Album Review :: Jamiroquai – Rock Dust Light Star

Jamiroquai have been around for 18 years and have produced some dancefloor classics. Now, they are back after a five year break but does ‘Rock Dust Light Star’ live up to any expectations we might have had after their previous albums?

Jamiroquai’s music has rarely fallen outside the “acid-funk” genre that best describes their sound and has generally been a hit across the board with young and old listeners alike. The changing faces of the collaborators have always been fronted by the effervescent Jay Kay and his outlandish hats. It has been argued that Jay Kay is best known for those hats, his love of fast cars and his penchant for famous (or not so) women, however, in terms of his music, there’s no denying there’s some clear songwriting ability, knowledge of how to seduce people with some of the best bass riffs around and some sustainable funk that’s maintained the band’s presence in the music industry for almost 2 decades.

Rock Dust Light Star has echoes of early 80’s disco combined with the synthesisers and technological tricks of today’s electric generation. Jay Kay’s vocal is, as always, up to scratch and the lyrics are (mostly) imaginative and interesting.

The majority of this album, the 7th for Jamiroquai, has a Saturday night pre-drinks vibe with a whiff of a lazy Sunday afternoon; a good album for the weekend. It’s the kind of album that may grace the Radio 2 playlist or an ’easy-listening for the over 30’s’ album but you’ll probably hear a track or two track on Radio 1 or have seen Jay Kay’s (awkward – after insulting the show’s judges) performance of “White Knuckle Ride” on the X Factor. All things considered, Jamiroquai seem to know how to create music for the masses and are understated but seemingly popular, with this album debuting at number 7 in the UK album chart.

After listening to the album a few times, the band have certainly found comfort in the familiar disco-ball funk that we would expect from them, with songs such as ‘White Knuckle Ride’ and ‘All Good In The Hood’ combining funky bass-riffs, falsetto vocals and sultry saxophones but unfortunately, songs such as ‘Blue Skies’ and ‘Never Gonna Be Another’, which stray from the usual dance-material and creep into the clichéd-pop category , fall short of the mark.

The opening and end of the album are good, with catchy songs and memorable instrumentals but there is a slight dip in the middle. Jay Kay singing cheesey ballads isn’t something I would expect and for me, doesn’t work, but the typical Jamiroquai funk will make me listen to the album, just not on repeat.

Perhaps it’s time, after 18 years, for the funk-veterans to move over and let new dubstep and electro bands take over the dancefloor? [J]

Thanks to Mercury Music for sending the album for review.

Album Review :: Tinashé – Saved

Tinashé’s debut album, released earlier this year, would best be summarised as a colourful and varied collection of indie-pop tracks, lyrically reflecting the geographical journey from his birthplace in Zimbabwe to locations in the UK and his experiences throughout.

I first saw Tinashé last year when he supported Noisettes at the O2 Academy in Liverpool.  Some supporting acts blend into the background and are muted by mindless chatter from the crowd as they eagerly await the main performer but with Tinashé, I found myself listening intently and making a conscious effort to remember his name and follow his progress long after the gig was over. Not only was he an animated, confident and engaging performer; he showcased a selection of soulful, catchy and upbeat tracks that left me intrigued as to what material, if any, he’d released, what he was working on and his music in general.

Disappointed, after the gig, that I couldn’t find much of his music online, I sat tight and waited for his debut album and what an album he produced…’Saved’ is a triumph of a debut.

Although difficult to compare Tinashé to one specific musician or artist, a cocktail of comparisons may give you an idea of his sound: If you added a cheeky dash of early Hoosiers to a pint of Jack Penate, poured it over ice, slipped in a bit of Bloc Party and added a thick slice of Jamie T to your glass for decoration, you’d get a taste of Tinashé.

