Monthly Archives: August 2009

SMOOVE & TURRELL: Antique Soul – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★☆
Take a couple of blokes who could pass for those two Geordie builders who drink in your local, put them together in a studio and what do you get? If the two in question are Smoove and Turrell the answer isn’t a new stud wall and the faint whiff of battered Mars bars but Antique Soul. In other words a heavyweight northern soul-influenced collaboration with the gritty credibility that other nu-soul pairing Mark Ronson and Daniel Merriweather just can’t seem to muster and more crossover power than Moses at the Red Sea. Because when this is on, it’s really on.

On the one hand you’ve got John Turrell – surely the unlikeliest man in the world to possess the classic soul rasp that he does and Smoove’s slabs of thunderous rhythm – both factors which elevate this above the competition. Breakbeat bomb Hammond kicks things off (I can only imagine your surprise at discovering that this is centred around a huge Hammond hook) and Turrell’s insistence that, “You’re so, so dirty,” also delivers a promising lyrical beginning. It’s a track that is immediately seen however, if not actually raised, by the steroid-pumped pre-breakbeat Motown rhythms of next one – I Can’t Give You Up.

Third track You Don’t Know is more chilled but solid nonetheless – though the presence of a saxophone lends this an 80s mainstream feel that at times is the album’s Achilles Heel. There’s just something about a certain kind of saxophone playing that brings to mind a ponytailed man, suit-jacket sleeves rolled up to the elbow, silhouetted against a wet, nightime cityscape flecked with neon. And unfortunately the next three tracks summon this image far too effectively. So I’m not joking when I say that I could feel the uncomfortably close presence of Sade, Courtney Pine and 80s’ George Benson during The Difference, Hypnotized and You Got Me Bad as Turrell gives himself over to slick harmonies and only Smoove’s breaks remain to protect your immortal soul.

Happily, sanity is restored with forthcoming single, Beggarman – a soaring nu-soul anthem during which Turrell considers the current economic recesson and concludes that far from all that bollocks about ‘quantitative easing’ what you really need is to get down the, “Beggarman’s disco,” in order that the, “bad times don’t get you down.” Well, I’m always up for a boogie – as long as it’s not house music. Obviously. Subsequently, in a masterstroke of cover-track genius, 80s synth pop-duo Yazoo’s Don’t Go gets the Smoove & Turrell treatment, Darker Days delivers some brooding menace, and the pair outdo even Hammond for most inventive title with the subsequent Latin Groove which is, of course, a bit latin, and a bit groovy. Finally, things get all moody again with Without You.

Antique Soul is packed with either bangers or tracks that have that sure sign of a classic – the sense that you’ve heard it somewhere before – although actually you haven’t. Even if it does stray from the righteous path of funk into 80s ‘saxy-land’ at times, Antique Soul demands your attention.
Out now on Jalapeno

Listen to Smoove & Turrell – Antique Soul

THE THIRD DEGREE: Mercy – 2009 – Single review

Mm. The Third Degree. And doesn’t it just feel like it? In its head this Duffy cover attempts to rectify the outrages perpetrated in the name of soul by the music industry in general and someone who thinks there is kudos in advertising Diet Coke in particular. Here, all stops are pulled out to make Mercy sound like it was recorded in 1968 by a male soul vocalist along the lines of Lou Rawls with full horn-accompaniment – and they achieve all that with bells on. But it’s the song equivalent of the world’s most perfect video cassette recorder. Nobody’s fucking interested any more. I would give it 3 or higher for sheer authenticity brownie points alone but I’m not fucking interested any more. And Duffy’s vocal melody is actually better. And, before you start, this would’ve have gone up sooner but I’ve been on holiday.
(Out now on Tri-Sound)

Listen to The Third Degree – Mercy

The Third Degree – Myspace

DIZRAELI: Reach Out – 2009 – Single review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Like his Victorian Prime Minister namesake, Brighton’s Dizraeli isn’t afraid to wax lyrical. This one is called Reach Out and is set to become a seminal folk-hop standard. No. Seriously. Diz’ charismatic’ slightly hoarse ‘been-up-all-night’ rhymes keep it real about some old hoboes he’s met, Cate Ferris drops sweet vocal folk hooks on the chorus and the rest of it’s all about the stomping bayou blues beat. It’s free to download – check it out HERE. You’ll be Glad(stone) you did. Sorry. Couldn’t resist that.

