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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Break The Habit / Sophie Barker

Sophie Barker - Break The Habit

Disco Gecko

"Break The Habit" the third album from vocalist Sophie Barker. Formerly a collaborator with Zero 7 and Groove Armada, Barker's latest release is filled with lush compositions and haunting guitar rhythms. Producer Alex Pilkington has orchestrated a intimate sound, limiting the number of musicians to allow the warmth to pour through the recordings. Each of these tunes are a delight within itself. "3 Things" features a searing electric guitar as the perfect compliment to Barker's melodic vocals."Breathe Me In", performed with a full band is a stirring number that will strum the heartstrings. "Let's Start Again" demonstrates the contrast in sounds with synths and trippy drums. Superb emotive songwriting and musicianship throughout, it will be quite difficult to break the habit of repeated spins from this wonderful record.

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Reg Dancy, 01/17

Dose / Sorceress

Sorceress - Dose

Wonderwheel

Formerly known as Funkommunity, the rising five piece band from New Zealand and founded by composer Isaac Aesili has re-emerged as Sorceress. The reason for this change is for everyone to recognize them as a band of many styles beyond funk. Their previous release, the sorely slept on "Chequered Thoughts" is evidence of their universal yet progressive sound and "Dose" builds on that formula. Among the prime selections are the Afrobeat flavored "Desire" filled with percussive rhythms .   "Teacups" features a tasty groove aided by soothing trumpet phrasings. "Freeloadoubt" is blissful futuristic soul with playful lyrics courtesy of vocalist Rachel Fraser. "Dose" is filled with twisting melodies and phrasings that will seduce your eardrums. It all adds up to an enjoyable record that you don't want to miss.

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Reg Dancy, 07/14

Evolutionism / Soul Designers

Soul Designers - Evolutionism

Third Ear

“Evolutionism” is the new release from Fabrice Lig, aka Soul Designer. The fact that this recording is on Third Ear recordings is fitting because this disc embodies the high quality techno soul that would make the forefathers of Detroit techno proud. Soul Designer is Juan Atkins, Derrick May and Kevin Saunderson. Kevin, in particular had an huge influence on Fabrice’s sound which can be heard throughout here. The title track, sans vocals is techno funk with deep soulful grooves. “The Power Of  A City” is another winner. Special guest  Clo providing soulful vocals while Fabrice combines synths and thumping bass licks to complement the scorching beats. With poet/rapper Hbk Finn providing thought provoking spoken word regarding the concerns for humanity in between tracks, “Evolutionism” is truly music for the mind and the soul and Fabrice’s most inspiring work to date.

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Reg Dancy, 07/08

Background Noise / Soul Vigilantes

Soul Vigilantes - Background Noise

Lovemonk Records

What exactly is a Soul Vigilante? I presume that Jose "Jas" Alvarez, the architect of the group is taking up the cause of preserving the genre into his own hands to ensure that it doesn't fade to black. Well, at least he has enlisted some very talented musicians for "Background Noise", an entertaining modern soul offering that has been years in the making. The first single "Shy" was first released in 2004. This rousing sophisticated soul stomper with Jocelyn Medina on vocals has been in constant rotation by dj's worldwide. Nigerian born Xan Blacq, a rising star in the UK provides his velvet vocals on the title track as well as three other tracks. "Do It Like Roger" is a tribute to the late Roger Troutman that will leave you feeling nostalgic for some Zapp classics like "More Bounce To The Ounce". "Jas" Alvarez has assembled a lighthearted funk project with an 80's vibe. This may not crack your fave five this summer but it's still an enjoyable record that will find its way onto your rotation.

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Reg Dancy, 07/08

Sex, Love &amp; Philosophy / Soul:ID

Soul:ID - Sex, Love &amp; Philosophy

ABB Soul

The presence of the rnb soul group has become a dying breed in today’s music playing field. So when a group comes along with a back to basics approach to their music you have to lean back and take notice. Say hello to Soul:Id whose debut cd “Sex, Love & Philosophy” has been making noise ever since they hit the scene back in 2005. One of the strengths of Soul-Id is the diversity of musical talent they bring to the table. Three quarters of the group originate from Africa (Burundi, DR Congo and Rwanda) and the fourth member, producer Urban Deep from Belgium. Soul:Id brings an array of musical styles to the table. One of the qualities that stand out is the soulful harmonies from each member that filters throughout each song. Highlights include “Believe” a soulful track that features Dad’D on vocals. “Is This Love” features the soothing soulful voice of Tchai’, the lone female of the group. “Whatcha Looking For” finds Dad’D and Tchai’ trading verses on the funky hip hop flavored beat. I generally frown upon a disc that has as many as seventeen tracks but there’s no filler here. Just sixty minutes of enjoyable soulful music that will keep your body movin’. This is exceptional work by Soul:ID and it would be shameful for you to pass it up.