Bearing those comparisons in mind, Tinashé’s drawn his sound from a blend of many musical influences, which are hinted at on the album, from artists such as Prince and Michael Jackson, who Tinashé enjoyed as a child, to the story-telling of 90’s RnB artists like the Notorious BIG who intrigued Tinashé whilst growing up in London.  This fusion of classic musicality and great songwriting is what gives ‘Saved’ an edge. It successfully binds traditional concepts like strong guitar riffs, pounding pianos and some strategic strings with an upbeat and captivating vocal performance throughout.

‘Saved’ would easily please pop-lovers and certainly intrigue the indie-folk. There’s elements of hearty RnB lyrics and noughties experimental indie-pop. You could read into every single line of all the songs on the album, or delve into the “About” section on Tinashé’s website (linked below) which will tell you the ins and outs of his varied upbringing and specific occurrences that influenced him but I think it’s best to listen to the album and read into it what you will; apply it to yourself or listen freely to the music without thinking too much. Either way, I guarantee you’ll find yourself nodding along or subconsciously remembering the catchy refrains.

Despite being a well-rounded album, I think the stand-out tracks are: Saved, The Feeling, Good Times, Mr. Presumption & Every Single Day.

It was when thinking about my favourite albums of this year that I listened to ‘Saved’ again and decided to look online to see how it had been received. There was little in the way of reviews or opinions so I figured I would bring some to the table and hopefully invite others to give him a listen. The album was released in early 2010 so this article isn’t really a “Just released!” – “New Album Review!” – “Fantastic New Music!” type of post, more  “Why haven’t we heard a lot more about this guy?!”.

Tinashé is now continuing his journey, gigging in the UK following his debut release. If you get chance to see him, go!

Tinashé’s album is also on i-Tunes and Spotify.


Advanced Single Review :: Films of Colour – Actions

The indie seen is flourishing so what does it take to succeed? Whatever it is, Films of Colour might just have it.

Films of Colour

Films of Colour

With an impressive resume that includes highly encouraging words from Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Films of Colour are about to make their mainstream, commercial debut this October with a rather interesting first single; Actions Having struggled recently with the very competitive market and highly dubious industry, Andy Clutterbuck and company deliver a performance that is sure to set the indie rock world alight.

As with many smaller artists in the current socio-economical climate, catching that one big break can be almost nightmarish to achieve, if not impossible. Never to be dejected however, there can sometimes be help in the strangest places, as Clutterbuck and his musical comrades found out. Of course it does always help when global superstar Chris Martin lives next door to you and, in a rather surprising act of generosity beyond the realms of his own stratosphere, gives your band a chance. This almost Cinderella tale of rags to (potential) riches is what has befallen Films of Colour, their music is not half bad either as it goes.

Kicking off this debut single, released on the 4th of October on Fandango Records, is the eponymous track “Actions”. With an eclecticly haunting mood, the tepid thunder of James Rees and James Hatcher in the percussion section announce the arrival of the band in a typically indie rock fashion. Clutterbuck’s vocals elict more than a few comparisons to his famous neighbour, his vocal range however delivering a competent and enjoyable trip through this master crafted world of remorse and potential life that the song undertakes.

On the B-Side of the album comes a much higher tempo, almost more upbeat track in the form of “Circles”. Once again Films of Colour’s deeply felt morose and indie flavoured sense of a pallid, non-caring world are very clearly stated. With the backing of a synth/electronica undercurrent, “Circles” once again demonstrates the band’s inept ability at story telling, imagery and artistic demeanour. The overall sound of the track has a chillingly cold sense of sensibility and pessimistic lethargy about it, lovingly crafted by the musicians. In particular, Jack Allinson on guitar is given full license to create a hauntingly beautiful guitar tone, its echoing resonance a microcosm for the overall themes of the song.

Overall this initial release from Films of Colour provides a deliciously tempting insight to what potential the band possess. In a market that is arguably overly crowded with purposely post post modern pessimism, Films of Colour appear to hold within their grasp individuality enough to perhaps create their own image and brand on an already successful genre. The single is released on October 4th on the Label Fandango.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Check out the band’s website for official release news and tour dates:

Single Review :: The Magic Numbers – The Pulse

The latest release from The Magic Numbers as a preview of their upcoming album.

