D’ANGELO- Black Messiah.

15 12 2014

 

 

14 years ago I walked into HMV and purchased Voodoo by D’Angelo. I bought Brown Sugar at the same time, mainly because I didn’t have the funds in 1995 but a weekend job allowed me to buy both Voodoo and Brown Sugar. I couldn’t ever choose which I love the most, it’s impossible. D’Angelo has been a huge love of mine for so long, and to wake up knowing a new record was out today was great news. There have been so many brilliant moments in music this year, for me. And I could have happily listed them off until this morning- pre D’Angelo release. So now, I can pretty much say that Black Messiah is THE most important and best thing to happen to music this year.

I’m not sure how to write about Black Messiah. I could pick apart every song and go on about why they are so good, I could go on about why it is so important for someone like D’Angelo to release this record or maybe combine them both and ramble on. I don’t know. I really don’t. I guess if you want a standard review, you’ve got the likes of *insert name.*

So, is Black Messiah a masterpiece? Was it worth the wait? Yep and yes some more. What you need to understand is that D’Angelo is the best R&B singer around. The guy just oozes  real soul. He’s not some auto-tune buffoon relaying on producers to make him relevant. Even when he wasn’t making music, he was relevant. Always. This is the guy you listen to when you want to escape the modern world and go way back in time. He’s got nostalgia (I hate that word, sorry) flowing through his music. Marvin never really died. The thing about Black Messiah is it has been released at a time where something like this is truly truly needed. Sure he is known for his romantic wordplay, but Black Messiah is graciously political in all the right places.

This record is a touch of Al Green and Sly Stone, comparing D’Angelo to anyone current would be offensive to his music because if it wasn’t for him… But anyway, Black Messiah is the most important record of the year. That’s all we really need to know.

If you want your heart broken in a non romantic sense, then play and listen very carefully to The Charade. It captures everything that has been going on with yet again, police brutality and lack of a justice system. If  “All we wanted was a chance to talk, ‘stead we only got outlined in chalk. Feet have bled a million miles we’ve walked, revealing at the end of the day, the charade.” doesn’t move you, then maybe you side with the police. D’Angelo is a brilliant writer, a fascinating story-teller. Shit, Damn, Motherfucker will always be my favourite song by him because of how he puts you in that situation. There is something beautiful in the way he writes about pain, with a sort of child-like innocence to it all. He’s someone who watches and writes about it so effortlessly yet careful. He just knows what to say, and my god, I am happy the wait is over.

 

But let’s be honest now, any record that credits Q-Tip and Questlove is going to be nothing short of genius. Kids that were probably created to the sounds of Brown Sugar and Voodoo now have the opportunity to understand why D’Angelo is so so important. Black Messiah is a result of years of on and off, up and down. But it is here. It is finally here.

We’re living in a time where we have gone back, too far back. A time where we were supposed to have learnt from. Some have, others evidently haven’t. Black Messiah is THE record to zone out from the real world to. It’ll ease some hearts, unleash some tears and speaks so much truth. It is the most powerful record of the year. Hype isn’t always deserved, but when it comes to this- oh it is truly needed. The greatest singer around is responsible for the greatest release of the year, that’s all there is to it. Black Messiah is a real Soul/Funk record that will appeal to anybody and everybody, it’s just so bloody good. Music is powerful, trust no one who thinks otherwise. This record is an expression of desire for unity and freedom, if that doesn’t make you want to see a change in the world then I feel bad for you, I really do.

The record ends with Another Life, a six minute dreamy gem to drift you off some place else but keeps you in the moment enough to hit play all over again. Each song gives you something new and a different way of seeing things. Frustration and love trickle through the Black Messiah. 14 years is a crazy long time, but if this is what happens then maybe it’s alright. But, D’Angelo don’t leave us so long again.

 





BAND PRACTICE- Make Nice.

10 12 2014

“I don’t know how to make nice
I don’t know where I went wrong
I don’t know how to tell you
So I learned the words to all of your songs.”

