Hip Hop, Jazz, Pop

Jonny Dee- “The Human Experience” Review

San Diego indelibly colours the music of Jonny Dee. His musical base, its remnants of Summer of Love transgression spill over into a crate-digging gusto in “The Human Experience”, whose title’s universalism is matched by its musical diversity. The album veers from retro synth-pop—“Ticketless Trip”—to breezy G-Funk—“Luna’s Lullaby”—and even elements of the languid, percussive spaciousness of trap in “Feedback”, all delivered with an off-handed insouciance.

Dee’s strengths, on this album at any rate, are solidly as an MC rather than a lyricist. His sing-song, lackadaisical flow at times echoes Slick Rick, but his delivery is also dexterous and fluid at faster tempos even if his enunciation, crucial for a rapper, is slightly patchy. However, he is also adept at constructing myriad musical landscapes; in a bold move that is perhaps indicative of his perception of himself as a fully-rounded artist rather than just an MC, he doesn’t appear vocally at all on final track “Cosmic Poem”, instead supplanting himself with Hendrix-esque flurries of guitar.

Nonetheless, for all its disparity “The Human Experience” is a surprisingly accessible project. “Summer’s Song” is easy to envision as the sort of thing blasted from car stereos of tipsy teens across the nation, weaving hazy, submerged vocal samples through flickering webs of hi-hats. However, the strongest prospective single here is “A Ways Away”, whose sugary chorus recalls the more radio-friendly moments of J. Cole. However, Dee is equally able to integrate the jazzy fluency of the verses into this poppier musical milieu, meshing together the different facets of his musical identity with ease.

The production of “The Human Experience” is admittedly dated at times, the pitched-up synth line and clipped, precise beats of “Live Thursday Night Groove” simply rehashing old G-Funk tropes rather than housing them in any new musical context. The manic “Rhythm of My Life” interpolates cheesy club classic “Rhythm of the Night”, but gets away with it by splicing its vocal hook into a dense musical landscape of breakneck tempos and glitching synths. Although his musical experimentation can be slipshod in execution, with the discordant electric guitar of “In The Sound” jarringly clashing against the track it finds itself in, Dee is largely successful in blending a variety of styles into a coherent whole. Although “The Human Experience” could never live up to the grandiosity of its title in terms of the diversity of its musical escapades, it certainly qualifies itself as the San Diego Experience. One to watch. CO

A-

Listen here: https://soundcloud.com/iamjonnydee/

Advertisements
Standard
Electronic, Pop

Poliça and Stargaze- “Music For the Long Emergency” Review

Formed in 2011, Poliça have carved out a moderately successful career skirting various genres—a little of the tactile, atmospheric production of modern electronic music; flashes of electro-pop and brassy orchestral ornamentation. This latest salvo marks a schism from their previous works in several ways, both finding the group teaming up with Berlin-based orchestral collective Stargaze, and (at least ostensibly) casting off the autobiographical, relationship-centric narratives of their previous albums in favour of a grander political scope.

The political angle here will inevitably be contentious. Trump looms over chunks of the album as an abstract, unspecific bogeyman, particularly dominating “How Is This Happening”, which was apparently written on the day after the 2016 election. In a voice which could credibly be mistaken for Björk’s, singer Channy Leaneagh murmurs of her disbelief at the utterly transformed national landscape around her. The track dangerously skirts self-parody in its capitulation to drab stock phrases—“Our freedom isn’t really free”, “We have got a lot of work to do”—and in its inclusion of the now cliched device of the increasingly dissonant orchestral backing, although it surprisingly proves to be the only overtly political aside on what is billed as a political album.

Of course, other tracks could also be read through a political lens: the title track’s “Give me a worthy tool/To tell me it’s not over” is perhaps an assertion of continued political resistance, to latch onto a random example. However, the danger is of re-contextualizing the entire album through an only sporadic political narrative. Without this awareness of the circumstances of the album’s production and its flashes of overt politicization, most of the songs here are vague and open-ended enough to function equally well as micro, personal vignettes and macro, national critique.

The orchestral flourishes here are a double-edged sword, both enriching the otherwise spartan likes of “Speaking of Ghost” and producing a propensity for time-consuming, indulgent atonality of which “How Is This Happening” is the worst culprit. “Cursed” tramples through brash Dictaphone-rap and clattering junglist drums, with “Marrow” venturing into industrial chug, imposing orchestral swells and drooping, off-kilter synth lines. However, the album’s highlight is “Agree”, “Music For the Long Emergency” revealing a surprising knack for pop melody in perhaps its most straightforward cut. The track coheres beautifully, Stargaze’s strings in the chorus warming its tender, swooping melody. Perhaps the album’s potentially sour political gripes deserved to be sold through this sort of rich sweetness, even if their discordant musical backings were closer thematic matches. Write a catchy enough tune and people won’t realise what they’re singing until it’s too late. CO

C-

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P7TORzEfEVo&list=PLZqsyBiYZFQ0WKWZnSjMd02vvh7S2pCBs&index=4

Standard
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.

