Entries in Review (20)

Thursday
Nov222012

BBC Radio 1 Review Show: Disclosure & Thomas Coxhead (November 20th)

Disclosure & Thomas Coxhead join Edith Bowman on the Radio 1 Review Show to talk about new tracks from Kindimmer, Biffy Clyro, Alt-J, Example & more.

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Friday
Nov092012

Places to Discover New Music & Artists

A guest post from Satellite TV HQ on places where to find new music and upcoming artists. Searching for music is one of the hardest things to do if you don't know what you're looking for, but if you have the right tools and know where to go, then you've won half the battle. Hit the jump to see the post.

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Saturday
Dec182010

Ed Sheeran: Features

This is really special for me. Throughout the past year, Ed Sheeran has become one of my favourite artists in the world and now I have the privilege of bringing you the first review of his latest EP, which will be available for you to download on January 9th. He first told me about the project when I met him in Leeds earlier this year and ever since then I have had the opportunity to get to know him and see him grow as an artist. I love all of his previous material, but this is easily my favourite to date and it’s the perfect way to lead up to the release of his debut album, which will be out next year.

Ever since seeing him on SBTV, I have been fascinated by both him and his music. He isn’t a rapper, or a singer; he is something completely different to anything we have previously heard. Of course his style incorporates certain aspects from Hip-Hop, Soul, Folk, Grime and a number of other genres, but I truly believe that he has created a whole new sound which can reach out to a wide range of music lovers. Working with producer and good friend Jake Gosling, they have created an incredible EP that is both thought-provoking and extremely relevant. Some of the UK’s best MC’s are featured on the 8 tracks and they are all on top form; this is no coincidence. During a conversation with Devlin, he told me that meeting Ed on the Example tour has rejuvenated his love for writing and made him a more well rounded artist - a true testament to the amount of lyrical talent that this young man possesses. What you find on here isn’t necessarily the type of thing you can expect to be on his debut LP, it’s more a showcase of the music that Ed listens to and appreciates. However; there is a re-worked version of my favourite song of his on here, which is nothing short of spectacular. I love the whole idea and it has been executed to perfection.

I could break down every single track, but when you have an EP that features Sway, Ghetts, Wretch 32, Devlin, Dot Rotten, P Money, Random Impulse, Mikill Pane, Wiley & JME, then there is no real need to go into that much detail, is there? You can just take my word for it; this is guaranteed to be one of the most refreshing and easy to relate to pieces of music you will hear for a very long time. I sometimes have to remind myself that he is only 19 years old. He is one of the most genuine and talented people I have ever met and it’s good to see everything finally coming together. He deserves it more than most. Below you can hear a snippet of the track that features Dot Rotten, which is called Goodbye To You.

Follow Ed on Twitter and make sure you get yourself a lovely Christmas present on January 9th. See the tracklist and pre-order HERE.

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Friday
Nov122010

My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy

A lot of people have been saying that this is the album they have been waiting for since 2008. I disagree; this is the album I have been wanting to hear since 2007. 808s & Heartbreak was a decent album and we all understand why he did it, but for me it will never have the credentials to be mentioned in the same breath as this and his 3 other LP’s. My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and the G.O.O.D. Friday series mark the return of one of the most important people in my life. Mr. West is one of the main reasons why I love Hip-Hop as much as I do and in the past 8 months I have come to realise how much of a genius he really is. I personally think this album could go down as a classic and maybe his best release to date.

Going back to 2005 when I saw him at the Manchester Apollo on The College Dropout tour; KanYe was a breath of fresh air who’s sampling style and take on rapping was something that we had never seen or heard before. Unfortunately we lost that person for a while, but it seems as though he has returned with the hunger to become one of the greatest artists of all time. He has really stepped everything up to another level this time round - lyrically he is definitely back to his best, making you dig out a dictionary at certain points in the album to understand some of the things that he is saying. For me there was a slight danger that he could overdo it with the features and the plethora of producers he decided to get on board; however I think he has found a happy medium which clearly works. For example; Minaj & Ross are two rappers that I have never really understood or liked, but they both fit in perfectly with the whole feel and concept of the album. KanYe is a very clever man who always does things for a specific reason - this is something I have come to accept and understand throughout the years.