 

I’m currently faced with one of the most difficult tasks in life- buying a new coat. I hate all of them and I think the best solution to not be cold is to just not leave the house during Winter. If I need anything, I can just buy it online. But then again, there’s the thing of having a job and having to leave the house to get there. It’s all so difficult. You know what else is difficult? Trying to break in my new Docs. I don’t want to part with my old ones. They’ve been through a lot. I clearly don’t adapt well to change do I.

Writing about a band that I love is usually easy. When it;s a band that I’m pals with, then it feels a bit weird. Then again, if I didn’t like it I wouldn’t write about it so there’s really nothing to worry about.

Yesterday, finally, Band Practice released their debut record Make Nice came out today. If I was going to make a list of brilliant records of 2014, I’d definitely put them in there. But I’m not doing that this year, I’ll do lyrics instead. Anyway. So the record came out today and it’s ridiculous.

Band Practice are Ben and Jeanette (she does The Miscreant magazine. I write for them, she’s awesome as is the magazine. She didn’t tell me to tell you that, I felt like it.) JW’s voice is beautiful.

The songs are everything you thought high school would be. For me, it was nothing like it. There were no crushing crushes, nothing of the sort. I was and always be an average bore. Band Practice have provided songs that will ease anyone out of their awkward stage, or in adulthood- make it easier to deal with.

The 9 track record starts with the awesome Band Practice Theme Song. JW pays a little homage to wonder kids Comfy in the line, “This is my big comfy scarf.” This is the perfect track to open Make Nice with. But I want to talk about my ultimate favourite off the record, Bartending At Silent Barn. It’s full of wonderful self-doubt and I’m pretty sure anyone who listens to it will relate to it a hell of a lot. I adore the line, “Nobody in my head likes me so sometimes I get lonely .” It’s such a sad line, and I’m fairly sure why I love it. I tend to go for lyrics that are quite self-loathing and the like. I love the way JW sings this song, and I feel a bit awkward talking about how she sings! I love how there’s a bit of a fed-up feel to her voice at the start, then a little giggle happens (I think it’s a giggle) and the song just smacks you beautifully in the face. The drums, always the drums isn’t it.

Band Practice have basically put a record out to fit every mood. If you want to sulk in your room, stay in your pjs and never see anybody again- this is the record for you. Ultimately,  you can also flail your limbs about to some of the tracks without a care in the world. Do a mix of all of them, but make sure you don’t overlook the lyrics. The lyrics are gorgeously crafted, and yet again, another band that make me wish I had even a small fraction of musical talent. Alas, I don’t. I just do this instead. Some of the songs will break your heart (Spare Parts) but really, what you’ll adore are the quick-witted lyrics sung by Jeanette and Ben. See, this is why duos are just the best.

Make Nice has been released by the great Chill Mega Chill, and you can buy the tape/download it here:

https://bandbandpracticepractice.bandcamp.com/album/make-nice

Embrace the cute corgis and play as loud as you like. Oh and if you’re fortunate to live in NYC, go their release show this Friday at 603 Upstairs : https://www.facebook.com/events/1526395474274610/?ref=22





NADINE SHAH.

27 11 2014

“Check your pulse when I speak.”

Originally I was going to write about Nadine’s new song, Stealing Cars. I started it last night, felt sick and went to bed. A new day has dawned, I’m still ill (Hi Moz!) so I’ve started it again. Why focus on one song when I can just ramble on for a bit about why her voice is probably one of the best things around.

Last year I wrote about Runaway for another website I write for. I didn’t acknowledge how it made me cry instantly. I never mentioned that Nadine’s voice can reduce me to tears instantly. Now I have, I should probably attempt to say why. You can hear proper venom in her voice in Runaway that won me over. Then I started really listening to the lyrics. I love lyrics, probably because at times I’m underdeveloped emotionally but if I could function properly I wouldn’t have filled up so many notebooks nor would I be doing this. You can hear her voice beautifully quake as she sings the chorus, you cling onto it all. You want to yell “whore” with her. Nadine doesn’t yell it, but it’s a word that makes you want to yell. Only if it’s in a song though, don’t go round calling people it. That’s not too polite. The music feels like a train approaching, all you can do is let it pass you by. It builds up hauntingly during the chorus. A year on and the song still gives me goosebumps (I’ve also got the window open.)

