Monthly Archives: October 2009

FOREIGN BEGGARS: United Colours Of Beggattron – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★☆☆

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this autumn has had a mad crazy release schedule as labels everywhere make up for the fact that they could barely be arsed to release anything in the spring. As a consequence, review turnaround times have been shorter than an old-schooler’s come back. Given that the UK hip-hop underground’s ‘most-likely-to’ (that’ll be the FBs) have new album United Colours Of Beggattron out on Monday that left only one option. That’s right – it’s time for a ‘byron’. You must know the drill…

Upbeat intro – topical – bit of Obama – yeah, I’m feeling this…

MOVE HIGHER (Audra Nishita)
Sounds like the slow intro-bit to a mid-nineties Goldie/ Metalheadz track. All the way through. With rapping on. Apparently FBs have been around for ages but haven’t got the recognition they deserve. A fresh topic you’ll agree.

KEEP IT COMIN’ (feat. Jehst, Kyza & Dr Syntax)
This one’s ok – bit of scratchin’ and Kidulthoodie ‘ya brer’s beeyatch gat a rass claat’ rhymes. Plus a lame male vocal rnb hook.

BREAK FREE (feat. Audra & Kai Nishita)
The third track with a positive mental attitude title, yet another rnb hook and a kick drum I can barely hear. I went to switch the kettle on during this one.

DON’T DHOOW IT (Feat. King Knut)
Sounds like a Cool Kids beat but Foreign Beggars rapping – first one that makes my ears perk up. Mainly because it reminded me of Cool Kids.

The promo cd sleeve tells you this one’s a skit in case it’s playing and you’re deaf. Inexplicably imagines a vaguely Asian sounding hospital radio DJ announcing a performance by Foreign Beggars. I’ve had funnier colds.

SEVEN FIGURE SWAGGER (Feat. Dubbledge, Badness & Rednaz)
A chorus that won’t leave your head all day, this is P.R.O.P.E.R.

CONTACT (feat. Noisia)
…as is this. Deserves to be as big as Root’s Witness. Huge beat by Dutch dnb heads Noisia. Some twat on a site called monkeyboxing only gave the single 3.5 out of 5.

SHAKE IT (feat. Noisia)
The one where the boys get a bit ‘naughty’. Contains cerebral rhymes like, “Love to take you out on a date if I could/ Maybe let me give you a taste of my wood.” On reflection, makes me think of filthy bumping and grinding so not that bad.

The synth-keyboards one.

This one’s a skit too. Well – more of a 30 second beat really.

ASYLUM BOUND (feat. Ben Sharpa)
Starts with a voice like that Asian Fonejacker character who works for an ‘internet service providings’ call centre. But set in an asylum. About going mad or something. Probably sounds better if you’ve been at the green.

BIG N’BLACK (Phat Kat)
Starts off with a Chicago sample making you think it’s about to turn into a M.O.P. style banger. Then goes a bit tinny – probably so it sounds good on the kids’ mobile phone speakers. Not the best beat for Phat Kat’s 50 second phoned-in rhyme – he sounded much better on DJ Design’s last LP…

PROVE IT (Guilty Simpson)
…as did Guilty Simpson funnily enough. How’m I supposed to get amped off something that permanently sounds like it’s going to kick off but never does?

Scratching at the start wakes you up but it turns out it’s a skit.

NO MORE (Kashmere, Jehst & DJ 2Tall)
Arguably the best lyrics on the LP but sounds like it was made during a mad ketamine binge at the Dented studios. Could have done with being a bit faster and having more bass.

KEEPING THE LINE FAT (feat. Graziella)
Mid-nineties female garage vocal hook, a beat that sounds like late-era disco ramming grime at the lights and FBs rock up about a third of the way through. The sound of arriving at some sort of ‘Grime-fest’ in Michael Knight’s K.I.T. In a good way.

NO HOLDS BARRED (feat. Devlin, Noisia & DJ 2Tall)
Noisia again. Not unlike a digital earthquake.

Instrumental. Sounds like a last track. Mind you, so do quite a lot on this.

COMMENTS: Props to the FBs for attempting to craft an album that aims to maintain underground credibility while giving the pop charts a sly grope but United Colours of Beggattron basically revolves around a three track centrepiece with satellites of largely decreasing interest either side, despite a slew of heavyweight UK and US guests. As an LP this has the same sense of anti-climax that I got from Roots’ Run Come Save Me where nothing else on the LP approached the magnitude of Witness. Still, good enough singles potential to merk the competition and in any case how many whole albums do you listen to on a regular basis these days anyway? Tasteful cover too.

