Archive for ‘Album Review’

July 9, 2012

Full Album Stream: Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough?

Today, 23 year old Lianne La Havas from London has released her highly anticipated soul/folk singer-songwriter album Is your love big enough?

About time to have a closer look at this promising new talent. Lianne’s style is a blend of soul, folk, pop and classic singer-songwriting pop. The multi-instrumentalist focuses on her guitar and virtuously perfected voice, telling stories close to her life, accompanied by choral backgrounds.

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The best news: Her entire album is available for streaming on The Guardian’s website.

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Most outstanding tracks: The album opener Don’t Wake Me Up convinces with strong acoustic chorals, gentle electronic guitar sounds and an orchestral yet intimate atmosphere.

Is Your Love Big Enough? – the title track – stands out for its energy, showing what Lianne’s voice is capable of:

Another energetic track is Forget, a break-up song supported by a colorful video:

The playful, blues song Age tells the entertaining story of being attracted to a man “old enough to be my father”, but “ready to love me as the woman that I am”. Watch a very good perfomance on Later…With Jools Holland:

Still want more? Watch a brilliant full concert for the anniversairy of BBC 6Music in London:

You can also get limited vinyls of her new LP on her website.

January 5, 2012

Danger Mouse (feat. Norah Jones & Julian Casablancas)

Introducing another highly creative, innovative and versatile artist and producer: Brian Joseph Burton, aka Danger Mouse from New York. Having produced albums by Jay-Z, Gorillaz or The Black Keys, Burton has gained pace in music business.

One of the best albums of last year is the collaboration between Danger Mouse and Italian Hollywood-composer Danielle Luppi: A ‘soundtrack without a movie’ called Rome. Getting the voices of Norah Jones and Jack White (formerly performing with his sister as The White Stripes) onboard during a five-year period of production let this album rise into high quality.

Largely reminiscent of classic Italo-Western movies, it’s been produced with the help of many musicians originally playing on the scores for composer Ennio Morricone.

Listen to Season’s Trees, featuring Norah Jones.

Another recommendation is the incredible Two Against One with Jack White.

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Quite different from the collaboration on Rome, another track definitely worth listening to is Little Girl, involving a strong guitar solo and much more energy. Taking the well-known voice of the The StrokesJulian Casablancas and the instrumental expertise of the US-band Sparklehorse (who broke up in 2010…), this song lets listeners wait for more from the same menu.

“You tortured little girl, showing them what love is all about.
Where did all the time go? Everywhere it’s gone, gone, gone.”

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The third piece is the collaborative project Broken Bells, involving Danger Mouse and The Shin‘s singer James Mercer. Their self-titled LP was one of the best indie releases in 2010. Watch the sci-fi video for their song The Ghost Inside, starring Christina Hendricks, best known for her main role as a secretary in AMC‘s 50’s show Mad Men (By the way, this is a strong recommendation, too!).

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November 30, 2011

SBTRKT, Sampha & Jessie Ware

Pardon my French, but: Oh my f***ing god, this is beautiful!

Jessie Ware and Sampha collaborate in the 2 minute short, but intense love tune Valentine. Both are best known for having provided their voices to one of this year’s best new artists, SBTRKT (see below).

Somewhat unsurprisingly, this track is much softer than the usual, bass and synth-focused stuff from SBTRKT. Sampha, with a voice smooth like silk, is one of the most important factors of SBTRKT’s latest success. Mandatory for a song with a name like this, it’s available on heart-shaped vinyl, on the label Young Turks.

SBTRKT (read Subtract) is symbolizing a musical identity independent from a single person. Hence, his alter ego, London-based producer Aaron Jerome, is always performing behind a charismatic mask. For anyone who doesn’t know his  self-titled album yet, check out a fan-made video for Hold On featuring Sampha and the track Right Thing To Do featuring Jessie Ware.

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SBTRKT’s style is combining electronic and distinctive R&B elements in a unique, innovative manner:

“The main thing are the synths, arrangement and syncopation. I tend to play around with chords or pads first, and then start applying some drums to it. Even though I guess I write ‘bass music’ I tend to add bass in last; rhythm and arrangement are most important for me. A lot of people seem to mention ‘2 step’ alongside my name guess it’s just because of the syncopation that genre entailed.”