Love Your Dum And Mad was 2013’s most underrated record. I don’t care what you say, so many people bypassed such a beauty. Redeem yourself. As far as debut records go, this one is something else. The sheer darkness and Nadine’s way with words would make Nick Cave piss his pants. She’s instantly up there with him. Why? Because she puts you in the moment. I know she’s been compared to the likes of Nick Cave and to an extent it can be tiring. But my god she’s a majestic storyteller like him. She’s got power in her voice like Patti Smith, you can’t help but be in awe of her.

After playing Ville Morose most of today and last night, I am quite keen to start an online petition to get Nadine to sing a full record in French. Listen to it through headphones. No idea what she’s singing, mainly because my French goes as far as “Ou est la piscine” and my fondness for the French word for bin, “poubelle.” The latter probably annoyed my French teacher in school. “OU EST LA POUBELLE MISS!!” I got a C in my GCSE and I did it a year early. Très bon.

I’ve seen a few gigs recently in churches, and I can’t help but think that Nadine’s voice was made for the likes of St Pancras Old Church or the Union Chapel. Her voice is big at the right time in songs. She’s got the kind of voice I wish I had when I sing. It’s best if I don’t sing. Or speak in French. Much like Anna Calvi, she has this dominating deep voice that takes over you and sings with such clarity. She grips you with such a force, you almost don’t notice.

It has never happened before really, but her music reminds me of one of my favourite books, Bel-Ami by Guy de Maupassant and in places,  Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell. I don’t know what it is, maybe I go far too deep into things but her music and voice really gives such powerful imagery. Listen to Dreary Town, you’ll probably get what I mean. Her voice on that…if I had the words, I would use them. I don’t have any words to describe how powerful and beautiful it sounds. In some songs her accent comes through, like on Floating when she sings the word “Lover” it comes through. I love hearing accents in songs. Not London accents so much.

There’s a singer I’ve been writing about now for maybe nearly two years called The Long Wives (Brandy St. John) and her voice reminds me of Nadine’s. The way both really put you in the heart of the song with how they project certain words and aren’t afraid to be really open with their words. It’s a level of honesty that is missing in so many. I’m fairly sure if I went to one of Nadine’s shows I’d be the idiot at the back sobbing at every song. Sorry.

This is pretty much all over the place, mainly because I can’t really focus on one thing to write about at a time when it comes to her music. I listen to something, and I’m hit with something else. Sometimes that’s what you need. You don’t always want to feel or think of one thing when you listen to something. You want it all to hit you at once. I’m all for chaos as I loath routines and organisation.

I am fairly sure, and this is just me going by Stealing Cars, that Nadine’s new record which is out next year will be utterly special. A voice likes her’s is rare and divine. It is to be treasured yet played pretty much all the time. I adore the dark and creepy atmosphere in her music mixed with her captivating voice. She’s just sublime. J’adore!





2:54- The Other I.

3 11 2014

 

 

 

 

There are a few bands that you can associate with dark and misty weather. A band that you trudge through muddy puddles just to purchase some grime supermarket sandwich on your lunch break or a band you will happily wander through the streets to get home in a torrential downpour, just because they fit the mood. You can go as far back as you like or you bring it up to date with a band that are just nothing short of excellent. I’m spending my lunch break wisely by listening to The Other I for the third time today and attempting to write something about it that hopefully puts across how great it is. Alternatively, you can skip this and just buy the record next Monday (it’s out 2 days before my 28th, November is an alright month.)

