Uncle Earl - Waterloo,TennesseeRounder Records
John Paul Jones at the controls for CD number two for this excellent female quartet. Rayna Gellert, Abigail Washburn, Kristin Andreassen and A.C. Carter are terrific musicians whose vocals like their music blend and gel with oneness. A stringband yes but one that embraces old and new, with a shine and enthusiasm delivering something special and fresh.
Graham Radley, 05/07
Under One Sky - Under One SkyNavigator
This is a vocal and instrumental suite by John McCusker, performed by a brilliant line up of Britain’s finest musicians. Originally commissioned by the PRS Foundation, the Scottish Arts Council and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, Under One Sky explores the many different traditions, genres and influences at work across the UK folk scene and incorporates them into 7 pieces of music. McCusker’s hand-picked ensemble includes Graham Coxon , Roddy Woomble, Julie Fowlis, John Tams and Jim Causley also feature among the singers while the instrumentalists include Iain MacDonald, Andy Cutting Ian Carr and Emma Reid. Evocative music which shines especially on ‘S Tusa Thilleas’ sung by Julie Fowlis and ‘Long Time Past/Lavender Hill’ with lead from Roddy Womble. Excellent.
Graham Radley, 02/09
Unforscene - Fingers and ThumbsTru Thoughts Recordings
There must be something in the water in Bristol because they continue to bless us with great music. This time the honors belong to the trio known as Unforscene. The brothers Will and Ben Bower plus Ben Muscat deliver a disc that features downtempo soul as well as hip hop, folk and electronica. Disc one is more mellow while disc two packs a lot more funk. There are many highlights so I’ll just point out a few. “See The Light”, is a laid-back track with a funky groove and features the voice of J Todd. “Sidewinder” is a wonderful modern classical piece with lush strings that has a cinematic feel to it. “So Long" feat Nik Young is warm and melodic with nice chords to match. Unforscene manages to weave together the electronic with the live instrumentation, specifically Will Bower’s drumming and percussion work on tracks like “I’m Just A Prisoner” and “Alright”. Their ability to arrange classical sounds with funk and broken beats on this project is a joy to listen. Add to that the familiar faces like Alice Russell, Deborah Jordan and newcomers like Epcot and you have an exceptional record that shouldn’t be missed.
Reg Dancy, 07/08
United Vibrations - The Myth of The Golden RatioUbiquity
United Vibrations is comprised of three brothers Ahmad, Kareem, Yusef Dayes along with close friend Wayne Francis II.Their latest release "The Myth Of The Golden Ratio" is a tale of a time long ago when people prospered simply from the fruits of nature and lived a life devoid of greed or corruption. Their music is a myriad of flavors that defies categories that is best summed up as conscious music filled with African and Caribbean rhythms. Among the highlights are "Grow" filled with a haunting bass groove and horns that speaks to the divide between government and residents. "Far Far Away" is divided into three parts, act one builds momentum with shimmering percussion and hypnotic horns Act two evolves into a full blown jam session delivering messages from the past to revisit a fertile world of love and peace and a call to take back our communities. Conceptually and rhythmically this LP hits the mark by stirring your consciousness and your soul. This is a superb recording that certainly qualifies as one of the most important records you'll hear this year.
Reg Dancy, 07/16
Unity Gain Theory - A Symbol & A SoundTrust In Dust Records
Bryn Griffiths is the producer behind Unity Gain Theory with partner in crime Wayne Lotek, who you may remember for his work with Roots Manuva. Of course the production is exactly what you would expect from these guys: top quality and a great selection of styles around hip-hop and down-tempo beats. My favourite tracks feature Sophie Faricy on vocals, whether it's the lovely spoken word "Careless Talk", "Careless" or the duo with Juice Aleem on "Grown Up". Other vocalists include Allonymous, HKB Finn and Lyric L. whose tracks grow on you with every play. The instrumental tracks and snips make this the complete package.
Simon Harrison, 02/07
Up Hygh - VenusZebra Traffic Records
This is one album I've been after for months, in fact I had to borrow a copy from a friend to drop some tracks on my radio show. Raw Fusion seem to have done a deal with Tru Thoughts and I hope this album receives more attention for Up Hygh because it's much deserved. The beats are deep, funky with squelchy basslines and have spent many an hour learning and studying beats from J-Dilla. Guest vocalists include Phonte & Pooh of Little Brother, Planet Asia and the wonderful Eska and all bring soul to the preceedings and should have you coming back for more. All we need now is their excellent remix of Steve Spacek's "Dollar" to get an official release.
Simon Harrison, 10/06
US3 - Schizophonicus3.com
Geoff Wilkinson is back with US3's fifth album with a live jazz flavour with live musicians contributing on trumpet, double bass, jazz guitar, piano and saxophone. Vocals come from two new rappers Akil Dasan and Gaston, both of whom were found by Geoff in New York's Nuyorican Poets Cafe. This style may have been done many times before but "Schizophonic" has a real sense of fun in the lyrics and in the Brazilian/Jazz rhythms and grooves. Not sure this will appeal to the hiphop heads but it will certainly find a home with Nu-Jazz and modern thinking Jazz heads. Give it a listen - you'll be hooked.
Simon Harrison, 05/06