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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Communication / Electric Conversation

Electric Conversation - Communication

Futuristica Music

A few months back, when I was listening heavily to the Basement Soul compilation, a song that really stood out for me was "Dancing" by Electric Conversation. Unfamiliar with the group, I did some research. I discovered they're from France and releasing their debut very soon. I also found that they're on the Futuristica label created by Simon S of Break Reform. This was clearly a sign of good things to come since damn near everything coming out on Futuristica has been pure heat. With enormous hype already built up for this disc, was I setting myself up for a letdown? Absolutely not! "Communication" is the rare disc that just gets better with each track. Electric Conversation has crafted an excellent collection of soulful hip-hop infused songs that just melt your heart. The title track "Communication" has all the ingredients of hot buttered organic soul. "Vibe Change" provides more of the same as vocalist K-Ro sings lead while Oz provides the vocals on the chorus. Both songs provide that cosmic soul vibe. What's great here is that E.C. have managed to create soulful electronic music that is warm and intoxicating. In addition, fellow members of the Futuristica family like Deborah Jordan and Rep Life stop by to bless the disc as well. Everyone should know Deborah from "Silhouette Brown". Her gorgeous vocals on "In My Mind" take the song to another level. Rep Life lends his superb rhyming skills to the song "Cosmos". Now there a couple of songs spoken in French but the music is so undeniably good that it hardly matters. You'll find yourself nodding to it anyway. Hands down if you're a fan of futuristic soul with a touch of hip-hop and Electronica, you need this in your collection. A must have.


Reg Dancy, 12/07

Electric Wire Hustle / Electric Wire Hustle

Electric Wire Hustle - Electric Wire Hustle

BBE Records

Every year there is one record that comes out of nowhere and before you know it, that record has become part of your daily musical rotation. There is a strong chance that once you start listening to Electric Wire Hustle, it will become a part of your rotation too.  The debut album from the New Zealand based trio successfully merges old school soul with an eclectic array of nu-soul, psychedelic funk and thick ear splitting beats. With the silky soulful vocals of Mara TK, EWH hits on all cylinders. The opening track “Test The Waters”, has Mara’s expressive vocals complimenting the brooding hypnotic with overwhelming results. “Walk On” is a sensual psychedelic gem augmented by the pairing of Mara and Stacy Epps. The song is delivered in a laid back manner and may lull you into a dreamy state of mind and you’ll find no fault with that “This World” is future soul accompanied by uber talented Georgia Anne Muldrow. While the guest appearances would certainly aid any project, make no mistake this record stands firm on the strengths of the trio. Taay Ninh’s multi-instrumental talents are all over this record as are the trio’s production skills and Myele Manzanza’s drumming is felt throughout. How refreshing to play a disc from start to finish with nary a weak track in it’s path. Quite simply, this is one great record that deserves a space with your collection. As for EWH, the future looks very bright.


Reg Dancy, 08/10

 / Elektrons

Elektrons -

Wall Of Sound

Elektrons are Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey, AKA The Unabombers of Manchester's famed Electric Chair club night and acclaimed Electric Souls re-edit series. As with Electric Chair, 'Red Light Don't Stop' incorporates a variety of dance-floor styles taking influence from the rich heritage of UK underground club culture but giving it a unique modern twist. The talented but under recorded vocalist Pete Simpson graces five tracks including the hip hop/funk of 'Get Up' which also features Soup of Jurassic 5, 'The Source', an infectious nu disco cut and the brilliant house track 'Joy' with its old school piano chords. Other guests include Eska who fronts 'Dirty Basement' and the superb electro soul of 'Be With You', Mpho Skeef on the catchy R&B flavoured 'Classic Cliche' and Holy Backler who has worked with Secret Stealth. With the right airplay this album could well see some commercial success.


Andy Allen, 07/07

OST / Elite Squad (Tropa De Elite)

Elite Squad (Tropa De Elite) - OST

Milan Records

Soundtrack to the film Tropa De Elite (Elite Squad) composed by Pedro Bromfman. The film tells the story of two childhood friends who decide to join Rio de Janeiro's Military Police Department and in turn they then try out for a Special Operations Squad whose mission is to take down the drug-lords that plague the city. The music reflects this urban scenario with a mix that features MC Junior, MC Leonardo, Bateria da Rocinha, Barbatuques and styles that range from ambient to thrash punk. Excellent.


Graham Radley, 10/08

Parkdale / Elizabeth Shepherd

Elizabeth Shepherd - Parkdale

Do Right! Music

I recently had the pleasure of witnessing the enchanting Elizabeth Shepherd at The Vancouver Jazz Festival performing some of the tracks from her new album ‘Parkdale’, named after the Toronto neighbourhood in which she resides. This, her sophomore album however expands the trio to a quartet or quintet on certain tracks and is produced by Ben Lamdin (Nostalgia 77). Elizabeth describes her style as groove based jazz which is particularly evident on the funky ‘Long As You’re Living’, ‘Just One Song’ and the title track, the Latinesque ‘Con Alma’ and the dancer ‘Mirror Living’. The standouts for me though are the mellower cuts ‘Shining Tear Of The Sun’, ‘Next Time Around’ and ‘Higher Ground’ (no not Stevie’s) which showcase Elizabeth’s voice and song writing abilities beautifully.


