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
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The Dusty Foot on the Road / K'naan

K'naan - The Dusty Foot on the Road

Wrasse Records

Somali rapper K'Naan's debut album has never been officially released here, so it's good to see this live set getting released, recorded on his recent World tour. K'Naan grew up in Mogadishu where he fired his first gun aged 8 and saw many of the horrors of the civil war there before thankfully escaping when he was 13, to America. His lyrics address the realities of life in Somalia in a thought provoking way, this is hip hop on the sensitive side, indeed hip-hop itself comes under close scrutiny. Rap and Somali melodies with those intelligent lyrics make for an original and compelling package. A star, no mistake.


Graham Radley, 08/07

Everything We Hold / Kairos 4Tet

Kairos 4Tet - Everything We Hold

Naim Jazz

“Everything We Hold” is the third release from Kairos 4Tet and their first for Naim Jazz. Saxophonist Adam Waldmann demonstrates that he’s a gifted composer with a keen ear for melody. The quartet’s cohesion mirrors a veteran band that is focused more on strong lyrical and imaginative compositions as opposed to wasted soloing. This is quite evident on selections like the tender “Narrowboat Man” filled with classical elements and augmented by the voices of Emila Martensson and Marc O’Reilly. “Song for the Open Road” is a haunting folk flavored tune that demonstrates that Soul singer Omar seemingly fits in just about any kind of setting and flourishes. These vocal compositions are surrounded by the “99 Suite”. Inspired by injustices and the need for social change, the suite is divided into four parts in which there are melodic excursions led by pianist Ivo Neame while drummer Jon Scott creates just enough space for others to explore. You won’t find many releases this year that are filled with creative and emotive compositions filled with heartfelt lyrics. Waldmann pulls this off and delivers one of the strongest Jazz releases of the year.  


Reg Dancy, 06/13

Until We Felt Red / Kaki King

Kaki King - Until We Felt Red

Velour Recordings

An amazing guitarist who Dave Grohl has rightly been championing, her voice is lighter and by nature takes the tracks in a different direction but there’s a diversity going on that’s refreshing and honest.  Also includes full length CD of her debut ‘Everybody Loves You’.


Graham Radley, 02/08

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Kalyanji : Ananji - The Bollywood Brothers

Saregama Records

You’ll likely recognise samples from the brothers 60’s and 70’s Hindi soundtracks and cult exploitation movies with Black Eyed Peas (CD One kicks off with Asha Bosle with Aye Naujawan Sab Kuchh Yahan’ which formed the basis for ‘Don’t Phunk With My Heart’) and Danger Mouse two of the more ‘high profile users.  This is music of it’s time but also way beyond its time, creatively mixing new instrumentation of the time like the claviolin to create a mix of funky, jazzed up psychedelia.  Great collection.


Graham Radley, 06/08

The Epic  / Kamasi Washington

Kamasi Washington - The Epic


The aptly titled "The Epic" is the debut from thirty four year old tenor Saxophonist Kamasi Washington. Kamasi has been part of the burgeoning Los Angeles  jazz scene for a number of years and has finally taken a break from performing to compose a stunning body of work. The triple lp is rooted in Jazz while fusing rnb and funk. He's also complimented by a large orchestral ensemble and his working band The West Coast Get Down. There's much to savor here starting with "Change Of The Guard", an explosive tune highlighted by Kamasi's spirited soloing and the melodic phrasings from the 20 piece choir. "Final Thought" kicks off with a smoothing gospel tinged organ riff before shifting into an explosive spiritual tune. Fellow LA residents Dwight Trible lends his spirited vocal phrasings to "Malcolm's Theme" and Thundercat lays down some stimulating bass licks on "The Message". Overall "The Epic" is a triumph filled with nearly three hours of spiritual inspiring compositions and superb performances. This is a great introduction to the talented Saxophonist and to a record that is easily one of the best of the year.