The Magic Numbers

The Magic Numbers © The Magic Numbers

Returning to their harmonious, country and vaguely indie rock roots, The Magic Numbers return with their latest single “The Pulse”. Also featured on the track are sneak previews of two songs from their upcoming album The Runaway scheduled for release later this year.

With a sound that made them traditional cult heroes with their debut album The Magic Numbers in 2005, the group was being hailed as the new champions of the folk and indie fusion that was sweeping the scene at the time. Through no fault of their own, The Magic Numbers were never truly able to conquer all who unfolded before them and by the time their second album, Those The Brokes was released in 2006 they had all but solidified their status as cult favourites and little else more. The true extent of this is the fact that they are currently still touring the country in a vague attempt at promotion for the album that debuted almost four years ago. However, with the prospect of the new album on the horizon, it would seem the band are preparing to stage somewhat of a comeback.

“The Pulse” itself is as interesting a single as the group could muster to release. A typically layered folk ballad, the soft, kindly spoken lyrics and vocals of Romeo Stodart encompass the listener within the fairy tail world that the band paint so very well in almost all of their songs. Coupled with the harmonic, almost spiritual backing vocals of the rest of the band, as musically sound as “The Pulse” is, there just seems to be a lack of kick and any real depth, or dare it be said, point to the song as it wistfully continues without ever really reaching a climax. Standing at almost five and a half minutes also means that listeners cannot really avoid the song, willfully waiting for an end that never really comes.

The other songs included on the single release, “Dead Mirrors” and “This Isn’t Happening” offer a much more focused return to previous form for the band. “Dead Mirrors” has a haunting, celtic quality, Stodart and his sister Michele coupled with percussionist Angela Gannon on vocals evoke the wonderfully crafted images. It is also worthy of note that a deep lineage of an almost country root running through the song. Drums from Sean Gannon pulse throughout the song evoking the image of galloping horses across a starry-lit prairie, sending a tingling shiver down the listeners’ spine.

“This Isn’t Happening” is much more of a single and suspected album filler track, the probable product of studio time spent that did not wish to be completely wasted. Once again the musical ability is without question, Stodart’s vocals here show particularly good range but the overall track once more feels like it lacks a purpose and direction. Its combination of a quiet ballad opening with a more up beat, more typically indie feeling chorus and second half feel clumsily put together that gives a less than convincing disjointed feel to the song. The thrashing symbols and drums also sound out of place, drowning out the remaining percussion and guitars at points which, coupled with the repetitive nature of the lyrics do not do much for the band or their product.

Overall the release of The Pulse is in general a good enough release to tease fans and occasional listeners of the band’s work. However it is greatly hoped that these songs are merely samples and not an overall representation of the album as a whole. That would be majorly disappointing as it would fail to spark the initial enthusiasm and pleasurable enjoyment that led to The Magic Numbers’ success. The single is on general release from 31/5/10.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Check out the band’s official website. The single is also available for download from itunes:

Electro Filth for 2010 :: Noisia – Split the Atom

Take a shotgun. Put barrel in mouth. Pull trigger.

Enter club toilets. Nod at freshen-up man. Slip across a crisp twenty. Take all in one go.

Buy a strobe light. Turn it to fastest setting. Stare at it for 3 days.

There are many ways to fuck with your head this summer, but buying Noisia’s new single is probably the easiest…

‘Split the Atom’ is a ridiculously filthy mix of electro and thumping bassline, awesomely catchy hooks and breaks to die for. The title-track off the Dutch trio’s critically-acclaimed album of the same name, this is gonna be dropping on dancefloors for sure. Single is out on 31st May.

