Funk, Soul

Rhye- “Blood” Review

Following the modest critical and commercial success of their previous release, 2013’s “Woman”, Rhye’s sophomore release, with oddly appropriate ennui, drifted through an unusually prolonged gestation period. Although their developments in listening practices have facilitated the blossoming of “Woman” into a cult hit amongst YouTube-trawling musos, the past 5 years also fractured Rhye’s original lineup, with instrumentalist Robin Hannibal departing from the increasingly amorphous project.

However, the fact that Rhye now consists only of monikered mononym Milosh and a well-oiled live band would be completely unnoticeable if listening solely to the music. The template of slippery, sleekly brass neo-soul and monochrome tastefulness previously established by the group is largely adhered to here, with the supple androgyny of Milosh’s vocals recalling Daniel and the Johnsons and the subtle arrangements framing them with unobtrusive delicacy. “Feel Your Weight” is light, airy funk topped off admirably by the woodsy softness of Milosh’s voice, cresting into warm, imposing chords as the song slides towards its conclusion. The up-tempo (by Rhye’s standards) “Count to Five” gently recalls Mark Ronson’s “Daffodils”, although the finely-tuned grooves of “Phoenix” slightly outmatch it at the same game.

As with “Woman”, the central flaw of “Blood” is ironically its consistency, a stylistic intransigence that at first seems focused, but which feels increasingly obstinate as the album rolls on. At its worst, “Blood” is just glossily impenetrable, vaguely soulful background hum of the kind that occasionally drifts into earshot in lifts and submerges shopping centre forecourts. However, at its finest it transcends its incidental lyrics, its repetitive arrangements and its stubborn sameness to acquire a surprising poignancy. “Song For You”, which was rightly issued as a single, is gifted with a melody so richly pretty that it imbues its stock lyrical phrases with a cracked-open vulnerability and desperate tenderness: “I feel your heart, baby/I feel your pain”. The song is also enriched by a rare discursion from Rhye’s musical template, the see-sawing strings that flit in and out of the song drawing out a tightly-wound, unfurling beauty.

For all the behind-the-scenes turbulence that has engulfed Rhye from time to time over the previous 5 years, the ultimate irony is that on “Blood” they simply emerge from it sounding more like themselves than ever. Rather than musically evolving over the past-half decade, the band have sealed themselves in aspic, starkly reaffirming their musical philosophy rather than ripping it up and starting over, as might have been necessitated by their internal circumstances and the changing currents of pop culture. Although it would be easy to loose a salvo of criticisms at such a mentality, the truth is the “Blood” is simply an album too pretty to truly dislike, garnering disapproving tuts at best. CO


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Boards of Canada- “The Campfire Headphase” Review

20 years ago, Boards of Canada’s “Music Has the Right to Children” was released, promptly and justifiably being heralded as a watershed in what was homogenously termed “Electronic Music”. However, the inevitable puffy-eyed nostalgia flooding the album for its 20th anniversary runs the risk of beaching what is perhaps a greater work, 2005’s overlooked opus “The Campfire Headphase”. Lacking the transgressive innovation of “Music Has the Right to Children” only because of the shifting tides of popular music from 1998 to 2005, the more organic and less overtly electronic exterior of “The Campfire Headphase” discloses not a drought of creativity, but an abundance of it. Of all the duo’s releases, this is the album that most seamlessly and adroitly blends the earthly and the artificial; the woodland and the city; sacred pastoralism and profane urbanity. And isn’t that what Boards of Canada are all about?

A fair amount has already been written about the pair’s altered working practices on the album. “The Campfire Headphase” consists of fewer samples and digitally manipulated effects than their previous two full-length albums, instead incorporating the novelties of acoustic instrumentation. Indeed, it is the interplay of folksy finger-picking and glacial electronic futurism that define the album through the very difficulty of defining the album, providing it with a malleable identity that remains perpetually, tantalizingly in flux. This is captured in “Constants are Changing”, a hazy fever-dream of gently plucked guitar and swirling synths, the melody fluttering just out of reach.

