lot of crap all at once.  On top of that, I am starting to doubt my own strengths and ‘purpose’- I see others succeeding and happy; what am I doing wrong?!  Emotionally-speaking, music can just raise the mood; it makes us smile: it may be a short-term panacea; maybe not a long-term solution.  It may all seem like a rather long-winded distraction, yet it brings me to my featured artist: one of my favourite people on the planet- and one of the hardest-working musicians around- Adi Ulmansky.  Going by ADI- that is her professional and musical handle- her personality and social media journals make me feel better; inspire me to try new things- I am not the only one.  On the subjects of anxieties and mental health; a lot of musicians are looking down the same barrel- the illnesses spur creative people more; music (and the arts) seem like a great outlet- somewhere they can express themselves free from pain.  ADI has had her share of doubts and heartaches; stress and heartache- the way she channels and defeats this; turns it something creative and wonderful is to be applauded.  Speaking with her- and seeing how she is doing- I know how hard the musician’s life can be.  There is always a degree of self-doubt and pressure; the troubles of balancing two rather different lifestyles- the regular life and that of a musician.  ADI has a huge amount of strength and spirit: rather than sequestering herself from the world- laying down her music and not engaging with her fans- she is one of the most all-encompassing and direct people I have known.  Fans love her music- and love her as a result- and are keen to express how much it helps them- ADI always warmly receives praise; encourages and speaks with the fans.  Few musicians reach out and connect; go the distance and make that bond- a special gift from a tremendous artist.  Before I continue my point with regards ADI- and mention female solo acts and music of Asia/Israel, let me introduce our featured act:

“All blustering, high octane electronic princess Adi Ulmansky, a Tel Aviv based singer, producer & rapper is setting out her stall for 2014 as one of the hottest talents with her soft seraphic vocals mixed with RnB infused cuts, electronica and rap, stated to “set a new standard for the electronic music world” by Jay-Z’s Life + Times blog.

Her debut solo mixtape (“Shit Just Got Real”, January 2013) and EP (“Hurricane Girl”, August 2013) received worldwide publications like HypetrakMixmagThe Independenti-DVICE’s NoiseyNME, and The Guardian, as well as on the local Israeli press, TV & radio stations (including videos on MTV& local Channel 24 and singles in the playlist of Israel’s most popular radio station, Galgalatz). Her distinctive style was also spotted by fashion giants like Top Shop & ASOS and featured on campaigns of global brand names like Nike & American Express.

With her strong and colorful visual style and electrifying energies on stage, Adi is already booked forGlastonbury 2014 and will be touring Europe and North America this summer, with past appearances including CMJ Marathon (NYC), Reeperbahn festival (Hamburg), UKItalyCzech Republic, and all around Israel, as well as playing the opening acts for DisclosureBlonde RedheadApparat and more.

Adi also featured on multiple BORGORE tracks like Someone Else’s, and is currently working on a new solo EP and other exciting new collaborations.”

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

In addition to the collaborations and mix-tapes; the E.P.s and releases, ADI has been working on some new material- that will form the basis of her E.P. RAW.  After the success of Shit Just Got Real (her 2013 mix-tape) and Hurricane Girl E.P. (2013), the stage is set: one of the world’s premier music talents is gearing-up for the future.   See seems so at home recording- whether at home or in the studio- and is love with music and its possibilities.  Following her Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts- a bit full on perhaps?!- I know she is laying beats down; piecing-together ideas and songs- make sure you keep your eyes set her way.  When it comes to ADI she brings to mind two important subjects: the solo female artists and the music of Asia.  The Asian continent is not perhaps forefront and centre- when it comes to seeking-out great new music- yet it should not be overlooked.  Less well-traveled and documented than North America, Europe (and Australia to a lesser degree), Asia is developing some exceptional talent- from Chinese-born Electronic artists (Fifi Rong) to some great Indian solo acts (Antriksh Bali).  Being somewhat disconnected from western music, people have misconceptions when it comes to Asian acts- they expect them to play ‘traditional music’ (whatever you’d associate with their nation) as opposed to popular and well-heralded sounds.  As fervent and talented as any other continent, the likes of ADI are putting Asia back on the music map.  Being born in- and spending a lot of her happiest moments in- Tel Aviv, the Israeli star seems ay home here: the landscape and beauty inspires her mind; the communities, heritage and history compels her mind- a world away from the hustle-bustle of London, New York and L.A.  Not many of us are aware of Israeli music; what the nation’s artists sound like- ADI is flying the flag in that sense.  The country is producing some fantastic bands- including Tiny Fingers, Sun Taylor and Lucille- and is a vibrant and bustling musical landscape.  The country has some fantastically colourful and dreamy acts, none as effective as ADI: from her green hair and stunning beauty; her hypnotic beats and stunning electronic soundscapes- all framed by her warm and heart-breaking vocals.  In this country- and the U.S. for that matter- the female solo sector is quite diverse and busy (more so than compared with the guys).  There are a lot of great Eletronica acts; some terrific Pop singers- a whole wealth of rich and original material.  To my mind- and it may stir up a hornet’s nest of controversy- the girls are more talented than the guys.  When it comes to the solo acts, the girls have the edge and that extra intelligence: not just sticking with dull and formulaic Folk/Acoustic music; the tired Pop sounds- they have that additional spark and sense of innovation.  ADI is gaining a lot of attention from audiences around the world: from the U.S. to U.K.; across Asia and the globe, her music is resonating and capturing hearts.  Having followed her music; from her mix-tapes to her E.P.s- I cannot wait to hear her new material.  Dropped last month; Heaven is where ADI is now: a teasing glimpse into her thoughts; busy and tangling; beautiful and dangerous- so much emotion and possibilities with one a single song.  Letting her vocals take a back seat- very minimal vocal interjections; if Heaven is re-worked it could feature ADI’s vocals more prominently- it is a kaleidoscopic fusion of beat and electronics: letting the mood and projection grab the listener, it is a fantastical creation.

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

When we look at Heaven– and what ADI is creating at the moment- it is wise to look back; see how far she has developed- and whether her sound has changed at all.  In assessing Heaven’s loyalty and changes- whether it breaks from ADI’s past or carries it on- the tracks Chinatown, Voices and Save Me from Myself come to mind.  Recorded a year ago, Chinatown was hotly-received and met with effusive feedback.   We all have experienced a Chinatown; know the sights, smells and sensations- by day and night, there is a sense of heftiness and wonderful culture; evocative scents and fantastic people.  The bright lights, charming avenues and human masses are perfectly voiced within the track.  Whether referencing a particular Chinatown- or evoking something imagined and fictitious- the song has hallmarks of Heaven– in the sense it is instrumental-heavy and hugely atmospheric.  The track begins with tinny and magical electronics; teasing and tip-toeing beats- with a blend of Chinese music and modern Electronica.  Beat-claps and cosmic electronics conspire; quirky and head-spinning interjections: the entire composition is jammed with stunning details and wonderfully compelling avenues.  Robotic and moonlit; entrancing and dream-like, you get swept away- there are heavy and rushing elements; tight and menacing little vocals- all warped in a centrifuge of song.  Changing course and direction, the track gets more pressing and heady: stuttering and staggering; booming and bass-heavy.  Containing elements of Bjork’s most experimental highs; swathes of Kid A/Amnesiac-era Radiohead- when they were at their most daring and genius- ADI unveiled something truly game-changing.  With few vocal elements- our heroine remains composer rather than singer- helming a majestic ride.  The song compels the listener to imagine and drift; get inside the beats and notes- picture what is being presented.  I envisaged sensations of London; Chinatown by night; the neon-lit shops and restaurants: all the people rushing by; the nose-seducing smells and busy conversations- the traffic providing a static and emotive backdrop.  Since her earlier work- through mix-tapes and E.P.s- Chinatown is perhaps her most startling work (at this point): the peak of her creative and composing talents- laid bare for all to love.

   Voices continues Chinatown’s head-swimming glory.  From the opening notes, the composition dives and weaves; vocal traces are fed between the layers- before ADI comes to the mic.  Our heroine syncopates her voice; paces it for maximum effect- such a wonderful and emotional delivery.  Whereas most Future-Beats-based artists do not really consider the vocal too much- here it is tripped and riffled; it flows and rippled- never predictable at any stage.  ADI’s words look at taking things slow; imploring someone not to get big- maybe a relationship conversation or advice to a friend.  That chatter and vocal busy-ness sees ADI asking who she is and where she’s going- looking at herself and probing her own soul.  The beats get hard and stuttering; the composition echoes and jitters- an edgy and dramatic thing to behold.  She wants to stop feeling scared; reach out and support (the song’s focal point) – offer empathy and a shoulder.  Whether it talks of heartache or anxiety, ADI knows how they feel (the heroine/hero); she will always be there- and not shy away.  The vocal is often sweet and angelic; it has more lustful and breathy moments- beautifully combining with the potent beats and helter-skelter pace.  Never slowing or reflecting, the track remains driving and heady: water-drip samples and water flow electronics; stately piano inject and buzzing electronic swarm- colourful and wondrous, no surprise it gained such huge feedback.  Showing the inventiveness and raw talent- that runs through Chinatown and her earlier work- it saw the young artist growing in confidence and ambition.

Save Me from Myself has the ADI hallmarks: the echoed vocals and rushing electronics; some finger-snapping comes in- as ADI lets her smooth voice ease into the song.  Processed and machine-fed vocals (male) combine with female vocals; the composition grows hotter and more electric- there is that need to be saved and salvaged.  Our heroine is dealing with a lot of s***; she cannot deal with the weight; her head and heart are killing her- she wants someone to hold her; make sure everything will be alright.  That desperation and fear comes through strongly: the multiple vocals augment the anxiety and trepidation; the psychotropic beats dizzy and swirl- taking the listener into a vortex of passion and desire.  The composition is less full and busy than previous offerings: the emphasis is one the messages and vocals; making sure the core lines come through strongly.  That central message is hugely dramatic and stunning; you really root for our heroine- hope things will be okay- and are keen to see her happy and satisfied.

Across these three tracks- and the rest of the songs from Releases– ADI packed in so much flair, passion and intelligence- each song demands repeated listens and close investigation.  So much action, light, life and colour radiates through: the tracks glisten and darken; the beats and electronics tangle in a rhapsody of fire and water.  It is hard to put emotions into word; properly define the songs: they are so complex and multi-layered; they just demand you listen and get lost.  Heaven carries on from Chinatown and Voices– with less in common to her more vocal-orientated songs- and introduces a new palate and storyline.  Whereas those two tracks were unique and different beasts- that allowed the listener to speculate and picture images a-plenty- Heaven does exactly the same.  If anything, ADI has increased in confidence and desire; her latest track is a little lighter and less haunted- than perhaps Voices is.  Whether motivated by her happy relationship; the love of her home land- the results speak from themselves.  Not only is she inspired and at her peak; the composition is her most nuanced and entrancing- the finest creation she has presented (that does not feature vocals).  It is only a matter of time before new music is released; we see what other gems ADI is producing- if it will update her early sound or continue her more recent cuts.  It will be compelling to see whether the tracks (that will feature on the E.P.) are largely instrumental or if there are more vocal-focused efforts.  Heaven sees the young wonder throw her mind, body and soul into the machine; let her dreams and desires blend and converse- the end product is something deeply personal and yet open.  If it is a love letter to Tel Aviv, your mind pictures the geography; if love-focused, you go in that direction- the song can be interpreted different ways depending on your mindset.  ADI’s core sound has not altered much- as she was this innovative and original out of the box- yet the urgency and confidence has increased; I cannot wait to see what she comes up with next- neither can the general public.