In that sense it is much like The XX or even Little Dragon. After all, Little Dragon’s singer Yukimi Nagano has given her voice to SBTRKT’s best known track Wildfire:

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November 7, 2011

Oh Land

In case you still don’t know this one: Danish electro-pop singer Oh Land (a pseudonym for her name Nanna Øland Fabricius) has been around for more than 3 years already, but her success has only picked up speed throughout the last months. She certainly deserves it and should effortlessly get into 2011’s  top new artists.

Often compared to Lykke Li La Roux or Florence Welsh, Oh Land can certainly compete in points of innovation, quality – and looks. However, she is also just as unique. Her self-titled, second album was released earlier this year after she moved from Denmark to Brooklyn about a year ago. It’s filled with tunes to sing along, most of them quite danceable. Playfully using her voice and instrumenting it with a drum pad and soft percussions, her songs create energetic, colorful images of electronic fairytales, like in White Nights:

 

Besides these poppish and cheerful tunes (the most successful example might be Son of a Gun) there are slightly darker ones like Wolf & I as well as slower, seductive ones like Rainbow. Her songs  are generally, both in lyrics and instrumentation, contradictory. They are pending between two poles, between light spirituality and fairytales on the one side and obscure power and vulnerability on the other side. In that aspect her latest LP is very similar to her less known debut Fauna.

Not all of the album’s songs are that good, but these pearls are enough to compensate and create a great overall set. Oh Land promises good entertainment in concert, as she is currently touring Europe and beyond.

By the way, there are still spare tickets for her gigs in Berlin on November 20th and in London on February 23rd!

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(And no, didn’t chose that artist for her looks. Though might as well could have.)

October 6, 2011

Laura Marling: A Creature I Don’t Know

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Dear Laura,

you’re having the honor of this very first post. Yes, this is might be letter of admiration. (Hardly a secret anymore, though.)

I am inhaling every tune and verse of her recently released third album A Creature I Don’t Know – quite an output considering your debut album Alas, I Cannot Swim only dropped four years ago. Yet I’m amazed how a 21 year old can not only write unique tunes but is capable of telling stories most grandmothers would envy to have in their repertoire.

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So what’s new?

What has always enchanted me most is her mature voice, combined with her pragmatic view on love and life. “I know how you feel, I know it’s not right, but it’s real” as she sings in her latest single Sophia, is expressing this as much as her older lyrics: “Lover please, do not fall to your knees, it’s not like I believe in everlasting love” in one if her first songs, Ghost.

Hardly having much of a presence onstage, Laura Beatrice Marling has now grown into her role of a live singer, showing much more confidence than four years ago. There, her guitar had seemed like the companion she desperately needed to keep herself above ground. As she stated in an interview with The Guardian, this grown assertiveness is also reflected in the making of her latest LP where she is finally taking charge of her own production: “Well, I’ve got the confidence now, and I know what I want it to sound like, so before anybody else gets their grubby mitts on it, why don’t I put my stamp on it?”

Her distinctive metaphors and allusions to nature and death prevail, but Laura now shows much more strength and security in showing these darker sides. Her charismatic words may reflect this just as much as the way she sings them. The powerful contrast of her upper and lower voice, which can switch in a single line, is now carried with the appropriate confidence, making A Creature I Don’t Know a mature piece of art.

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The epic 6-minute-song The Beast, a “balancing act between wanting and needing” as she said herself, might be the most energetic of her new songs – leaving me breathless listening to it for the first time. Another, melodious and simplistic, yet again dark song, is Night After Night. A classic folkish one certainly is All My Rage, building up from a strong solo to a rattling orchestral ensemble. As Laura is telling a story throughout her album, the songs certainly appreciate not being isolated from each other, though.

Accompanied by strong tunes from pianos, cellos, tubas and even choirs, but much less banjo, Laura’s album is moving a bit more towards rock and away from her older classic folk songs, which have been much influenced by her fellow artists Noah & The Whale and Mumford & Sons. Now she is very much able to stand for herself, already selling out her concerts within days. In perspective, Laura Marling’s development as a singer and songwriter is astonishing, leaving me anxious for her future releases.

Yours truely ;)

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