Listen to Foreign Beggars – United Colours of Beggatron

Foreign Beggars – Myspace

PEOPLE UNDER THE STAIRS: Carried Away – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★☆☆

The album artwork for this is a bloody great big number seven to emphasise the fact that Carried Away is People Under The Stairs’ seventh album. To be honest that kind of surprised me as I’d thought they’d just been re-releasing third LP O.S.T. every so often but changing the title and track names for a laugh. Mind you I should have known they hadn’t actually been re-releasing O.S.T. as at least that had one banger on it (super-retro party-bomb Hang Loose) whereas albums four to six were blander than a Sunday afternoon at Snow Patrol’s house.
Anyway, back to the matter in hand and it’s soon clear that Carried Away breaks with the last few albums in actually having something of note on it. And when I say ‘note’ I mean they’ve finally come up with a banger again in the form of Trippin’ At The Disco which has everything that’s been missing for so long – a big seventies-disco-breakin’ hook, a chantalong chorus and an uptempo beat all guaranteed to generate massive party-dancefloor action. Not only that, but some of the other stuff is worth checking out too which means this is actually better than O.S.T. 80 Blocks From Silverlake has a mellow soulful summer-evening vibe, DMQOT has a distinctive keyboard hook, Beer has a shouty call and response about beer (surprisingly) that you hope is Thes One and Double K being ironic about fratboy drinking and there’s skits too. Always a tricky one to pull off successfully – the skit has been the sand in the condom of many a hip-hop opus but the weirdly spelt Chicken Kabap (kebab?) doesn’t grate too much. It sounds to me like the exorcising of a demon – in particular one summoned during a late night munchie experience in London with a doner kebab – cue amusingly atrocious London accents. (Editor’s note: Should have had a Sheesh boys – everybody knows Doners are made from cows’ arses). On the other hand, Letter From The Old School goes for a Hang Loose kind of vibe with that Sugar Hill rap style again but sounds a bit too decrepit to party properly and then there’s the rest of the LP. Ah yes. The rest of the LP. Another eleven tracks – all of which sound like they were created when the random PUTS song generator got carried away. See what I did there? Still, like I said – this is all about Trippin’ At The Disco. Imagine if they did a whole LP of stuff that good…

Listen to People Under The Stairs – Carried Away

People Under The Stairs – Myspace

SWAY: ‘Mercedes Benz’ free download + Video

“Oh Lord won’t you buy me a Mercedes Benz,” Janis Joplin once sang. No need to request divine intervention now though as you can cop Sway’s Mercedes Benz for nowt below – the new single that is – don’t be expecting the keys to his motor.
Download Sway – Mercedes Benz
In case you weren’t aware it’s the latest resurrection of the sax intro to Marva Whitney’s Unwind Yourself most famously sampled by The 45 King in the 1987 classic The 900 Number. Don’t forget to check the review of Sway – Mercedes Benz and the vid is below the links…
Sway – Myspace