Reg Dancy, 07/15

Soukous Time / Kanda Bongo Man

Kanda Bongo Man - Soukous Time


Sometimes you forget how uplifting soukous is but just a few seconds of those twinkling guitar ripples soon brings a smile and the need to dance. Over the years KBM has brought in a few other subtle and related influences like zouk but it’s when he hits the groove of ‘Amani’ that troubles can take a back seat and the musical sun shines. Very good.


Graham Radley, 08/08

Sahara Swing / Karl Hector & The Malcouns

Karl Hector & The Malcouns - Sahara Swing

Now-Again Records

Karl Hector and The Malcouns are a ten piece group making their Stones Throw records debut. Karl teams up with Jay Whitefield, who has worked with respected funk groups like the Poets Of Rhythm and The Whitefield Brothers. Together they fuse a unique blend of hard driving funk and afrobeat rhythms. If the JB’s and Fela Kuti had ever been in a studio together, the results would be similar to what we have here. The track “Nyx” is full of syncopated funk, a thumping bass and lively rhythm guitars. “Koloko Pt. 1” offers more of the same only the horn section makes their presence felt here. “Mystical Brotherhood” is a downtempo gem with a funky rhythm guitar and searing organ riffs. There’s very little vocals sung here but that doesn’t matter, the Malcouns keep you locked in with an assortment of funky polyrhythmic gems that will keep your head nodding non-stop. This is Karl’s first known record in about twelve years, let’s hope that he plans to perform much more often this time around.


Reg Dancy, 07/08

Futurismo / Kassin + 2

Kassin + 2 - Futurismo

Luaka Bop Records

Final instalment in this +2 series, which has given three Brazilian artists the chance to showcase their musical adventures. The title is slightly misleading as this is very melodic and safe in many ways but it has that added sparkle which takes it into a different sphere albeit in a subtle way. Kassin has played bass with Caetono Veloso and there are comparisons in their approach to music, there's a lot going on but it's not crowded, the music has space to grow. Pick of the tracks for me is 'Samba Machine' a 70's style mish mash. Very good. 


Graham Radley, 04/07

Deep Impressions / Katalyst

Katalyst - Deep Impressions


Ashley Anderson, aka Katalyst takes a break from his Space Invadas gig to create a collection of hip-hop beat treats with some futuristic grooves but doesn’t stop there. Indeed, “Deep Impressions” goes in several directions, laying down reggae inspired grooves like “Day into Night” featuring Stephanie McKay to the synth heavy nu wave feel of “The Popcorns” seamlessly. There is also a definite old school hip-hop influence with gems like “Number 1” and “It’s a Blast” that would make a veteran hip-hop enthusiast smile with admiration. He doesn’t stop there for one of the strongest cuts is “Ready to Drop” and not just because it conjures great memories of the Pharcyde classic “Drop”. Katalyst creates a high energy groove with rapper KweenG’s rapid fire lyrics that will have you yearning for the days of shelltop Addidas and Kangols. “Dreaming of You” is a mellow chopped up soul groove that makes for a fitting ending to an entertaining lp. Katalyst proves once again that he is in the upper echelon of producers and beat makers. He’s so adept at utilizing the right samples in the right places, resulting in irresistible head nodding beat treats.


Reg Dancy, 01/12

What's Happening / Katalyst

Katalyst - What's Happening


Australia's own Ashley Anderson, aka Katalyst returns with his second album. "What's Happening" is a old school hip hop inspired affair with elements of classic soul. Katalyst has recruited some of the most cutting edge rappers and singers from around the globe and blesses everyone with head nodding soulful beats to work with. Steve Spacek, whose voice may remind you of Billy Paul recreates some 70's soul on "How Bout' Us". The slept on Diverse from Chicago shows off his superb flow and word play over the piano laden track "Dedicated". "May Have Been James Brown" is a heavy hitting break beat track with well placed turntable cutting and scratching that gives a nod to the formative years of hip hop. With other notable appearances by Ru C.L, yungun and Stephanie McKay, Katalyst captures the spirit of hip hop's past and brings it up to date with slick production and loads of funky beats to make it feel fresh and new. Definitely worth checking out.


Reg Dancy, 09/08

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