Music Reviews

Show: New reviews | Artists beginning with: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z 0-9 | Compilations
Super Liminal / Penya

Penya - Super Liminal

On The Corner

Penya is a percussion driven quartet led by producer and multi-instrumentalist Magnus PI. "Super Liminal" is their debut LP and the follow up to their impressive "Acelere" EP. They're woven a myriad of influences ranging from Cuba to Tanzania to assemble a tantalizing stew of compositions. "Search It Out" is driven by Jim Lem's bata drumming and enhanced by lead vocalist Lilli Elina, whose vocals shine throughout this disc. Lem shines throughout as well, specifically on "Iyesa" and "Kirachi". The latter is a pulsating track with tribal overtones due in part to the futuristic synths with ancient chants. Magnus PI's production has created a lo-fi analog sound that befits the nature of the music. You feel as though you are in the midst of a live performance. The energy this quartet exudes is certain to lift your spirits and move your hips. There's no use trying to fight it, just release yourself and enjoy it.

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Reg Dancy, 02/18

UnequiVocal / LyricL

LyricL - UnequiVocal

Tokyo Dawn

"UnequiVocal" is an aptly title, for there may be no equal for the lyrical dexterity of poet and hip-hop lyricist Nkechi da LyricL (aka Lyric L). LyricL has performed with everyone from Mark De Clive Lowe, Bugz In The Attic and Aroop Roy just to name a few. "UnequiVocal" is her follow up to her smash debut "Amazed". Although that record dropped over six years ago she has seamlessly picked up where she left off. That means there's a myriad of rhythms tailored to her exceptional rhyming skills enhanced by a number of talented guests as well. On "Dreamstate" LyricL is joined by rapper 3rd Person and Breakplus to trade verses over a laid back boom bap beat. "Juxtapose" is an intoxicating Afro house number featuring Rachel Huggins and Shaun Ashby. "Expected To" featuring Daz-I-Kue is a wicked bruk beat track reminiscent of her work from the London broken beat scene from over a decade ago. That's just a sampling of the amount of gems spread across this record. I can easily go on but you need to listen for yourself, you won't be disappointed. Highly recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 02/18

Elevate / 30/70 Collective

30/70 Collective - Elevate

Rhythm Section International

Clearly there's something in the water down in Melbourne. With the success of Hiatus Kaiyote we now have 30/70 Collective to emerge from their vibrant music scene. "Elevate" is the superb follow up to their impressive debut "Cold Radish Coma". This sublime release resonates with warm soulful harmonies and strong instrumentation. The opener "Slangin" is laid back, warm and melodic. The tune is built around rhythmic synths, moogs and a cavalcade of vocals, most notably lead vocalist Allysha Joy. "Misrepresented" follows the same formula with the addition of funky guitar rhythms and horns. Each track here flows together thematically and filled with rich textures and catchy hooks. The only negative is there's only 9 tracks to savor. That being said, "Elevate" is deeply satisfying record that warrants repeated listens. This is a group to keep an eye on

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Reg Dancy, 01/18

The Way Home / Ikebe Shakedown

Ikebe Shakedown - The Way Home

Colemine

The Brooklyn based band return with another collection of infectious gritty funk instrumentals. "The Way Home" pulls from an array of influences of Afro, psychedelia and a heavy dose of soul. There's plenty to savor here starting with the opening track "Supermoon". A fiery soul tune ripe with blistering horns, percussion and wicked electric guitar rhythms. "she's Knocking" is slow grinding soul that follows the same formula. With their trademark tight instrumentation and no sign of filler, "The Way Home" is a sure bet for soul aficionados.

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Reg Dancy, 01/18

Cypher / The Andy Tolman Cartel

The Andy Tolman Cartel - Cypher

Freestyle

Inspired by the great movie soundtracks of the seventies, The Andy Tolman Cartel present "Cypher". This nine track lp captures the cinematic soundscapes that were as pivotal to film as the movie itself. An accomplished bass player, Tolman integrates funk and big band rhythms seamlessly throughout this disc. "Move Over" is a funky number that features Jo Harmon on vocals and Steve Watt on the Hammond Organ. "You What" is another sizzling highlight that kicks off with Tolman's funky guitar intro and features Carl Hudson on keyboards. Produced by Nick van Gelder who also occupies the drum chair on the entire disc. "Cypher" engages you to visualize some of your favorite movie scores and ensures you'll have a funky good time while doing so.