With some introductory tease that puts me in mind of Kid A-Radiohead- and tracks like Treefingers– there is mis-step and stutter; an instant evocation of a busy sky- clouds rushing by and the sun rising.  As the electronics create a haze and sense of clicker and spark- you start to imagine all kinds of scenes and possibilities.  From early indications, there is the sound of a perfect town; somewhere idyllic and quiet- where you can just watch the people go by and not worry about a thing.  Adding-in some precise and urgent beats; the song starts to get heavier and more pressing- pulling the listener into the track; preparing them for what’s to come.  After the tender and evocative start, an echoed and processed vocal comes in- an electronic cry; sounding like an animal call it is hypnotic and strange.  I mentioned the touches of Kid A.  That groundbreaking album dabbled with intelligent technology; whereas contemporaries were splicing in club beats and sound collages- Trip-Hop and Electronica sampling/sounds were a commonplace during the late-‘90s-early-‘00s.  Radiohead did- as critics noted in reviews- not steal and forge (they were no carpetbaggers); they skillfully employed Aphex Twin-esque styles to create skiffling beats and chilly undertones- songs boasted elliptical promise and rich texture.  ADI is a Future-Beats/Pop artist in scene with a fair few purveyors- her vantage point is complete different; her experiences not the same.  Whereas Radiohead’s most groundbreaking work looked at alienation and the digital age- forgoing hooks and choruses for something less familiar- ADI presents the sound of the world being reborn.  Heaven is not an apocalyptic or life-drained song; it is not the sound of an artist unsure of her strengths and position.  Whilst a lot of contemporaries- who play similar sorts of music- lace their song with moody vocals and love-gone-wrong lyrics; ADI lets the music project and effuse- the listener can interpret how they see fit; everyone will have a different perspective.  Those distorted/squashed vocal sounds fuse inside something embracing and warm- that is how I perceived it, anyway.  The song is impressive because it does not foretell the world crumbling; humans becoming detached- as Radiohead’s Kid A does; and its title track is a particularly haunting song- but instead employs colour and sparkle; so much depth and texture.  Little vinyl cracks burst; fizzing electronics; claps and beats- the odd chime and odd little touch.  Charming and magical, a more static beat comes in: blending alongside a child-like and innocent electronic plink.  The images come thick-and-fast; the mind starts to spit images out: from ADI’s perspective, one could imagine Tel Aviv or Israel; somewhere homely and ideal- where you can bask in the splendor and comfort of the surroundings.  Although, knowing her, there could be ideals of music and love: having that passion and commitment, everything comes out in Heaven– the song spills-over with nuance, layers and definitions.  It takes multiple listens to fully grasp the intricacies and details- you find yourself going back to the start to take a fresh run at it- which is why the song is such a blinder.  When a lot of similar artists (during the late-‘90s-early-‘00s) were creating something harsh- sounding chrome and airless; cold and shivering- ADI makes sure warmth and love bursts forth.  An antidote and flip-side of a lot of modern Electro. acts- who haven’t got out of the habit of projecting their demons into their art- ADI bucks a trend; it is glistening and honest; impassioned and aching- you can feel that passion and obsessiveness in every note.  There are twists and turns a-plenty: the song does not stick with one sound/side; it mutates and develops.  Like a day progressing; it keeps pushing forward- to the moment the sun sets.

PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal

That commitment to the art never fades: you can hear the dedication and focus during every moment; you can feel that passion come through burning.  ADI has always been a master of textured and sensational soundscapes: whether it is Chinatown’s bustle and culture-fuse; Voices’ introspection and romantic implore- on each number, you take away something different.  I know Heaven (as it stands now) might be changed and altered- ADI said vocals may be added when it reaches E.P. stage.  Heaven shows the Israeli musician at her creative peak.  Among the cosmic beats and interstellar electronics; sequitur lines and sun-set romance.  There is some melancholy and reflection lurking beneath; at times the song sounds sparring and fighting- after a few listens you appreciate the true beauty and mysteries.  Intricate and delicate, ADI’s ear for composition and feel is stunning- Heaven is a mood piece that does not put you in a bad mood; it is a transcendent glimpse into a personal paradise- that welcomes each listener in.  Accessible and challenging; nervy and rushing, there are contradictions and mixed emotions- everything works wonderfully; it is music that demands attention and focus.  In a scene where the public’s attention-span demands instance pleasure and hooks- their minds often cannot focus for more than a few seconds- ADI creates something that appeals to genuine music-lovers.  If you do not want to dig down to Heaven’s core; are unconcerned with its true beauty- you may want to stick with chart music.  If you want to unravel something of rare beauty; a song that throws a gauntlet out to the world- then this is the song for you.  As a producer, ADI ensures the song is not too crowded and confused: every beat and thought is delineated and presented with consideration and care; the lines and elements seamlessly weave and flow.  You can hear how much of the artist is in the song: the song is a study into her mindset; you imagine her experimenting endlessly to get the sound just right– anything less would be a disappointment.  This perfectionism does not compromise ethics and naturalness: if anything, the track sounds uncomplicated and painless- just a natural step for ADI.  How the song will change (when it reaches the E.P.) is anyone’s guess; who knows what lyrics and vocals will be included?  As it stands, Heaven is a stunning assured cut- that sounds like a natural E.P. lead-off track- that is a perfect starting-place for new ADI fans.  If you need your mood improved; have grown tired of the predictable and stagnated bands; want something more compelling and extraordinary- then you should look no further.

I have nothing but love for ADI: one of my favourite artists around, I could not wait to review Heaven– upon its release, it was met with jubilant praise and impassioned adore.  Her past work; be it her mix-tapes or E.P.s look at love and heartache- romantic stress and introversion- in addition to personal introspection- connects with the audience.  With her loving personality and colourful locks; her adventurous music and huge ambition- she never puts the audience second; she does not distance them and fails to connect.  Her subject matter can be understood and appreciated; her honesty and openness is refreshing and relatable.  Being a young woman, she does not just speak and connect with her female audience: her fan-base is mixed and varied; ADI’s music crosses borders and boundaries- no surprise her popularity is on the rise.  Heaven is one of her greatest creations: whether it will feature frontline vocal (if it appears on RAW) I am not sure; as it is, the song is hugely exciting and mesmeric- it is not often I get so engrossed in a song with so few vocal notes.  So what of the future for the Israeli star?  ADI is updating her fans and keeping her social media feeds busy: photos of her recording and mixing; snaps of music-making and plans- she is certainty not resting and sitting back.  One of the most hard-working and ambitious musicians around, you can be sure of one thing: when her E.P. does arrive, it will be one of the most hotly-anticipated of the year.  With Heaven’s fusions and majesties igniting and seducing audiences, there is a huge demand and anticipation- make sure you are connected with ADI.  Before I wrap-up, it is worth returning to my initial thesis: that which concerns Asian music and the female sector; the anxieties and stresses of life- and how music can balm.  One of the most upcoming and promising musical climates; Asia is producing some terrific acts and musicians- Israel is particularly dominant and varied.  Idan Raichel and Geva Alon are rubbing shoulders with Aviv Gefan and Borgore (who ADI has collaborated with) are some of the nation’s most promising artists.  The solo realm is catered-for and impressive; there are some stunning bands and duets- few western eyes are trained towards Israel.  We get too caught-up in predictable and near-by music; do not really look across the continents- I fear we’re missing out on some truly wonderful music.  There are some great female artists coming out of Israel; mixing Pop and Future-Beats elements; heavier and harder influences- rivaling the best the U.K. and U.S. offer.  Whether it is the beautiful geography and wonderful communities (that is inspiring tremendous music) or the lack of saturation- the country is moving through the ranks.  Regardless of nationality; the female solo artists are producing music’s finest insights: overpowering their male colleagues, the girls are leading the way.  Not reverse-sexism or an over-exaggeration, they just seem more agile and creative; more assured and pioneering- ADI shows all these traits; making music that connects with so many hearts and minds.  A lot of us face heartaches and stresses; daily anxieties and doubts- and something to take away the pains.  Music is a universal and readily-available medicine; a wonderfully soul-raising therapy- something that can create smiles and happiness.  When listening to Heaven– and investigating ADI’s back catalogue- I am always put in a better place.  Whether it is her enlivening and direct sound- that rarely retreats or hides in the shadows- it demands attention and reaction- no listener is immune to its passion and insistency.  Anyone who is heartbroken and self-critical; losing hope or in need of something uplifting- somehow, her music adapts to those demands.  Being someone who is blighted and plagued with insecurities and unhappiness- one of the perils of being a music writer- music is a way to countermeasure to the pain.  Heavy and hard music (Alternative, Indie, Grunge etc.) makes me enlivened and stood-to-attention; softer and acoustic-led music makes me think and reflect; busy and multi-layered Electronic music creates energy and excitement.  ADI achieves all of this and goes that little bit further: digging deep into the heart and mind; taking the listener by the hand- letting them know it will all be okay.  When it is jagged and primal; when the beats and electronics are daredevil and speeding: they are not intended to scare and balkanise; instead, they are intended to rouse the spirits and spike the mind- taking the listener somewhere spectacular and wonderful.  Tel Aviv’s darling, beautiful daughter is entrenched in beats and mixing; masticating and writing- gestating new sounds and exciting tracks.  With newspaper interviews and fresh praise coming her way, the gorgeous young musician is starting to get her just-rewards.  Charming and vulnerable; strong and inspiring- she is one of music’s most special talents; someone we should all support.  The music is the most important thing: ADI’s coursing and variegated progeny is among music’s most beautiful and nuanced- few musicians offer so much range, emotion and pure passion.  Investigate Heaven and its aptly-titled promise; ensure you familiarise yourself with Miss. Ulmansky- and fall in love with a musician with an enormous future.  If she comes to London soon- one of her very-favourite cities- it would be great to see her perform; bring her wonder to the U.K.’s music hotbed.  It is only a matter of time before she is riding the festival waves; gracing the national music press (front covers) – and ruling the airwaves.  Until then, sit back and open your mind- allow your heart to submit to one of music’s…

PHOTO: Shir Rosenthal

MOST special human beings.

 

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Follow ADI:

 

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

Official:

http://adiulmansky.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/AdiUlmanskyOfficial

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/adiulmansky

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/adiulmansky/

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/adiulmansky

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/adiulmansky

PHOTO: Noa Flecker

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Gigs:

http://adiulmansky.com/shows

 

Track Review: Josh Haynes- Masquerading Time

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Josh Haynes

 

 

 

Masquerading Time

 

 

9.6/10.0

 

 

Masquerading Time available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A2-Us2RFZs8

RELEASED:
1ST August, 2015

GENRES:
Alternative/Folk

ORIGIN:

London, U.K.