Dizraeli – Myspace

FREESTYLE PROFESSORS: Gryme Tyme LP update + Tracklist

Christ! Mountains have visibly eroded in the time elapsed between the first rumours of new Freestyle Professors album Gryme Tyme coming out and the present. Then the original spring release date got put back to February and now it looks like it’s actually going to be out on 1 October 2009. You know it’ll be worth the wait though. If you were lucky enough to catch the Confuse A Few EP earlier this year you’ll already be familiar with a couple of tracks off this, including the mighty Luv U. You’ll also be aware that Branesparker and Giff both have PhDs in lyrical science, as do Stanley Grimes (a.k.a. Rampage) and Lord Finesse who swing by on this too. And just check out who’s on production duties – 12 Finger Dan, Buckwild, J Supiria, Showbiz, Minnesota, Branesparker himself as well as – wait for it – Diamond D. I’m getting a twitch just thinking about it!

Freestyle Professors: Gryme Tyme – 2009 – Tracklist:
A1 Intro (2:05)
A2 Turn My Headphones Up (4:26)
A3 Valley Of Death (4:26)
A4 Who Am I? (3:38)
A5 Luv U (3:40) feat. Akbar, Stanley Grimes
B1 Confuse A Few (3:59) feat. Lord Finesse
B2 Breakin’ Tha Rules (3:45)
B3 Gryme Tyme (3:49)
B4 Jump On It (4:07) feat. Akbar, Don Q
B5 Let Me Tell You Something (2:00)
C1 Time Flies (4:04)
C2 The Lord’s Prayer (3:49)
C3 The Breakdown (1:20) feat. Lil Sha
C4 Testify (4:54)
C5 We Comin’ (3:54)
D1 Those Was The Days (Remix) (3:47) feat. Kasha
D2 Think About It (4:23)
D3 Radio (4:43)
D4 Knick Knack (4:11) feat. Akbar, Stanley Grimes
D5 Outro (0:52) feat. GW Foxx

Freestyle Professors – Myspace

ADIDAS SKATEBOARDING: Pete Eldridge joins the team

Cool – a new Pete Eldridge signature Superstar shoe. Would that be white with three navy black stripes by any chance?…
With skills and style and a long history of rocking adidas, Pete Eldridge is the new addition to the adidas Skateboarding team. Pete’s been on a mission recently to destroy everything in his path – including his recent Mystery video part, his performance at both Tampa Pro and the Maloof Money Cup, and his part in the adidas European video, Diagonal. There are big things in store for Pete at adidas Skateboarding, including his first signature color way shoe, dropping in 2010. It’s a Pete staple, none other than the Superstar, a shoe Pete has been skating in since way back in the day. His first adidas ad is running this month in fine skate publications and a new feature just launched on the adidas skateboarding website, welcoming him to the team.

BREAKESTRA: ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ LP Update + Tracklist

Get ready for L.A. funk massive Breakestra to drop the bomb in late September. Looks like it’s going to be a funky autumn as well as a funky summer…

(PRESS RELEASE) After a four-year break from the studio, L.A.’s finest practitioners of gritty soul/jazz, party funk & breaks, BREAKESTRA, return to the fray with a brand new studio album on Strut this September, ‘DUSK TILL DAWN’.

The brainchild of producer, engineer, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist “Music Man” Miles Tackett, Breakestra was formed from a love of golden era late ’80s / early ’90s hip hop and a fascination for the dusty samples that peppered the era’s classic records. From watching revered West coast DJs like Cut Chemist and Mixmaster Wolf cut up hip hop, funk and breaks, Tackett looked to form a live collective of musicians that could play the originals live with all of the same sounds, feel and musicianship. Through weekly jams at a local coffeehouse session called The Breaks, Breakestra was created.