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Reg Dancy, 01/18

Oracle / Web Web

Web Web - Oracle

Compost

Web Web is a German based supergroup of acclaimed musicians. The essence of "Oracle" is derived from the Spiritual Jazz movement of the seventies. On "Journey To No End" the quartet explore searing exciting exchanges among each other. Pianist Roberta Di Gloia sets the table with a glorious melody while Tony Lakatos's soloing on Tenor. On "Unreal Prediction" Lakatos's adventurous phrasing on Soprano are deeply satisfying when playing alongside Gloia's rhythmic rhodes. "Alternate Truth" is a moody mellow tune yet full of imagination. Peter Gall's simmering percussion allows Lakatos and Gloia to stretch out. Their solos flow naturally and are a joy to listen. "Oracle" isn't impressive because it was recorded in one take. It's very impressive because these are musicians at the top of their game coming together with superb compositions. This is a delightful record worthy of repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 12/17

One Of These Days / The Haggis Horns

The Haggis Horns - One Of These Days

Haggis Records

The Haggis Horns 4th album "One Of These Days" features a grittier bluesy sound while maintaining their trademark raw soulful sound. The slow grinding groove of "Curse Of The Haggis" is evidence of that and a pleasant sign of things to come. Long time member Lucinda Slim adds her sultry vocals to the mid-tempo "World Gone Crazy". On "All Fuzzed Up" the band demonstrates that they can turn up the heat when necessary. There's much more to savor here with appearances from John McCallum and Doc Brown respectively. Twenty years on the scene The Haggis Horns are still one of the premiere UK soul bands around today.

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Reg Dancy, 12/17

DJ Andy Smith Presents Reach UP - Disco Wonderland / Various Artists

Various Artists - DJ Andy Smith Presents Reach UP - Disco Wonderland

BBE

DJ Andy Smith, internationally known for collaborations with Portishead as well as his sort after DJ sets reinforced his reputation as a certified crate digger. "Reach Up - Disco Wonderland" is an ode to the seventies NYC club scene, specifically the Paradise Garage and Studio 54. In addition he resurrects a few hidden gems for us to enjoy all over again. "For The Love Of Money" a seventies classic from the Disco Dub Band has an unforgettable bass groove that drove folks to the dance floor and still resonates today. "First Time Love Affair" was an early eighties hit from the late Jimmy Ross. "Share The Night" is an underrated synth laden boogie tune that captures the spirit of NYC eighties club culture. If you want to take a trip down memory lane then you'll no doubt enjoy this disc.

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Reg Dancy, 12/17

The Outsiders / Ross McHenry Trio

Ross McHenry Trio - The Outsiders

First Word

Guitarist Ross McHenry's third release for First Word records is his first trio album. "The Outsiders" is rounded out with long time collaborators drummer Myele Manzanza and pianist Matthew Sheens. Their synergy is apparent on a number of standouts tracks. On the opening tune "It's Not How I Remembered It", Sheens melodies are assertive yet tender while Manzanza's rhythmic phrasings gain momentum along the way. The title track comes in three parts, each beginning with elegant melodies yet each distinguishing itself from the other. On "Pt.2" McHenry lays down moody rhythms augmented by Manzanza's deft touch on cymbals. On "Pt.3" Sheens, the lead voice throughout dials up the heat with a swirling barrage of high powered virtuosity. With two impressive fusion lps to his name, McHenry demonstrates he's equally adept in a trio setting as well. This is a highly satisfying record.

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Reg Dancy, 12/17

Eventual Reality / James L'Estraunge

James L'Estraunge - Eventual Reality

BBE

"Eventual Reality" is the full length debut from The James L'Estraunge Orchestra. Producer Ricky Reid, one half of the Soul Renegades shifts gears by crafting an engaging collection of atmospheric gems and dreamy soundscapes. In order to tap into this creative process he escaped the busy Edinburgh scene and retreated to the peaceful Swedish highlands. The move has made an immediate impression right from the start. "Me And The Bear" is a down-tempo tune filled with gorgeous rhodes and string melodies. "We Rise" begins with a stretch of boisterous strings and horns followed by lush vocals layered over an infectious groove. An a composer Reid strikes the right balance between electronica and live instrumentation and makes a profund statement with this impressive release.

