Tag: London UK

Earlier this year, I wrote about the commercially and critically successful London-based soul and funk act The Brand New Heavies. And as you may recall, the act which is led by founding members, primary songwriters and multi-instrumentalist Andrew Levy and Simon Bartholomew was at the forefront of Britain’s late 80s and early 90s Acid Jazz movement, alongside the likes of Young Disciples and Grammy Award-winning and multi-BRIT Award-winning act Jamiorquai.

With the release of their debut single, the celebrated club classic “Got To Give,” through Chrysalis Records, the members of The Brand New Heavies began to make waves in their native UK. Eventually, the band signed to Acid Jazz Records, who released their applauded self-titled debut album in 1990 across Europe and elsewhere, while the album was picked up in the US by renowned hip-hop label Delicious Vinyl. Now, if you were around and conscious back in 1990, you’d likely recall their debut album’s Top Three R&B smash hit, “Never Stop,” which led to the album being on the R&B Album charts for the better part of year — and to the act winning a MTV award for the track. As a result of the wild success of “Never Stop,” the album went on to becoming arguably the most commercially successful of their career, as it went Gold in the UK.

Interestingly, the London-based funk and foul act’s full-length debut proved to be both popular and influential within hip-hop circles. In fact, the members of the band have wound up collaborating with an impressive array of the genre’s luminaries including A Tribe Called Quest, and Kool G. Rap, Gang Starr and Main Source for Heavy Rhyme Experience.

The London-based neo-soul act’s follow-up two immediate efforts — 1994’s Brother Sister and 1997’s Shelter — went Platinum, with the act eventually scoring 16 Top 40 hits including “Dream Come True,” “Stay This Way,” “Midnight At The Oasis,” “Sometimes,” and “Dream On Dreamer.

Coincidentally, the acclaimed London-based funk and foul act have been a major influence on the equally acclaimed, smash-hit multi-instrumentalist, producer, DJ and singer/songwriter Mark Ronson, who caught their first lineup and first show in New York in 1991. Ronson invited the members of the band to play at his 40th birthday party — and later began collaborating with the band on the first batch of new material in over five years, the disco-like groove “Getaway” which featured a horn line that hinted at Cheryl Lynn‘s 1978 disco smash hit “Got To Be Real,” and the soulfully sultry vocals of longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, with whom they’ve earned their biggest charting, best-selling work.

Slated for a September 6, 2019 release through their longtime label home Acid Jazz, the band’s forthcoming Sir Tristan Longworth-produced album TBNH finds The Brand New Heavies carefully refining and reimagining the sound that won them international acclaim while featuring a variety of vocalists throughout the album — including longtime vocalists N’Dea Davenport and Siedah Garret along with Beverly Knight, Angie Stone, current vocalist Angela Ricci and labelmate Laville. TBNH‘s latest single is a breezy, 70s soul-tinged cover of Kendrick Lamar‘s “These Walls” that features longtime vocalist N’Dea Davenport, a warm, Quincy Jones-like horn arrangement, twinkling Rhodes and a sultry hook — and while retaining the soulfulness and swagger of the original, The Brand New Heavies gently push the street banger into the lounge and into the club.

 

 

 

London-based electronic music duo Siente, comprised of two lifelong musicians Nick Thompson and Steve Lamb, can trace their origins to a chance meeting the duo had over the DJ decks at a friend’s house party.  Bonding over a shared love of 80s soul and pop artists like Evelyn “Champagne” King and Luther Vandross, Thompson and Lamb recognized a deep connection and immediately jumped into the studio to collaborate on what would become their critically applauded, attention-grabbing debut single ‘Wonderful,” a track that drew comparisons to Todd Terje and Daft Punk.

Building upon a growing profile in their native UK and elsewhere, the up-and-coming British electronic duo’s latest single “Doubts” is a sultry summer bop that finds Thompson and Lamb effortlessly meshing yet dreamy pop with deep house. Centered around bubbling and arpeggiated synths, a deep and throbbing bass line and soulful vocals, the up-and-coming London act’s latest single manages to be a radio friendly club banger that will draw comparisons to a number of French artists like Alan Braxe, Phoenix, DJ Falcon, Uppermost and others.