From then on, with their base at fabled Thursday L.A. club night Rootdown, Breakestra became renowned as one of the great live funk bands of their era. Mixmaster Wolf, first persuaded off the decks at The Breaks to voice Bobby Byrd’s ‘I Know You Got Soul’, became a key voice and hypeman out front. An amorphous line-up of L.A.’s finest players, led by Tackett on bass and vocals, ensured that the grooves were kept super-tight with local musicians like drummer Pete McNeal (Z Trip’s band), James “The Funky Penguin” King (The Lions) and Jeremy Ruzumna (Macy Gray’s band) all a part of the Breakestra fold at different times.

The band’s recordings have been rare to savour, numbering an early live cassette-only mixtape, a handful of singles and second mixtape release on Stones Throw and a debut studio album, ‘Hit The Floor’, on Ubiquity in late 2005.

For 2009, Breakestra return with their long-awaited sophomore set exploring all colours of the funk spectrum. Built around the vision of “Music Man” Miles and Mixmaster Wolf (as well as producing, recording and writing the tracks, Miles performs bass, drums, guitars, cello, keys, percussion and vocals on the record), the trademark Breakestra touches remain intact: Wolf fronts tough breakbeat jams ‘Dark Clouds Rain Soul’ and Stones Throw single ‘Low Down Stank’; Miles himself brings his soulful vocals to ‘Need A Little Love’ and ‘I Don’t Wanna Wait’ and amazing new female vocalist Afrodyete recalls the heyday of JB’s Funky People on the terrific ‘Come On Over’. The album even journeys into psychedelic soul (on the fuzzy ‘Show Me The Way’) and stripped-back West African farfisa stylings on instrumental cut, ‘North-East To Nippon’.

‘Dusk Till Dawn’ is a tribute to Tackett’s late DJ partner at Rootdown, DJ Dusk, whose life was tragically taken in a road accident in 2007. Dusk himself appears alongside Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na on the funky rap joint ‘Posed To Be’ and the album is a fitting tribute to a much-loved L.A. figure and integral member of a scene which has become globally respected.

Breakestra’s ‘Dusk Till Dawn’ is released 25th September 2009 on Strut. The release will be accompanied by world tour dates beginning in October.

Breakestra – Dusk Till Dawn – Tracklist
01. Need A Little Love
02. Dark Clouds Rain Soul Download MP3
03. Come On Over feat. Afrodyete
04. Back At The Boathouse
05. Get It Right
06. Show You The Way
07. Me & Michelle
08. I Don’t Wanna Wait
09. No Matter Where You Go
10. ‘posed To Be feat. Chali 2na & Dj Dusk
11. North-East To Nippon
12. Low Down Stank
13. Joyful Noise
14. You’ll Never Know
15. Set The Sun

Breakestra – Myspace

DIZRAELI: Engurland (City Shanties) – 2009 – LP Update

(PRESS RELEASE) Having made his name on stages around the world as frontman for the dub-hiphop band Bad Science, and picked up a string of awards as a slam poet (including BBC Radio 4 National Poetry Slam Winner and Farrago UK Slam Champion), rapper, singer and multi-instrumentalist Dizraeli has gone solo to craft his very own album. He says, “Hiphop is folk music for the modern age; real stories of ordinary people, spoken in their own voices. It’s music that takes part in our everyday conversations, and isn’t afraid to name names. I love that”.

‘Engurland (City Shanties)’, Dizraeli’s debut, makes the link between the old folk and the new, drawing on sea shanties, gospel and blues to create a form of hiphop that speaks for the streets and the valleys in equal measures. Journey with Dizraeli through the aisles of Tesco and the factory corridors, from the vomit-slicked Bristol backstreets to the grey pebbles of Brighton beach. This is 21st century England, told through stories of love and grief and defiance. Musically, the album echoes the drunken sway of Tom Waits’ Rain Dogs and the grit of Jay Dee’s production; it’s full of the sounds of Engurland – slamming doors and traffic whooshing, children’s voices and shopping-trolley rivers, as well as features from some of the most exciting emerging singers and instrumentalists around.