The E.P. Life in Animation is available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/life-in-animation-ep/id1024214930

TRACK LISTING:

Sintra9.5

Jim Beam9.5

Heathen9.5

Masquerading Time– 9.6

Note9.4

Little Spots9.5

DOWNLOAD:

Sintra; Jim Beam; Masquerading Time; Little Spots

STANDOUT TRACK:

Masquerading Time

Recorded and Mixed at Lounge Studios U.K. by Josh Haynes

 

IN this particular case, I have a few different…

subjects to bring up.  In addition to locations and conceptions, the idea of start-up musicians is in my thoughts- but for now, male solo artists are in my thoughts.  It has been a while since I have reviewed a male solo act- it has mainly been female solo acts or bands- so it is good to be back here again.  I have been somewhat put-off by the contemporary mainstream acts- the likes of Ed Sheeran and James Bay.  I know a lot of people like them- especially Ed Sheeran- but I find his (and their) music bland and predictable; no real nuance or sense of identity.  It has been a while since I’ve been excited about a male solo act; really struck by their passion and music; the way they do things- there seems to be a drought of sorts.  My featured act has plenty of ammunition to provide hope; make me feel somewhat hopeful- and be aware there are some great solo acts out there.  My attention has been focused towards the girls and their music; the bands and their flair- now I am back with the boys again.  The trouble with the male solo acts is there one-album longevity issue: a lot of acts come in with an impressive and promising debut; only to flounder and stutter- fall into a sophomore slump.  Over the last year, I can think of few make acts that have stuck in the imagination- most of the great music has been produced by bands and the female artists.  What I love about solo acts is the fact they have to do things themselves: there are few additional bodies and band members; they have to see to the day-to-day business and affairs.  Knowing a lot of solo acts (mainly female) I know how hard they work: so much effort has to be put in; a hell of a lot of graft and promotion- it seems to be a never-ending cavalcade of social media sharing and touring; reaching as many faces as possible.  Josh Haynes is one of many young, up-and-coming solo acts: he is working hard (doing bar work and various jobs) and really plugging.  Being based out of London, he is in the right place- although the competition is high.  I am in a very precarious position: being angry and depressed where I love- both in terms of property and the area of the country- I am desperate to get away; move to London- be in a place that is primed for the ambitious and creative; full of life and like-minded people.  I am not going to bag (and indeed name) the area I love; suffice it say, it is not set-up for certain people; every day is depressing and angering.  London is no angel and has its faults- busy and bustling; has its rough areas- yet there is a lot of misconception and prejudice.  Aside from the snide country-dwellers- who hate any place that has more than a few people in- there is a ‘tourist attitude’ to the capital- people who occasionally visit think they have London sussed; they have no idea what it is really like- and how magical it can be.  When it comes to music, London is a great place for the musician- the large cities do tend to be.  Knowing how productive and supportive the likes of Manchester and Liverpool are- and how many great musicians are working with each other- London is regaining credibility and stature.  At the moment, it is a hotbed of variegated and stunning music: some of the most enlivening and stunning musicians play here; it is definitely a vibrant and inspiring city.  Aside from my romantic and lustful profferings- I will be with you soon, London- my point relates directly to solo artists.  I know many people relocating to the capital: there are tonnes of great venues around; chances to busk and earn money- the flip-side is that there is some saturation.  With so many artists plying their trade, how do you really stand out?  Haynes is going about things the right way.  At the moment he runs Lounge Studios U.K. – where his new E.P. was recorded and mixed- and is dedicated to making music; and bringing it to the masses.  Haynes is- for now at least- an unknown quantity and under-the-radar commodity: without an official website (one will come in time) he does have a Twitter and Facebook account- and is building his name.  If you are new to Haynes, here is a bit about the young musician (taken from his artist account on Facebook):

Josh is a Multi-Instrumentalist, Producer and Sound Engineer based in London, UK. He is currently studying for his BA in Creative Musicianship at the renowned Institute of Contemporary Music Performance.

Having chatted with him online, he comes across as gracious and embracing: someone who wants his music to connect- and really give an insight into his personality.  When it comes to biography and idols; influences and story- the music will do most of the talking.  When Haynes does grow and becomes a big success- it will happen in the next few years- that will give him the opportunity to lay-out his music and biography; have a complete and full website- showcase all his songs and photos; press quotes and videos.  Before I get down to his music- and the beauty contained within his E.P. – Haynes is among an army of musicians taking their first steps.  Most music-lovers are unaware of the hardships and drawbacks facing the modern-day musician.  Before you get onto the music pages and into critics’ thoughts; before you get the gig call-ups and huge fan bases- there is an immense amount of leg-work to be completed.  Raising finance to record songs; promoting your music- working so you can fund your music in addition paying rent/surviving.  All of the city-life sweating; the making-ends-meet battles: for it all to matter, the music has to be on-point and different- go beyond what is already out there.  Circling to my earlier point- with regards the male solo acts- Haynes is a step above his peers.  There are some great solo acts out there, yet for the most part, the scene (with regards the boys particularly) is suffering from a lack of inspiration and originality- it all seems to be acoustic guitar-led love songs; uninspired rhymes and vocals; an eagerness to fit into moulds and market expectations.  Life in Animation sees the young star take his first leap; show the world what he can offer- the results speak for themselves.  The six-track E.P. sees the young artist spread his wing; show the full extent of his talent- it is one of the most immediate and fully-realised records I have encountered this year.  Few artists have such confidence and commitment; Haynes does not stick with a tedious and one-dimensional acoustic guitar blend- the instrumentation and compositions pack in a lot of emotions and power; really running a gamut of scenarios and moods.  With all that potential and early promise, how long before the festivals come a-calling?

If you are not familiar with Haynes’ style of music, then there are other artists that come to mind.  Being influenced by Adam Jones, Mike Einziger, Stephen Carpenter, Slash (Oxford commas needed); John Mayer, Andy McKee, Ben Howard, Chino Moreno, Samuel Beam- they are all good starting places.  Mayer and Howard come to mind.  The former’s album Continuum boasts great blends of Pop and Blues-Rock.  The album stripped things back; tied in Funk and Rock; it brims with maturity and contemporary- without coming across boring or stifled.  Haynes teases genres and sounds; has a Blues/Blues-Rock affection- and laces that into Folk and Alternative blends.  The songwriting (from Haynes) is impressively mature and focused; his lyrics and compositions are well-considered and grapple with a range of topics.  An exceptional musician and voice, he has some Mayer-esque tones- if you are a John Mayer fan; you will find much to enjoy within Life in Animation.  Ben Howard also comes to mind- when considering the music of Haynes.  I Forgot Where We Were (Howard’s sophomore album from last year) the album is more widescreen and electric- compared to his acoustic-heavy debut.  Howard grew tired of the album- and flogging it around the world- and changes his motives.  The Folk-based finger-picking is less prominent; what you get are orchestral instrumentations and goose pimples by the barrel.  Although Haynes’ E.P. has more Folk and acoustic moments- and less of the soundscapes and epic compositions- you can see comparisons between him and Howard.  Like Howard, Haynes emotes and gets the listener entranced; the songs (on Life in Animation) go deeper than you’d expect- exceeding radio-friendly running times and surpassing the made-for-supermarket-adverts breed of songwriters.  In a sea of samey and indeterminate singer/songwriters- who could be clones they sound so similar- Haynes is taking a rarified path.  Like Howard, his music betrays expectations and reaches a lot further- stands out from the clan.  If you are prone to either of these artists- or any of the acts listed above- Haynes will resonate and seduce.  Essentially, if you like your music unique and unexpected- and not like every other solo act out there- then you will find music to love; Life in Animation is a special one-off- let’s hope he keeps up his momentum and originality; dares to break away from the tired and predictable pack.

Before assessing Masquerading Time– and getting to grips with the E.P. – it is worth looking back; see Haynes’ past work.  A couple of years ago, Haynes recorded the song, Beer.  Mainly acoustic-based, it looks at life and the search for love- wanting to find someone special; without that instant need for long-term plans.  Looking at youthfulness and grabbing onto its vitality, Haynes’ voice is raw and scratched at times; augmenting that sense of passion and power- bringing the lyrics to life.  Elements of Sheeran may seep out- in some of the composition notes and lyrics- yet Haynes is a more impressive and potent singer; the production is more lo-fi and bare.  Allowing the words and notes to fully resonate, Beer is an early insight into his music- and what is to come.

A year later, Hero was unveiled.  Built around a solid and impassioned coda- watching his hero go; the paen and praise towards a special person- the song is another stripped-back and raw track.  Haynes’ voice is multi-tracked and at its peak: focused and committed, it mixes romance and strength.  The guitar playing is potent yet sparse- the strum and sound is consistent and supportive- whilst the voice is very much at the centre.  Mixing in debut album-era Ben Howard; touches of ‘60s and ‘70s Folk- Haynes sounds authoritative and compelling.

Since these tracks- that are available on his SoundCloud account- Haynes has kept the acoustic and Folk elements; expanded them and brought in new themes.  The diverse songwriting appears throughout Life in Animation: stepping away from predictable themes, the E.P. boasts a roster of characters and scenery; thoughts and insights.  In the past year, Haynes has added electronic elements; his confidence is higher now- his songs are more nuanced and tighter.  Immensely impressive early-on, he has grown in talent: his lyrics are more gripping and insightful; very much a unique and personal product.  With his voice fuller, richer and more assured there are no Ed Sheeran/modern singer comparisons- the music is very much Josh Haynes on his own.  The six tracks of Life in Animation sparkle with distinction and colour; there are terrific moments and wonderful highlights- not something you can say about many male singer-songwriters.  The important point to note is that originality: utilising acoustic and electric elements; changing themes and subjects; keeping the E.P. fresh and unpredictable- that is what wins out.  Few contemporaries understand this vital point: if you sound like everyone else; you will never gain longevity and critical attention.  Haynes has changed-up his sound; expanded it and made it more distinct- developed well since his earliest recordings.

Haynes plays every instrument except brass- both on Masquerading Time and on the other E.P. tracks- and his musicianship defines Masquerading Time’s opening moments.  A fuzzing and spiraling guitar fuzz- that puts me in mind of Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night work- laces in ‘90s ‘Britpop optimism with of-the-moment Alternative threads.  Woven together, it creates plenty of drama and intrigue.  When Haynes arrives at the mic., early words possess anxiety and cliff-top precipice: “…desperate and close”; there is that unnerving sense of suffocation and entrapment.  Comparing his situation in dark terms- “like a minefield at the road”- it seems romantic disentanglement and strain is afoot.  Backed by a female backing- who adds to the evocative mood- the vocal is focused and passionate; never becoming too heavy-handed or anxious.  Perhaps not completely forlorn and hopeless- at this stage Haynes has the confidence and sophomore sound of Ben Howard- as he faces his girl; eyes engulfed (in him) – “a velvet shade of blue”.  In the early phases, the track has a distinct energy and drive.  Weaving humour and pathos into hearts-on-the-line visions- our hero’s neck is cricked; like Jesus on the cross, Haynes is suffering a messianic ergonomic drama- there is a sense of wit and cuteness; some naivety and vulnerability.  As the words unfold, the story becomes clearer: with his love’s skin exposed; the two ion each other’s arms- our man wishes he learned to dance.  Befitting of the title- and appropriate in retrospect- your mind goes to the dancefloor; the two sweethearts locked in an embrace; awkward steps and hesitant dance.  Throughout the song, you are struck by the personality and uniqueness of the lyrics.  Not your clichéd she-said-we-said-I-went-she-left love story, there is a personal voice and real sense of reality.  You imagine yourself watching the events unfold; the boy rather nervous and unsure- you try and imagine what the girl looks like; the lesser-heard conversations of the crowd around them.  Being stuck in a cubicle- and smothered by the people around.  Maybe a high school dance; a special event- there is a feeling of youthfulness and younger-days to the song- there is a tangible feel of atmosphere; the lyrics paint vivid and colourful pictures.  Whilst the words barrel forth- Haynes accelerates his vocals at this point- the composition offers some neat little touches: subtle and effective guitar licks; a heavy slap of percussion.  Each of these elements adds to the central story: Haynes has a real flair for storytelling and compositional importance.  As the loves mask and dance through time/the night; the music masquerading time- the background comes into the spotlight.   The guitar becomes snarling and enraptured; the drums riffled and avalanche-heavy- replacing the sensitivity and poetry with something more primal and direct.  Building into a hypnotic riff-percussion duet- off the back of a wordless and rising vocal rush- Masquerading Time changes course; hits another gear- a hallmark of Haynes’ writing and musical ambitions.  The song has a familiar and traditional feel, yet is never predictable and ordinary- quite the opposite in fact.  The lyrics are unique and intelligent; the composition fertile and varied- the vocal(s) beautiful and powerful.  Between music interludes, the chorus comes in to add a rush of vocal magic: by this stage, you are invested in the song; aware of the chorus- and find yourself singing along; cast-under by the weight and addictiveness (and simplify) of the expressions.  In the final minute, there is that combination of compositional force and story development.  The guitar work has some many shades and ideas- recalling various axe-men from Mark Knopfler to Slash; Pete Townshend to Matthew Followill.  Whilst the vocal has completed its lion-share, the guitar leads the charge: never aimless or creatively bankrupt- how a lot of solo acts and bands can fill songs- Haynes remains dedicated and inventive.  The riffs are sparkling and exhilarating; emotive and scenic- keeping the story going and evoking new images and possibilities.  The final seconds emerge; the last notes emerge- and the song completes its campaign.

