The Black Seeds - Solid GroundSonar Kollektiv
This New Zealand based group returns with their fourth album, and quite possibly their best. That’s saying a lot considering they already have one gold album and two double platinum albums to their credit. With Solid Ground the growth of this soul funk dub step band is evidenced by the precision like live instrumentation that is heard through the entire disk. On “Love Is A Radiation“, Baranaby Weir’s smooth vocals add warmth to this traditional reggae track. With “Make A Move”, the band adds a little funk, along with some nice horn arrangements as well. There’s also a nice dub remix for this track as a bonus. Overall, “Solid Ground” provides plenty of soulful, funky, reggae flavored gems and The Black Seeds prove that they can play any of these styles very well. This is another enjoyable record by a talented group that continues to get better.
Reg Dancy, 09/08
The Bosshoss - Stalion BattalionIsland (Universal)
From Berlin they remind me of a good time pub band steeped in the traditions of rock and roll, blues and country meeting up with Hayseed Dixie especially on the covers they do which includes Electric Six’s ‘Gay Bar’ and Depeche Mode’s ‘Everything Counts’.
Graham Radley, 07/08
The Broken Keys - GravityTru Thoughts Recordings
The Broken Keys are a collaboration between friends Nostalgia 77 and Natural Self. With a background between them that spans all manner of styles, this was always going to be interesting, especially if you've been checking out their solo projects. As with all collaborations you never quite know what will come out of the mixing pot but here these guys have gone for funk which captures soul, rock and hip hop. I've never been a huge fan of rock but the influences in "Gravity" work in so many different ways, that you just can't help being sucked in. There are tracks for DJs and for home listening, so don't miss out.
Simon Harrison, 06/06
The Cinematic Orchestra - A PromiseNinja Tune
The Cinematic Orchestra's first release in twelve years is inspired by life events that stir our consciousness past and present. Like their previous releases "To Believe" flourishes in their blend of Jazz, soul and ambient soundscapes. Add to that an incredible A-list of vocalists who take these emotive compositions to another level. So where do we begin? Starting off with the title track where the velvet falsetto of Moses Sunmery is enough to make your heart flutter. The pulsating beats of "A Caged Bird/Imitations of Life" are highlighted by poignant lyrics from Roots Manuva. "A Promise" puts the finishing touch on a splendid album. Heidi Vogel stylizes her heavenly vocals with long lush notes over the eleven minute track that builds a crescendo with each passing minute. Twelve years is a wide gap but this superb record was well worth the wait. Each track is emboldened by elegant orchestrations that unfold patiently, allowing the songs to breathe while building to a glorious finale. Simply put you need this record in your rotation to enjoy repeatedly.
Reg Dancy, 05/19
The Cinematic Orchestra - Les Ailes Pourpres OSTEMI
The fact that the Cinematic Orchestra’s latest release is on the Disney Nature label might be cause for alarm for die-hard fans who might think they sacrificed their eclectic sound for commercial success. While “Les Ailes Pourpres” doesn’t possess any of the electronic jazz stylings of “The Man with a movie camera” or “La Fleur”, there is still plenty to like about this soundtrack. Jason Swinscoe adeptly composes a new score for Disney about the lives of Flamingos on Northern Tanzania and creates a peaceful and elegant composition that flows from one track to the next. Each track plays like a suite so there isn’t much in the arrangements that distinguishes one from the other but there are a few standouts like “Arrival of the birds” and “Marabou”, the latter starts out with a haunting bass clarinet riff that draws you deeper into the melody. “Crimson Skies”, sung by Luo Rhodes is a nice record and is the only vocal track on the album. Overall this is a nice, relaxing soundtrack. Pour yourself a good glass of wine and enjoy this fine piece of work.