Check it our now:

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/olishanaicker/
Facebook: www.facebook.com/olishanaicker
Twitter: www.twitter.com/olishanaicker
Instagram: olishanaicker
Website: www.olishanaicker.com

 

 

 

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

Standard
Blues, Pop

Hunter- “So Gay” Review

Billed modestly in press releases as “The greatest gay anthem of all time?”, “So Gay” is the latest offering from Tanzanian singer Hunter. Raised to Indian parents in the former capital of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam, an environment in which homophobia is governmentally sanctioned, it’s tempting to read “So Gay” as less of a timid emergence from the closet as a cavalry charge into Judy Garland’s swimming pool.

The track surprisingly eschews the Vengaboys-esque glitzy tat of many songs self-consciously styling themselves as gay anthems in favour of a measured, bluesy stomp, complete with bluegrass ornamentation and twanged slugs of walking Double Bass. Hunter works in his Indian heritage with blares of Bollywood brass, and unorthodox vocal processing in the chorus spools his voice into a digitised babble.

Vocally, the singer has apparently spent several decades gurgling battery acid in Tom Waits’ diaphragm, gnarling his voice into a wizened growl somewhere between a chain-smoking Genghis Khan and Moe from the Simpsons, which lends a delicious incongruity to his opening salvo “You think I’m weak, a fairy boy?” Although dealing in didactic and hackneyed gay-is-OK platitudes that are readily available in countless other songs, there is a wry playfulness to Hunter’s drawled instruction to “Never mess with the gays/Have a heavenly day”, and his impish awareness of his own daftness in his gruff boasts that “Your girlfriend wants me, sister too”. Although advertised as “the leader of an LGBT revolution”, he might have to settle for charmed bemusement and polite applause for now. CO

C+

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VOyS3cF_zQA&sns=em

Standard
Alternative, Indie, Pop, Rock

Everything Everything- “A Fever Dream” Review

In 2015 Everything Everything released a superbly inventive pop album entitled “Get to Heaven”, which received infuriatingly little attention and soon sunk back into the mire of quiet, docile reputability that seems so oddly unbecoming of the band. This was obstinate, often luridly colourful and wryly brazen music that didn’t belong in the back lanes of British “indie”, even though the lumping of the band into this category at all strains credulity. After the opulent blowout of “Get to Heaven”, “A Fever Dream” feels strangely like an incidental epilogue, irrespective of its contents. If their last album didn’t have the requisite boldness to break them, what will?

The band don’t seem to have an answer either, merely dimming the technicolour glare of “Get to Heaven” into muted blacks and oranges, Dante’s inferno via grainy polaroid. “A Fever Dream” is aptly named, a murkier and subtler work that eschews the punchy bombast of their previous albums in favour of more uncertain, introspective tones. “Good Shot, Good Soldier” emerges from beige aimlessness into a weary, rotating grandeur, while “Run the Numbers” buries a superb vocal melody beneath a down-tuned riff and Tom Morello-aping solo. As always, the unusual intonation and dynamism of Jonathan Higgs’ vocals dominate, as he gently wrings sympathy from the likes of the tender “Put Me Together”.

Despite the floaty moodiness of many of the tracks, much of the songwriting here is noticeably more conventional. “Desire” bludgeons its listener into submission with dreadnought synths and the belted brashness of its chorus, although it redeems itself with a superb bridge. Some sort of newfound fuzzy rockism tramples the intricacy of “Big Game”, with a dash of Rush or even Dream Theatre slashed into the proggy riffing of “Ivory Tower”. Although perhaps momentarily diverting, the allure of Everything Everything is their genre-bending and oddball vim, and they are far more unremarkable as a conventional rock band.

Unsurprisingly, there are scattered moments of transcendent beauty here, such as the swell of brass midway through “Good Shot, Good Soldier”, the complex arpeggios “Big Game” breaks into around the 2-minute mark or the entirety of the enveloping stateliness of “New Deep”. However, a faint air of anti-climax pervades the album, which was perhaps inevitable when it was tailing the cocksure cohesion of “Get to Heaven”. For the first time in their career the band feel suspended in aural stasis, treading water, with little here that they haven’t already attempted elsewhere. Unsure of how to progress, they have concaved slightly into the (by their standards) conventionalism of their second record, “Arc”. It’s a real pity they took the rather self-consciously “credible” path on “A Fever Dream”, because there’s a phenomenally strange pop band in there somewhere, nibbling at the walls. CO

B-

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LR3nXuBwGcI

Standard
Pop, Rock

Weezer- “Pacific Daydream” Review

The Beach Boys. The Doors. The Smiths. Steve Ray Vaughan. Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.

Whether these references, liberally scattered throughout the album, are simply intended to cushion the inevitable scorn of Weezer’s fanbase towards the work billed as the band’s foray into pure pop, or whether they betray a deeper sense of nostalgia and loss, is the central intrigue of “Pacific Daydream”. For all its breezy hooks and Pro Tools sheen, a wistfulness and melancholy slink beneath the surface of the album. With its members well into their late 40s and early 50s, Weezer is an ageing band, and one that seems acutely aware that this may be its last comically futile gasp at pop viability, even if it is little more than an asthmatic wheeze. To be absolutely clear, “Pacific Daydream” is not going to produce hit singles, regardless of its tracks’ commerciality or lack of it. Just as Linkin Park’s “Heavy” didn’t catapult them into the hit parade, “Feels Like Summer” or, heaven forbid, “Beach Boys”, will not beckon Rhianna guest features and VMA glitz. It’s just not going to happen. But I digress.