‘Reach Out’, the first single from the album, follows two lonely old men, on separate journeys through the rain-stricken twilight. It’s set to a stomping blues backbeat, and features the gorgeous harmonies of Cate Ferris, better known as backing singer for Martha Tilston. ‘Reach out’ is available now for free download on, as well as on iTunes, Amazon, Amie St and other melodic webspots.

‘Engurland (City Shanties)’ will be released at the end of September, followed by a tour in late October / early November, for which Dizraeli will be joined by a blindingly gifted set of musicians on double bass, beatbox, cuts, accordion and strings. Gigs at London’s Cargo, Bristol, Brighton, Bath and the Eden Project in Cornwall have already been confirmed. In the meantime, keep your ears peeled for ‘Bomb Tesco’, the next single, which will emerge alongside a guerrilla video sometime in the next fortnight…

Listen to Dizraeli – Reach Out

Dizraeli – Myspace


(Text by Hardcloud) Youth culture is constantly evolving and the trends that go with it seem to be as diverse as the youth themselves. The pursuit of individuality and ability to break free from parents appeals to most young people at some stage and having a platform on which to explore and express their identities is a vital part of young adulthood. Throughout the shifting trends of youth fashion, a recurring theme has been the desire for young people to distance themselves from their parents` world of stiff collared shirts and plain fabrics. It is perhaps not surprising that the surf look, with its bold prints, loose fitting clothes and laidback vibe, has been so enduring within youth culture and fashion for so long.
Boardsports and popular fashion are two worlds that have long been intertwined, with surf and snow brands seeking to align themselves with current trends and fashion designers constantly finding inspiration in the bold colours and laidback vibe of the boarding community. Long shorts, loose palm tree print shirts and funky flip flops have often been spotted on the catwalk shows of major brands, such as Gucci, D&G and Chanel. Boardsports fashion has unsurprisingly had a major impact on popular culture by transcending the surfing community and extending board culture to the general public.
The influence of boardsports fashion on popular culture has been both rapid and extensive. Nowadays, anyone that relates to the `work to live`, carefree values that are so deeply ingrained in boardsports fashion, whether they actually participate in boardsports or not, can express themselves through the clothes they wear, music they listen to and even the movies they watch.
All fashions change quickly and of course trends, by definition, come and go with the seasons. Yet with board fashions, there are certain pieces that enjoy enduring appeal. Boardshorts, for example, have been an integral part of surfing culture since the sixties when the long sandy beaches and big waves of California first popularised the sport. The attraction of these flexible garments is the way they epitomize the laidback, easygoing vibe of the surf community. They look great on dry land and can be worn by guys and girls alike and when the surf gets up they allow you the freedom to dive straight in without a second thought.
Another time-honoured favourite is the classic big-soled footwear, made famous by Vans. These comfortable yet stylish trainers are particularly popular with boardsports fans as they look great and can be kicked off easily when the mood takes you. While boardsports fashion can skilfully reflect current trends and seasonal variation, its principal appeal is in the way the clothing, like the surf community itself, refuses to answer to anyone. So for anyone that doesn`t want to take life too seriously, throw on some Volcom board shorts or a pair of Reef sandals, get down to the beach and enjoy the real meaning of life.

BIG BOSS MAN: Full English Beat Breakfast – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★★