The band’s new methods, beyond providing the album’s central intrigue, often yield astonishing results on a song-by-song basis. “Dayvan Cowboy” intercuts noise-rock fuzz, sparklingly reverberant guitar, splashy sampled drums and laconic lift-music keyboard into a surging, richly realized whole. The proto-vaporwave (if an album made in 2005 can be the “proto” precursor to a genre reliant on slowing down ‘80s songs) of “84 Pontiac Dream” drifts by with a slick, melancholy impersonality, culminating in a gorgeously wistful guitar epilogue, and “Chromakey Dreamcoat” spins a wobblingly askew riff into mordant, ghostly soundscapes.

By the time the flickering, underwater keyboard line of concluding track “Farewell Fire” has spooled off into darkness, “The Campfire Headphase” has established itself as a strikingly cohesive blend of the organic and the electronic, and the most coherently realised summation of its creators yet. The digitized naturalism of the album is both its central paradox and greatest strength, ironically drawing more attention for its virtual invisibility and seamlessness. An album equally suited to pastoralism and cyberpunk. A


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Sugarspun- “Spaceman Dreams” Review

Crawling from the Cumbrian sludge, Sugarspun have blossomed from an acoustic duo to a fully-fledged band in their ascendance. One of their first studio-recorded tracks, “Spaceman Dreams”, is a gaudily optimistic, rather self-consciously anthemic opening salvo, setting out Sugarspun’s stand in the shadow of earlier indie giants. The sound here is decidedly retro, bordering on kitschy—a splaying jangle-pop chord here, a Noel-aping guitar solo there, maybe a squalling psychedelic outro to close things out.

The lyrics similarly could be transposed squarely onto salt-of-the-earth Britpop idealism: “Stuck in a job with bills to pay/Wish I could pack my things and say I’ll be on my way”. The breakdown drably implores the listener to “Never stop dreaming, never stop believing”, but to fault the track for its dearth of originality belies the similar retro stylings of many of its influences. Though far from a bellwether of that broad umbrella term, “indie”, Sugarspun perhaps are at least reflective of the path taken by one of the numerous strains of the genre: swaggering, festival lad-rock, bent on the sing-along; the bucket-hat; the flare held aloft. As a band, they resemble Robbie Williams fronting the La’s, but it’s simply not enough these days to simply write a few breezy guitar rock tracks and expect placement on the festival stages these songs so clearly crave. The musical landscape is far broader, more diverse and more competitive, and so stringently adhering to a rapidly dating musical template may well be unwise. Regardless, good luck to them. CO


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Hard Rock, Metal

Oceans of Noise- “Oceans of Noise” Review

The term “Hard Rock” probably doesn’t immediately connote the Eurovision song contest, but this self-titled E.P. from Istanbul band Oceans of Noise is led by Sertab Erener, who won the competition for Turkey in 2003. However, to the band’s credit, it would be virtually impossible to guess this from the music alone, with Erener’s voice effortlessly slotting into the rock wheelhouse. The rest of the band cohere into a tight and capable unit, with the booming toms of drummer Alpar Lu drawing particular attention.

The music here is written with a slick ease, never far from a belted chorus or chugging riff, exemplified in booming opener “The Age of Ghouls”. Although at times this conservatism hampers Oceans of Noise, relegating them to a distinctly early 2000s, Evanescence-esque angst, there are flashes of transgression. The verses of the dynamic “Miracle” incorporate surprising math-rock influences, offering a brief glimpse of the band as Biffy Clyro or This Town Needs Guns, and there is perhaps a little of Tool in the band’s winding, vaguely Eastern riffing. “It Wasn’t You” reveal that Oceans of Noise have a keen ear for a pop melody even within the context of rock, and “Finding Black in White” evokes the breathy confessionals of Tori Amos. The E.P.’s traditionalist rockism is thus interspersed with enough variation and experimentation to keep it fresh and engaging throughout, and the structural strength of songs like “Frozen Love” is difficult to dispute. Imagine Alice in Chains fronted by Charlotte Wessels and you come within a hair’s breadth of Oceans of Noise. CO


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Hip Hop

Eminem- “Revival” Review

By the end of 2017, Eminem appeared increasingly adrift. Although popular, the success of 2013’s “The Marshall Mathers LP 2” was at least partially reliant on the nostalgic potency of its title, and was itself riddled with references to Eminem’s own declining influence. His slick, earnest pop-rap crossovers felt increasingly out of step with the resurgence of experimental, socially conscious hip-hop spearheaded by Kendrick Lamar, and the flippant, nihilistic silliness of mumble rap.

