Alice Russell - My Favourite LettersTru Thoughts Recordings
How time flies when you having fun. I cannot believe that Russell is releasing her second album, when it seems like only a few months since "Under The Munka Moon" dropped. Russell has been recording guest vocals left, right and centre but I'm still not tired of one of the UK's finest vocalists, in fact I want more. You don't really need me to tell you this is an excellent album because we always knew it was going to be. So stop reading this, get out there and buy a copy.
Simon Harrison, 08/05
Alice Russell - Under The Munka Moon IITru Thoughts Recordings
Here's one album that sneaked under the radar and one you may have missed. It's not the second album from Russell but a collection of remixes, collaborations and a few live tracks thrown in for good measure. The thing that really surprised me was that Russell sang on Susumu Yokota's anthem "Could Heaven Ever Be Like This", proving I never read the information on my records, and it's one I've dug out again. This album really goes to prove how much versatility Alice has. There's the hiphop remix by DJ Vadim, drum and bass mixed by Nu:Tone and of course The White Stripes cover of "Seven Nation Army". The live versions of "Mean to Me" and "To Know This" are beautiful and do check out the tracks with Unforscene, TM Juke and Bonobo. Class.
Simon Harrison, 09/06
Alif Tree - ClockworkCompost Records
Alif tree’s previous release “French Cuisine” was one of the underground highlights of 2006. So it is with great pleasure to listen to his latest release “Clockwork”. While the compositions on “French Cuisine” displayed a jazz vibe throughout, “Clockwork” expands on that sound by adding more electronic, folk and blues flavored tunes that feel more personal. The opening track “Aurevoir” embodies some of the jazz elements of the previous release. The dark tone and haunting piano riffs create an eerily peaceful atmosphere that is very engaging. “Never be the same” is a mid-tempo acoustic treat with vocals. “Que Tu” is a somber yet engaging trip-hop flavored track laced with strings that creates a cinematic twist. The album closes with the exceptional “Dead Flowers”, a melodic ethereal track that is similar to the opening track. Alif Tree succeeds in producing an excellent follow up that will do more than satisfy his fans. This is a record that should be enjoyed as a whole and not the sum of its parts. I trust that you will not be disappointed.
Reg Dancy, 03/09
Alison Crockett - BareSol Image
Devoted followers of the underground soul movement certainly are familiar with Alison Crockett. Her debut "On Becoming A Woman" was one of the highlights of 2004. She followed that with a remixed version of the aforementioned in 2006. On her latest release, Alison has crafted a intimate, acoustic arrangement that will have you wishing you were seated at your favorite restaurant with your significant other, immersed in a night of great music. Alison serenades you not only with her deep and exquisite voice, but she's equally comfortable at the piano as well. As evidenced on the moving ballad "How Deep Is Your Love", Alison's jazz singing background is on display. On the romantic "We Are", where Alison sets the mood with the opening verse (I'm in the mood for expansion, seeing my love in new ways, you came along and went with me, for a trip exploring). Alison's lush vocal arrangements creates a warm and peaceful atmosphere. The bubbly "So Sweet" has Alison in a joyful mood reflecting on a gentleman she has just met. On Sade's "Love Is Stronger Than Pride" Alison picks a song that sounds as though it was written for her and does a fabulous job. This is a diva who has proven she can sing in any genre and doesn't have the exposure she rightfully deserves. "Bare" is indeed a romantic journey and Alison has extended an invitation to anyone willing to take the ride. I'm certain that you won't be disappointed.
Reg Dancy, 12/07
Alison Krauss - A Hundred Miles or More: A CollectionRounder Records
16 track 'Collection' which brings together tracks which have never before appeared on an Alison Krauss album including material from off soundtracks (eg 'Down To The River To Pray' from the 'O Brother Where Art Thou' soundtrack) and five previously unreleased tracks. There are duets with Sting, Brad Paisley, James Taylor, John Waite and my particular favourite her vocal/fiddle duet with Natalie MacMaster of 'Get Me Through December'.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Alphabets Heaven - Your LifestyleWotnot
Brighton based musician Alphabets Heaven's latest release "Your Lifestyle" is filled with laid back beats and atmospheric vibes. Similar to most beat tapes there's a lengthy tracklist (nineteen) but only two tunes exceed three minutes. The disc begins with the warm acoustic guitar rhythms of "Nylon". From here you're pulled into a journey of mellow moods that glides the disc along at a leisurely pace. Along the way you'll no doubt dig notable beats like "Laces", "Follow" and "Tote Bag". Like all the great beat makers Alphabets Heaven knows where to pair the right sample with the perfect beat. As a result it's the perfect mixtape for a long drive to ease your mind.
