Sunday, 19 February 2017

Remix of the Day: 'Give Me A Reason (Weatherall Meets Jonnie Two Heaters Uptown Part 1)' by Jagwar Ma

As much as I love Jagwar Ma's albums, I love their live shows and remixes even more. Both seem to take on a dancier, darker, trippier vibe that I love. This new mix is a good case in point. As far as I can gather it's a collaboration between the legendary Andrew Weatherall and Jono Ma and it very much picks up the baton from Richard Norris' dub mixes of 'Howlin''. Suffice to say there are acid squelches, distorted vocals, a persistent loop of rhythm, and the whole thing is about twice as long as the original, which is exactly what you need from a remix like this. Have a listen below.

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Recommended music: 'Life & Livin' It' by Sinkane

The new album from Sinkane is here, and it's by far their best yet. Informed by an extensive touring schedule, both as themselves and as part of the Atomic Bomb! William Onyeabor project, it successfully mixes the African rhythms of 'Mars' with the more mature lyrics and r'n'b grooves on 'Mean Love' to deliver a satisfying journey through the human experience.

Most of the record was recorded live by the band playing together, and you can feel the warmth and unity that provides to the tracks. the lyrics meanwhile encourage positivity and togetherness, as message that is sorely needed in these troubled times. "If we illuminate ourselves we'll overcome" Ahmed sings on 'U'Huh', "Kulu shi tamaam", which is an Arabic phrase meaning 'everything is ok'.

Possibly my favourite song on the record is, ironically, 'Favorite Song', a song inspired by Ahmed's dj sets and that moment where you put a record on that everyone knows and loves.

Elsewhere there are disco grooves on 'Telephone' and some heavier afro-caribbean vibes on 'Theme from Life & Livin' It', while the whole album is underpinned by an infectious feeling of friendship and goodness.

If you haven't seen Sinkane live then do your best to catch them on this tour - I've seen them 4 times now and each time I've left the venue with a smile on my face, their enthusiasm and joy is infectious.

'Life & Livin' It' is out on February 10th on City Slang.

Thursday, 2 February 2017

Track of the Day: 'Coma' by Ghost Culture

This hypnotic dance groove is the lead track from Ghost Culture's new EP 'Nucleus, which will be out on 24th February through Phantasy Records. It's a proper head-nodder, with a really positive feel and also a particular sound every now and then that reminds me of 'Blue Monday'. Have a listen below, and pre-order the vinyl here.

Recommended music: 'Yesterday's Gone' by Loyle Carner

It's been more than 2 years since I first wrote about Loyle Carner in this blog. In that time he's gradually built up a solid following, playing bigger and bigger shows, been mentioned in the BBC 'Sound of' list, opened a cooking school for kids with ADHD (from which he himself suffers) and has now released his debut album, the brilliant 'Yesterday's Gone'.

It's clear from the opening bars of 'The Isle of Arran' that this is no ordinary rap album. A track about a remote Scottish island featuring a gospel choir, it's not exactly a track about gangs and bitches is it?

That's the wonder of this whole record - it manages to be the authentic sound of British rap without resorting to cliches and lowest common denominator lyrics. Who else would write lyrics about his imaginary sister? Or would write about his parents with such love and warmth, including a poem from his mum and a track by his step-dad who dies last year? Even on the more traditional kind of track 'No CD' he manages to enthuse about the emotional attachments to old records - "Pretty ancient plastic discs of greatness that your parents used to play with" and "The crackle of the vinyl, sweet onto repeat" in a way that belies his youth.

This is singularly the most truthful and honest rap record that I've ever heard. It's not afraid to deal with the most complex of human emotions and it doesn't feel the need to be full of swaggering bravado. It celebrates our frailties as well as our successes, and for that it will always have a place in my heart.

'Yesterday's Gone' is out now on AMF Records, and the tour to support the album starts tonight in Dublin - full details here.