Check out the sweet vid below which caused a little bit of bother on YouTube recently…

Noisia | MySpaceTwitterFacebook

Single Review :: B-Complex – Beautiful Lies

It’s one of those rare tracks that the more demented producers can only dream of – the image of tranquillity and anarchy in perfect harmony.

hospitality records

The pads scream dark and twisted, the chopped and screwed vocals form a haunting melody, and the drums pound on at a stupid level of intensity. The bassline heard and not just felt, because it’s more of a slap in the face than a subtle frequency filler – the rhythm jitters and drives, as any hectic drum n bass should, and the drums pound on at a stupid level of intensity. The fills turn your dancing sketchy, the ridiculous amount of reverb on the melody, the strings move in you, and the drums pound on. At a stupid level of intensity.

Beautiful Lies.

Label: Hospital Records Catalogue: NHS154 Format: 4×12″ Release Date: 15th June 2009

I’ve heard summer already: it’s K-Os and Sub Focus

Apparently, anthemic isn’t a real word. Well god-damn it, it should be. And more importantly, it should be used this summer. Alot. Why? Because two singles are set to be heard blasting out of the likes of Radio 1 and MTV. And they are:

Sub Focus feat. Coco :: Splash, out May 10th

All you lovers of non-mainstream DnB are probably gonna hate it, call me a cretin and ‘diss me blog’ (it’s happened before, you know). So to appease you, we’ll call it pop-DnB and tell you it comes with or without the flitting vocals of Coco, (of I Blame Coco fame). It’s a fast-paced, freakingly hot tune tastefully produced and once more, since his ’09 release, elevates Sub Focus into more than just DnB circles.

Included as B-sides are the extended, instrumental mix which is less commercial than the single and the grime-sounding Rusko Remix which adds a bit more ghetto to the mix, shall we say.

K-Os :: I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman, feat. Nellie Furtado, out 19th April

Okay, I’m a tad late in posting about this one – but that’s only because I’ve been too busy listening to it and being unable, like actually physically unable, to turn it off it’s that good, seriously.

K-Os releases his third album Yes! to the world on May 3rd (we’ve got copies and it is, simply, awesome). Sampling Phat Planet’s god-awful, should-have-been-forgotten California and bringing in Nellie Furtado along with Saukrates, K-Os creates a catchy, pop-friendly, bbq tune. It’s slow, chilled and different enough to be interesting. In a recent interview, K-Os stated “popular culture will always dictate what’s okay to an extent as long as it’s leashed to something that is familar” – perfectly summed up in our opinion.

K-OS Yes! Sub Focus feat. Coco :: Spash

Rock’s Classics :: Pink Floyd – Comfortably Numb

The second installment of profiles that chronicle some of rock music’s finest achievements. Pink Floyd’s song about dodgy medical treatment in this edition.

Pink Floyd

Pink Floyd in their majestic glory © Pink Floyd

Continuing in the series of profiles on some of rock music’s classic tracks is the 1979 Pink Floyd staple “Comfortably Numb”. This track is often citied as one of the band’s finest musical achievements, hefty praise indeed considering its appearance on the almost operatic The Wall album. As a shining beacon of Pink Floyd’s melodic, progressive rock talents, “Comfortably Numb” is a song that not only displays expert musical ability but stands as a symbolic gesture to the past and future careers of the band and all of its influential members.

Debuting in 1979, the double album The Wall would almost instantly become one of the defining works of the later twentieth century. A landmark album in so many instances, Pink Floyd’s musical and commercial talents crescendoed on a scale that contemporaries would seldom, if ever, rival. The state of the rock music scene at the time was indeed a changing one, the imminent mainstream demise of Led Zeppelin and other great bands who had forged the previous decade such as Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and The Rolling Stones were rapidly being replaced by newer, harder sounding bands who would take rock music into a much more metal oriented direction. The progression of recording techniques and the imminent arrival of synthesised keyboards and other instruments meant that rock and roll musicians now had to embrace the dawn of the new decade both as singers and songwriters along with being instrumental engineers. Ever ahead of the curve, Pink Floyd would be one of the foremost champions of this new digital age in which to record, The Wall incorporating sound effects, spoken word and pulsing keyboard work throughout the entirety of the album.