‘Difficult third album’ my arse. What’s surprising about mod-funk legends Big Boss Man is that; given the quality of critically acclaimed LPs number one and two (Humanize (2001) and Winner (2005) respectively), and having soundtracked Mighty Boosh film-short “Sweet” and having their track Party 7 used on the 2006 Nike World Cup advert, they don’t have a higher profile in the UK and U.S. After all, here is a band that ranks with the cream of the new funk scene, by which I mean (for example) Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings and The Bamboos. And just as those two bands offer widely differing takes on deep funk, so too, do BBM. Though funk is rightly seen as a genre of black origin, it is less well-known that there were also, bizarrely, a number of white British people involved almost from the start – check out Bryan Auger, Julie Driscoll and the Trinity’s Break It Up from 1968 or Beat Me Til I’m Blue and Champ (one of the most sampled tracks in hip-hop) from Alan Hawkshaw’s band The Mohawks. And indeed, it is in the footsteps of the latter two acts that Big Boss Man follow. Their sound revolves around the interplay of the band’s three core members – organ maestro Nasser Bouzida (Hammond, Farfisa, Wurlitzer you name it – he plays it), the edgy mod guitar of Trevor Harding and Scott Milsom’s funky bass. On top of that, in the studio at least – it has always been Bouzida who has laid down the breaks.
Like its predecessors …Beat Breakfast offers up a similar top-quality brew of heavy feel-good organ-led funk grooves interspersed with forays into boogaloo and 60s rnb. There are differences this time round though. One thing you notice in particular is the way that Klaxons/ Simian Mobile Disco producer Nick Terry has got all dirty on the production – something emphasised by Bouzida’s use of a more distorted organ sound and more fuzz from guitarist Harding which combine to give the whole LP a more garage-y feel. The first five tracks pretty much cover the Big Boss Man musical spectrum and Triumph Of The Olympian is a suitably majestic opener recalling The Italian Job-era Quincey Jones big band funk in its use of horns only with a heavier, fatter beat. Beat Breakfast provides the final word in filthy distorted organ sounds in what is essentially a reworking of Booker T’s Green Onions, Black Eye (one of the few tracks with vox) goes for a breakbeat-heavy northern soul vibe and the cheekily-titled Full Brazilian (like you didn’t already guess) rocks a Latin-soul vibe. And yet some of the best tracks are still to come. C’est Moi is a massive Jacques Dutronc meets the Small Faces-style instrumental fairground ride immediately followed by, arguably, the LP highlight – Clown Face. Anyone familiar with Big Boss Man will understand how it is that ‘euphoric’ is an adjective that need not just apply to house music. Clearly single material, the huge kick and snare and organ squelches of the minimal ‘verse’ are leapt on by a chorus of soaring Hammond licks and a rousing sixties vocal hook courtesy of Bouzida. He does it so well, it’s a wonder the band don’t throw in more vocal tracks. Perhaps the best latin number is the boogaloo of Pies And Pastiche which is powered by a double-bass groove from Milsom and features both guitar and Hammond solos and then there’s the dubiously-named The Bloater – basically a super-heavy mod-rock bomb built around a driving Farfisa riff.
So, like I said – ‘difficult third album’ my arse. The only thing ‘difficult’ about this one was getting it released – it was to all intents and purposes ready to roll two years ago. Why the delay? You might as well ask why the lack of recognition? One of the albums of the year – you have been told. Don’t sleep!
Out 14 September on Blow Up Records

Listen to Big Boss Man – Full English Beat Breakfast

Big Boss Man – Myspace

REMIX! MAKO & THE HAWK vs. BEASTIE BOYS: Too Many Rappers ( ‘Not Enough Funk’ Mix) – 2009 – Free download

(PRESS RELEASE) When Mako & The Hawk heard the lyrics to current Beastie Boys single Too Many Rappers it occurred to them that, these days, lack of funk was a problem at least as important as a surfeit of rappers. Cue a trawl through the crates. A flurry of cutting and pasting ensued which saw the pair emerge triumphant from the studio with several paper snowflakes, an offensive collage made entirely from pages of Heat Magazine and the Beasties on a fat new beat. Incredible as it may seem, both the rapper and funk issues had been solved in one! Check the remix below:

…don’t forget to cop these too…
Listen/ download – MAKO & THE HAWK – Spacing Rasco 320 kbps
Listen/ download – MAKO & THE HAWK – Ain’t No Other Big Boss Man 320 kbps
Listen/ download – MAKO & THE HAWK – Shut Up & Give It Up 320 kbps
Mako & The Hawk – Facebook
Mako & The Hawk – Soundcloud
Mako & The Hawk – Myspace