From the first to last- a point I will touch-upon when assessing the rest of the E.P. – Haynes is a master of all he surveys.  A one-man band, every instrument was played by him- making it a very personal track.  Band members and other musicians may have muted the song or not come up to the bar; perhaps there are financial reasons (why he takes all instruments on) – it just showcases what a talent Haynes has.  Few solo artists in this age- aside from obvious examples such as Prince- are as multi-talented and flexible.  As a producer, Haynes allows the song to breathe and engage; the words and notes are clear and polished- never over-produced or fake.  If the production were too polished, the music would come across retrenched and plastic.  Everything on Masquerading Time sounds vital and live-sounding; engaging and hugely impressive.  As a songwriter, Haynes shows he has a distinct voice: the lyrics mix familial (financial) issues and witty asides; nervous coming-together and common anxieties- all mixed into a bold and exciting track.  With a vocal performance- that reminds you of nobody else; has a huge weight of passion and clarity- that brings each sentiment to life; the listener is allowed access behind closed doors- into the author’s mind; transplanted directly into the song’s storyline.  You find yourself rooting the players; hoping everything works out okay- confident the sweethearts will end the night on a high.  Overall, Masquerading Time is a superb accomplishment: Life in Animation’s finest cut, it bodes well for future endeavor.  If Haynes keeps up his pace and commitment, there is no telling how far he can go- few young songwriters have such immediacy and ability; sound so authoritative and compelling this early-on.

Social media has a funny way of turning people onto great music- in a way conventional media does not- and I am thankful for that.  Josh Haynes is one of the best up-and-coming solo acts around; doing more than his male cohorts, his tracks range from romantic and scenic; slice-of-life moments and personal evocations.  It is not just the subject matter that impresses: the compositions have a very unique and innovative slant; the backing vocals- female-led; apologies as I do not know her name- are lustful and beautiful; the lead vocals are always urgent and deeply impressive.  Never outstaying its welcome, Life in Animation is as animated as its name/cover; it spills over with colour and tradition.  The E.P.’s cover depicts a black-and-white sketch of Haynes- a background of cream- that could come off a ‘60s Folk album.  It has charm and smile; it is minimalist and effective; it has plenty of intrigue- just like the music contained within.  Before I give the E.P. itself a ‘mini-review’, I will end how I started: mentioning the male solo realm; the importance of location- and the proclivities of the modern music scene.  I know I have named-and-shamed Ed Sheeran and James Bay- they are not that bad really; just not as good as they should be- and there are few modern idols.  There are plenty of great female acts- and the band market is producing some great examples- yet the male solo acts are somewhat lackluster and under-developed.  New music is doing most of the heavy lifting: the young and sapling acts are showing how it’s done- making the biggest waves and impressions.  Haynes is working tirelessly and is an innovative and business-minded musician: in addition to running his own studio, he is finding his music- and highlighting the benefits of self-sufficiency; proving you can make a success of it- if you have the right attitude and outlook.  It seems like the underground musicians can rise to the surface; replace the existing core- and revitalise the music scene.  We have a lot of great bands and solo acts, yet there is still a leaning towards the media-based darlings; the obvious Pop names- a lot of great talent are getting overlooked.  On that note, the future looks bright for music: with a lot of great bands nestling in the undergrowth; some genuinely great male artists coming through- and female artists dominating things- it looks rosy and bright.  It is not just the quality that impresses me but the variation: the music does not stick to Pop and Rock lines; there are lots of genre-splicing acts and ambitious musicians.  So where does Haynes fit into the agenda?  Well, on the basis of his Life in Animation, he will be a name to watch- expect to see him make his way to the waves of 6 Music and Absolute Radio; the pages of N.M.E. and music’s finest press.  London is producing some vibrant and eager musicians: not that it’s a fascinating point; the capital provides a financial base for artists.  The wages tend to be higher- compared with the rest of the U.K. – and the rents are affordable (there are expensive areas yet the gentrified parts are perfectly reasonably-priced).  Whereas other parts of the U.K. have low wages and high rents, London seems capable of striking a balance: leaving the musician with more disposable cash.  It is not just the extra money that ensures music can be made; the social scene and cosmopolitan population mean there are opportunities and available ears- there are plenty of great bars and venues to play.  With so many other acts; people migrating to the city- is it possible to stand out in London?  If you have the talent, the recognition will come- finding the most talented can be a hard task.  Aside from gig reputation and word-of-mouth, we rely on social media- or more accurately, the people who use it.  If music is not shared and promoted; it becomes a led balloon- and lots of great talent goes to waste.  Haynes need not worry.  He is working endlessly to fund his ambitions; his music is assured and emotive; personal and original.  Not many solo acts resonate in the mind, yet Haynes does: throughout his E.P. you are caught-up and spellbound; impressed by the details and talent.

Sintra begins the E.P. with a magisterial atmosphere.  Quivering strings unite with woozy electronics; the mood is dusky and dark-lit- a night-time stroll in an empty city.  Languid and evocative; uncertain and dreamy- it is a wonderfully dramatic and atmospheric projection.  Sintra is a town and a municipality in the Grande Lisboa subregion (Lisbon Region) of Portugal.  The town has arabesque estates and historic castles; primordial retreats and municipal buildings- all woven into a staggering and captivating landscape.  Located near to Lisbon, the town is a tourist haven; a gorgeous slice of Portugal; boasting mountains and beaches; rich and colourful history- Haynes certainly sums the town up.  With an aural swirl, you picture images and quiet scenes; dusty paths and sweeping views- magical and breath-taking by night; soul-calming and eye-opening by day.  Strings ache and vibrate; the electronics bubble and flow- the composition is busy and layered; stunningly accomplished and emotive.  Building the early moments, there are elements of Radiohead (during their Kid A experimental era); elements of Jazz and Blues; hazy soundscapes and snatches of Electro.-cum-Classic fusings.  Before long, the percussion kicks the song to life; notches up the offensive- everything becomes tighter, sharper and more pronounced.  The electronic guitar wails and wrestles; bonding with percussion; the track- which is a largely-instrumental number- mutates and evolves.  Little scratches and samples are laced; an aching vocal- that is wordless and ethereal.  With touches of Pink Floyd- parts of Dark Side of the Moon (The Great Gig in the Sky and Brain Damage especially) and Wish You Were Here– and the Oxford legends, it is an enthralling and wondrous combination.  Native vocal elements- that sound European and Arabic in its projection and sound- sit with insistent and sky-scarping percussion.  The track reaches the heavens; it pushes and presses- never releasing its grasp.  The vocal reaches a crystalline and impossible high- a glass-breaking pitch; it certainly leaves its mark.  A sensational and memorable opening- Sintra sets the scene and lays out intentions with a staggering amount of confidence.

  Jim Beam is a different affair from the very start.  More sprite and racing, the booming percussion works alongside righteous strings; that dance and run- the combination goes beyond expectations of Alternative and Folk music- and proves the opening track was no fluke or anomaly.  Whereas the opener was a heartfelt ode to a Portuguese paradise; hear you get vision of a Kentucky whiskey- and all the head-spinning; body-nourishing benefits it offers.  An elixir to some; a numbing agent to others- and to many more, a great-tasting drink- the composition tumbles and staggers; it reaches and grabs.  Our hero steps to the mic. and recalls “Another missed call”- who it is from we can only speculate (to this point).  With his stomach knotted, there are tangible nerves and palpable.  Whether a music opportunity; a call from his girlfriend- you get a sense of the importance and urgency.  Being swept along with the composition, Haynes’ voice is rich and emotive; deep and thoughtful.  A comforting knot; sites under a sycamore: early words and scenes are poetic and personal; original and imaginative- going beyond what you expect from the clan of wannabe singer-songwriters.  We get reference to cheap whiskey- the song’s title character- as our hero recalls a loved/missed figure; if they she (I am guessing it is a ‘she’) were in a parallel universe- she’d be here making fun of men in “cheap suits”.  Our man doesn’t want to ask what it is that “makes you cry”- there is mystery and intrigue in these words; your head is dizzied from the lyrical flow; the passion that is projected.  Uplifting and spirited, the song never drops its pace- only aided by a gorgeous and spectral female backing vocal.  From the flat by the shop- where the two first made love- it seems things have changed; maybe the relationship has broken down- the regret is evident.  Whereas your Sheeran would go for dope-smoking-D.V.D.-watching-late-night-chatting banality; Haynes is a more cultured and intelligent writer- ensuring the song goes beyond the ordinary; reaching transcendent levels.  Like Ben Howard- whose sophomore album was big on atmospheric compositions and huge anthems- here we get one of our own.  The guitars and percussion explode; the vocals weave and call-out- it is an instant and hugely memorable track.

After a blistering 1-2- where the listener has been exhausted and dehydrated- there is little time for resolve and relax.  Heathen‘ Early electronics jump and syncopate- whether guitar or computer-based- and stand out alone.  A bold and slinking start, there is sensuousness and smoothness- as our hero’s voice comes in.  Romance and loyalty are presented once more- with a composition that is barer and less pressing than previous numbers- as our man is leaving; not wanting to be forgotten.  Unable to stay here- and backed by female vocals; given a more realistic evocation of the song’s messages- his voice is cracked and whiskey-soaked; the troubadour is hitting the road- running from the situation.  A teasing Blues lick is unfurled: mixing Blues-Rock swagger (a comingling of Jack White and Pretzel Logic-era Steely Dan) it is another unpredictable and wonderful track.  Cleaner (with a better demeanor) than Charlie Sheen- a little Rap-influenced vocal trip; undertones of Sheeran’s vibe- Haynes remains determined and soul-baring.  Stepping into the spotlight- and ensuring the words are given strength and fire- the electric guitar snakes and funks.  Joining the fray we get some brass beauty: giving the song a Jazz-tinged edge, the emotion levels increase- our man is a heathen when he plays.  Reaching fever-pitch, Haynes’ voice is a rhapsody of fire and belief; a howling execration of loyalty and love- a rapturous howl.  Another superb song, the pace has been relentless and impassioned- leaving the listener breathless at every turn.

Bringing some relief into the mix, Haynes unveils something gentler on Note– and harks back to his earlier work.  Pastoral and finger-picking- you get hints of Nick Drake and Neil Young- the track is a calming and sun-seeking beauty.  After the infant moments; the serene and tender notes, the song starts to accelerate and speed-up- and beckon-in tales of a twisted town.  Subjects of families intertwine; inbred faces stand next to one another- a consequence of its time.  I am unsure which town is being referenced- whether fictional or based on rather unpleasant memories- yet Haynes’ voice is commanding and focused.  Regardless of the “path on which they lay”; unwise plans come to fruition- half of my mind was in a medieval colony; the other in a modern-day dwelling.  The wording and choicer and language (by Haynes) is such that it has historical edges; literature vibes- intelligent and quirky; it paints pictures and vivid possibilities.  Soldiers, beggars and sailors come to “surround us”- leading my mind to the shores of historical documentation- as the vocals rise and unite (between Haynes and his female cohort).  There is a storybook/fairy-tale blend- granted, with grittiness and heartache- that is charming and unexpected.  Queens overlook bridges; the townsfolk surround the hero- there is that sense of suffocation and dread.  Admits the bygone and historical testimonies, the composition remains modern and fierce (I think any Elizabethan pipes and sensations would tip the song into parody territory).  The electric guitar yowls and is razor-sharp; the percussion is guiding and potent- although less pummeling and primal than previous cuts.  Our hero unveils a song that is sincere and different- there is no sense of joke or oddity- and gives Life in Animation a new layer and shade.  There is almost a Grunge-like sensibility as the song reaches its peak: the guitar is animalistic and head-nodding; the vocals wracked and pained.  Experimental and progressive- bringing images of Pink Floyd to mind- the song comes down to land; resting with a more calming outro.  Gorgeous and pastoral, the closing strings bring the curtain down: it ends the story and beckons in the night- a perfect end to the E.P.’s most adventurous and interchangeable song.