 

 

 

 

New Video: Watch Acclaimed Indie Rock Act Night Beats Take on The Sonics

Deriving its name from Sam Cooke’s Night Beat album, the Seattle, WA-based psych rock/garage rock act Night Beats was formed by its Dallas, TX-born, Seattle, WA-based founding member and creative mastermind Danny “Lee Blackwell” Rajan Billingsley back in 2009 when Billingsley relocated to Seattle to study comparative religion at the University of Washington. That same year, Billingsley self-recorded the Night Beats debut EP, Street (Atomic), which was released through Holy Twist Records. 

After trying out a couple of different lineups, Billingsley recruited his high school friend and former B.B. Mercy drummer James Traeger to join the band. Traeger relocated from Austin, TX, where he was studying at the time to join Billingsley. The band played for a while as a duo before recruiting Tacoma, WA-born Tarek Wegner (bass), who once played with The Drug Purse and Paris Spleen to join the band. Early in their history, the band toured across North America extensively — and within weeks of releasing the H-Bomb EP the band was signed by Chicago-based label Trouble in Mind Records, who re-released the album in the fall of 2010. The re-released EP wound up topping several college radio while helping the band develop a reputation for a sound that incorporates elements of early R&B, psych rock, blues rock, funk and soul. (Unsurprisingly, the band has toured with the likes of The Black Angels, Roky Erickson, The Zombies, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Strange Boys, Black Lips, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club and The Growlers.) 

The following year, the band released a split EP with The UFO Club through Austin-based label The Reverberation Appreciation Society, which they followed up with their self-titled debut album. They also released a 2012 split single with TRMRS, which was released through Volcom Vinyl Club. 2013 saw the release of their sophomore album Sonic Bloom through The Reverberation Appreciation Society. The band supported the album with touring across North America, Europe, Israel, South Africa and Australia. 

2014 saw the band go through the first of a series of lineup changes. Tarek Wegner left the band and eventually released an EP What Colors Last, as well as a full-length effort Soul Fuckers, which was supported by a West Coast tour with Tomorrow’s Tulips. Meanwhile, Night Beats signed to London-based label Heavenly Recordings, who released the band’s acclaimed Robert Levon Been co-produced third album Who Sold My Generation in 2016. The album also featured Been, who’s best known for his work with Black Rebel Motorcycle Club contributing bass. Jakob Bowden was recruited to tour in support of the album. 

The last half of 2016 saw the band go on an UK and European Union tour without James Traeger. Throughout 2017, Evan Synder toured with the band. During a 2018 US tour opening for Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Jonah Swilley sat in on drums with the band. Last May saw the band touring Spain with Evan Synder playing drums. Bowden wasn’t with the band either. 

This year has been a rather busy year for Billingsley. Night Beats’ Dan Auerbach-produced Myth Of A Man was released in January — and the album found the band’s founder playing with a backing band of session musicians, who had worked with the likes of Elvis Presley and Aretha Franklin. Perhaps as a way of explaining Traeger’s and Bowden’s absence from the album, the official press release simply said that the album was “written during a particularly destructive period of the band.” Additionally, Billingsley along with an all-star backing cast featuring The Mystery Lights’ Mike Brandon, Black Lips’ Cole Alexander and Warbly Jets’ Julien O’neil recorded and released a Record Store Day album, Night Beats Perform The Sonics’ Boom, an exact track-by-track over of The Sonics classic (and beloved) 1966 album Boom. 

Night Beats Perform The Sonics’ Boom finds Billingsley and an indie rock All-Star backing band treading a line between faithful cover meant to keep the legacy of The Sonics’ classic album alive for contemporary listeners while imbuing the material with a fuzzy  and soulful take. Album single “Let The Good Times Roll” manages to sound almost like it were released sometime between 1966-1968 but with a gritty, mod rock vibe reminiscent of The Who Sings My Generation-era The Who. 

Directed, shot, and edited by James Oswald on what looks like grainy Super 8mm film, the recently released video follows Billingsley and his backing band on tour, split between the yellow and white lines of endless blacktop, the band playing sweaty and passionate  shows in front of rapturous fans, and intimate backstage footage featuring the band getting themselves together before playing. As someone, who has covered and seen thousands of shows, the video captures the spirit and soul of a show in a way that feels warmly familiar. 