Appearing on the second part of the two part album, “Comfortably Numb” immediately attracts the listener’s attention from the off. As part of the bigger, much wider scaled work that The Wall is considered, the story following the rise and fall of fictional character Pink and his progressive isolation from the world due to a life of abuse and borderline sociopathic tendencies. The track features two very distinctive traits that indeed isolate it from the others on the album, firstly it is only one of two tracks that do not fade in or out of any adjacent track on the album. This freestanding status was the result of a technical issue relating to the production of the work. This merely adds to “Comfortably Numb” being a distinctively individual track in an album that deliberately seeks to emphasise the lack of individuality that can be experienced during one’s lifetime.

The other, more noticeable distinction that “Comfortably Numb” has as an accolade is the fact that it features not one but two very different guitar solos. Initially composed as music for lead guitarist David Gilmour’s debut album, David Gilmour, “Comfortably Numb” has the distinct advantage of both his unquestionably unrivalled guitar and musical talents combined with the almost limitless vision of the band itself. Often credited as being one of the very best solos of all time, both solos on “Comfortably Numb” are fine examples of classic rock guitar work, the tone of Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster screams across the sedated feel of both the song’s music and lyrics. Speaking of the solos in interviews, Gilmour has gone on record as stating that the second solo work was combined together from a string of previously recorded solos and other experimental work he had been practising with at the time of the album’s recording. This, however, has not marred the performance of the song which quickly became a fan favourite at live shows and a permanent staple of Pink Floyd’s set list for the next thirty years.

“Comfortably Numb” is a track that has now achieved the status of being one of the few rock songs that does not immediately blow the listener away with power chords, amp bursting sound or indeed deeply moralistic and ambiguous lyricism. Instead, the song has quietly retained a solemn dignity since its inception, a sleeping giant of the rock music genre, gently garnishing more and more praise form musicians and fans alike. Although Pink Floyd would continue throughout the 1980s and on until 1994, their popularity would wane somewhat as the personnel of the band coupled with numerous direction changes and the advent of individual careers began to take their toll. The 2005 reunion for Bob Geldof’s “Live 8”, Geldof himself appeared as Pink in the cinematic version of The Wall, provided a massive stage on which Pink Floyd could and would impress their ever adoring fans. As a progressively styled band, Pink Floyd tend to have split opinions amongst the rock world, “Comfortably Numb” however remains well recognised as one of the band and genre’s standard anthems.

Jonathan Whitelaw

Pink Floyd’s official website can be found here:

Promo :: Cha-Cha – Phonographic Love

Cha-Cha :: Phonographic LoveRiding on the indie-electro waves of the last few years, Cha-Cha are set to make ripples in the mainstream pop pond of 2010. With it’s distinctive, harmless disco-beats and bass licks, first single ‘Phonographic Love‘ is described (by the band themselves) as a cross between dirty pop hymns and offbeat disco rock. Fair enough.

Those of you into your MGMT and Empire of the Sun should certainly check out the trio who’re currently booking up support slots, setting out on a tour of their own and releasing debut album We Are… this month on newbie-label Pop Noodle Records.

Download the single here, check out the video, and await that anticipated debut album

Cha Cha are Blain McGuigan on lead vocals & bass guitar, Alex Cameron Ward on backing vocals & guitar and Samuel Garbutt on drums.

Cha-Cha MySpace

Promo :: Subsource – The Ides, released 29/03/10

“Something sinister is rising on the horizon…”

So chants Subsource from single The Ides, out March 29th. Story goes: “Four years ago, 20 miles south of central London, four people went into a studio to start a war.  Fucked off with so-called live dance acts mincing behind laptops, and rock acts with no more substance than the product in their hair we decided things had to change.”

The line up is something of a mix aswell: a Cambridge educated British-Chinese science prodigy, a Norwegian born multi instrumentalist, a nu-skool breaks double bass player, a DnB drummer and occasional killer guest MC Malawian hip hop star Kimba Mutanda.

Subsource | YouTube