Closing proceedings is Little Spots.  Given what has come before, you wonder how the song will begin.  Cosmic and vacuum-like, the opening electric notes give you some insight: with the urgency and drama of early songs- taking the E.P. back into heavier realms- it is another evocative and space-age opening.  Our hero is lost for words; unable to speak, it seems he is sick and tired- of this “constant moving around”.  Again there are Grunge-influenced undertones- the male-female vocal bonding reminds me of Pixies- settling with acoustic and Alternative skin.  The E.P.’s most insular and personal numbers- we are looking at Haynes and his fears as opposed to love and city-worship- it is a fitting swansong.  Whether geographical or dreamt; our hero has found a spot to stand his ground- there may be some stability and focus coming into proceedings.  Once tormented and angered; now there is some hope and comfort- a little spot he can call home.  As I listen to the song, I look at the E.P.’s cover- our hero with back against the wall; headphones around his neck- looking dreamily into camera (as an animated representation).  Little Spots seems like a man with his back against the wall; turning away from a sweetheart/girl- finding comfort in something different and new.  Here is another rich and multi-part composition.  There are horn blasts and piano notes; rolling percussion and wave-crash electric guitar.  In terms of the vocal, Haynes delivers Rap-like spits; tumbles his words out- as chills and spills come up his skull; the world seems “dull to me”.  Quotable and sing-along, it is likely to be a live favourite: something that will have crowds singing its mandates.  Our hero cannot waste his time (on his girl); he is moving on.  One of the most intelligent compositions, the percussion goes to a pitter-patter: each instrument adapts to the lyrics; never remains static and uninspired.  Letting electric guitar come up-front- as we witnessed on the previous track- it provides a chance to breathe and reflect.  As the song comes to an end, our hero reads between the lines; has his mind made up- and brings the E.P. to a thought-provoking and conclusive close.

I went into reviewing the E.P. – and my main feature, Masquerading Time, with zero expectations.  Having been brought to Haynes’ attention by a mutual Facebook friend (Melinda Ortner); I sat and thought:  maybe there will be a few good tracks; I will come away pleasantly surprised.  Having dived into Life in Animation I have come away several pounds lighter- having sweater with joy and disbelief.  My expectations and conceptions of the male solo arena is enforced by mainstream limitations- the you-know-who-artists that offer little beyond vanilla and beige banality.  I have been hearing some exceptional female-led solo work, yet little wonder from the guys- that is, until now.  Haynes amazed me from the first notes.  The E.P. is concise and tight- the track order and running times are perfect; each track is in the exact right place- and allows the young artist to really flourish.  Most E.P.s tend to falter and doze-off towards the final numbers: here there is a distinct consistency; no track even dips beneath the high standard of the opener.  From the beginning epic; through to the closer’s anger and travelogue ambitions- so much of the spectrum is laid-out.  Most young artists sound nervous in their early stages: Haynes is one of the most assured and confident artists around.  The production is exceptional and crisp throughout; the instrumentation is stunning and hugely powerful- all supporting that staggering and stand-out vocal.  I am not often left speechless after hearing an E.P./song, but Haynes is got bloody close.  New to my ears as recently as two days ago, I am not resolved to watch his career- a young talent with a definite future.  Critics and reviewers bemoan the swell of sound-alike and insipid solo acts- I am right in there with them to be fair- but with Haynes on the charge, there is cause for hope.  Having laid-out one of my favourite E.P.s of this year, I recommend everyone to seek it out; get on board and discover something…

GENUINGLY startling.

 

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Follow Josh Haynes:

 

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/joshhaynesmusic?fref=ts

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/joshaynes

SoundCloud:

https://soundcloud.com/joshhaynes

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Music:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/josh-haynes/id1024214932

 

Track Review: Clarisse Albrecht- Deixar Rolar

TRACK REVIEW:

 

 

Clarisse Albrecht

  

Deixar Rolar

 

9.4/10.0

 

Deixar Rolar is available at:

https://soundcloud.com/clarisse-albrecht/deixa-rolar

RELEASED:
June, 2015

GENRES:
Soul; Bossa-Nova

ORIGIN:

France; Dominican Republic

The album Mulata Universal is available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/mulata-universal/id1000726316

TRACK LISTING:

Mulata Universal– 9.2

Não Posso Parar– 9.3

Deixa Rolar– 9.4

Você Me Dá– 9.3

Les voix du monde– 9.2

Maputo– 9.3

Minha Perdição– 9.3

Somehow– 9.4

Esse Amor 9.3

La, La, La– 9.4

Além do Atlântico- 9.2

No Puedo Parar, Pt. 2 (The Macrofunk’s Caribbean Remix) [feat. Adolfo Guerrero– 9.3

DOWNLOAD:

Deixa Rolar; Você Me Dá; Somhow; La, La, La

STAND-OUT TRACK:

Deixar Rolar

 

THIS will be my final-ish review…

for a couple of weeks (longer, actually).  Starting a new job on Monday, my time is going to be limited- it is good to ‘end’ with a fantastic artist.  From the Soul-based sounds of Leon Bridges (yesterday’s review), I am with a multinational artist: with a French father; a Cameroonian mother; the young artist spent a lot of time in Africa; eventually locating to France.  With the music industry filled with rather limited and lesser-traveled artists- in terms of their heritage and upbringing- Albrecht has certainly seen the world.  Before I investigate her more- and the music she performs- it brings me to the subject of internationality and nationality.  Across my reviews and all the ones I have done- spanning back quite a few years now- I have ‘visited’ four continents: Europe and North America; Australia and Asia- now I take in another.  Having spent her childhood in Africa- although she is based between Dominican Republic (North America) and Paris- it is good to hear some African vibes; tied-in with European and Latin vibes.  I may be cheating- counting it as African music- yet music lacks that international flavor; few bands have that travelogue and sense of adventure- it can be somewhat boring and predictable.  In this country, bands and artist tend to be based in Great Britain- we have a few who come from overseas- and their music is ‘traditional’ in that sense.  The sounds are radio-friendly and mainstream; the new musicians have a particular way of working- not really breaking from the pack.  Featuring an artist who fuses Bossa-Nova, World and Latin sounds- with Soul and Pop popularity- how many other acts go as far?  Genres like World and Bossa-Nova are often overlooked and passed-by: many see them as off-putting or hard to love; reserved for those with a particular passion.  There are genres and sectors of music I ignore- because I have given it a chance and will never like it- but few really explore international music that much.  The mainstream is packed with English-language sounds and critic-friendly bands; the scene is a little homogenised- more diverse and different sounds are relegated to the shadows.  It seems a shame that there is this neglect and impasse: if people opened their mind more, they could discover something fantastic and vibrant- music that differs from what is out there.  Before I raise a new point, let me introduce Clarisse Albrecht:

Born to a French father and a Cameroonian mother, Clarisse split her childhood between Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and France. As a child, Clarisse was a shy and dreamy little girl, always reading, writing stories, singing and dancing. Her dream was to one day sing beautiful songs with the elegance of Sade.  Years in Maputo have certainly been the most striking moments of her childhood. She lived in a cosmopolitan ambient, listening to rhythms from all over the world. This is where she learned Portuguese, watching Brazilian novelas on TV, and dreaming about Rio De Janeiro…  In the early 90s, her family went back to France. The change were not that easy and Clarisse became very nostalgic of her African childhood. However, France is also a part of her and offers another incredible blend of cultures and traditions. Once again, dived in a multiple ethnicities ambient, she discovered Hip Hop, Electronic Music among others. Her passion for writing and singing becoming even more vivid, she joined a Gospel choir and made her first performances on stage as a lead singer and backup vocalist. She began to really wonder which musical way she should follow to fulfill her artistic aspirations. While studying Cinema at La Sorbonne, she sang as a backup vocalist in a band performing Soul & Funk covers. The will to express herself other than being a performer were too strong for her, she will quickly leave the band. She needed to find her way. With her eclectic musical tastes, it wasn’t an easy task. But she decided to take it easy. Time will tell… From her childhood, she kept love for travels and an obvious attachment for the Portuguese language. This tongue which transcribes so well her deep nostalgia. So she decided to work on Brazilian standards. MPB, Bossa, Samba. She dived herself deep into this culture, into this music full of “saudade”, so connected with her childhood memories of Maputo. That was the perfect timing to achieve another big dream : fly to Rio de Janeiro! During her journey, she soaked up the atmosphere, the sounds, the spirit of Rio… The marvelous city brought much more than expected. One night, chilling at Posto 6 of Copacabana’s beach, a friend wrote a poem for her; saying that when she smiles with all her heart and soul, she becomes a “mulata universal”. For Clarisse it’s an eye-opener. Here was what she needed to express. The essence of what her music should be. The soul of a woman with an universal heart… Back to Paris, she focused on creating her own music. Writing, songwriting, with the help of fellow producer and composer, LS. With lyrics full of “saudade” and love, transcribing her bohemian spirit in a subtle fusion between Soul & Bossa-Nova, Clarisse with her sultry and mesmerizing voice, invites us in her cosmopolitan and warm shelter…


We are ONE, we are LOVE. Welcome to Mulata Universal’s world.

Albrecht’s music is mainly sung in Portuguese; there are English offerings, but for the most part, it is Portuguese-based.  Being based out of Dominican Republic (where Spanish is the primary language), Albrecht already has an international following.  Few artists break through language barriers; connect with other cultures- and take the listener somewhere new and fresh.  As Albrecht states, her music takes across the lands: from the Bossa-Nova of Latin and South America; the Soul elements of France and the U.S.; the Dominican Republic scenes and sounds.  It is unusual for me to step away from the U.K. and U.S.-based musicians; explore something new to me- music that requires translation.  Not only does it give me a chance to hear music sung in a different language- although Albrecht sent me the English lyrics to her single- it is that composition that spikes my interests.  With her sultry and expressive voice, the sunny and uplifting coda gives the music radiance and carnival; summer-time vibes and joy.  When reviewing Ellene Masri- a Paris-based artist who has ancestry in Africa and Europe (she is based in the U.S.)- I was struck by that same motivation- her music goes beyond usual expectations; laces in Jazz and Soul sensations; something international and cultured.  Having such an itinerant and varied upbringing- and being inspired by a range of musicians and styles- her own music is packed with introspection and love notes; upbeat and redemptive appeals; it takes your mind around the globe- and seduces you with its beauty and passion.  Albrecht portrays sounds of the summer on her latest single; overt optimism and positivity- a rarity in the modern music landscape.  Like Masri, she has a love of Soul and Jazz; Latin/World elements- all mixed into a wonderful pot.  Having fallen for Masri’s music and personality- the way she speaks and her dedication really gets to me- Albrecht looks set to elicit the same effect.

When comparing Albrecht with any other singer; it is a hard task.  The tracks in the ether are contained within Deixar Rolar: Albrecht’s debut album; the result of her songwriting sessions in Paris.  As I was saying when reviewing Leon Bridges- the Texan Soul singer has released his debut album, Coming Home– the music is fully-formed and instant.  There are not a lot of cover versions and E.P.s- the same applies to both acts- and no collaborations.  What we hear on her debut is the result of her music upbringing: the discoveries and sounds; the different nationalities and emotions- a rich and compelling creation.  With such a well-traveled and busy childhood- which has taken her across Africa, the U.S. and Europe- all of this is channeled into the album.  The French elements rub shoulders with African beats and Latin rhythms- wrapped helixly around her sensuous and embracing voice.  The cover to Deixar Rolar sees the heroine relaxed and in thought; bursting with colour and fascinating scenery, it is intimate and inviting; fascinating and positive- everything her music promotes.  Not being able to venture back- and see how far her music has come- we must look to the future; and see how it may develop.  I predict a future that carries along the same lines: the same uplifting and poetic ideals; the vibrant and multi-part compositions- keep that lineage and D.N.A. the same.  What we may see more of- if Albrecht records an E.P. or album- is more U.S. influenced.  Having written her current album in France, she based out of the Dominican Republic- maybe the culture and local sounds will influence her direction?  With music so diverse and all-inclusive, it will be exciting to see- maybe there will be more Soul and Jazz influences; something a little harder perhaps?  What will not change is that core of optimism and love: she will not change her ethics and ideology- betray her roots and produce something off-putting and offensive.