Reg Dancy, 09/09
The Clonious - Between The DotsUbiquity Records
Twenty three year Paul Movahedi, aka the Clonious is more than just a beatmaker. He is a musician with an affinity for straight ahead jazz and ability to improvise with various genres. On his fantastic debut “Between the dots”, he blends his jazz influences with hip-hop samples and creates a sonic mix of adventurous electronic music with subtle insertions of live instrumentation. The Clonious abstract compositions works wonders on songs like “One at a time”, where Muhsinah’s soulful eclectic phrasings are the perfect compliment to his spacey arrangements. “Bugs n’ fools” features lush vocals on the chorus and a funky stinging rhythm guitar. “Dataflow” strikes a delicate balance between tripped out fusion and hip-hop with satisfying results. “Lovelights” is a spaced out funk gem that features Dudley Perkins and Georgia Anne Muldrow. “Between the dots” is a triumphant debut that will excite listeners who are open to a hybrid of electronic beats with a hip-hop jazz esthetic. The Clonious ability to create sounds that venture out of the comfort zone will make him a household name in short time. Get familiar.
Reg Dancy, 11/09
The Dragons - BFINinja Tune
Although recorded in the late 60s this is the first ever release of this album. It came about following DJ Food's discovery of The Dragons' 'Food For My Soul' on an old surfing movie soundtrack. He eventually tracked down the band to find they had recorded a full album of material which until now had never been issued. 'BFI' is very much based in psychedelic rock but with heavy doses of funk and jazz thrown in for good measure. 'Food For My Soul' is definitely the strongest cut on show but not to be overlooked are 'Are You There?', 'Sunset Scenery' and 'Your Way Too'.
Andy Allen, 10/07
The Expansions - MurmurationAlbert's Favourites
The Expansions are a quartet hailing from South London. They made quite an impression with their debut EP "Lavender". Their latest release "Murmuration" builds on their debut with more funk infused jazz and soul rhythms. "Pocket 5" is fueled by spirited drumming from Jonny Drop and a thumping groove courtesy of bassist Matt Summerfield. On "Cannonball" Dave Koor's mellow earthy synths along with James O'Keefe's guitar provide plenty of warm vibes. "Ivory Mountain" is an uptempo fusion highlight driven by spacey synths and a pulsating groove. The Expansions breathe new life into the 70s fusion period with this engaging record. They've learned well from their influences while creating a sound all their own.
Reg Dancy, 04/18
The Fantastics - Mighty RighteousFreestyle Records
On this eleven track set, the Fantastics demonstrate that they know a thing or two about making funky music. And why not? The band formerly known as Rev. Cleatus and the soul saviours has it all, the simmering horn section, the funky bass and sweet hypnotic sounds of the Hammond b-3 organ. They tear through tracks like “Don’t follow leaders”, a gritty up-tempo jam that has the band swinging and just simply having a good time. On “The Doctor is in”, they bring the energy down just a bit but still keep it funky and greasy. “Blue Sunday” shows a mellow side of the group. The track features Pete Collison stringing together some hypnotic guitar licks over a laid-back groove that features some sweet flute playing by Mark Norton. From start to finish the Fantastics provide plenty of funky grooves to make you move your body or just simply listen and enjoy. If you like the sounds of bands like The Meters or the JB’s then you’ll certainly enjoy “Mighty Righteous”.
Reg Dancy, 03/09
The Five Corners Quintet - Chasin' The Jazz Gone ByRicky-Tick
Although the CD was released a few months ago the beautifully packaged vinyl version has only just surfaced. If you’ve already got the 3 10” releases then you’ll have most of the tracks here. Don’t make the mistake of thinking the rest of the album is made up of fillers though. Far from it, in fact we’re treated to another 2 tracks featuring the vocal talents of Mark Murphy, ‘This Could Be The Start Of Something’ and ‘Jamming (With Mr Hoagland)’ a great spoken word outing. Also take a listen to ‘Case Study’ with Okou and ‘Unsquare Bossa’, a Hammond organ led dancer. This is an outstanding album by a truly outstanding band. Be quick though as the vinyl edition is in seriously limited supply.
Andy Allen, 01/06