Hello my lovelies ... life's got busy again now I'm back at work after the Easter break, hence fewer posts (you just knew it was gonna happen). Grr, grrr and triple grrr. Added to this, I haven't been sleeping very well of late which hasn't helped things. Oh well ... less sleep means more time to blog, doesn't it? (!)
In the meantime, I haven't done any music posts recently, so I feel it's high time for one! This is gonna be a bit of a mixed bag, as I'm the kind of person who gets into bands or artistes usually months (and sometimes years) after everyone else. Just call me a late developer.
Have you heard the new Goldfrapp LP, "Head First"? I've got to say I'm a tad disappointed with it overall. Sure, it's catchy, it's melodic and there are some great 80s influences (not least the abundance of synthesisers) but my overall feelings are that Alison G is coasting on this one.
The recent single "Rocket", for instance, whilst featuring some nice Van Halen type keyboards (and a fabulous pastiche of Xanadu on the cover, as you can see) is just too ... predictable ... normal ... formulaic. Last album "Seventh Tree" was an altogether richer and more in depth affair. However "Head First" is not without its merits. Best of the bunch for me are "Dreaming" (minor key and quite broody), title track "Head First" (a stately ballad which builds in intensity and features majestic vocals from Ms G), "Hunt" (another track in a minor key with a "dangerous" feel and "phasey" backing vocals) and, saving the very best til last, "Voice Thing" (no lyrics, just lots of amazing vocal effects from Alison which proves you don't need words for a good track - and more than a nod to Laurie Anderson's "O Superman" - my favourite on the whole album). In fact the last track shows the kind of direction the album could (and in my view, should) have gone in - i.e. more experimental, risk-taking and diverting from the norm. More of this is needed! 3 out of 5 for me as a whole. Sorry, Alan and Matty!
Blue Six. Not a "newbie" group but I happened upon them through listening to some soul-house type compilations. What a brilliant group! If you like sophisticated chill out fare/soulful vocals/music that's good for playing late at night/stripped back production, then this could well be the group for you. "Beautiful Tomorrow" is particularly to be recommended - best tracks for me are "Closer To Home" (funky bass line, muted brass, cool vibes), "Pure" (more funky bass, and both instrumental and vocal versions work very well), "Very Good Friend" (passionate vocals, clipped guitar, mellifluous synths, excellent ballad), "Beautiful Tomorrow" (broody closer). To be recommended. 4 and a half out of 5 for this particular album and their other stuff is worth investigating too.
Confection. A group I stumbled across whilst on iTunes. Their one and only album came out about 3 years ago but the moment you listen to it, you'll think you're back in 1986, circa Jam and Lewis, Cherelle, SOS Band, early Janet Jackson ... remember them?? Well, this album is an incredibly accurate reproduction of that whole electronic soul/funk style/genre and all the more enjoyable for that. "Flirt" has a ticker-ticker-ticker beat, "eeeow" bass line and those cowbell noises you used to get on Stock, Aitken and Dennis Waterman tracks (but thankfully rather higher quality than some of the dirge that lot put out), "Diamonds" is a reworking of the very same Herb Alpert dance track and probably better than the original, "Lovers or Best Friends" is a lovely ballad that treads familar territory and yet still works, carrying you away on a sea of its own soft-centre gorgeousness. Clever stuff. 4 out of 5.
Samantha James. Californian songstress Ms James has been around for a few years and I'm totally loving her debut album "Rise" ... Samantha J is a kind of new age pop singer whose songs vary from dreamy deep house to chill out, with lyrics that don't merely refer to the standard relationship stuff, but the spiritual side of life to boot. She's also got a great voice - enigmatic, yet seductive (which I just nicked from someone else's review - but I'm in agreement). Title track "Rise" is enticing pop with a laid-back feel, "Enchanted Life" has a recurrent synth motif and an urgent feel , "Angel Love" is dreamy dance with funky guitar and lovely, melting vocals from Ms S and "I Found You" is gorgeous - a bossa nova style duet with Brazilian Celso Fonseca. 4 out of 5.
Disco Discharge. Don't you just love the covers? (Especially the last one, ahem!) These are a series of compilations from, I believe, a Brighton based guy with a total love of disco! I came across him on Facebook. The difference between these and your standard disco compilations is that there's lots of unusual and different tracks that your average punter won't have heard of before (no "YMCA", "I Will Survive" then - thank God) making these albums all the more interesting for that ... and deliciously danceable! Okay, there's some more well known artists - Cheryl Lynn, Boystown Gang, Laura Branigan etc - but even with these we get (rarely heard) extended and 12" mixes. Other tracks are incredibly well selected, making for some eclectic and truly wonderful stuff. A particular fave for me is the "Disco Ladies" comp. which features amongst other things, Fern Kinney's "Groove Me", Amanda Lear "Blood and Honey" (wonderfully deep down and dirty vocal), an extended version of the fabulous "Get Up and Boogie" by Silver Connection and Phyllis Nelson's "I Like You" (you all thought the toe-curling "Move Closer" was her only track eh? This is much better...) And the "Euro Disco" comp is brilliant too - Space's futuristic "Magic Fly, the electronic "From Here To Eternity" by Giorgio Moroder (pre-Axel F days), the robotic and imposing "P Machinery" by Propaganda (one for you, Steve) and much more besides!! As expected, there's a fair amount of what might be labelled "camp" music in here too, but not to the point where it becomes unbearable ... it's all judiciously chosen and works really well. 5 out of 5 for imaginative, original and also great value compliations! Go check 'em out now!!