One thing that has frustrated me during the build up to the album is the amount of people that have complained about the tracklist. After the album has been released, he will have given us 22 tracks (of real quality), which is A LOT more than any other global artist will ever dream of releasing these days. Too many people are ungrateful and fiend for new music, not taking the time to appreciate the amount of time and effort that has gone into creating all of this music that we have been blessed with. Along with Cee-Lo’s latest release, this is all I have been listening to for the past 2 weeks and it’s safe to say that they are easily two of my favourite albums of the year and will probably end up becoming two of my favourite albums of the 21st Century (for completely different reasons). He has created a Hip-Hop classic, which wouldn’t be out of place next to some of the greatest albums of the 90’s.

2010 has been a ridiculously good year for music thus far, but this album has blown pretty much everything else out of the water. After seeing the Runaway film/interview it was clear that he was back in the right mindset and was out to prove a point to all the people that doubted him. Granted he has said some ridiculous things in the past and of course he is a little crazy; but I think he’s doing pretty well as far as geniuses go. I feel like I have gone back in time 6 years and fallen in love with his music all over again. Below you can find the necessary links and ‘Hell Of A Life’, which seems to be one of the tracks that has been on constant repeat.

Twitter

Pre-Order

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Wednesday
Oct272010

Bud, Sweat & Beers

Although I’ve never been a massive fan of Grime on the whole; Devlin is an artist that I’ve got a lot of respect for and someone who’s music that I can’t always relate to, but have always been able understand and appreciate. I have followed his career closely ever since hearing The Art of Rolling 2 years ago and the progression he has made since that mixtape is quite incredible. Some people find his music hard to listen to, but I find his lyrical prowess on the mic enchanting and I love the fact that he tackles real life situations, which most MC’s would never dare approach. I had high hopes for the album after hearing the 3 singles; however it has exceeded all my expectations, and more.

After meeting him on the Example tour earlier this month, I now understand everything that he is about and I am so pleased that he has been able to create and release the debut album that he has always wanted to. In Yesterdays News he states that he has ‘a talent that these other rappers haven’t’ - that is quite a bold statement, but after hearing the album 5 times now, I cannot disagree. The uniqueness of his flow, concepts, lyrics and choice of beats make Bud, Sweat & Beers one of the enjoyable UK albums of 2010 and I can guarantee that it will be completely different to anything you’ve ever heard. In a time where lyrics don’t seem to be all that important to most people; Dev has stayed true to himself and given us the album that we were all hoping for.

The most commercially friendly tracks are those that have already been released along with Dreamer, which features the ever brilliant Emeli Sande. Other than that, the rest of the album is what most would call, ‘stereotypical Devlin’. It’s always hard for me to pick my favourite track from albums as strong as this; however 1989, Let It Go, Yesterday’s News and of course Runaway are the ones that I have been listening to most. The whole album is full of pure quality though. During our conversation he said that Ed Sheeran has rejuvenated his writing whilst they’ve been touring together, which genuinely excites me for what’s to come next, because this has blown me away.

Overall, it’s a great album and a piece of work that Dev should be really proud of. Hopefully this will end up being a mere stepping stone in what should become a long and illustrious career for one of my favourite MC’s. You can get Runaway on iTunes now and the album is available for pre-order too. All the necessary links are below and you can also hear, Let It Go, which is the track featuring and produced by Labrinth. All the hard work is finally paying off.

Runaway

Bud, Sweat & Beers

Twitter

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Monday
Oct182010

Authenticity

Now it’s been a while since I’ve done a review like this; however that was always going to change when my favourite group/duo in the world released a new album. Since forming in 2004, Phonte & Nicolay have taken the Hip-Hop/R&B world by storm and released (what I believe to be) 3 of the greatest albums of the 21st Century. I wanted to do a review as soon as I had heard the album, but there is so much to take in when listening to a Foreign Exchange album that I decided to listen to it for week or so and let it digest properly.