2:54 are a band I have spent a lot of time listening to and really appreciating everything about what they do. I think Alex is one of the best drummers around, Hannah makes me wish I could play guitar and Colette has this gorgeous voice that I part wish I had, and the other part of me wants to have her sing me eerie songs every night before I sleep so I have some wonderfully lucid dream. Everything about 2:54s music is what I love. They have this brilliantly dark tension to their sound which is what made me fall unapologetically in love with their music a few years ago. The demos/b-sides I heard before their first record came out made me realise instantly that they were going to be a band that I would have to always listen to. To this day, I play their first record almost constantly. It makes the journey to and from work a little easier, I push myself a little more at the gym when I listen to it, I walk home imagining their lyrics coming to life. Their words and music are like an old, sacred Gothic novel made for Autumn/Winter. The Other I really brings all I’ve mentioned to life in the most ethereal way imaginable.

I tried to wait until I got home to write about The Other I, so I could spend the rest of my afternoon at work listening to it whilst staring at a screen pretending to know what I’m doing. I obviously, like a child at Christmas, just couldn’t wait.

The first three tracks are ones we have already heard. I’ve written about them previously so you know how I feel about them. No Better Prize and Sleepwalker were made for you to have obscure dreams to. The best way to listen to music of any kind is through headphones whilst laying or sitting on your bed. Do it in the dark, set your mind free and go some place. However, listening to The Other I at work is equally as powerful. The images come through, and as hard as I am trying right now to not shut my eyes and go somewhere; their songs are strong enough for me to do it with my eyes open. Colette’s voice on Sleepwalker is beautifully haunting. Her voice has this perfect gentle tone to it but at the same time creeps you out- on Sleepwalker it really comes to life. The Other I sounds perfect against their debut record, one isn’t better than the other. Both are masterpieces, and I vow to stand by that.

Tender Shoots is a quiet and delicate gem, and before you know it you are hit with The Monaco. I’m pretty sure, if they do this live, the drums are going to sound insane live. It’s slightly more upbeat (tempo wise) than their others songs, but I don’t mean this is something to dance to. You just move your body differently to it than you would to others. On their first record, how you move to Sugar is different to how you move to revolving. Something takes over, and you just go with it. I know I go on about Colette’s voice, but there’s a little breakdown on The Monaco where it just echoes and it is standout moment, for me.

Everything gets heavier from Crest onwards, and you sort of feel like you’re listening to a band that got you through your teenage angst years. Instead, you’ve found the band that allow escapism for adulthood. I’ve been trying to figure out what song I love the most on The Other I. Part of me is besotted with Pyro, but then I listen to South straight after and I cannot choose. So I won’t choose. The Other I, if you’re looking for comparisons, heavier than their debut. There are some “smack you in the face” moments on their debut and there are plenty on The Other I.

I don’t know if I’ll make a list of my favourite records this year, but if I feel the need I think it is safe to say this is my number 1. I’m torn between Pyro and South right now, maybe if they play them live I’ll be able to make some kind of decision but life I guess, is too short to always have favourites. All I know is that The Other I is a perfect record to listen to on this dark, murky day. Just like their debut, I plan on listening to it constantly. Their London show on the 19th (November) has sold out but they’re playing Dingwalls in February.

2:54 are a quiet storm, a sacred listen. If you ignored them the first time, don’t make the same mistake again. They are a band that make you realise that not all new music sucks and not every band is copying what has been done before. The eerie atmosphere that flows throughout The Other I is one of the main reasons as to why I love the record. That, and the fact that a band I really bloody adore and believe in are back, that’s enough to make me happy right now. 2:54 are a band that I want everyone I know to listen to and to love, just because they have this indescribable quality to their music that just makes it feel like you’re listening to something truly precious. I hope some lost teenager hears their music and starts their own band; that’s just how much I really dig this band.

Alright, that’s enough. I’ll go to my work now.

 





JESSIE WARE. Roundhouse. 18th September 2014.

19 09 2014

 

 

Exactly a year ago I won tickets to see Jessie Ware at Abbey Road Studios, a year later I win tickets to the iTunes Festival. This meant selling my Fat White Family ticket, but it was fine- it went to a good home.