   

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Flamingods Release a Lysergic and Feverish Visual for “Olympia”

Over the better part of this year, I’ve written a bit about the acclaimed multi-continental-based psych rock act Flamingods, and as as you may recall, the band’s Bahraini-born founder and frontman, Kamal Rasool has traveled widely to collect rare and unique instruments from Tanzania, The Amazon and elsewhere. When Rasool relocated to London to study music, he recruited a few friends from Bahrain and London to start a band, including the members of the band’s current lineup — Karthik Poduval, Sam Rowe and Charles Prest. Their first live show together was a highly praised, attention-grabbing set during 2010’s ATP Festival, which quickly led to a national profile.

Building upon a growing profile, the members of Flamingods quickly released two EPs, 2010’s Sun and 2011’s Away. 2013’s full-length debut Sun was a reimagining of the material off the EP of the same name that featured “Quesso,” a collaboration with Ponytail‘s Dustin Wong on lead guitar. Around the time of Sun’s release, the British government enacted new visa laws, which forced Rasool to return to Bahrain after finishing school. He then moved to Dubai, where he worked for an independent magazine and coffee shop. And although at that point, the members of the band were rising on different continents and unable to play together, they managed to find a way to continue working on new material, which would eventually become their critically applauded sophomore album, Hyperborea, an album that established a globe-spanning take on psychedelia that the band has dubbed “Exotic Psychedelia.”

During the release of Hyperborea, Prest relocated to Dubai to work closely with Rasool. Shortly after Prest’s relocation, the band began working on their third full-length album, 2016’s Majesty, an album that was largely inspired by the likes of Les Baxter, Tito Puente, Arthur Lyman and others. The album was released to generally mixed reviews, but it was championed by BBC Radio 6‘s Gilles Peterson and Lauren Laverne, who both invited the band to record live sessions. With Rasool and Prest able to return to the UK, the band was finally able to extensively across the UK and the European Union to support the album, including sets at Green Man Festival, End of the Road Festival, and Fusion Festival.

In February 2017, the band signed with Moshi Moshi Records,who released that year’s Kewali EP. The band toured to support the effort, which included their SXSW debut. The band also released a remix album of  Majesty that featured remixes of album material by Ibibio Sound Machine, Meridian Brothers and Oasis‘ Andy Bell. They also released a Dan Carey-produced live version of “Hyperborea.”

The band’s fourth album Levitation was released earlier this year, and the album was largely inspired by the disco, funk and psychedelic sounds out of the Middle East and South Asia in the ’70s — but filtered through mysticism, positivity and sun-drenched imagery. More importantly, the Levitation recording sessions found the band living and working together on the same continent for the first time in about four years. And as a result. the album’s material may arguably be the most unified effort they’ve written and released to date. 

The album’s first single “Marigold” was a trippy bit of psych rock centered around a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths delivered with a Brit Pop-like swagger. Interestingly, the album’s second single, album opening track “Paradise Drive” continues in a fairly similar vein as its predecessor, complete with a motorik groove, shimmering and arpeggiated synths — but the song may arguably bear the most uncanny resemblance to Evil Heat-era Primal Scream of the entire album.  Interestingly, the album’s latest single is the breezy, Sgt. Pepper-like “Olympia.” Centered around fluttering synths, fuzzy and distorted guitars, a propulsive rhythm section and Rasool’s dreamy vocals the track is a seamless and brightly colored synthesis of 60s psychedelia and Brit Pop. 

Directed by Andrea Mae, the recently released video for “Olympia” is a lysergic fever dream, featuring the members of the band having wild visions while in a sauna. “For this video, I was inspired by the ghosts that haunt each of us human beings. I chose to have one of these as a central character of the narrative and to give it a place filled with light, positivity, or perhaps a touch of humour,” Mae explains. “The sauna was an addition to this concept because it is purifying place, a room where you are in company and in a state of peace. I wanted something that looked like a modern day psychedelic cartoon, but mixed with some vintage, experimental footage to try and create a hybrid that looks part 60’s and part now.”​

Andy Clockwise is a Sydney, Australia-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer, who emerged into his homeland’s music scene with the release of his critically applauded, commercially successful debut double album Classic FM. As a result of the album’s success, Clockwise earned opening slots for INXS and The StranglersHugh Cornwell.

After briefly relocating to London, Clockwise eventually wound up in Los Angeles, where he quickly immersed himself into his new hometown’s music scene. Receiving airplay on NPR, KCRW and KROQ, Clockwise also discovered that the successful he attained back in Australia managed to translate rather quickly in the States, as he released a string of successful EPs before the release of his sophomore full-length effort The Socialite. Additionally, since relocating to Los Angeles, Clockwise founded his own record label, Exhibition Records, “to make as much music as possible before we are old,” the Aussie-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineer says in press notes. In fact, labelmates Bella Darling and George Stanford released material on the Motown and Factory Records inspired label.