If you are unfamiliar with Bossa-Nova- the main genre that is portrayed by Albrecht- there are some acts you could investigate.  Bebel Gilberto is a Brazilian-born Bossa-Nova singer; her album All in One is particularly noteworthy.  With Mark Ronson making an appearance- on the single The Real Thing; originally written by Stevie Wonder but reinvigorated here- the album mixes contemporary production with Brazilian heritage and Bossa-Nova sway.  What is highlighted- and what reminds me of Albrecht- is the confidence expounded.  When singing in Portuguese (Gilberto) sounds completely impassioned and controlled- the singer dominates proceedings.  Drawing in a lot of percussion elements and a cast of musicians; the album is very much her creation- that singular voice radiates through.  Albrecht shares Gilberto’s warmth and strengths; the blend of older and new- that extraordinary confidence and command.  Although Luciana Souza- a Brazilian Jazz singer who mixes Bossa-Nova with classical elements- is more introverted and relationship-focused; the voice have a similar cadence and timbre; the songs have plenty of passion and insistency- that modernise the Bossa-Nova sound and bring it to new audiences.  I would also recommend Sitti- a Filipino-born singer- and Céu- a Brazilian artist.  The latter is a particular relevant act: her albums mix down-beat Reggae grooves with native elements; she multi-tracks her vocals into songs (conversing with herself on some instances) and rainforest-sampling soundscapes create heady and dizzying songs- that speak to listeners from all nations.  Whether you are a Portuguese speaker or not, the music is startling and brave; anthemic and adventurous.  Albums such as Vagarosa– which was met with critical acclaim- marry other styles alongside Bossa-Nova; the tracks have brave arrangements; they tie Electro. with Samba; unite all elements of Brazilian music- into a daring and startling album.  That (the album) puts me in mind of Albrecht: she transcends language barriers and unites threads of Bossa-Nova- the arrangements are funky and fun; the vocals are sometimes breezy and laid-back- at other times utterly gripping and urgent.  If you are new to the genre- and this type of music in general- have a listen to all these artists- a great starting-place; acts that have similar sounds and like-minded music.

Deixa roughly translates (from Portuguese) “to leave”; Rolar is “to roll”- the song’s title projects images of transition and movement; maybe getting away from a bad situation.  The early words are beckoned in but a wave of calming vocals: our heroine multi-tracks her voice to create a conversational and entrancing sway- weaving the vocals inside one another.  The initial words state “let it go” and “let it burn”: the words are delivered with such peacefulness and tranquility you wonder to what they refer- nothing bad or negative seems afoot.  Perhaps my initial impression, yet there is a sense of serenity and openness- the words imploring you to let the bad go; let it burn.  Electric strings are light but evocative; the percussion and flow is ripe and uplifting; the song kicks off with a paradise smile- and gets the listener hooked and entranced.  The composition kicks up a beat- a Jazz-Rock little lick signals a change of pace- as the track starts to become more direct and urgent.  In the arena of passion, our heroine is among “the fire of this brand-new passion”- she wants to see the fire burn; reluctant to see it fade away.  Whether a personal sweetheart/love- or maybe a general passion- you are sucked-in by the vocal prowess- everything is delivered with insistency and conviction; an utter dedication to her heart.  Starting from scratch- and not willing to discuss “pains from the past”- it is a fresh endeavour; a more pure love- where there need not be any recriminations and jealousy.  Speaking to her lover, the words are presented with tenderness and precision- so that their meanings are not misconstrued or tempered-down.  Not wanting to cry over lost love, the slate is clean; the passion is burning- nothing need get in the way.  Those early words sizzle with promise and desire; the heat of the moment is unveiled- reflected through a tremulous vocal and teasing composition.  Those Bossa-Nova sounds seep and flow; smooth-edged and dancing; the listener gets caught inside its warming embrace.  Our heroine lays down her intentions and commitment: wanting to love (her man) like “a child”; during the sun and rain- love him with new eyes and a fresh perspective.  You are drawn inside the dreamy and emotive coda- sung in Portuguese initially- that then transforms into English verse.  Our heroine wants it known- and ensures her most direct words are English- that she has a crush (on him); a need and a hunger- that universality and passion comes together in the song’s most scintillating moment. Asking questions- “How can I tell you/what I feel for you?”- there is a sense of shyness and secrecy.  Perhaps our heroine has been bruised before- and fallen for wrong men and bad sorts- so her feelings are being kept in.  Maybe it is too early; the passion is intense and burning- and she is caught up in the emotion- but she is keeping her true expressions to herself.  After the honest and vulnerability comes something more sexual and hot-bloodied.  Speaking to her man, our heroine wants to taste him: yearning for his kiss, there is a very strong desire- her heart is “like a little bird”.  Wanting to fly (her heart), there should be no everlasting love promises; no false ideals- just the passion and love.  Things will come in time- the strong bond and plans for future- but by racing ahead, you set yourself up for failure.  Our heroine wants to love “with the moonlight”; swim in the warmth of the water; embrace the sun and stars- surrender to the romance and tenderness.  By committing early- or trying to be too eager- there is that implore to just let go; do not overthink things.  Juxtaposing and transposing most songs- that tow similar lines and ideas- that wait-for-commitment-but-focus-on-the-here-and-now is a refreshing change- most singers yearn for instant commitment; balk at the ideals of instant physicality and delirious passion.  Towards the two-thirds mark, my thoughts expand and speculate- is it just a new relationship being documented?  Our heroine wants to love her man with the sea and sand; among the water- more natural images and metaphysical scenes come in.  Gripped by the thought of a “one-night Samba”, the chorus comes back in- maybe other subjects are being examined.  In writing this song, Albrecht explained it as a summer-time paen; a fun song to beat the blues- and inject sunshine into the mix.  Maybe the scenery, landscape and weather are being praised- and fitting into the romantic wordplay- and makes me think twice.  Clearly there is another person involved; yet the way her words tumble- and how they speak and reflect- leads my mind elsewhere.  Keeping the mystery and sense of wonder high, the song is open for interpretation- each listener might have a different take.  Maybe in love with the city; wanting to dance and enjoy the beach-life existence- rather than be in the arms of her dream man- your thoughts are split and conspiring.  A wonderfully evocative song- with some intelligent and mature lyrics- it digs deeper and shouts louder.  Towards the final moments, is a mix of wordless vocals and sultry Samba/Boss-Nova jive.  Tempting in some gentle electronic strings; the lyrics come back in- advising caution to the wind; everything is going to be “just love”.  That sentiment (throwing caution to the wind) is whispered with a seductive lick; you get a shiver and sense of sexuality- the heat of the moment is turned up and enflamed.  As the final notes shimmy and dance, you are still caught up in the energy and passion.  Employing traditional Bossa-Nova elements with modern production and touches- little bits Soul and Pop; undertones of Jazz too- it is a wonderfully vibrant and nuanced song.

Clarisse Albrecht makes distingué music- that which is defined by dignity and is distinguished- and is a warm and loving person.  There are no swears and profanity; no accusations and hatred- just music that wants to embrace and comfort.  Some cynical souls may feel it will never capture the mass audience- given what the majority of music consists- yet that is the point.  There is too much cynicism and anger in music; too much back-stabbing and self-flagellation: when you push away from that; can be bold and upbeat- that takes the most strength and courage.  With her poetic lyrics and elegant production values, the songs swim and glide- get inside your mind and take hold.  Deixar Rolar showcases those mandates of uplift and sunshine- the song is a summery number that soundtracks warm and pleasant days.  With autumn now upon us- and the weather somewhat unpredictable here- we all need something positive; music that goes beyond the borders of rage and pain- puts the listener in a better frame of mind.  Bossa-Nova and Soul produces artists who can do this- the more mainstream genres are culpable of this missive- and Albrecht has no intention of bringing down the mood.  Returning to my original points- before I give a mini-review of her debut album- I am back on the subjects of international music and positivity.  In the U.K., we are prone to a lot of new acts and genres; some great new stuff coming through- so much gets passed-by and buried.  The media is prone to promoting Indie/Alternative; Pop and Rock- obvious and profitable styles of music.  I can see why everything can’t be proffered- due to lack of space and column inches- yet there is an opportunity gone begging.  Bossa-Nova and Soul blends; music that gets you dancing and smiling- when do we hear this nowadays?  Music is defined by its inner-examinations and lovelorn numbers; the optimism and soul is starting to fade.  There are acts that break from the mould of cynical and heartbroken, yet they are few-and-far-between.  With the likes of Albrecht starting to popularise a new wave of positivity, more should take note- and listen to its effects.  Whether sung in Portuguese or French; English or Spanish- you cannot deny the music’s potential.  It may take a while to fully feel the full effects of the music- with the majority of her tracks being sung in Portuguese- but that should not distort your thoughts.  The compositions bristle with life and energy; the songs are catchy and vibrant- the messages contained have a universality and tangibility.  People are willing to travel the planet and seek-out new countries: expound the virtues of their cultures and sights; the magic they witness.  When it comes to music, people are less adventurous.  Maybe something needs to be done: as I said previously, we are missing out on a lot.  As a supplement to our musical diet, Albrecht’s brand of warm-cum-personal motifs can inspire and motivate- break through prejudices and hesitancy.  Too many ‘music-lovers’ are stuffy and narrow- I do not like some genres, yet have an open-minded outlook- and do not look beyond the safe and comforting.  With Albrecht- and fellow international acts like Masri- bringing their special music to the masses; things are starting to change.  If anything, it is exciting to behold a truly traveled and cosmopolitan act.  Albrecht has her African heritage and genres- which you can hear in some of the Coupé-Décalé/Afrobeat polyrhythms- and Dominican skin- the Bossa-Nova and Latin passion bursts from the speaker.  Having spent a lot of time in Paris, the French influences come out: European Pop elements and Biguine/Yé-yé; café culture and languid beauty.  Alongside this are the British/U.S. themes: the romantic and old-style Soul; the urgent and updated Pop sounds- wrapped around a voice that is rich with love and tenderness; layers and threads.  Albrecht is one of the most expressive and vibrant voices on the modern scene- few singers have her grasp of emotions and subject matter.  It would be great to see Albrecht in London: bring her music to the U.K. masses; give us a first-hand chance to witness her unique blends.  The music world needs more pioneering and forward-thinking acts; people who want to bring gentility and positivity in- it is seriously waning at the moment.  With a prosperous future ahead of her, it seems like everything is falling into place.  Albrecht’s blog allows access into her travels, family and world- a chance for the fan to see another side to the singer- whilst the music itself is bursting with colour and light; flair and life.

Não Posso Parar has plenty of punch and panache.  One of the album’s most seductive numbers, it boasts a gorgeous vocal- our heroine has never sounded as romantic and impassioned.  The multi-tracked vocals create shivers and atmosphere; they beautifully unite and augment- the composition is powerless to resist.  Awe-struck and supportive, the beats and strings back the waterfall-like vocals; the heart-warming and sun-seeking grace.

