Remember hip-hop? I’m damn sure Flo Rida doesn’t. Luckily Japanese crate-digger Kazahaya does. What’s more, he remembers it how it was meant to make the crowd move. And since nowadays beats are frequently wack as fuck, he’s looped some funky shit on the title track. And since most rappers nowadays are wack as fuck too, he’s taxed a few verses from some of the greats (I’ll let you have a crack at spotting who) propounding various notions about hip-hop. If that sounds like he’s recycled bits from the genre that kick-started recycling bits from other songs, that’s because it is. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t dope and fresh and all the other words that I over-use when something’s really dope and fresh. Oh yeah – the other tracks are the shit too. Out now on Breakin Bread
Starla do their double A side 45 thing again and once more I find myself loving one track and running in fear from the other. I googled The Baden Persuader (the one I like) intrigued by the ‘Theme from’ prefix, expecting to find links telling me about some sort of German Get Carter style movie. All I got were references to this very track though, which, as it turns out, finds Starla house band The DT6 dropping eastern-sounding instrumental spy-flick funk so sinuous you could put a leather jacket on it and call it a snake. Flipside Takes, in contrast, comes across as an eighties update on sixties northern soul and for all the fact that Emeli Sande and Marco supply quality vocals, it’s got Costa Del Crime 80s mirrorball disco written all over it. Shiny and evil.
The latest drop from the mild, mild west’s Ruztik label is the very tastefully packaged No Artificial Flavours from Bristol’s Konfectionists crew comprising Rola of the legendary Numskullz plus rappers Gee Swift and Project Cee. Running with an extended sweeties-based metaphor for both band name and LP title enabled the boys to throw all kinds of gags into the press release but it’s a double-edged sword akin to journo-catnip and, as such, I can only apologise in advance for the cheap wordplay and lazy imagery while I give you the 411 on whether the chocolates rival the box.
The blackcurrant fruit pastilles and the orange smarties on this are definitely the beats, cuts and production which are largely due to Rola himself. Musically the album varies from the good to the really quite beautiful with a lot of tracks having a sweeping, cinematic boom-bap feel. Some of the better tracks also feature cuts from Mr Fantastic like the edgy Seek Out The Weak (distinctive strings loop – a mandolin or something) and Dr Krome on Jazz Hands (big band brass) or clear standout (Mr Fantastic again) – How You Gonna Grow?. The album highpoint for several reasons, this has: a fat beat, a classy piano loop and it’s one of the few times Rola steps up to the mic.
Unfortunately, the liquorice Mojo in all this sugar-fied shenanigans is the rapping. I should make it clear that we’re not talking heinous rhyme crime here – Gee n Cee can rap on a beat and it’s not like their lyrics are laughable or anything – but somehow they just didn’t flip the script for me either. There’s nothing I’d classify under the heading ‘killer rhymes’ and they seem to have gone to quite some lengths to avoid memorable vocal hooks. I’m not quite sure what the problem is – maybe it’s just that there but there doesn’t seem to be a real sense of chemistry between these two nor even that much of a distinction between their voices. What this means is that on the few occasions when Rola picks up the mic the difference is noticeable – his hoarse style immediately providing some of the charisma that’s missing.
Though the bpms don’t vary that much here, there’s a classy production vibe from opener and title track No Artificial Flavours all the way to haunting final track No One Knows and though I wasn’t really feeling the rapping I would reiterate that it was a failure to dazzle that was the issue rather than a failure of competence. In any case, some people like liquorice Mojos. Released 8 June on Ruztik Records.
Aussie funk commandos Cookin’ On 3 Burners are back with a new twelve track LP Soul Messin’ on 1 July this year (READ ALBUM REVIEW HERE). Once again showcasing the wicked vocal talents of soul sister Kylie Auldist and soul brother Fallon Williams (whose Settle The Score and Cook It respectively were stand outs on first album Baked, Broiled and Fried ) the band will also be touring the UK and the rest of Europe in September. New tracks up on the ‘Burners myspace player give a taster of what to expect – including giving Gary Numan’s Cars a hammond funk makeover. What with this and the alleged release (finally!) of third Big Boss Man album it’s all set to be one funky Hammond summer…
Soul Messin’ tracklist:
01. Push It Up feat. Kylie Auldist
02. Four N Twenty
03. Tokyo Saucer
04. Dog Wash
05. This Girl feat. Kylie Auldist
06. Hole In My Pocket feat. Fallon Williams
08. Goose It Up
10. Seen Through Your Disguise feat. Fallon Williams
11. Soul Messin
12. The Proving Grounds
The fact that the tag ‘neo-soul’ might conceivably bring shoulder-padded eighties buffoon Luther Vandross to mind seems to have escaped marketing types who are selling Aussie vocalist (and Mark Ronson protégé) Daniel Merriweather as the second coming of Motown and Stax all rolled into one for the twenty-first century. Obviously when I say ‘Daniel Merriweather’ I’m including Ronseal as well – I mean – he must have produced this – the Ikea breakbeats and the conviction that because he’s managed to persuade the Dap Kings to play brass on it, it therefore sounds like the retro funky soul they do with Sharon Jones – have got his stamp all over them. It’s not just marketing types though – the mainstream press are full of it too! Time Out is running with the frankly unconvincing claim that this is, “fundamentally R&B…with the stripped down approach of Rick Rubin or Steve Albini,” while the Daily Torygraph is collapsing under the weight of lazy hyperbolic soundbites like “Dion crossed with Otis Redding.” Anyway, onwards – and since everyone’s been ‘bumming’ Byron Crawford lately (even The Guardian) – it is he who furnishes us with today’s guest review style – so here goes – is Daniel Merriweather worth your green? Let’s find out…
FOR YOUR MONEY
Merriweather is tragically afflicted with a voice that sounds like it’s been digitally filtered to buggery. It hasn’t really been, it just sounds like it. This on the other hand sounds like something off Stevie Wonder’s Talking Book LP – I Believe (When I Fall In Love It Will Be Forever) to be precise. If Stevie’s voice was filtered to buggery.