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Reg Dancy, 12/17

Journey to the Mountain of Forever / Binker & Moses

Binker & Moses - Journey to the Mountain of Forever

Gearbox Records

Binker Golding and Moses Boyd are part of the collective of young musicians emerging on the vibrant London scene. As Binker and Moses they remind us just how engaging a drum and sax duo can be without the reliance of a chordal instrument. The duo explores a a variety of moods with Golding's adventurous solos servng as the lead voice. "Trees On Fire" finds Binker swinging with a flurry of energy that builds throughout while Boyd infectious rhythms equally holds his own. "The Valley Of The Ultra Blacks" find Golding on soprano and unleashing a flurry of spirted soloing while Boyd's mighty percussion asserts itself with high energy. With fifteen tracks of their own compositions and inspired by the great duets of the past. Binker and Moses come out swinging and produce one of the best records of the year. I'm already looking forward to their next release.

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Reg Dancy, 11/17

Relationships / Trevor Lawrence Jr

Trevor Lawrence Jr - Relationships

Ropeadope

The name Trevor Lawrence Jr may not jump off the page at first but when you dig a little deeper you'll find that the Los Angeles native has been drumming for everyone from Bruno Mars, Kendrick Lamar to Stevie Wonder just to name a few. If that wasn't enough he's also the drummer for saxophonist Terrace Martin's new group, The Pollyseeds. Somehow he found the time to craft his full length debut entitled "Relationships". Lawrence's debut illustrates his musical vision of traditional soul, jazz, hip-hop and funk. Among the highlights are "B-Side" a seventies inspired soul layered with wah wah rhythms and sultry vocals. "The Guts" is gritty street soul featuring Shariff Simmons on spoken word and tasty trumpet riffs from Nicholas Payton. "Bring The Party" is a catchy up-tempo jazz funk instrumental. "Tiptoe" is blissful RnB enhanced by live and programmed drums and features Neka on vocals. There's an enormous amount of talent emerging from LA and Lawrence Jr is the latest example. He's certainly one to watch.

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Reg Dancy, 10/17

Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection Vol. 3 / Various Artists

Various Artists - Kev Beadle Presents Private Collection Vol. 3

BBE

DJ and avid vinyl collector Kev Beadle  has resided in the upper echelon of respected DJs for over 20 years. So when he started pulling out some of his own dusty vinyl classics for his "Private Collection" series, it gave us another reason to love him even more. Now with Vol.3 he unleashes a delicious collection of seventies slept on tunes you didn't know you needed before but you certainly know now. The disc kicks off in furious form with "Quiet Fire" infused with spirited drumming from the great Roy Haynes. "La Em Guayaquil" is an infectious jazz-rock hidden gem from the Brazilian band Banda Metalurgia. Louis Hayes' late seventies free jazz delight "Little Sunflower" features the engaging wordless yodeling of Leon Thomas. Other notable tunes include "Maryke" and "Samba De Amor". Unless you have direct access to the Kev Beadle vault you would be wise to take a deep drive into this superb collection.

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Reg Dancy, 10/17

It's Time / Thee Gobbs

Thee Gobbs - It's Time

Atjazz Record Company

South Africa continues to build on it's reputation as a haven for spiritual House music and culture. Thee Gobbs is another stellar DJ to emerge from the homeland to keep on your radar. "It's Time", his debut on Atjazz showcases his deft touch as a producer with a keen sense of musicianship. He seemlessly fuses the spirtual melodies with the emotive harmonies deep infectious grooves. This double cd features Gobbs original compositions while disc B features some tasty remixes from some of the most notable DJ/Producers today. "The Love" is a joyous dance track featuring Johannesburg based vocalist Tsholo. "Thin Ice" is another pulsating tune featuring vocalist RJ Reynolds. "Like A Drum", the track that rose Gobbs name to a broader audience features a number of scorching remixes but among my favorites is the deep house remix from Fish Go Deep. "Time To Rise" receives a soulful house remix from priemere DJ/Producer Sean McCabe. Gobbs had already knocked on the door with his two previous singles. Now with "It's Time" he's blowing it wide open.

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Reg Dancy, 10/17

Double Sided / DJ Vadim

DJ Vadim - Double Sided

BBE

DJ Vadim and Californian songwriter vocalist Katrina Blackstone return following their successful collaboration on "Dubcather" with "Double sided". Vadim's latest release is amalgamation of dub step grooves, boogie tunes with several eclectic rhythms mixed in between. Among the highlights are "Choose" where Blackstone's sultry vocals ride over a wicked synth laden beat. "Stand Up" is roots reggae laced with funky dub echo effects and pulsing drums. "How Long" is an upbeat boogie tune with a catchy melody that lingers long after the song is over. Vadim has delivered another impressive disc full of live instrumentation and thumping bass grooves. Along with Ms Blackstone they've formed the perfect musical combination.