The Last Fall starts off in the same key as their two previous intro tracks and automatically gives you that special feeling which only a Foreign Exchange project can. Nicolay’s unique production style once again outshines that of any other producer in the world, creating the most beautiful and thoughtful sounding music I’ve heard since Leave It All Behind in 2008. Although that was released during October, it had a Winter feel to it - Connected was the perfect Summer album and Authenticity epitomises everything that Autumn is about. I’m intrigued to see if their next effort is going to be the Spring edition, which will complete the most perfect series of music ever made. I hope this will be the case anyway.

Although I couldn’t personally rank their 3 albums in order; I feel as though Phonte’s writing and vocals are better than ever on Authenticity. Since hearing The Listening back in 2003 it’s been simply amazing to see him grow as an artist and the transition of him going from a rapper that sings to a singer that raps. He is the only artist in the world that would make it into my top 10 rappers of all time and my top 10 singers of all time, which says a lot about how important his music is to me and the amount of natural talent he possesses. For example; All Roads and Laughing At Your Plans are lyrically two of the best tracks I’ve heard for years. Music from the soul is hard to find these days; yet ‘Te and Nic seem to find it an effortless task to make every track a heartfelt masterpiece.

I know some people miss him rapping, but Phonte has found his musical soul mate in Nicolay and together they have a chemistry that allows them to make music which is years ahead of it’s time. I know not many people buy albums these days; however independent music like this should be supported and with a price tag of £5.99, there is no reason to illegally download the best album of 2010. Below are all the necessary links you need. If you need any more convincing then you can download The Very Best of The Foreign Exchange that I put together for FREE.

BUY

Phonte
Nicolay

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Saturday
Jul172010

Alive Till I'm Dead

Stephen Manderson, also known as Professor Green, is an artist who has grown and evolved more than most throughout the past 2 years. Along with fellow ex-Beats members Plan B and Example, he has changed his musical direction quite drastically and is now getting the opportunity to make and release the music that he loves. I have followed his work closely since he released The Green EP in 2006, but I think it’s safe to say that the quality of music he has produced on this album is incomparable to what he was making back then. The album may not be to some people’s taste; however, I think it has something for everyone and it is definitely an important moment for UK Hip-Hop.

“People are sick of being spoon-fed the same old shit music”

People who have only heard the two singles and go into the album expecting 10 tracks with the exact the same structure will be sadly disappointed - in fact, they are probably my two least favourite tracks on the album. I had no idea what the album was going to be like, but I am pleased to announce that it is everything I could have expected, and more. The criticism he has received from certain UK Hip-Hop & Grime ‘fans’ for wanting to progress in his career and make music that can reach out to a wider audience is something that frustrates me about the UK music scene. Success does not mean you have sold out. Pro has stayed true to his roots throughout this album and the subject matter on tracks such as ‘City Of Gold’ and ‘Goodnight’ are very reminiscent of the ‘early days’ when I first fell in love with this guys music.

Having not listened to the snippets, the production on the album is not what I was expecting at all. However; I was happy to hear that it compliments Pro’s vocal tone, which inevitably makes for a cohesive and enjoyable listen from start to finish. Some of the features also surprised me when I saw the tracklist, but there isn’t one person that doesn’t fit in with the whole concept and feel of the album. We even get to see the other side of Pro on the romantic ‘Where Do We Go’ which features the brilliant Shereen Shabanaa - although the topic is completely different, it reminds me of ‘Millionaires’ from Example’s ‘Won’t Go Quietly’. 4 years ago I would have never expected either of them to be making love songs, but it works and they are two of my favourite songs on both albums. For someone who has followed The Beats from the start; it is quite amazing to be able to see the success these boys are now achieving just 2 years after the label went bust.

I’d say that the main thing with this album is that you need to listen to it with an open mind and not make any presumptions of what it’s going to be like after hearing the two singles. I have listened to it about 5 times in the past 2 days and will definitely purchasing when it comes out. I don’t believe in supporting UK music, but I do believe in supporting good music. Below are all the necessary links you will need and my favourite track from the album, Jungle, which features Maverick Sabre. He deserves all the success this album brings.