This one’s not bad actually…
…neither’s this. Nice melody and rapper Wale phones in a rhyme. I sing along to this one when it’s on. There’re still two signed 12” of this available (when some lazy fucker emails me the answer to the question I set on it) – Congratulations to Osman and Mosab who both sent a right answer in.
Steals (or replays, I can’t decide) the mental Hammond riff off The Mohawks Beat Me Til I’m Blue which ought to be great but the jury’s still out on the song it’s paired with.
A slow one. Good pop song. The missus will be asking for this one at parties. If she can remember who sang it and what it’s called.
Another slow one. Teh guey. Could have been written for Robbie Williams.
Starts off like a pastiche of the Pet Sounds’ era Beach Boys but manages to transform into The Mamas & The Papas’ California Dreaming for the chorus. Which The Beach Boys covered, incidentally.
Luther Vandross with a breakbeat.
WATER & A FLAME
In which Merriweather is joined by fellow ‘neo-soul’ chancer Adele for the lamest track of all. It’s another slow one.
GIVING EVERYTHING AWAY FOR FREE
Starts off like Jack Johnson then soars into a song I heard the actor playing Adrian Mole sing in a musical of Adrian Mole when I was a kid. Like anyone knows who Adrian Mole is now anyway.
NOT GIVING UP
Northern soul-y filler as we’re getting near the end – something seemingly captured in the title.
LIVE BY NIGHT
Bland neo-Stevie filler as we’re only one song from the end now.
We’re at the end – how can we fill that space? How about about an ironic positioning (no homo) of the same track that has already appeared on Mark Ronson’s Version album. That time around it was Mark Ronson featuring Daniel Merriweather. Ronson gracefully declines a mention here. Probably embarrassed at the doubling up. Nullus.
If this album could think, it would rate itself as a rival to a Gnarls Barkley LP. Unfortunately Daniel Merriweather is not Cee-Lo Green and Mark Ronson is no Dangermouse. The horns, breakbeats and largely second hand melodies wouldn’t fool anyone except (happily for Merriweather) – those who will buy it if it gets enough exposure (no homo), i.e. those who buy Robbie Williams and Adele stuff. Out 1 June on Allido/ Columbia
Tired of being design chimps for the man, the main players behind dope new UK urban clothing brand Subspecies Streetwear declared gorilla warfare and set up their own company with an attitude badder than a couple of quickly thought-up puns.
They say, “Be you B-boy, skater, BMXer, or general trouble-maker, you may not have realised until now, but you are a subspecies!”
In short, anyone who spits that ‘me-so-fly shit’ is going to be missing out on hot clothing design shit if they’re remiss enough not to swing over to check out their to ‘evolution revolution’ in t-shirts at subspecies.co.uk and headgear at subspecies.bigcartel.com. Sample t-designs and baseball hats below. I’m jonesing the smoking monkey tee. Chek! Subspecies Streetwear – myspace
Masta Ace and Sean Price get on a track with Marco Polo and Torae off the Double Barrel LP (released 2 June)! Download Hold Up feat. Sean Price & Masta Ace HERE. Vinyl heads can cop it like it should be heard via the links below. Obviously you’ll be paying for that, but you can’t put a price on style can you?
Remember Shut Skateboards? I do. Well, the griptape at least. It had little Shut logos all over it that you could push out and stick somewhere else like the bottom of your deck or road signs and stuff…er…anyway – Shut folded and Zoo York rose from the ashes and now they’re massive and everything and have much better ideas than bits of griptape that can be pushed out as as you can see from these select items from their latest range.