Anyone who has seen Jessie Ware live (and I don’t mean via the internet) will know she has this indescribable presence that just makes you want to keep seeing her perform live. I don’t know what it is, but as soon as she starts singing even if the songs are heart-breaking, you just feel alright. She has this effortlessly gorgeous voice that doesn’t hit the music industry very often. I know I’ve said it many times but she’s got the soul/passion that I’ve only heard in Sade and Aaliyah’s voice. All three of them have this soft, gentle and reassuring quality to their voice and music. It is a pleasure to listen to.

She opened her set with Running which everyone pretty much went nuts to. But the new songs are really something else. Sure everyone loves Wildest Moments but can we PLEASE just declare Want Your Feeling as the best thing to happen all year? If you don’t dance, even just a little bit to it, then you should see a doctor about your joints. They’re not moving right, go sort yourself out. Her new songs sound beyond brilliant live, so I think we have all reached a mutual understanding that Tough Love is probably going to be one of the best records out this year. We’re all okay with this aren’t we? Good. Every year I find at least one song that I could quite happily play on repeat, all day every day and Want Your Feeling is that song for me this year. I love every little thing about it. The lyrics may be a little sad, but the song just makes me massively happy. My moves to Groove Is In The Heart (my girlfriend will say they are embarrassing, and they probably are) are pretty much similar to what Want Your Feeling makes my limbs do.

Her songs just make you want to turn to the person you love/adore, and to just tell them that. Her songs, even when heart-breaking just ooze a wealth of love that isn’t conveyed enough. Or maybe it is, and Jessie is the only one doing it in a real way. A way that is relatable. However, my attention was lured away from Jessie a few times when I saw a man doing incredible dance moves up in the seating area. His moves were seriously influential and they’ll be taking over dancefloors soon. Hopefully. He was having a ball, and his moves really showed that. Anyone who saw them enjoyed the little hand gestures he was unleashing. I’ll probably be using them.

I read a few reviews of last nights show, and some were bashing the fact that her set consisted of new songs. Her album is out in a few weeks; surely it makes sense for her to use a platform as massive as this festival to play them? Some people are never satisfied, so we ignore them. Her new songs sound gorgeous live, and it is fairly obvious that Tough Love is going to sit nicely next to Devotion as being a fine piece of work. When she performs live, she is someone who really puts their all into it without being forced. You can see just how happy she is to play these new songs, especially Kind Of…Sometimes…Maybe which pretty much makes you want Jessie and Miguel to work with each other all the time. For me, I really loved Cruel and Pieces. You And I (Forever) is brilliant also, basically it is all excellent and you’re daft if you don’t buy her new record.

Last year when I saw her, she had just got engaged to Sam and now when she talks about her husband this captivating glow just takes over her, and you really feel a sense of pure and unconditional love. That’s how it should be. The fact that she is happy but can write painful and heart-breaking love song really shows how brilliant she is. And I do think one thing about Jessie is that she really doesn’t know how good she is. She’s better than good obviously. This humble soul is a credit to the music industry, and I do stand by the fact that she’s my generation’s Sade. She’s a genuine soul whose voice just takes you somewhere else. I wish I had the words to describe just how wonderful she is, but those that love her know.

She’s not released her second record yet, but last night proved that Jessie Ware is easily the best vocalist around. No one else comes close.

 





2:54-Blindfold.

16 09 2014

 

 

Since seeing 2:54 last week, I was pretty much wishing for the next few months to just go super fast so I could finally hear their new record. Some things I am just not patient with.

But to ease the waiting game, they have put a new video out for Blindfold. I really like how vulnerable the lyrics are and how Colette sings them. If you can believe in every word, you know you’ve found something worth treasuring. Blindfold still has that eerie sound that flows through 2:54’s music, but it is less heavy in Blindfold- the dark feel to it is in the lyrics this time, not the music. I just bloody love the lines “I don’t want to find my way back home” and “Everybody says, I’ve got to say what’s on my mind. But how do I say, I’m really losing my way every day.” Words for the soul from the heart.