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Reg Dancy, 10/17

My Name Is Nicole Willis / Nicole Willis

Nicole Willis - My Name Is Nicole Willis

Persephone records

"My Name Is Nicole Willis", is the latest release from the Finland based classic soul vocalist. Ms Willis revisits some of her earlier releases as well as unleashing new material with help from The Umo Jazz Orchestra. For their part the Orchestra's added horns and producer Jimi Tenor's arrangements create a dynamic classic soul experience. One of those new tracks, "Haunted By The Devil" opens up with lush horns and strings followed up with Pete Toikkanen's funky wah wah guitar. "Together We Climb" should be familiar to fans. Originally performed by Nicole and The Soul Investigators, this alternate take maintains the infectious groove and bluesy guitar rhythms while incorporating swaying orchestral arrangements. "Still Got A Way To Fall", another bluesy soul burner finds Willis performing spoken word about perseverance through trying times. The Willis, Tenor and Toikkanen partnership knows a thing or two about quality soul music. This sparkling release takes their sound to another level.

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Reg Dancy, 10/17

The Cleansing / Annabel (lee)

Annabel (lee) - The Cleansing

Youngbloods

"The Cleansing" is the new album from Richard E and Sheila Ellis, better known as Annabel (Lee). Sheila's poetic songwriting and haunting vocal phrasings compliment the cinematic soundscapes arranged by Richard and they resonate throughout this disc. There are two themes to savor here. The A side is intimate acoustic folk highlighted by "Paris, Room 14" and "Move With Me" where  Sheila's vocals evoke a peaceful dreamy atmosphere. Strings and instrumentation drive the B side and evidence of that lies in the emotive "Autumn Requiem". "Far" is Avant garde folk and one of the highlights here. This is an intimate and peaceful disc wrapped around abstract sounds and howling classical imagery. A mystical voyage you shouldn't miss.

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Reg Dancy, 09/17

Nubya's 5ive / Nubya Garcia

Nubya Garcia - Nubya's 5ive

Jazz Re:freshed

There's a new generation of UK jazz artists and Tenor saxophonist Nubya Garcia is one of the key players on the scene. She has studied with members of the educational program known as Tomorrow's Warriors and has emerged as a sought after horn player. With "Nubya's 5ive" she fronts a band filled with musicians broadening the scope of jazz. Drummer Moses Boyd is a band leader in his own right and seamlessly keeps the rhythm cooking throughout. With the opening track "Lost Kingdom", Boyd's deft command of rhythm provides a foundation for Garcia and trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey. Pianist Joe Armon-Jones spirited playing is pure delight on "Fly Free". With "Red Sun" Garcia and company stretch out in freewheeling form and the results are pure joy. Whether it's bebop or experimental, Garcia is a rising star who certainly warrants your attention. The multifaceted Jazz Re:freshed label never disappoints and this superb release is no exception. Highly recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 09/17

The Feel Good Agenda Vol.1 / Mike City

Mike City - The Feel Good Agenda Vol.1

BBE

Producer/writer Mike City made his mark in the early 2000s with the smash hit "I Wish" by Carl Thomas. From that point he would go on to pen tracks for Brandy, Angie Stone and countless others. For his latest full length release, he's invited a  number of his friends are on board to lift these impressive RnB infused dance tracks to another level. Veteran Fayth Evans urban edged soprano vocals are the perfect match for the track "When I Luv". The angelic vocals of Teedra Moses float on the soulful house inspired "Been Too Afraid". The mid-tempo burner "You're In Heaven" is boasted by the deep smokey vocals of acclaimed songstress Lalah Hathaway. Additional appearances range from Terri Walker, Maysa to UK RnB legend Junior. The title speaks for itself. "The Feel Good Agenda Vol.1" is certain to give you happy feet and provoke repeated listens.

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Reg Dancy, 09/17

Harmonies / Lord Echo

Lord Echo - Harmonies

Soundway Records

Melbourne producer Lord Echo has built an impressive resume filled with compositions that fuse reggae, afrobeat and latin rhythms. His latest full length release "Harmonies" may be his best yet. There's plenty to savor here right from the outset. "Woah! There's No Limit" is an engaging reggae tune with swaying horns and tropical rhythms. "The Sweetest Meditation" is a gorgeous boogie tune filled soothing vibes and infectious percussion. Both of the aforementioned tunes feature the golden falsetto vocals of Mara TK who appears on two additional racks as well. Two other noteworthy reggae tunes are "Low To The Street" and the superb cover of The O'Jays "I Love Music" Both tunes feature the blissful vocals of Lisa Tomlins. Throw in the afro-soul instrumental "Makossa" and you have one of the more enjoyable albums of the year.