Você Me Dá is one of the fastest and most furious tracks on the album.  Rushing and racing, the vocal is gorgeous and powerful.  Electronics are hazy and vibrating, the Bossa-Nova elements are all here- the entire composition is more fiery and alive; the song is one of the album’s most innovative cuts.  Uniting traditional Portuguese/Brazilian sounds with contemporary vibes, and it is one of the album’s finest moments.

Maputo boasts a gorgeous and dreamy introduction; it leads to a rich and sensual vocal- the song has a sassiness and shimmer.  The composition is teasing and romantic; the vocal is warm and embracing; the song has an elegance and sense of refine- a great balance against the more enraptured and faster numbers.

  Somehow is one of the gentlest numbers from Mulata Universal.  Desires and dreams are starting to fade; our heroine wants to keep strong and resolved- a part of her is starting to question and doubt.  The love is strong and meaningful, yet there is struggle and hardships- the course of love never runs too smoothly.  Remaining strong and dignified, our heroine remains stoic and humble; ensuring she does not accuse or blame.  Showcasing Albrecht’s most crystalline and pure vocals- letting the full beauty of her voice explore and linger- the song has a timeliness and sense of class; it is a song that deserves some extended radio play.

Perhaps the album’s fullest and most vivacious songs, La, La, La has an insatiable rhythm and passion.  The wordless chorus is just the start of things.  Our heroine’s voice is at its expressive best: weaving and contorting, her delivery is impeccable and innovative.  Twisting phrases and words, she combines with a finger-clicked underpin; the effusive and festival-ready swagger takes you by the hand.  Mixing Bossa-Nova with Latin fever; Pop and Soul elements with gorgeous vocal commitment, and it is an addictive and incredible number.  Imploring the listener to dance and clap- you can imagine the song blaring from a sunshine resort; a bar in the middle of a gorgeous island, as everyone unites in dance.

The album has a mix of cultures and musical ideas- Mulata roughly translates to mean “mixed-race”- and there is plenty of diversity to be found.  Albrecht has African and French heritage; based in Dominican Republic, the young artist has a maternal attitude to the planet.  In touch with love, nature and the more positive aspects of the world, this reflects in her work.  The music is unashamedly positive and non-offensive; the tracks look at love’s strength and potential- what happens when you embrace its magic.  The natural world comes into proceedings; natural images and stunning scenes- help to add to the beauty and tranquility.  The songs are not all calm and reflective: there is plenty of deliriousness and rhythm; some tremendously powerful moments- where the composition comes right to the fore.  Across the entire album, Albrecht demonstrates her full and mesmerising voice: it can go from a chilled whisper to something bustling and bursting; emotive and seduced.  Not just dedicated to Portuguese/lovers of Bossa-Nova, the album translates to all cultures: the power of the music overrides any preconceptions and limitations.  The vocals and compositions beautifully sit with one another; the band are consistently tight and exhilarating- the songs speak to those lovelorn and hopeful; those in the throes of passion too.  What you get is one of this year’s most exciting and nuanced albums- where songs reveal new insight and aspects with each listen- and it is such a packed album.  The songs burst and flow with energy; the vocals are chocolate-smooth and haunting (at times) – a stunning achievement.  With elegant and refined production values, Albrecht is one of the music world’s most sparkling stars.  If she continues this pace- and keeps her quality and consistency as it is- then she will be a name to watch.  If you have passed her by until now, ensure you do not let her slip by.  Mulata Universal and Deixar Rolar show just how stunning Albrecht is.  With 2015 not promising much flair, passion and continental diversity, thank God for the Dominican Republic-based artist.  Her music is perfect for warmer days; it is not exclusive or narrow- it wants everyone to be involved.  When it’s full spell takes a hold; trust me…

 

NOBODY is immune.

 

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Follow Clarisse Albrecht:

 

Official:

http://www.clarissealbrecht.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/clarissealbrecht

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/clarisseonline

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/clarissealbrecht

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Music:

https://soundcloud.com/clarisse-albrecht

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/user/clarissealbrecht

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Clarisse’s Blog is Available at:

http://www.mulatauniversal.com/

Track Review: Leon Bridges- Smooth Sailin’

TRACK REVIEW:

 

Leon Bridges

 

  

 

Smooth Sailin’

 

9.1/10

 

Smooth Sailin’ is available at:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYplnRjMVhM

RELEASED:
9th June, 2015

GENRES:
Soul

COUNTRY OF ORIGIN:

Texas, U.S.A.

The album Coming Home is available at:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/coming-home/id986903473?app=itunes&ign-mpt=uo%3D

TRACK LISTING:

Coming Home9.0

Better Man9.1

Brown Skin Girl8.8

Smooth Sailin’– 9.1

Shine9.0

Lisa Sawyer8.8

Flowers8.9

Pull Away9.0

Twistin’ and Groovin’8.9

River8.7

DOWNLOAD:

Better Man; Smooth Sailin’; Pull Away

STAND-OUT TRACK:

Smooth Sailin

℗ 2015 LisaSawyer63, Inc. under exclusive license to Columbia Records, a Division of Sony Music Entertainment

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IT is unusual for me to review an artist that is both…

well-know, yet relatively undiscovered.  In the case of Leon Bridges- due to his fan numbers and popularity; the review is unlikely to feature on his social media pages- that is the case.  Nevertheless, great music deserves to be promoted- regardless of whether an artist is established and not in need of glowing reviews- so that is what I shall do.  That said, Bridges remains relatively under-valued: at the moment he has high social media numbers; many more have not discovered his music- strange that more have not latched-onto his stunning blend of ‘70s Soul and modern-day R ‘n’ B.  Before I get to Texas-based Bridges- and his smooth and sensuous blends- new topics come to mind.  Soul music seems to be cloistered and under the radar: there are a few examples in the mainstream, yet largely, the Soul genre tends to go overlooked- still seen as a niche genre.  Acts like Sam Smith have their own spin on the genre; current favourites Lianne La Havas, Joss Stone and John Legend are doing a great job; there is room for more on the scene.  The Soul genre may be less nimble than the likes of Hip-Hop and Electro. – which often fuses other genres and sounds- yet that is not to say it is flat and narrow.  Not only in terms of emotions- the despairs of broken love to the euphoria of a new day- but sounds, the genre has a lot of elasticity and inventiveness.  If you find a really great singer- whose voice can transcend boundaries and cause shivers- then so much can be achieved.  Soul need not be predictable and limited: fusing Motown and Stax elements into the blend; horns and celebratory strings; cross-pollinating with Folk and Rock- there are few limits that are imposed on the up-and-coming Soul artist.  Unfortunately, and seemingly true of the mainstream’s best, there are limited ideas and effect.  With the likes of Stone, Smith and Legend passing their best; La Havas below par- or what we expect from her; what she is capable of- you have to ask whether there is a problem.  I am not sure what’s causing it; whether there is a lack of inspiration- the mainstream is not producing a great deal of terrific Soul acts.  Once more, the ‘underground’ (musicians not signed or less recognised) that are providing relief.  Maybe there is a fear of treading on toes- utilising the magic of the legends like Sam Cooke and Otis Redding opens you up to close scrutiny- but artists need to be braver.  On that note, there is no shame in a little tribute: employing embers of the greats; a little touch to the vocal.  Paolo Nutini has the gravel and power of Otis Redding; mixes Soul and Blues templates; plenty of stunning compositions- to create music that is captivating and new.  At the core is his unique perspective and stunning voice- the public embraced his powerful anthems and wonderful love songs.  The underground acts are as inventive and distinct; there needs to be more of this inventiveness and boldness- otherwise the genre will stagnate and fade away.  Before I raise a new point, let me introduce Leon Bridges (biography sourced from Wikipedia):

Bridges began his career by writing songs and learned guitar in order to play simple chords to accompany his lyrics.[6] He played at open-mic nights around Fort Worth while working as a dishwasher until he was signed by Columbia Records in 2014.[3] It was his song “Lisa Sawyer”, about his mother’s conversion, that first defined his style.[6] Bridges began writing and performing 1950s and ’60s-style soul music that was described by Austin 360 as “a transmission straight from the heart.”[7] He began to attract followers and his break into the music industry has been attributed to a run-in he had at a bar with White Denim guitarist Austin Jenkins.[6] The duo discussed clothing and a few weeks later Jenkins and his bandmate Joshua Block ran into Bridges during a performance in north Texas.[6] It was Bridges’s performance of “Coming Home” that caught the attention of Block and Jenkins.[6] Bridges worked on his first few tracks with Jenkins and Block as producers.[2] They were recording an album with vintage equipment, using an artist with an authentic, old sound.[8] Local musicians played on the album with Bridges on vocals,[8] including The Orbans, Quaker City Night Hawks, and Patriot. Bridges released two demo songs on Soundcloud in late 2014. “Coming Home” received regular airplay on radio stations ranging from KKXT to London.[8] It and “Lisa Sawyer” received more than 800,000 views and attracted the attention of more than 40 record labels with Bridges eventually signing with Columbia Records in December 2014.[8] 

Bridges began his first national tour in January 2015, playing shows in Texas as well as playing support for Sharon Van Etten in New York.[9][10] His first official single, “Coming Home” was released on Columbia Records in February 2015.[11] The song continued the success of the demo version and became a Top 10 Most Viral Track on Spotify the same month as its release.[4] Bridges toured with Jenkins and Block until they resumed work with White Denim. He also played at the Sundance Film Festival[12] and is scheduled to play at SXSW in 2015.[13] His debut album is scheduled to be released in the summer of 2015 and has been referred to as a 2015 Album to Look Forward to From Texans byThe New York Times.[14] Bridges made the cover of Fort Worth, Texas magazine in May 2015[15] for not only his vocal accomplishments but also his distinctive retro style. 

“Coming Home” was recently featured in an Apple iPhone 6 commercial which shows a seagull flying in slow motion as a powerful wave crashes against the coast of Hermosa Beach, California.[16]

Bridges is part of the throwback artists: those with their souls in the ‘60s and ‘70s; writing songs with a vintage heart- evocative church organs and Doo-Wop vocals; physical declarations (to win a girl) and parping horns.  Texas is producing some forward-thinking and pioneering acts; musicians with their eyes in the future- very much the here-and-now attitude.  Bridges seems out of place; someone with his mind cast back- more at home in the early-‘60s than 2015.  With regards his debut album (Coming Home) there is plenty of personality and insight- songs that are from the heart and deeply introspective- that mingles with overt and bombastic decelerations.  The songs have a classic formula; they hark back to the days of Sam Cooke: from the horns and Gospel tinges; the subject matter and production values- it breaks away from modern Soul; differs from the U.K.-based sounds of Smith and Nutini.  Whilst a lot of Soul artists hark to the past- and showcase their love of ‘60s/’70s Soul overtly- Bridges has some modern sensibilities; he is a vibrant and fresh voice; someone who understands the urgency and uncertainty of the times.  If his music evokes memories past, his ambitions and marketing is very much a 21st century agenda: he has a huge social media following.  With a management team behind him; a clear and effective online strategy- he is very much a modern artist; someone who understands the importance of the Internet age.  It would be nice to see some more retro. touches come in- strip back the production sound; have some one-off vinyl releases perhaps.  Before I get down to the music itself, I have my head in Texas- a state that is showcasing some terrific artists.  The Tontons, Josh Abbot Band and Churchwood call Texas home; each act recalls different emotions and genres- all are stunning to witness.  From Fat Tony’s Houston Rap; to Bonnie Whitmore’s Denton Americana- via Max Frost’s Austin Pop-cum-Hip-Hop fusions- the state is producing some of music’s best and brightest.  Bridges sits nicely into the mix- although Texas does not have too many black Soul singers- and is doing the state proud.  Compared to areas like L.A. and New York- which are more Rock and Indie-driven- Texas has that richness and range; mastery of ‘softer’ genres- County and Americana; Soul and Folk- that is capturing a lot of attention.

