Diamond District - In The RuffOddisee Music
The cover of Diamond District’s new album displays an abstract picture of the White House but there lies a world that while only a few miles away feels like light years away for the people who live in it. Fortunately for us we have three guys from the DC area to wax poetic on their city the way they see it. Diamond District is the brainchild of rapper/producer Oddisee along with members X.O and YU. Together they represent the nation’s capitol with raw uncut hip-hop with “In the ruff”. Oddisee adeptly blends gritty beats with soulful grooves while providing tales of life in the district (Washington D.C.) and the obstacles to rise above it. All three members display great chemistry and their rhyming skills are definitely on point as they trade verses off one another. The opening track “Streets won’t let me chill” is about man’s struggle to stay on the straight path without succumbing to negative elements around him. “I mean business” is an absolute banger that utilizes the Gang Starr classic “Mass Appeal” with great results. The title track “In the Ruff” serves as a reminder to the crew to never give up their quest to live the high life. Overall, “In the ruff” deserves an A for hard hitting beats, supreme production by Oddisee and thought provoking lyrics. If you like that boom bap hip-hop in the mode of Pete Rock or J Dilla then this cd is definitely for you.
Reg Dancy, 10/09
Dick Gaughan - Gaughan Live! at the Trades ClubGreentrax
A venue and artist who are perfectly suited with Dick always closing his autumn tour of England and Wales with a date at this famous Hebden Bridge venue. Starting with Si Kahn’s ‘What You Do With What You’ve Got’ followed by Brian McNeil’s ‘No Gods’ there’s 13 tracks in all ending with Dick’s own ‘Both Sides The Tweed’. Inspiring.
Graham Radley, 06/08
Diesler - DigginTru Thoughts Recordings
Two years ago I received the compilation 'Shapes One' from Tru Thoughts, which featured un-signed artists of unbelievable quality. The one track that stood out for me was 'Cotton Wool', produced by an artist called Diesler and I knew he was going to be an artist to watch out for. Two years down the line and the 20 year old producer from Lancashire finally releases his debut LP on Tru Thoughts. The album kicks off with the now classic for me 'Cotton Wool' and the quality never drops with anthems like 'Burnley Wallet' and 'Heist Theme'. As you'd expect he mixes up the styles which blow any dancefloor apart and the perfect sound track for the summer. The album is released on CD format with all tracks available for vinyl junkies through three separate EP's.
Simon Harrison, 05/05
Diesler - Keepie UppiesTru Thoughts Recordings
How times fly when you're having fun: It's amazingly only been one year since Jonathan Radford Diesler dropped his debut "Diggin It Somethin Rotten", which I can assure you has been a big favourite around these parts. I've been hammering the new single "Charmed" and was really looking forward to hearing where Jonathan was going to take us this time. There are some joints that continue from where "Diggin" left us, with those dirty funk bassline instrumentals and horns stabs, which we know and love. The main change is the excellent vocalists that include: Laura Vane, Double Yellow and Joseph Malik. All compliment the productions perfectly, and if you like "Charmed", you're in for a treat because there are more vocals hooks and lyrics that will be running around in your head for weeks.
Simon Harrison, 04/06
Diesler - Tie BreakersUnique Records
Diesler returns with his fourth full length release that’s once again packed with aload of head snappin’ beats and rhythms that we’ve come to expect from the Dj/producer. In addition, he has enlisted some very talented musicians to spice up his work like mainstay Laura Vane, whose raspy voice is always pleasing to the ears. Here she blesses the Latin flavored “Samba Magic” and “Pickpocket”. A standout track that will be on many Dj playlists is “Buzzin”, an instrumental crackling with live horns and smokin’ beats. Sonar Kollektiv member Stee Downes contributes on two tracks, “Southside Morning” is one but the standout tune is unquestionably “Change Trust”. No wonders where Diesler finds the time to produce his own album when he frequently lends remixing skills to an assortment of 12 inch singles year in and year out. Despite the heavy workload, there’s no drop off in quality and “Tie Breakers” is a prime example of that. This is a strong release that will provide immediate satisfaction.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Diesler - Tracks On The RocksFreestyle Records
After treating fans with quality remixes over the years, Diesler blesses us with his compilation disc “Tracks on the rocks”. Diesler has assembled an impressive selection of tracks he has either remixed or performed on. In addition, he has enlisted an array of artists with their own unique talents to round out this engaging set. Some of the highlights include “Aiff”, a funk filled smoking track by Akwaaba that features the immensely talented Laura Vane. Laura also appears on “Hey Fella”, a tune performed by The New Mastersounds that receives the Diesler remix treatment with satisfying results. Another without question is “A Million Stories” by The Cuban Brothers, a deep funk groover. “Escape” by Unity is given a rare groove makeover that will generate a lot of buzz on the dance floor. There’s a wealth of gems here that will make “Tracks on the rocks” a mainstay in my cd rotation for quite some time. I have no doubt you’ll feel the same way. Highly recommended.