Reg Dancy, 03/19
Amalia - Art SlaveTokyo Dawn Records
Having apprenticed with the likes of the band Sekoya and the soulful dance grooves of producer Opolopo, songstress Amalia is ready to spread her wings with her funk deluxe debut “Art Slave”. With production mainly from Opplopo excluding the remixes by AtJazz, AD Bourke and Son Of Kick, “Art Slave” is inspired by the 80’s electro soul period and there are several tracks that will transport you to that era. Among the highlights are the sensuous synth-funk “Welcome To Me”. “Luxurious” will conjure memories of Janet Jackson’s “Rhythm Nation” courtesy of Opolopo’s wicked synth work. Amalia cools down just a bit and blends a little ballad into the funky “All The Funk I need”. “Zebra Butt” is a mid-tempo bass driven funk jam that receives an assist from rapper Probe DMS. If you can’t live on funk alone there’s the Opolopo Nu swing remix of “Life’s A Dance” that will quench the soulful dance thirst you’ve come to expect from her. Overall, “Art Slave” is an energetic coming out party for the lady with the siren voice. If you long for some 80’s funk with a little new jack swing mixed in, you’ll certainly enjoy this.
Reg Dancy, 03/11
Amalia - Makings OfTokyo Dawn
Let me take this opportunity to crown Amalia as the Queen of Intergalactic Funk. In recent years all she has done is deliver outer worldly funk deluxe treats for the consistently productive Tokyo Dawn label. Three years after her impressive debut “Art Slave”, she’s back with “Makings Of” which features collaborations with some of today’s emerging funk all-stars. Amalia kicks things off the slinky synth driven “Just Like Magic”, a tune she performed with the duo from San Francisco known as B. Bravo and Teeko. Another certified funkateer in Reggie B teams up with Amalia to serve up some 80’s flavored mid-west funk in “Hysteria”. “Body Snatchers” featuring Blaktronics is totally on some outer limits funk filled with twisted synths and erotic vocals. “Still In Love” featuring Sagemonk doesn’t pack the edge of most tracks here but that doesn’t mean you won’t move to this funky dance track. If you’re not familiar with Amalia then time to crawl from under that rock and put “Makings Of” on repeat. It’s the perfect disc to get introduced to the funkiest lady on the scene today.
Reg Dancy, 02/13
Ambient Jazz Emsemble - Suite Shop ReworksHere and Now Recordings
Ambient Jazz Ensemble is composer/producer Colin Baldry. "Suite Shop Reworks" flips the script on his original release "Suite Shop", which was a blissful collection of ambient jazz compositions. "Reworks" however is ambient jazz with a splash of house and electronica filled with atmospheric vibes. The A-list of remixers on board capture the spirit of the original while adding their own signature touch. Cardiac Club contributes on "The Journey" filled with thunderous drums and blazing sax as well as the four to the floor house inspired "Vibrations". The AJE remix of "Jazzface" is an hypnotic cinematic gem. Dylan Colby adds a touch of drum n bass on "Waiting For Space". Veteran mixer George Schilling, whose credits include everyone from Coldcut to Blur and New Radicals handles the majority of the mixing duties here and performs his customary superb work. Baldry and company's alternate take adds wings to an already impressive record. Climb aboard and enjoy the ride.
Reg Dancy, 06/15
Ammoncontact - New BirthNinja Tune
Carlos Niño is proving a very busy man at the moment This is his second Ammoncontact album in only six months and he's also behind such quality projects like Build An Ark and Dwight Trible. Yes that's a serious amount of music to release in a short space of time but this just proves how talented Niño is. Here we have 10 instrumental tracks spread over two slabs of vinyl; some labels could do with learning from this. You can hear some of Niño's influences from jazz to funk and soul all within the heavy grooved based production, with basslines that shake your boots. As a bonus there is the excellent Build An Ark "Temple Jam" that featured on the Dublab Presents In The Loop 2 12" from earlier in the year. It's worth it for that track alone.
Simon Harrison, 06/05