Given that chart hits seem out of reach, “Pacific Daydream” is worryingly only readable as part of the Weezer canon. Though far from the band’s first venture into squeaky-clean pop—there’s the scrubbed-from-the-record “Raditude”, the not-as-bad-but-still-embarrassing “Hurley” and arguably even “The Green Album”—it’s their most overt and fully-realised. However, despite the cosmetic stylistic revamp, Rivers Cuomo’s old lyrical themes quickly resurface: loneliness and confusion, societal otherness, a childishly absolute faith in the wonders of love. Potentially jarring references to romantic longing and summer at the beach are somehow acceptable from Weezer. At this point, midlife crisis has become their house style.

Although they have dabbled in electronic pop—2009’s nightmarish “Can’t Stop Partying” looms ominously into view—“Pacific Daydream” is far more Train than Avicii. Surprisingly, the album often gets away with its glib, blustery commercialism thanks to the sturdiness of its tracks: “Weekend Woman” is as good a pop song as the band have ever recorded, and “Sweet Mary” is a lush evocation of both vintage Weezer and the ‘60s Californian harmonies they incessantly fetishize. Even “Feels Like Summer”, once the antiseptic cleanliness of the album has been acclimatised to, is a punchy, effectively constructed track.

However, what is most pervasive is a sense of dislocation from modern musical trends, and society generally. Allusions to this abound, from “It’s a hip-hop world” on “Beach Boys” to “You gotta choose between the internet and me” on the finger-picked “QB Blitz”. However, despite risking down-with-the-kids desperation, Weezer’s submersion in earnest poptimism feels far less incongruous than it should; the band have always written pop hooks, and their lovelorn sincerity slots right into the pop vernacular. “Pacific Daydream” therefore treads an uneasy line, somehow both not Weezer at all and the logical conclusion of the band. Not nearly as bad as you might think. CO

B

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YGod7Xnqr20

Standard
Pop, Prog-Rock, Singer-songwriter

Steven Wilson- “To the Bone” Review

Despite a career spanning more than 30 years, you probably don’t know who Steven Wilson is. Described by The Daily Telegraph as “the most successful British artist you’ve never heard of”, he rose to relative prominence as frontman of the band Porcupine Tree, as well as working with a plethora of storied bands playing prog or off-kilter pop, from King Crimson to Tears for Fears. However, the cover of “To the Bone”, his fifth solo album (although he has produced endless work through other names and projects) implies a literal and figurative stripping down. Rather than the studiedly moody Porcupine Tree album covers, here a shirtless Wilson is simply lit blue against a red backdrop in a repudiation of his previous tetchiness about publicity.

In some ways, “To the Bone” does seem to amalgamate all his divergent creations and influences: for instance, in dazzling highlight “Refuge” there are echoes of Rush in Wilson’s soft vocals—Geddy Lee but less shrill—or perhaps Tool in the mechanised, vaguely Eastern clatter. However, “Permanating” is weirdly reminiscent of ABBA at times, illuminating an underbelly of pure pop that intermittently surfaces throughout “To the Bone”. The album also strays into fleet-footed metal at times in the maniacal, jazzy riffing that concludes “Detonation”, or the trebley bite of “People Who Eat Darkness”, whose riff’s similarity to that of Metallica’s “The Memory Remains” is difficult to ignore.

However, this constant genre-hopping proves surprisingly stylistically durable. Even the broody Depeche Mode affectations of “Song of I” dovetail into typically maximalist string swells, snapping the song cleanly into the album’s track listing. The exception to this rule is the arpeggiated restraint of “Blank Tapes”, whose resemblance to Pink Floyd’s “Brain Damage” isn’t too tenuous given Wilson’s prog credentials. The track is a welcome avenue of quiet prettiness, coming off more like “Ghost”-era Devin Townsend than the glittering bombast of “The Same Asylum as Before”, which balloons from tastefully bluesy soloing into a scalding climax somewhere between A Perfect Circle and The Chameleons.

However, despite the musical smorgasbord Wilson unveils, his undeniable technical skill sometimes struggles to gloss over a dearth of emotional engagement. The album’s lyrical opacity occasionally gives way to bland sloganeering: “I float above the stars, and I feel the rush of love” he gaudily declares on “Nowhere Now”. Nonetheless, “To the Bone” is largely carried by its musicianship, which is thankfully and necessarily excellent. Wilson’s virtuosity electrifies the album, providing it with its integral heft and invention. However, it is maybe this slightly alienating reliance upon technical ability that keeps Steven Wilson as “the most successful British artist you’ve never heard of”. Or then again, maybe he just likes it better that way. CO

B+

Listen here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T0dLypToLzE

Standard