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Reg Dancy, 09/17

The Self / Richard Spaven

Richard Spaven - The Self

Soul Has No Tempo

Richard Spaven continues a steady ascent as one of the premiere drummers on the scene today. He has gained international acclaim through his trademark drumming style, resulting in collaborations with the likes of Jose James, Flying Lotus and others. "The Self", his latest release is a culmination of all his influences, notably jazz, electronica and drum n bass. "Stills" is a atmospheric gem highlighted by frequent collaborator Jordan Rakei's smooth falsetto. "The Hidden Camera", filled with dub step rhythms is a nod to the London club culture. "Greeting to Saud" is a blissful tribute to the great McCoy Tyner is laced with gorgeous synth melodies courtesy of pianist Kris Bowers. A visual album filled with ambient sound and textures worthy of repeated listens. If you're familiar with Mr Spaven then you know his music defies genres and for that we're grateful based on the results. If you're new to him then you're in for a treat.

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Reg Dancy, 09/17

Dilla / The Abstract Orchestra

The Abstract Orchestra - Dilla

ATA

The Abstract Orchestra is a big band comprised of jazz musicians from around the UK placing an emphasis on hip-hop with "Dilla". Their latest release is filled with alternate takes from the catalogue of the acclaimed producer, the late J Dilla. Led by saxophonist Rob Mitchell who mirrors the mixture of rhythms and textures frequently constructed in hip-hop productions. "Fall In Love" brings all the elements together perfectly. Backed by an irresistible drum snare beat and topped off by lush strings and soothing horns. "A.N.G.E.L." is another banger that highlights the synergy between the strings and horns along with lush backing vocals. "Dilla Mix 1 & 2 is a medley of Dilla treats like "Last Donut" and "Welcome to The Show". Mitchell and company successfully capture the spirit of hip-hop and Dilla specifically with a superb LP that will remind you of his brillance.

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Reg Dancy, 08/17

Voyager / Moonchild

Moonchild - Voyager

Tru Thoughts

"Voyager", the third full length release from Moonchild displays tremendous growth from the West coast trio. Once again there's plenty of lush compositions filled with RnB, soul and folk influences. However "Voyager" is heighthen by a string section and a harpist giving this release a fuller sound. Collectively they've penned compositions centering around the varying dynamics of love. Amog the standouts are "Cure", led by Amber Navran's soothing vocals and gorgeous keyboard melodies. "Now and Then" features funky beats from producer Max Bryk not often heard from their compositions. "Let You Go" is aided by gentle guitar rhythms. It's easy to see why this trio has garnered a long line of admirers. This disc is filled with one gorgeous composition after another. Three years in the making, "Voyager" is well worth the wait.

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Reg Dancy, 08/17

Lab Experiments Vol. 1 - Mixin / Cookin On 3 Burners

Cookin On 3 Burners - Lab Experiments Vol. 1 - Mixin

Soul Messin

Hailing from Australia, Guitarist Dan West, Drummer Ivan "Choi" Khatchoyan and Organist Jake Mason make up the organ grinding trio known as Cookin On 3 Burners. "Lab Experiments Vol.1" is filled with 60s-influenced funk and soul compositions certain to get your groove on. Among the highlights are "Real Life Baby", a laid back tune with bluesy guitar rhythms from Dan West and soaring vocals from Emmi. "Wind Up" is a funky instrumental filled with wicked organ rhythms and funky guitar riffs. Veteran soul singer and native New Zealander Kylie Audist adds her strong pipes to the sun drenched mid-tempo "More Than a Mouthful". An engaging album that would easily fit into the crowded classic soul arena and hold it's own. These cats indeed know how to burn.

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Reg Dancy, 08/17

Where Do I Begin? / Profusion

Profusion - Where Do I Begin?

First Word

Kieron Ifill, aka K15 and Emerson make up the duo known as Profusion. K15 has rapidly established himself as a premiere producer with an ear for future soul beats and cosmic synths. Emerson velvet vocals has landed him on a number of tasty projects from labels like BBE to Toyko Dawn and others. Although they've collaborated for years they've finally stepped forward with their debut lp. On the title track "Where Do I Begin" Emerson's golden vocals glide over warm n spacey chords and a mid-tempo beat. "Golden" has elements of drum n bass complimenting warm synths. "Flying" is filled with heartfelt lyrics and soothing synths. This lp is brimming with warm vibes and representive of the quality of British soul emerging in 2017.

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Reg Dancy, 07/17