Andy Allen, 09/08

Start To Move / Elizabeth Shepherd Trio

Elizabeth Shepherd Trio - Start To Move

Do Right Music

After teasing us with the Nostalgia 77 Remix of 'Reversed', Elizabeth Shepherd Trio now come with their impressive debut album. Contained within are some first rate vocal jazz performances from the opening title track, which pays tribute to some of the scene's innovators, to the quirky 'Price Is Right' which concludes the set. In between there are moments of pure brilliance like the original version of 'Reversed', 'Melon', an up-tempo Latin jazz excursion and the immaculate 'Circles'.


Andy Allen, 12/06

Earth / Emanative

Emanative - Earth


Nick Woodmansey aka Emanative's 2009 release "Space" was a celestial beauty of cosmic compositions. That astral journey would lead to "The Light Years Of The Darkness", the first release for the Steve Reid Foundation. Through that project he would connect with a number of like minded musicians that would inspire a deeper dive into his spirituality, which brings us to "Earth". Emanative's latest release focuses on African, Indian and Middle Eastern influences. Among the highlights are "Heaven's Mirror", enhanced by The Pyramids Idris Ackamoor's psychedelic horn riffs and David Molina's deep bass grooves. "Iyaami" sets the tone with a five minute balafon solo before seguing into a slow simmering Afrobeat groove for vocalist Dele Sosimi. "Sandhyavandanam" is a meditative tune with a hypnotic bass and Tabla rhythms. Nat Birchall contributes his tenor sax melodies to "Spice Route Suite" and "Reflection". The latter features heavenly vocal harmonies from Liz Elensky. Other notable contributors throughout this disc include Jessica Lauren, Sarathy Korwar, Tamar Osborn, Ben Hadwen and Ahu just to name a few. Woodmansey set a high bar with his previous projects yet he has easily surpassed them with a tremendous record.


Reg Dancy, 06/18

Space / Emanative

Emanative - Space

Futuristica Music

Producer and drummer Nick Woodmansey, aka Emanative has kept us waiting for months for the release of his debut. Let’s be clear that it was more than worth the wait. “Space” is a wonderful collection of multi-rhythmic spacey jazz funk delights with an array of talented vocalists who add another layer to the album’s beauty. In addition, the collection of musicians, particularly Jessica Lauren on keys and Ben Hadwen’s playing on Bass Clarinet add an element of futuristic dimensions that will leave you breathless. This is quite evident on the opening track “Petite Planete”, an instrumental mid-tempo space odyssey filled with deep grooves. Jessica Lauren creates beautiful vibes with her lovely work on piano and clever synth arrangements. There is a vocal version of this track entitled “Stars Collide” sung by Deborah Jordan that is equally enjoyable. “We Travel The Spacebeats” is a dreamy spacey slice of soul heighten by the warm Rhodes playing by Jessica Lauren and the flute playing of Ben Hadwen.  “Wind, Sands and Stars” is another deep otherworldly soul gem that features Heidi Vogel on vocals. “When On Earth” is simply a beautiful record that was made available as a single long before the album’s release. The sublime vocals of Liz Elensky, along with backing vocals by Deborah Jordan and the lush string arrangements make this record a classic for years to come. So rare is the record that arrives with nary a weak track in sight. Well, this is one that qualifies as essential listening and is one of the true highlights of 2009. Highly recommended.


Reg Dancy, 05/09

East Side Story / Emily King

Emily King - East Side Story


"East Side Story" is the debut of twenty one year old NYC native Emily King. On this fourteen track offering, Ms. King wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. The exception being the Bill Withers classic "Ain't No Sunshine". Like Withers, Emily is comfortable performing with her acoustic guitar for her audience. I know this from seeing her perform about a month ago. However, this is not just an acoustic album. As evidence by the opening track "Walk in My Shoes", a funky bass heavy track that talks about "getting to know me for the person I am". As you listen to the first and second verse, the Diana Ross classic "Love Hangover" comes to mind. "You Can Get By" is another winner about a woman keeping faith in a rocky relationship. Emily reflects on a variety of subjects throughout her debut and also provides some social commentary on greed among big corporations on the acoustic song "Business Man". While some folks have been comparing Emily to people like Alicia Keys and Norah Jones. It's clear from this disc that she is very talented enough to carry her own weight and blaze her own trail. Overall, "East Side Story" is full of well crafted songs with gorgeous melodies. Simply an enjoyable listen throughout. Emily's songwriting abilities and gentle voice ensures that she should be around for a long time.


Reg Dancy, 12/07

Dawn / Emma Donovan and The PutBacks

Emma Donovan and The PutBacks - Dawn


From the opening electric guitar riff from "Black Woman" followed by the wicked Hammond B3 and the powerful voice, you get the sense you've struck gold with "Dawn". The debut from the indigenous Emma Donovan and the Melbourne based band The Putbacks provide plenty of gritty rhythms and rock infused soul for vocalist Emma Donovan to shine and that she does. The aforementioned "Black Woman" starts out with a hard groove and Donovan's lyrics speak of a woman's struggle and perseverance. The powerful "Daddy",is filled with infectious wah wah rhythms. The band simmers down on tunes like "My Goodness" and "Over Under". The latter is a stripped down country blues number that's one of the many highlights on the disc. You know you have something special when the disc wraps up and leaves you wanting more. Make no mistake this is the "Dawn" of a great new voice and a phenomenal talent that you shouldn't miss.


Reg Dancy, 12/14

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