NOUVELLAS: ‘Nouvellas’ LP – Details + tracklist

Man, I’ve been gagging for this to come out since I first heard the band’s debut single Satisfied. They’ve been described as ‘Dusty Springfield backed by The Yardbirds’ and ‘The Rolling Stones fronted by a woman’ though neither of these analogies convey the fact that there are two female lead singers nor the fact that there’s a heavy soul/ funk influence in the band’s syncopated rhythms which neither The Yardbirds or The Stones ever possessed. Me, I’m running with 13th Floor Elevators playing funky soul and fronted by Dusty Springfield and Julie Driscoll. Don’t argue!
(PRESS RELEASE) When the Nouvellas played their first show in late 2007, those in attendance remarked in disbelief about how tight and talented the band was. For a first show, the members all played in perfect synch with each other, as if they’d been playing together for years. Truth be told they had been. They were all former members of the New York soul girl-group The Dansettes. When the Dansettes called it quits, the five of them decided that they were far from quitting the music scene, though all ready for a slight change. Vocalists Leah Fishman and Jaime Kozyra, along with the Pierce brothers — Dennis on guitar and Andy on drums – as well as Joseph Babic on bass, had a new vision: build on the solid soul foundation that was their reputation, but also blend in all of their other favorites. From the sounds of Lyn Collins and Bobbie Gentry to Steve Cropper and Black Sabbath; the group delivers something fun, something toe-tapping, something that will stick in your head for weeks to come!
The band hit the ground running, playing their first shows to packed houses with the likes of Mary Weiss of the Shangri-Las, the Reigning Sound and the Mooney Suzuki. It wasn’t a huge surprise, as The Dansettes spent the last few years building a name for themselves while sharing the stage with bands including The Dirtbombs, Vampire Weekend, and The Electric Six, while also serving as a backing band for seasoned soul legends Archie Bell, The Mighty Hannibal, Roscoe Robinson, and Young Jesse. When the incomparable Sharon Jones makes an appearance in New York, Jaime and Leah can be seen on stage with her adding backing vocals to the arrangement (just as they did on Jones’ most recent LP) – so it comes as no surprise that Jones’ Daptone label-mates,The Budos Band, can be heard lending a hand on the Nouvellas upcoming debut 45.
They may have some hefty credits and appearances, but the Nouvellas are nobody’s backing band. All five members share a hand in the songwriting and arranging. They record live in Dennis’ basement studio to a 1969 Ampex tape machine, with all hands on the mixing board. On stage, the chemistry is even more apparent – the dynamic dual lead vocals and harmonies of the two ladies are delivered with a punch and passion that puts their hearts on their sleeves. Combined with biting guitar lines, in-the-pocket bass, and heavy drum grooves, the band creates a raw, stripped-down sound that cuts deep and brings rock’n’soul back to the basics in a refreshing new way.
NOUVELLAS – Nouvellas LP – Tracklist
1. Baby You Change Your Mind
2. Satisfied
3. Don’t Count On Me
4. Can’t Take It
5. Right Kind Of Woman
6. Come Back
7. I’ve Got A Feeling
8. These Days Are Gone
9. Can You Feel It
10. Reputation
11. Right Kind Of Woman (Part Two)
(Out 20 October 2009 on Ernest Jennings Records)

Nouvellas – Myspace

Ernest Jenning Record Co.

ESOTERIC: Saving Seamus Ryan – 2009 – Album review

Rating: ★★★★☆

Esoteric interrupted the progressively dull first part of his career with partner 7L (which even they were getting bored of) to drop A New Dope in 2006 upon which he promised, “Saving Seamus Ryan coming soon.” That LP really was a breath of fresh air and (even if you don’t like Esotoeric’s nasal rapping style) you had to admit that its concoction of fresh beats and samples influenced by everything from new wave to drum n bass offered a fresh ladder out of the late-nineties rut into which they had fallen and which only the most hardcore Eastpak-wearing nerd could love. It was a triumph that Eso followed up by virtually diving into an early 2000s backpacker rut, throwing out dull solo LPs like luggage from a sinking ship with nary a sign of the long-awaited …Seamus Ryan and all the while failing to cash-in on the success of A New Dope by dint of not actually doing anything as good.
Anyway, Saving Seamus Ryan is finally here and – er – it’s a concept album which kind of made me think that I was more likely to need saving than Ryan. The central conceit is the story being told which, as far as I can make out, is partly relayed through the medium of the album itself and in full in the 52-page book that accompanies the official release. Um – yeah – whatever – but is it dope?
The answer both lyrically and beatswise is, ‘Quite often – yes.” On this the Boston MC/ Producer often uses beats that are both good, and which take a lead from A New Dope although he still also makes occasional use of some plodding boom-bap – it’s the ‘plod’ that’s the issue not the boom-bap. The (ironically) dope-beatless I Need A Dope Beat exemplifies this plod though perversely it has the LP’s best lyrics, among them, “But how ironic is my empty wallet?…To get it back I’d earn a police record so convincing you’d think Sting’s on it,” and later, “I was so weak/ Thinking all…[you]…need in this game are some dope beats.” I beg to differ. I reckon it gets you quite a long way and it’s something he ought to remember as it meant I overlooked the fact that he made me listen to sickly rhymes about a dog on The King Is Dog precisely because it has one of the dopest beats on the LP, not to mention one of the best musical hooks. The K-Flay-featuring Modern Love In Boston and My Audition genuinely have real bounce and snares so crisp they’d make fresh prawn crackers look doughy. It’s a shame there are moments like Studio Time/ Goodbye which sounds so 1999 and actually kicks off the LP.