Reg Dancy, 03/09
Dimlite - Prismic TopsNow Again Records
Leftfield electronic hip-hop from Dimlite, who has been crafting warp flavored quirky beats since appearing on the Sonar Kollektiv label in 2003. Highlights include “On The Same Picture” featuring the talented Elan Tamara on vocals. “Sun Sized Twinkles” is filled with twisted electronic beats and features Dimlite on the vocorder as well. The track “Elbow Flood” starts out with dreamy cosmic soundscapes and then elevates into a mid-tempo bounce flavored beat that would make fans of Flying Lotus proud. I was a little disappointed that there only eight tracks on this lp but I prefer a short solid album as opposed to one bombarded with filler. That said, “Prismic Tops” is a nice antidote when you need a break from the traditional hip-hop and you like your beats distorted just a bit.
Reg Dancy, 10/10
Dimlite - This Is EmbracingSonar Kollektiv
One of the best kept secrets in the Sonar Kollektiv catalogue is Dimitri Grimm aka Dimlite. "This Is Embracing" is his third album. He continues to impress with every single production and this album is brilliant. The beats are heavy but with the twisted sounds we've come to expect. Most of the album is made up of instrumentals with a few vocalists thrown in for good measure. They include Gaby Hernandez (known from Build An Ark and The Life Force Trio) who beautifully with Grimm. Buddy Leezle from the band 215/TFK is a welcome new vocalist and one name I shall be on the look out for: I'm sure he'll be on myspace. I hope Dimlite now gets some remixes out there because his previous work has been something special.
Simon Harrison, 11/06
Diplomats of Solid Sound - What goes aroundRecord Kicks
Hailing from Iowa City, Iowa, The Diplomats of Solid Sound return with the follow up to the 2008 release “Diplomats of Solid Sound featuring The Diplomats”. “What Goes Around” features eleven tracks of old school soul filled with hip twisting grooves and a funky horn section. Among the highlights are “Promise Of A Brand New Day”, a rock ‘n roll inspired tune armed with vocals by the Diplomettes. “Gimme One More Chance” lays down a nice groove that is augmented by a lush string section. “Bailout” is a funky instrumental that features some impressive work by Nate Basinger on the Hammond B3 Organ. With the album remixed by Adam Gibbons of Lack Of Afro, you sound quality is top notch. Overall this is a solid (no pun intended) release by Iowa based band that will delight those enamored with the vintage soul sound.
Reg Dancy, 01/11
DJ Andy Smith Presents - Trojan DocumentTrojan Records
Some labels get slated for churning out compilation after compilation of their back catalogue, putting new names to the compilations and different spins on the themes. With the results still ending in the same old tunes just shuffled into a different order. Trojan, however, manage to avoid this process. Perhaps it's because the Trojan archive is so extensive it's almost impossible to churns out the same old songs. For this next chapter in Trojan's 'mixtape' venture they have drafted in Portishead DJ, Andy Smith. This experienced DJ and self confessed vinyl addict has compiled his own 'Document' series over the last few years which mainly focused on the sounds of soul, funk and hip hop. This 'Trojan Document' glides through some of Trojan's best, rarest and most popular releases. It's rocksteady, it's reggae, it's dancehall, it's very good. There are tracks from The Upsetters, Hopetown Lewis, john Holt plus loads of other top notch reggae producers. Reggae heads will have heard the tunes and riddums before no doubt, but Andy Smith glides them all together to suit the summer vibe down to a tee. Bless up!