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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Watts Happening / Ohmega Watts

Ohmega Watts - Watts Happening

Ubiquity Records

While listening to parts of Ohmega Watts new CD "Watt's Happening", you may feel as if you've gone back to the era of hip-hop when dudes carried boom boxes everywhere they went and everyone was rocking shell toe adidas. Indeed, Ohmega prooves that you can create hip-hop that is uplifting and thought provoking while keeping your body rockin'. What's even more refreshing is the diverse collaborations, which broadens the album's appeal. On "Eyes And Ears", Philly based rapper Jneiro Jarel comes through and rocks over a funky old school beat. "Are You Satisfied" finds Ohmega giving praise to his mom and features Sugarpie DeSanto, a west coast legend and a former vocalist with James Brown. Brazilian songbird "Tita Lima" provides soothing vocals for "Adaptacao". The laid back "Few and Far Between" finds Ohmega reminiscing about a former companion and the different stages of their relationship. Throughout this disc you'll not only gain an appreciation for Ohmega's rhyming skills but also the live instrumentation by some of the hottest musicians on the west coast. For example, "Work for Wealth" features Barry Hampton of the Portland based raw funk group Triple Grip is an enjoyable slice of cosmic funk. "The Playpus Strut" features Myles Tackett of the L.A. based Breakestra on bass and guitar. Indeed, the drums on this cut will remind you of how you once enjoyed your music before mpc's existed. My only gripe was with twenty songs I felt the disc carried on a bit too long. Ohmega could've trimmed off about three songs. However this is a minor quibble of what is a very strong sophomore project for Mr. Watts. After debuting with the impressive "The Find", Ohmega shows what a talented MC can do when he performs outside the box. Recommended.

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Reg Dancy, 01/08

Afrotunes - Best Of Juju Vol 2  / Ojo Balingo

Ojo Balingo - Afrotunes - Best Of Juju Vol 2

BBE

Originally released by Tabansi records in 1985, "Afrotunes - Best of Juju Vol. 2" sheds light on Juju music from Ojo Balingo. Based on this release, Balingo is a Nigerian Juju artist cut from the same cloth as King Sunny Ade. Balingo's style of Juju is a form of Yoruba music filled with various percussions and wah wah guitar rhythms. The album flows as a medley with Balingo's roaring poetic lyrics over a spirited guitar groove combined with infectious drumming. This is a journey into a forgotten genre that's worth checking out.

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Reg Dancy, 10/19

Aocana / Ojos de Brujo

Ojos de Brujo - Aocana

Warner Bros

Follow up to the brilliant debut ‘Bari’ and superb second release ‘Techari’ this new release delivers more of that eclectic and vibrant mix. Expect tango, salsa, tabla, scratching, bolero and more all fired up with the passion and spirit which is Ojos de Brujo. Irresistable.

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Graham Radley, 05/09

Techari Live / Ojos de Brujo

Ojos de Brujo - Techari Live

Play It Again Sam

Recorded on the last date of the band's 2006 tour at the Barcelona Teatre Musical, the band was augmented on the night by guests from the original CD, Roberto Carcasses on piano, Raúl Rodriguez on tres, Faada Freddy from Daara J, a full Cuban horn section and Gyan Singh on tabla. Everyone is firing on all cylinders and the DVD fully demonstrates what a brilliant band they are. They also include a live and studio version of 'Get Up, Stand Up' what more could you want?

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Graham Radley, 11/07

Wings Of Spring / Olivier Peters Quartet feat. Joan Johnson

Olivier Peters Quartet feat. Joan Johnson - Wings Of Spring

Celeste

Recorded in 1980 but not released until 2001, Olivier Peter's 'Wings Of Spring' now gets a welcome repress. Olivier's sax takes the lead on this consistent set with the title track being one of the standouts. It's the tracks featuring the captivating vocals of Joan Johnson which really shine though such as the Latin tinged 'Full Moon' and the supreme jazz dancer 'Kekay' on which Johnson lets rip in scat mode.