Last summer Clockwise released The Good Book EP, an effort that featured singles “Open Relationship,” a collaboration with Warpaint‘s Stella Mozgawa and “The Best,” which debuted on the US Speciality Radio Charts at #15 with fellow countrymen The Avalanches. Both singles spent several weeks on the FMQB Radio Charts in North America with “Open Relationship” landing at #1 on KROQ’s fan-voted Locals Only Charts — and the track received airplay on KCRW and Alt 98.7FM in the States, and double J and FBi in Australia.  He’s also toured with The Black Keys, Julian Casablancas, and Warpaint. Along with that Clockwise has been extremely busy working in the studio on multiple releases for artists and composing for film and television, with some of his compositions appearing in Netflix’s WanderlustMeet Me In MontenegroPump The Movie and several others.

Building upon that momentum, the Aussie-born, Los Angeles-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, producer and engineering will be releasing his forthcoming album War Stories in three volumes over the next two years. After dealing with the illness and death of his mother, Clockwise took the time to work on the album’s material in his New South Wales-based studio, writing and recording the album primarily by himself — but with the assistance of co-producer and co-engineer Omar Yakar, Jr. at Boulevard Recording, once Clockwise returned to Los Angeles to finish it. “War Stories is about the wars we put each other through…a pop musical ode to human dysfunction, heartache, sex, grief, revolution, and the death of our youth,” Clockwise explains in press notes. “War Stories was pretty much made by myself in LA/London/Australia while my mum was ill and i was traveling back and forth to look after her and getting back to what I actually enjoy about music which is folk/classic post punk/ pop / my Irish trad music and early electronic house — I gave it a name Warrior pop. Something to stop you from thinking everything is awful. It sounds alright too.” 

Centered around propulsive drumming, atmospheric synths, a sinuous bass line, shimmering guitars, War Stories‘ latest single is the moody and rousingly anthemic, New Wave meets Bruce Springsteen-like “This Town (Used To Be Great).” The song’s heartbroken narrator tells a familiar tale of finding love and failed love in a new town — and as a result, the song is imbued with the lingering  ghosts of past love and the bitter and uncertain feelings it can invoke.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Live Footage: James Blake Performs “I’ll Come Too” on KRCW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic”

Born the son of musician James Litherland, James Blake is an acclaimed London-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, who showed an interest and aptitude in music at a very young age: he received classical piano training as a child, eventually attending Goldsmith, University of London, where he received a degree in Popular Music. While attending Goldsmith, Blake and a friends hosted a series of Bass Society music nights that featured British artists like Distance, Skream and Benga. 

Blake first received recognition for a series of EPs in 2010 — CMYK EP and Klavierwerke and his 2011 self-titled debut, all which were released to critical praise. His sophomore effort, 2013’s Overgrown won that year’s Mercury Prize and a Best New Artist Grammy nomination. 2016’s The Colour in Anything further established Blake’s unique sound and approach, which draws from electronic music, electro pop, R&B and blue-eyed soul. 

Throughout his career, Blake has managed to collaborate with a wide and eclectic variety of contemporary artists including Mount Kimbie, Bon Iver, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonce, Vince Staples, Rosalia, Jay-Z, Oneohtrix Point Never and Frank Ocean — and for his remixes under the moniker Harmonimix. His most recent album, the critically applauded Assume Form finds Blake collaborating with Travis Scott, Metro Boomin, Andre 3000, Moses Sumney, and Rosalia.

Recently, Blake was invited to perform the first-ever live session at KCRW’s brand-new Annenberg Performance Studio. The session aired on KRCW’s Morning Becomes Eclectic hosted by the station’s Musical Director, Jason Bentley.  Joined by his bandmates Rob McAndrews and Ben Assiter, Blake performed material from Assume Form, including the album’s title track, “Barefoot In The Park,” “I’ll Come Too,” and “Don’t Miss It,” as well as a live version of his song “Retrograde” and a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” “I’ll Come Too” is a slow-burning and atmospheric track centered around Blake’s ethereal and plaintive vocals, shimmering synths, stuttering beats and a soaring hook — and while   bearing an uncanny resemblance to classical music, the track finds Blake expressing an achingly passionate yearning and vulnerability.