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Reg Dancy, 10/08

Smile / Soulparlor

Soulparlor - Smile

Tokyo Dawn

The trio from South Germany known as Soulparlor have steadily built a deep catalog of soulful broken beats, funky grooves and underground house that have won admirers from all around the globe. Their latest release "Smile" could very well be their strongest yet. Once again their disc represents a global collaboration of artists who pledge their allegiance to the funk. Erik Rico delivers two tracks here, "Out On The Floor" and "Wall"., both laced with funky synths. Amalia is an undisputed funk goddess and "Freakay Lady" oozes sweet nad sticky mid-tempo funk. Vocalist Leona Berlin is an artist to keep an eye on. Berlin contributes with three gorgeous dance tracks but "Cruel" is the highlight.. Capital A laments the watered down state of hip-hop while paying tribute to b-boys with "Nostalgia". "Smile" is one of those gems that you simply press play and walk away, it's that good. The trio's production skills combined with the vocal contributors ensure that you'll have a funky good time.

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Reg Dancy, 03/15

Do You Overstand? / Soulphiction

Soulphiction - Do You Overstand?

Sonar Kollektiv

Soulphiction, a.k.a. Stuttgart’s Michel Baumann, the man behind Philpot Records and one third of Manmadescience, is not a guy to be pigeonholed. Despite the tendency in his music to just chug along, lulling you into a groove-induced state of hypnosis, there are so many styles and influences crammed into his productions that he always has you on the hook, just as, say, Moodymann or Theo Parrish might. This whole album is one big tip of the hat to those dons of Detroit, with its scene-setting chords and jazzy, techno sound-scapes intertwining beautifully with twisted disco samples and Afro vocal snippets. Granted, this is not for everyone, but for many - myself included - this will be one of 2008’s real gems.

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Tom Breslin, 05/08

State Of Euphoria / Soulphiction

Soulphiction - State Of Euphoria

Sonar Kollektiv

Sonar Kollektiv have been amazingly consistent with every release over the last few years, with a slight bias towards things with a 4/4 beat but whatever the style, quality seems to be the most important thing. Michel Baumann is the man behind Soulphiction and also helped set up the well known and sought after Philpot Records, mainly due to the Moodyman/Theo Parrish influences in releases. "State Of Euphoria" is a big nod to the two legendary Detroit producers and covers downtempo and midtempo building up to good quality house. Baumann certainly knows his music and has injected jazz riffs, disco loops and broken beat influences into his productions. This has been hailed as house album of the year by many: it's maybe a little early to say but it'll certainly be up there.

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Simon Harrison, 07/06

Soundspecies / Soundspecies

Soundspecies - Soundspecies

Burnt Progress

The debut of the Keen brothers, Barnaby & Nathaniel aka Sounspecies is filled with soulful down-tempo grooves and funky hip-hop beats drenched in a soulful vibe that will have you wondering where have these guys been all along. The brothers, with a little help from their friends skillfully combine electronic grooves with live instrumentation and the result is a well crafted and deeply satisfying debut. The disc starts out with “Stars Wars”, an instrumental jam with a thumping bass line. That is followed up with “Something new”, a blissful and melodic gem. The lush arrangements plus the mesmerizing voice of Emilia Martensson takes this track on a musical voyage that his truly devine. “CDR People” is a funky dose of hip hop that features the Foreign Beggars. “Journeyman” is an ambient jazzy number that is enhanced by Ben Hadwen’s playing on flute and sax. The disc wraps up with the soothing “Waiting for the Sun to come up”, which features Barnaby and Deborah Jordan on vocals. Soundspecies spent many years in London cultivating their sound. This debut proves that they have learned their lessons well. This is an exceptional record that you shouldn’t miss.

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Reg Dancy, 06/09

A Life In The Day of B19: Tales Of The Tower Block / Soweto Kinch

Soweto Kinch - A Life In The Day of B19: Tales Of The Tower Block

Dune

Music from high above the streets, from where the inspiration came, for this first of a two parter. This is jazz at its most adventurous best, a story narrated by Moira Stewart with the characters MCing over jazz blowing and hip hop flowing while musical boundaries open up. This is Birmingham from a high rise block, take a listen to the dialogue between the aspiring MC and the Job Centre worker, on the button . Love it.

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Graham Radley, 11/06

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