“Revival” eschews the boldness and probable divisiveness of a musical sea change in favour of a firm, perhaps fearful, reassertion of Eminem’s new house style. The album brims with pop star features, from Ed Sheeran to Beyoncé; despite, or perhaps because of this, much of “Revival” already feels dated, slotting more smoothly into the musical landscape of the 2000s or early 2010s than late 2017. “Castle” is a drab re-enactment of earlier hit “Mockingbird”, while the stock distorted guitars of “Remind Me” and “Heat” evoke 2013’s cheesy “Berzerk”, with the former’s lyrics ranging from simply lazy—“Girl, you’re smokin’ like Snoop Dogg”—to the horrendous—“Your booty is heavy duty like diarrhoea”.

Perhaps the single most cringe-worthy excursion is “Untouchable”, with Eminem veering between the perspectives of a racist cop jeering to “pull your pants up” and an impoverished black man. Although clearly well-intentioned, the ham-fisted simplicity of the lyrics tramples the nuances of racism into a straightforward binary where police brutality “makes black lives madder/At cops and cops madder/That’s why its at a stalemate”. “River” is strongly reminiscent of Eminem’s 2010 smash “Love the Way You Lie”, and while “Walk on Water” is a vulnerable exploration of the fear the rapper faces in living up to expectations when producing new music, ironically it simply sandwiches these thoughts between syrupy strings and a beige chorus, a musical backing that wholly fails to meet expectations. Tellingly, its conclusion once more leans on Eminem’s past: “Bitch, I wrote “Stan”!”.

The central problem with “Revival” is its complete conservatism, both musically and lyrically. Even as he bemoans the pressure to meet expectations placed on him, Eminem stubbornly refuses to take the risks necessary to meet these expectations. Although a more daring and experimental album would inevitably alienate some fans, “Revival” is the other side of the coin: a perfectly fine, glossy pop-rap album that will offend few, but will which most likely fail to avert the decline of Eminem’s cultural and social relevance. A hesitant and unimaginative release. CO



Anarchy Reigns- “Liars” Review

Political music has always been a thorny beast, a style that perpetually borders on didactic preachiness, as acts from Woody Guthrie to Billy Bragg and Rage Against the Machine have all discovered in their time. The only way to avoid this danger is to skirt the topic elliptically, as in Thom Yorke’s “Harrowdown Hill”, to pluck out a random example. The aptly named Anarchy Reigns, for better or worse, instead cut straight to the chase, with “Liars” stating immediately and emphatically that Tony Blair and George Bush should be prosecuted as war criminals.

Regardless of whether or not you think this would be justified, it’s difficult to deny that Anarchy Reigns lack particularly scintillating political insight when it comes to this topic. Although in fairness it’s nigh-on impossible to cram all the nuances of such a sprawling geopolitical debate into 4:40 of chugging riffs, “Liars” is a hopelessly general piece of sloganeering vaguely deriding “promises made but never kept” and that “money’s what you want”, over numbingly predictable low-resolution images of burning oilfields and placard-waving protestors in the video.

On this basis, “Liars” stands or falls on its music, a thudding mass of stocky hard rock falling somewhere Alice in Chains and Judas Priest. Competently played and produced, Anarchy Reigns’ name nonetheless contrasts sharply with their musical conservatism as they blithely skim the book of rockisms, from Iron Maiden-esque harmonised guitars to the blasted power chords of the chorus, and even a squealing shred solo towards the end. A political diatribe as almost antagonistically unremarkable as it sounds. CO


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Dance, Dream-Pop, Pop, Singer-songwriter

Olisha’s Throwback Pop Is Your Next Obsession




The artist Olisha is making it known that her music will push the boundaries of cultural guidelines.

Her pop music is a culmination of all of her influences and favourite artists that she listened to when she was younger.

Olisha is based in South Africa, however has gained traction from all kinds of places around the world. Having massive support from Asian communities in other countries such as the UK and places in Europe.




Olisha has also been paid compliments from the likes of Rishi Rich, a well known producer, stating “ Lovely voice. Nice lyrics. Lots of depth”As well as having Universal Music SA Rep saying “Indeed a fine voice”

Her new single ‘Strangers’ is a new take on some of the classic artists such as Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift.

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Instagram: olishanaicker




life influences and creative thoughts play a major role in my writing process of my songs