Just Be Good To Green

Alive Till I’m Dead

Twitter

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Friday
Jun112010

Example - Won't Go Quietly

About 4 years ago I discovered a Mixtape called ‘We Didn’t Invent The Remix’, by a Rapper named Example. It was 13 tracks of remixes/re-makes, which were to drastically change my outlook on UK Music forever. Along with Eminem and KanYe West; this man’s entire Discography has influenced me more than anyone else’s throughout the past 10 years – I have always been able to relate to his lyrics and this new album is no exception.

“There be no more rapping; if there is then I’ll keep it old fashioned”

Back in 2008 I remember him saying to me on MySpace that “Electro Example is the way forward” – at first I wasn’t totally convinced, but now I know he couldn’t have been more right. Once a very good Rapper, Example has transformed himself into an exceptional all-round artist who now knows how to write anthems, instead of just a few witty bars. This Summer he will be playing at Glastonbury in front of about 15,000 screaming fans, which is quite a stark contrast to the 15 fans that stayed behind in Manchester to see him perform just 3 years ago. The overall success he has achieved from this change in direction is quite incredible, considering very few US rap acts have been able to do this after 10 years, let alone one album.

‘Won’t Go Quietly’ is a breath of fresh air and everything I could have wished for, and more. A lot of albums with more than 5 producers struggle with fluency; however Example’s unique vocal tone and superb lyrical talent allows the album to flow perfectly from start to finish. One of the main aspects of the album which makes me happy, is how refreshing all of the Singles sound alongside the 10 new songs – ‘Watch The Sun Come Up’ and ‘Hooligans’ in particular, which I’ve had in my iTunes for more than a year now. A lot of this is due to fact that there are no samples on the album, which means every song is a brand new sound that’s never been heard before. I’ve noticed a lot of ‘fans’ of Example’s older work have complained about him going down this route and veering away from UK Hip-Hop. But really; when has he ever been a stereotypical UK Hip-Hop artist? I will always love ‘What We Made’ and it is an album that will forever have a special place in my heart; however ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ will appeal to wider range of people and has much more quality and depth throughout. As Jay-Z once said; “want my old shit - buy my old album”.

2010 is shaping up to be one of the greatest years of all time for Music and we have been blessed with some of my favourite albums of the past 20 years. ‘Won’t Go Quietly’ is one of those album’s – it’s a masterpiece and an important moment for the UK Music movement that is happening right now. All the work done by Example himself, Sheldrake, DJ Wire, Rusher, David Stewart, Mark Surridge and Chris Maas over the past 4/5 years has led us to where we are today. It’s been a long road to get here, but definitely worth it. For me, someone who’s been Example’s biggest fan from the start; it’s amazing to have been able to get to know him as a person and watch him develop and grow as an artist from the inside. Everything he wanted to achieve two years ago is now finally starting to fall into place due to his hard work and perseverance. He deserves all the success this album brings.

Below is a snippet of the track I thought I would like least, but it has become one of my favourites on the whole album – ‘Two Lives’, which is produced by the brilliant Ishi.

 

Kickstarts will be on iTunes this Sunday: BUY

Won’t Go Quietly is out on June 22nd: iTunes, HMV & Play

P.S. HMV Bonus CD is a must have.

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Tuesday
Jun082010

Eminem - Recovery

Well; I’m not really sure where to start with this one. Just over 10 years ago from now, I heard an album called the Marshall Mathers LP by a rapper named Eminem. It changed my life, my outlook on Hip-Hop as a genre and the way I listen to Music as a whole. Ever since that moment; me, along with millions of other people my age, have followed this man’s career religiously - it’s been a roller coaster ride; however it seems as though he has finally got everything back on track again in 2010.

Throughout the process of making this album there have been pieces of information which made me question where he was going with this project and how much of an improvement we were going to see from his previous effort, Relapse. Only 1 production from Dre and features from Rihanna, Pink & Wayne weren’t the most promising signs for me personally. However; last night I learned one thing - never doubt one of your favourite artists of all time and one of the most talented men to ever pick up a pen & mic. From start to finish this album just, works.