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Andy Allen, 10/07

Seasons Greetings / Olympic Cyclone Band

Olympic Cyclone Band - Seasons Greetings

Jalapeno Recordss

Some of my favorite holiday songs are the ones that don’t necessarily sound like holiday songs. In the case of “Seasons Greetings” by the Olympic Cyclone Band they clearly know how to lay down a groove and make Christmas tunes sound hip. From the traditional “Little Drummer Boy” laced with a sizzling bass line to the bluesy organ grinding “Away In A Manger”. In addition to the instrumental holiday delights there are some vocal treats as well. Stephanie Davies soothing vocals add a bit of spice to “When A Child Is Born” and Fiona Egan on “All Is Bright” will leave you feeling that “Silent Night” never sounded as good as this. If you’re a traditional sort then you’ll feel right at home with their renditions of  “Jingle Bells” and the “!2 Days Of Christmas”. Either way “Seasons Greetings” would make for a great stocking stuffer and should make its way onto everyone’s holiday playlist.

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Reg Dancy, 12/12

Love In Beats / Omar

Omar - Love In Beats

Freestyle

"Love In Beats", album number eight is another brilliant release from Omar. As the title suggests there's plenty of head nodding beats spread across a broad range of rhythms. Part of the formula for the enduring sound is the production between Omar and his brother aka Scratch Professor. If that wasn't enough the array of guests on board lift these tracks to another level. Evidence of that lies in the opening track "Vicky's Tune" where Robert Glasper pushes the rhythm with a burst of piano stylings and Ty adds his customary clever wordplay. "Give My Heart" has an air of seventies classic soul with heart warming strings that features the late Leon Ware. "Deja Vu" has an international vibe due in part to French vocalist Mayre Andrada. While many chase the latest trends Omar has cultivated his own sound and it continues to evolve with each release. When it comes to soul music he is the gift that keeps on giving.

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Reg Dancy, 03/17

Sing (If You Want It) / Omar

Omar - Sing (If You Want It)

Ether Music

At the end of 2004 the four track limited 12" sampler was released and all the tracks blew me away, proving Omar had not lost his touch. Two of those tracks are included here and still sound as good as ever. "It's So" became a massive broken Beat anthem and is still heard here, there and everywhere. What we have here are fourteen tracks and proof that Omar is at the top of his game. He's covered all the bases with heavy Hiphop beats featuring Common and Rodney P, hints of R&B with Sing and "Stylin", Latin Jazz on "Be A Man" and of course "Feeling You" with Stevie Wonder back on top form. The quality never lets up and to finish the album off is the simply brilliant "Ghana Emotion", which I just can't get enough of. The standard has been set for album of 2006.

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Simon Harrison, 05/06

The Anthology / Omar

Omar - The Anthology

Freestyle

While scanning the thirty plus track listing for "The Anthology" from Omar, I couldn't help but think how many artists would've rolled out a "Greatest Hits" while barely having half the catalogue that he has under his belt. With that said this is a great opportunity to rejoice in the stunning collection of music from the Don of UK Soul. From early favourites like "There's Nothing Like This", The Anthology is a lovely trip down memory lane with timeless recordings. "Best By Far" is an underrated record if that's even possible. it's left-field soul that's still sounds brand new. Let's not forget the notable duets he has shared the mic with over the years. "Be Thankful" with Erykah Badu, "Who Chooses The Seasons" with Carleen Anderson and of course "Feeling You" with Stevie Wonder. That's not all, "Pass It On", a mid-tempo funky number featuring Terri Walker is one of two new tracks here along with "Long Time Coming". Seriously, you should have most of these songs already but if you don't then you need this this in your collection now. This is simply a great selection from the Man who is still at the top of his game. Salute!

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Reg Dancy, 02/20

The Man / Omar

Omar - The Man

Freestyle

It's not enough to crown Omar as the King of UK Soul for his unmistakable voice is recognized and cherished worldwide. With his seventh and easily one of his strongest lps entitled “The Man”, his star should shine even brighter. The thirteen track disc hits hard and often with a myriad of musical styles enhanced by edgy grooves and crafty production that we’ve come to expect from him. The first single “The Man” finds Omar singing about his maturation from a young man to family man, highlighted by a tasty bass clarinet and flute melody. “High Heels” is a funky soul jazz tune that features the Hidden Jazz Quartet”. Pino Palladino transforms the 1990 classic “There’s Nothing Like This” into a chilled out mellow gem. The disc wraps up with Latin flavored “Ordinary Day” that is a tribute to the additions of his twin daughters to his family. Overall “The Man” is filled with so many superb tracks that it will be hard to pick a favorite. It will not be hard at all however to recognize this as one of the best records of the year.

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Reg Dancy, 07/13

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