I guess I should mention the skits which help carry the narrative along and redeploy snatches of film dialogue (mostly plundered from Harrison Ford vehicles) and rap-acapellas (mostly plundered from Gang Starr’s Guru) in, I think it’s fair to term, an amusing manner – even if Esoteric starts to sound alarmingly like Ray Romano by the end.
In short, some tight rhymes and some dope beats – though not always at the same time and, although it kind of makes me shiver, a ‘concept’ that kind of works. Not quite a new New Dope Pt II but the closest you’re going to get anytime soon. One last thought though – what is up with that title? Why would you want to call your LP something that either makes people think of Steven Spielberg and the beaches of Normandy or a porn film where someone called Ryan finds his ‘privates’ getting a shaving? Or what is worse (since both ideas occur simultaneously) Steven Spielberg getting his ‘privates’ shaved on the beaches of Normandy…

Listen to Esoteric – Saving Seamus Ryan

7L & Eso – Myspace

MANMADE: Feature Funk Vol. 2

Here’s the second in today’s brace of mash-up 12″s and in truth it’s been out a short minute already – as a swift glance at the MB chart for October will reveal with the Slynk track at number ten. In hindsight that’s languishing way too low. It is the jewel in the crown of this EP and with it Brisbane’s Slynk takes The Three Degrees’ 1970 torch song slowy You’re The Fool, drops in a bit of the ‘Stones, some dialogue from what I think is Beat Street then – as if you hadn’t already guessed – ups the bpms and adds a rather large breakbeat. The other tracks don’t fuck around either.
(Out now on Manmade Records)

(PRESS RELEASE) Once again, Manmade comes out with another fresh selection of funky tracks from around the globe. This time we’re featuring Basement Freaks, Funkanomics, Slynk and Manmade.
With no surprise, this Feature Funk has a wide range of club bangers perfect for everybody to spin. First up with an incredible breaks track, we got BASEMENT FREAKS “Lauren Beat” which is sure to impresses with its driving beats, chunky bass line and well known vocals. The second cut is by FUNKANOMICS. It’s sure to become a breaks anthem. The perfectly arranged Hendrix samples will have “Crosstown Shelter” getting you up on your feet for sure!
On the B side you´ll find CMC&SILENTA’s reedit of “Voodoo Workin”. Designed with fat kick drums, catchy bass lines and unique piano and brass loops, there are no doubts the ladies will shake their hips to this banger. The last cut is by one of the best upcoming DJ and producers from down under, SLYNK with his track “You’re the fool”. This is one of the most banging funk explosions that has ever reached our ears! You really would be a fool not to have it in your record bag.

Listen to Manmade Feature Funk Vol. 2

Manmade Records – Myspace

THE BREAKBEAT JUNKIE & DJP: Goodgroove Artist Series no. 10

Bath’s Goodgroove label lives up to it’s name once more and shows hip-hop producers the way back to the dancefloor. The recipe is simple, take one old school hip-hop acapella circa 1985, take one old funk loop circa 1967-1975, forgo the tired ‘dusty breaks’-re-creation-of-1992-approach and instead apply muscular 21st century club vibe instead. Retaining the breakbeat (correctly) it also chucks in a few house-production flourishes. Not the shit vocoder-vocals and cheesy electro synths of – well, pretty much anyone in the mainstream (a.k.a. trying to sound like Kanye trying to sound like Daft Punk) but something more primal – along the lines of ‘cut beat out, bring in euphoric swell, raise to crescendo, re-introduce beat to crowd going crazy, girls throwing underwear around. Think I can probably live with that.
(Out 12 October 2009 on Goodgroove)
(PRESS RELEASE) The Northern boys got funk! United by making dancefloor bombs DJP & The Breakbeat Junkie can sure cut a fine rug when it come down to it. ‘Rock The Place’ is a big old school flavour club track with breaks, horns and a big ass vocal to boot. ‘Take You Back’ does what it says and stops around sugarhill gangs time, this track is already a favourite at the prolific Jellyjazz nights and is set to stay in many a DJ’s bag for a longtime to come. ‘Old Skool’ this lets the boys show you what they can do, top hip hop vibe with plenty of, you guessed it, FUNK!
THE BREAKBEAT JUNKIE & DJP: Goodgroove Artist Series no. 10 – Tracklist:
A1. Rock The Place
B1. Take You Back
B2. Old School

Listen to Goodgroove Artist Series no. 10 (DJP vs. The Breakbeat Junkie)

Goodgroove – Myspace

The Breakbeat Junkie – Myspace

DJP – Myspace

STEVEN WILSON: NSRGNTS RMXS Details + Tracklisting

Insurgentes, the debut album from Steven Wilson, was released earlier this year on Kscope. The album immediately received a rapturous reception from not just fans and critics but also from fellow artists. Several of these artists have remixed tracks from the album and NSRGNTS RMXS is a collection of some of these remixes.