I see Recovery as a collection of everything I’ve loved about Em for the past 10 years, coming together and finally creating the type of Music we all knew was possible for a man with so much talent. I think the main aspect behind this, which makes the album stand out from all his others, is the maturity of themes and content he uses throughout each and every single track. On Relapse and Encore it was impossible to question his flow or the level of lyricism, but what he was talking about didn’t have any passion, thought or meaning. Tracks such as ‘Talkin’ 2 Myself’ and ‘You’re Never Over’ have all of these - they are deep, heartfelt songs that I have been waiting to hear Em do for years and years. It’s been a long time since his guy’s lyrics put a smile on my face, but it’s definitely been worth the wait.

Production wise; this was uncharted territory for Em. Who’d have thought you would ever hear him rapping over Ozzy Osbourne and Haddaway samples? I didn’t - but, it’s all part of what makes this album so very special to listen to. I also never thought I would say this; but, maybe it was a good idea to not rely on Dre so much this time round. We have heard so much of their work together, that it was  a breath of fresh air to hear him over some different/innovative beats. Like most people, I hate making early calls with new albums; however I would go as far in saying that this could be Eminem’s best work to date. Of course the Marshall Mathers LP is the most important piece of music in my life, but this album has everything I love about Em in 17 tracks. He has grown up incredible amounts, and it shows - this album is on another level.

Instant Classic? Yes
Best Album of 2010? Maybe
Best Eminem Album? Maybe
Best Rap Album of All Time? Only time will tell

Recovery is out 22nd June: Pre-order

“Fuck my last CD, that shit is in the trash”

Welcome back Marshall.

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Thursday
May062010

Yahzarah - The Ballad of Purple St. James

To say that I have been eagerly anticipating this album would quite possibly be the understatement of the century. Since getting my copy of ‘Blackstar’ in 2005, I have become a HUGE fan of Yahzarah and followed her journey to where we find ourselves today - The Ballad of Purple St. James is the next step in a rather understated, yet quite incredible career. I have to admit that I do love an over-exaggeration every now and again, but I don’t think anyone can deny the fact that this woman has one of the most pure and unique voices in Music today. If you don’t believe me, then you clearly haven’t listened to this album yet.

For me; The Ballad of Purple St. James is the Female equivelent of Maxwell’s 2009 release ‘BLACKsummers’night’ - granted their stories are incomparable, but from the outset it is clear that they are both special albums for a genre that has had more downs than ups throughout the last 3-4 years. Outstanding vocals, flawless production and exceptional lyrics are something that are rare to find in all types of Music; however Modern R&B/Soul is a genre that has been heavily criticised by many for lacking in all 3 areas. Thank God we have The Foreign Exchange.

Along with FE’s 2nd album ‘Leave It All Behind’, Nicolay has given us ‘City Lights Vol. 2: Shibuya’ and this album could be seen as the 3rd part of a spectacular trilogy, which has made people stand up and realise the importance of creating Music that comes from the heart and soul. I think the 1st single ‘Why Dontcha Call Me No More’ was a slightly strange choice, as it wasn’t one of the stand out tracks for me. However; there isn’t a song on the album that I didn’t enjoy, and as a whole it gives you a sense of warmth and happiness inside when listened to from start to finish. The two features (Phonte & Darien Brockington) add something special to the album, without taking the emphasis away from Yahzarah’s extraordinary vocal talents, which is something that made me very happy. Too many people overload albums with unnecessary features and you lose track of who’s album you are actually listening to - The Foreign Exchange have a knack of getting it absolutely spot on.

I am by no means saying this is the best album you will ever listen to, but it’s definitely got the timeless factor, which could well make it one of the best albums I have listened to by a female artist in the last 10 years. Yahzarah and Erykah Badu are two artists I think very highly of and I am so thankful that they have provided us with two masterpieces this year. Below is the link to buy the album from iTunes and a stream of the incredible duet with Darien Brockington called ‘All My Days’. If you want real music, then you need look no further than here. Next is Zo!’s album, followed by The Foreign Exchange in October. H’exciting!

P.S. the cover is RIDICULOUS!

BUY

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