After hearing Orion, In The Mirror and now Blindfold, I think it is fair to say that The Other I is going to be one of the best things to happen this year.

When you watch the video to Blindfold you can’t help but fall in love with London. Even after my rage towards the Victoria line yesterday morning, I still love this city and probably wouldn’t want to live anywhere else. The video is beautifully shot, and makes you want to wander the streets of London late at night with some 2:54 blasting in your ears. It also makes you want a jacket like Colette’s.

The Other I is out 10th November via Bella Union.





2:54. Union Chapel- 8th September 2014.

9 09 2014

 

 

Last night I went to two gigs in one night, remind me to NEVER do that when I have to be up at half 6 the next morning for work, but obviously it was worth it. It usually is. My ability to be alert today slipped away at around 1.30pm when I spilt my lunch down my white Velvet Underground t-shirt.

The first gig that I went to last night was the Bella Union showcase down the road from me at Union Chapel. I know I’m a fan of dark, dingy places to see bands but the Union Chapel is marvelous. Go see something there, it doesn’t matter what or who it is- just go. I’m choosing to only write about 2:54 because they pretty much were my reason for going. Anyone who knows me (sorry about that) knows how much I adore that band. There is something about their sound that makes me want to always write about music and on the flip side of this, makes me loathe the fact that I cannot play an instrument. I’ve got a cowbell somewhere but I don’t think cowbell players are in demand are they?

If you’ve been lucky enough to see 2:54 live, you’ve probably left in awe of Alex’s drumming skills. I left the gig wishing I could beat the shit of the drums like he does. He’s got this incredible way of making every cymbal crash sound like a wave coming over you and you just drift away peacefully into this eerie world that 2:54 create in their music. I know I say it with a few bands I’ve written about, and I’ve probably said it before about 2:54 but the atmosphere in their music reminds of one of the best records ever made- Seventeen Seconds by The Cure. If I get that feeling from a band, then I’m pretty much sold. The kind of music that makes you feel as if you’re lost in the woods with mist descending down on you, and you feel lost. Part of you wants to escape, the other part of you just wants to keep on walking. Hannah, is one ferocious guitar player, and I sincerely hope she is inspiring people to pick up the guitar and make their own noise. Their bassist? Watch him. He’s insanely excellent.

2:54 treat us all to some new songs from their record which is out 10th November (2 days before my 28th birthday!) and it all sounds bloody glorious. Their dark and beautifully moody sound is back to warm our hearts and souls once more. Although, I must admit I still play their debut record every day to and from work. There is something about their debut record that I’ve not found in much else, so I keep playing it. I think it is also because I’m partially in love/awe with Colette’s voice.

As it was my first time seeing 2:54, I can’t think of a better place to have seen them other than at the Union Chapel. The sound in the chapel is perfect, I’m pretty sure me singing Mariah Carey tunes would sound wonderful in there (going too far? Probably….) Some venues are made for certain bands, and the Union Chapel was definitely made for 2:54.

I enjoy sitting down as much as anyone else, but it felt really weird watching them put their all into their set and we were all sat down staring at them. I wanted to be at the front singing Scarlet back at them or air-drumming along to Sugar. When they went into Sugar I just wanted to stand up and move in a questionable fashion, but I’ve got a lot of self-control so I stayed seated. Their mini jam at the end of Scarlet was bloody brilliant too.

I don’t know the names of their new songs, but they did play In The Mirror and they ended with Orion. Colette put her guitar down for Orion, and her stage presence really shone through on that song. She’s got this dominating glow about her on stage that lures you in. One of the songs they did, I think it may have been the third one (possibly) was brilliant, and seeing Orion live made me really excited about the new record, The Other I. They’re the kind of band you’d want to sit down, and just talk about music with. Whether it be their own, or what influences them (can someone sort this for me?!)

After seeing them last night, I’m pretty happy to say that 2:54 are one of the best bands around and are one of the best bands I’ve seen live. Their shows in November cannot come round quick enough!