NSRGNTS RMXS opens with a mix of Harmony Korine by David A. Sitek, currently enjoying massive critical acclaim for the new TV On The Radio album. Underground hip-hop pioneers Dälek have created a dark, brooding mix of Get All You Deserve (think Massive Attack meets UNKLE). Engineers, who return on July 6th with their new album Three Fact Fader, have brought their widescreen sound to Abandoner while Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson, XTC) has created a sprawling mix of Salvaging and drone act Fear Falls Burning have also reworked Get All You Deserve. The mini-album is completed by the winner of the remix competition which ran on the Insurgentes mini-site. The competition offered fans the chance to remix the track Abandoner and received over 200 entries. Steven listened to all the entries and whittled them down to a final eight mixes which were then put up on the site for fans to vote on. The Danse Macabre remix created by ukasz Langa topped the poll. This mix will now feature on the CD and download versions of the NSRGNTS RMXS mini-album.

A 12” vinyl edition of NSRGNTS RMXS will also be released. This will be limited to 1000 copies only available from the Kscope store. It features the David A. Sitek mix along with two mixes of Only Child by Pat Mastelotto. A digital edition will also be available which will collects all eight tracks available on the CD and 12”

The initial run of 5,000 copies of NSRGNTS RMXS is now available from the Kscope store. The CD edition will be in stores from August 24th (October 12th in UK)

NSRGNTS RMXS – Tracklistings by format

CD edition
1. Harmony Korine – David A. Sitek Magentzied Nebula Mix
2. Get All You Deserve – Dälek Mix
3. Abandoner – Engineers Mix
4. Salvaging – Pat Mastelotto Mix
5. Abandoner – Danse Macabre Mix
6. Get All You Deserve – Fear Falls Burning Mix

12” vinyl edition
A1. Harmony Korine (magnetized nebula remix by David A Sitek mix)
B1. Only Child (Pat Mastelotto mix 3) 4.32
B2. Only Child (Pat Mastelotto mix 1) 5.56

Digital edition
1. Harmony Korine – David A. Sitek Magentzied Nebula Mix
2. Get All You Deserve – Dälek Mix
3. Abandoner – Engineers Mix
4. Salvaging – Pat Mastelotto Mix
5. Abandoner – Danse Macabre Mix
6. Get All You Deserve – Fear Falls Burning Mix
7. Only Child (Pat Mastelotto mix 3) 4.32
8. Only Child (Pat Mastelotto mix 1) 5.56

FOREIGN BEGGARS: ‘Contact’ video

More dutty-ness, this time from the dirty south in the shape of the video for recent Foreign Beggars/ Noisia collabo single. And you know what? As I predicted in my own review of this the other week, it’s still improving with every listen. Quite possibly the most convincing bid for homegrown-UK hiphop crossover success since Roots Manuva’s Witness this not only detonates with a shockwave so massive the competition is largely vaporised but also demonstrates that you can keep your credibility’s virginity intact and still have a hit – which this must surely be. The total opposite of Dizzee, Tinchy and Chipmunk who it makes look like a trio of bumfluff-sporting, chancers. Oh. Hang on…
Foreign Beggars – Myspace

DIZRAELI: Bomb Tesco – Free download

Bomb Tesco? It’s hard to disagree with the sentiment. I don’t know about you, but round my way they want to build a new Tesco superstore despite the fact that there’s already a Sainsbury, an Asda, two Tesco Metros and a Tesco Homeplus within a three mile radius. Apparently they’ll only get the go ahead if ten thousand homes are built (on green belt) so there are enough customers. Consequently, I’d give this props for it’s title alone even if it was the latest piece of diet-Kanye housey-keyboard-crap. Which it isn’t. What you do get is a quirky piece of almost latin-rhythmed folk-hop that’s so organic even homemade soya milk feels guilty next to it. It’s a typically British piece of gently-comedic, surrealist whimsy that imagines how some hippy rapper (no, really) banging out rhythms in the car park gradually compels the store’s entire staff to ‘feel the music’ at the expense of their dead-end vocations. Possibly not quite as satisfying as the alternative tale from my head which envisions some sort of ‘fatwa’ against Tesco’s board of managers culminating in a suicide attack that blows their fucking heads off and follows it up with a second onslaught where members of the public take it in turn to shit down the bleeding stumps of these representatives of rapacious consumerism. Metaphorically, obviously. The chirpy music could stay the same though as it would still essentially be a positive tale.
Dizraeli – Bomb Tesco – Listen/ download HERE
Dizraeli’s LP Engurland (City Shanties) is out soon…

Dizraeli – Myspace