Bridges has unveiled his debut album: an artist that is going in direct and ambitious; hard and meaningful.  When I normally review an act- that are just coming through and emerging- there are cover versions and E.P.s; the odd collaboration- Bridges is making his first impressions.  In terms of comparisons- seeing how far he has come; how he has developed- it is a hard job.  The initial signs are all positive: Bridges sounds confident and assured; not naïve or slight- his music has its own voice and sound.  A lot of acts- that go straight in with an album- sound premature and directionless; like they have just jumped in.  Bridges knows his strengths and songs; they are all lovingly delivered- well-rehearsed and crafted; the sound of a man who knows his mind.

The best thing to do is to compare artists: see who Bridges is inspired by; where he has come from- and how his voice has been shaped.  Sam Cooke is often mentioned- when it comes to the vocals at least- and is a pertinent starting place.  That sensuality and smoothness; the sexuality and power- Bridges has adapted Cooke for his own means- not in a lazy way; he is a modern-day version.  There are touches of other Soul artists (in Bridges’ voice) yet Cooke is the most obvious- if you have not heard of either; rectify this and investigate.  For all the comparisons- critics and reviewers are keen to jump to conclusions- the most obvious comparables are the overall sound.  Bridges does not replicate a singer or artist- he replicates the sound of ‘60s Soul; the greats of the era.  Bridges has a very unique and honed voice- that actually goes out of its way to sound fresh- whilst the music itself is most ‘familiar’.  The warm and regal horns; the swaying and sensual codas; the backing vocals and lyrical themes- taking us back to a golden age of Soul.  For existing fans of that time period- and all the glorious music produced- they will find much to love.  There is some familiarity- in the ways the songs are structured; the lyrical references and subject matter- but a renewed sense of urgency and pace.  The production is more polished and shiny; it adds shine to the genre- and gives it a fresh kick.  Those new to Soul- or whose only exposure is through modern purveyors- I would suggest you head back; pick up those ‘60s legends- to get a sense of how Bridges has been moulded.  Above all, the young Texan wants to make his own mark; be his own boss- the grace and panache he offers each track is startling and impressive.  He is not someone that is hanging to coattails; he is a proud and hungry young star- that is the abiding impression; that is what you should take away.

A smooth and foot-imploring brass coda opens Smooth Sailin’: the saxophone blows with impunity; eliciting a shivering and comforting blast- ensuring the song instantly gets inside your mind.  Without much further ado, out hero jumps to the microphone- his voice begins with determination and direction.  Things will be smooth sailing (“Over the horizon”); there is that sense of safety- getting onto firmer ground.  Perhaps speaking to a lover- or the girl of his desires- Bridges employs nautical metaphors; seas and ships- as the girl entrances him.  Liking the way she sails her ship; he wants to be her cargo- an image that is not-oft used in songwriting; it is a vivid and strong image (with a little sexual innuendo stuck in there).  Carried by the sway of the composition- that boasts a punchy and slapped percussive beat- Bridges lets his voice swim; dive inside the words- he sounds utterly seduced and wide-eyed.  Promising not to “wear (you) down”, the saxophone comes back a-blazing: eliciting the most fire-crackling moment, the song kicks up a notch- and hits the heights.  The images and visions of ships/the sea never become heavy-handed and juvenile: Bridges ensures each representation is charming and affective- not wanting to see the listener’s mind wander.  He is not sure the destination- where he and his girl is headed- yet he wants to be the passenger; help and guide her- effectively, take her to promised shorelines.  As our hero heads back to his central message- being cargo; not weighing the girl down- some (female) backing vocals are introduced; sparring with Bridges- emphasising the odd word and sentiment.  A cute and slinking one-two, the song mutates once more; adds evocation and weight- gets more passionate and fevered.  The chorus’s words are delivered smoothness and tenderness- as the female backing vocal joins in once more- giving you a sense of tranquility and peacefulness.  Before more words are unveiled- and our man unfolds more of the story- his band unites to create something soulful and electric.  The guitar wails and vibrates; the percussion teases and tempts; tambourine notes shimmy and hiss.  With Bridges back at the mic., our hero is determined and at his lustful peak.  Whilst contemporaries and others are direct and spare little charm; Bridges seems a different proposition: “Sweet honey, darling” is his calling; he is a polite gentleman- from the old school of Soul.  In order to keep the song economical and memorable, Bridges reintroduces phrases and words- the lines about cargo and ships are repeated; the same visuals come back in.  This is a smart move, as it creates instant memorability: the listener will be able to sing along; join in first time- the song (for this reason) is more effective.  Never truly exploding- you wonder whether a Paolo Nutini/Iron Sky-esque vocal blast would send the song to heavens- Bridges keeps things controlled and calm.  The compositions does most of the heavy work; that voice keeps gliding and pining- the song has no intention of overpowering the listener; it remains true to its lyrics.  The band performance is particular impressive- that supports Bridges and the song- with the percussion standing out.  Containing plenty of verve and flair, the drums crackle and cut- ensuring the song is given that needed edge of hardness and force.  Around this, there is some subtle and gentle guitar; little hints of tambourine and bass- adding to the composition’s rich and unshakable thirst.  His desired girl- the sweet honey darling- is causing him sweat and anxiety; there is that tangible sense of desire.  Bridges keeps controlled and held-back; never letting his emotions get the better of him- a ‘60s Soul man if ever there was one.  The final moments are dedicated to repetition and emphasis: our lead shakes his hips and lets his vocals swoon; his messages are clear and firm-hearted.  As the percussion booms and bounces, the song comes to its end; Bridges steps back from the microphone- with his girl hopefully suitably impressed and compelled.

There are few criticisms you can levy at Leon Bridges.  His voice has often been compared with the likes of Sam Cooke: on Smooth Sailin’ you get hints; it is hardly an obvious reference; there is plenty of individuality and originality.  Bridges has his own accent and direction; his own way of phrasing- that separates him from Cooke.  What would be nice to hear- and something that is obvious in other songs- is a little bit of injection; let that voice really soar.  At times the lyrics call for more expression and commitment: the cue for the voice to rise and grip; really show some drama.  That is all I can think of, because for the most, part I was stunned and impressed.  Bridges keeps the lyrics simple and effective- with co-writers Austin Michael Jenkins, Joshua Block and Chris Vivion.  Smooth Sailin’ does what the title suggests: that everything will be okay; against choppy waters, guidance can be found (with Bridges the oar and sense of gravity).  It is great to hear a song that does not go for the jugular; too overt and promiscuous- Bridges’ Texan manners and affection for manners is obvious.  He is an old-style seducer; the vocals do all the flirting and campaigning- the words need only be simple and honest.  By repeating ideas and lines; creating a momentum and quotable set of lyrics- it hits the listener harder; makes it a sure-fire crowd favourite.  The band (Bridges’ backing band) is effective and tight throughout.  From the insatiable and hornets-nest saxophone- that beckons in the song with desire- to the groovy tambourine- each instrument adds to the wave/sea/sailing sound.  The percussion is a beat that creates waves and crash; the guitars ripple and are a rip-tide- the backing vocals almost a Siren call.  A simple and effective song, you cannot help fall for Smooth Sailin’- the finest moment from Coming Home.  The rest of the album contains similar songs and emotions- and comparable sounds- yet none get inside you in the same manner.  Showcasing all of Bridges aces- from that sonorous and multi-edged voice- to the honeyed composition, it is a tremendous track.  With a little more ecstasy and rapture it could have been near-perfect; but for now at least, it shows how talented Bridges is- and just what he can offer the music world.

Coming Home has garnered a lot of attention; reviewers have paid tribute to its honesty and strength; reminiscence of the past- the authority and affection that is contained within.  Bridges deliberately wants to replicate the older Soul sound- and mingle alongside his heroes- which come out across the record.  There is no mimicking, yet the tracks all have a ‘60s Soul sensation- embers of Smokey Robinson and Sam Cooke can be heard in the L.P.’s finest moments- and evoke the best days of the genre.  One of the main criticisms that has been suggested- when it comes to the critical feedback so far- is the lack of originality.  The nostalgia trip is a pleasure to witness; that Sam Cooke-esque voice is silky and smooth- yet does it offer enough of Leon Bridges?  That clear passion for ‘60s Soul runs rampant (on Coming Home) and perhaps steals focus- it is a record that is indebted to, and obsessed with, that era of music.  Not trying to rip-off his heroes, Bridges sets himself apart: his voice has plenty of nuance and range; his songs- whilst having familiar and tried-and-tested themes- are charming and impassioned; the songs put you in a better place.  The fan numbers speak for themselves: the young American clearly has seduced listeners; they are responding to his stunning tracks- the future looks very rosy for him.  The album is a focused and economical creation- ten tracks that do not outstay their welcome; nothing strays too long- that will remain in the memory.  The Soul apprentice has a lot of options ahead of him: where does he go for the next album?  Does he extend his sound?  We will be seeing him at the big festivals next year?  I think the sophomore album should contain established elements- the ‘60s sound and subjects- whilst stripping-back the production; giving it a rawer edge- letting his voice really stand out.  He has limitless potential with regards the vocals: enough power to match Nutini’s pain-wracked roars; the stunning chills that could match Amy Winehouse; the sweet notes that recall a young Smokey Robinson- able to give songs more texture and depth.  When he does exploit his voice his songwriting will widen and journey:  stay within the realms of love, but give the downsides- the heartache and longing- more conviction and urgency.  The instrumentation could be more inventive and wide-ranging: bring in more orchestral elements; piano interludes and wild brass moments; little shades of Rock and Alternative- he would not be betraying his sounds; more giving it a little edge and range.  As it stands, Bridges is destined for the big festivals- not just in the U.S. mind- and could be a feature across the U.K.’s festival line-up.  Bridges is embarking on a tour of the globe: taking in the U.S. and Europe, he will be headed to the U.K. – giving us here a chance to witness him in the flesh.  Smooth Sailin’ is a track that perfectly represents Leon Bridges: that inimitable and spine-tingling voice; the sensuality and passion; the ‘60s-cum-modern day tangle- around some polished and shining production values.  Texas is trotting-out some wonderful and scene-stealing acts; from Rock heavyweights to Soul seducers, so much promise is beckoning forth- keep your eyes peeled in their direction.  The Soul market- certainly in the mainstream- has suffered lately.  The loss of icons like Amy Winehouse has made its impact; there are few contemporaries that match her brilliance and voice- those busy and rich compositions; the originality and personality.  Bridges could bring about a revival: with his album gaining plaudit; his fans swelling by the week- he could be a future Soul icon.  Few can deny his passion and commitment; that scintillating and dexterous voice- all the ammunition is there.  If he increased his palette; expanded his sights- and took full advantage of his many talents- then he could be without rival.  Coming Home is abound with soul and wide-eyed lust; strong decelerations and purity- something the public are yearning.  I love Soul because of its cores and foundation: the smooth and emotive vocals; the true and pure love songs- music that is at its most direct and raw.  To eradicate rainy day blues; ensure there is something bright to cherish- investigate Leon Bridges and Smooth Sailin’  Radiating with warm and commanding tones, you cannot help but get lost inside its layers; swim in its embracing arms- that underlying optimism and hope.  In a music world filled with pessimism and self-flagellation; the pains and torments of love- we need something that makes us feel better about ourselves; better about music.  In Bridges, you get just that- and so much more.  That affection for ‘60s/’70s Soul is infectious and mesmeric; his performances are always compelling and astonishing- he will only grow stronger with time.  He has a wealth of support behind him; yet so many have overlooked his potential.  If you are one of them, change your thinking…

AND fall for a wonderful young artist.

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Follow Leon Bridges:

 

Official:

http://www.leonbridges.com/

Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/LeonBridgesOfficial

Twitter:

https://twitter.com/leonbridges

Instagram:

https://instagram.com/leonbridgesofficial/

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Music:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/artist/leon-bridges/id961252454

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Videos:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCD8FVPChed3F3CH-xPHwf4A

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Tour:

http://www.leonbridges.com/tour/