Tag: Manchester UK

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Defiantly Embrace Suffering and Autonomy

During the past four years or so, I’ve managed to spill copious amounts of virtual ink covering acclaimed Bristol, UK-based soul singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams.

With “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. At one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece with the video amassing over 1.5 million streams on YouTube.

Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; and Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe with the likes of JOVM mainstays Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her current backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations — currently, James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) — and the album further established Williams’ growing profile across the international soul scene.
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Over the course of the following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received even greater international attention, after smash hit-making producer NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.

With even more attention on them, Williams and company were determined to make the record of their lives. The end result was their Shawn Lee produced effort, last year’s 50 Foot Woman. The album finds the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — white further establishing a sound that generally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take. 50 Foot Woman’s fourth and latest single “The Only Way Out Is Through” is a defiantly strutting song about resilience, self-determination, self-reliance, embracing suffering as part of growth and finding strength and power within yourself, centered around Williams’ powerhouse vocal, a shimmering psych soul groove and forceful horn section.

“I was going through a really tough break up and struggling with the idea of being alone when Hannah said to me ‘All you need now is you,'” the song’s writer Victoria Klewin explains in press notes. “That stuck in my head and the rest of the lyrics followed. The pain of that situation was hugely transformative for me, so I wanted to write a song about actively embracing emotional suffering in order to grow and also finding strength in your own autonomy.”

So there a couple of things you should know — if you were previously unaware:

Hannah Williams can sang. And I think she should be the most famous soul singer in the entire world — right this very second.
The Affirmations can give the Daptone crew a run for their money. They’re one of the best contemporary soul acts in the world. And if you don’t believe me, check out “Still In My Head” off Late Nights and Heartbreak and tell me that I’m wrong. That’s a hill, I’m willing to die on.
The song’s writer, Victoria Klewin couldn’t have imagined how relevant to this year and this particular period of history as she wrote it. We’re going to go through a horrible patch — and there’s no choice but to dig down deep and go through it as bravely as we can. The only way out is through.l.
Williams sings some feminist anthems, y’all.

Shot, edited and directed by Dawn Kelly, Will Nash and Bird Lime Media, the recently released video for “The Only Way Out Is Through” uses some deft video editing and effects as we see three different Hannah Williamses — one, who’s in the throes of heartache, a second, who’s defiant and proud, and the third, coolly drives the car. The video manages to evoke our innermost battle with ourselves and our psyche.

New Video: Tallinn Estonia’s Lexsoul Dancemachine Release a Wild Action Movie-Inspired Visual for Swaggering “Carambola Jelly”

Formed back in 2013, the Talinn, Estonia-based funk sextet Lexsoul Dancemachine — Condor (vocals, congas), Jonas Mattius Sarapuu (keys), Kristen Kütner (keys, guitar, cowbell), Caspar Salo (drums, percussion). Jürgen Kütner (guitar) and Martin Laksberg (bass) — have developed reputation for turning venues into sweaty dance parties across Estonia and the other Baltic States with an infectious, feel good take on funk centered around thumping and propulsive bass lines, syncopated rhymes, infectious dance floor friendly grooves and soulful vocals.

After a successful Kickstarter campaign, the Estonian funk sextet self-produced their debut effort, 2015’s Deus Lex Machina, which went on to receive praise from DJs and listeners alike — with “Beef Grinder” receiving airplay on Craig Charles’ BBC 6 and BBC 2 Funk & Soul Show and then being included on the compilation Craig Charles Funk & Soul Club Vol. 4. Building upon a rapidly growing profile. the act spent the following year extensively touring with key sets at some of the region’s biggest festivals including Talinn Music Week, Positivus, Funky Elephant and Finland’s Pori Jazz Festival.

Mid 2016 saw the release of “Coconuts,” a tropical disco-influenced, funky tune that received attention globally while topping local radio charts. And as a result of the enthusiastic response to the single internationally, the members of Lexsoul Dancemachine were encouraged and continued onward with their new sonic direction,. In 2017, the Estonian funk act went on their first UK tour, playing successful shows in London, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds with a sold-out Craig Charles Funk and Soul Club show at Band on the Wall. Further encouraged by a growing international profile, Lexsoul Dancemachine wrote and recorded their sophomore effort 2018’s Sunny Holiday in Lexico, which was released through Funk Embassy Records.

The rapidly rising Tallinn-based outfit is currently working on their third album — but in the meantime, their latest single “Carambola Jelly” is an infectious and swaggering, funky disco-tinged, club banger centered around a propulsive bass line, shimmering synth arpeggios, four-on-the-floor, Nile Rodgers-like guitar and Condor’s self-assured and sultry vocals. But peel back the layers a bit, and you’ll discover a song that playfully nods at Latin funk, tropicalia, jazz, and Larry Levan house within an expansive, jammy song structure.

Directed by cult Ugandan low budget action movie director Nabwana I.G.G., the recently released video for “Carambola Jelly” is set in the slums of Kampala. While telling a Taken-like tale of a woman being abducted and her loved ones desperately searching for her, we see some surrealistic yet gorgeous moments of profound joy — in which we see people captured by the groove in the middle of action movie tropes. There’s also cameo from the band, too. Of course, the video ends with a happy ending with a romantic reunion of the video’s central couple.

Luna · Fix (Luna Musiq & Effy Lowan)

 

Luna Musiq is a Manchester, UK-based singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer, whose earliest musical memories were of her folks playing The Supremes, Boney M., Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson and 80s pop — all of which were early musical influences. As she got older, New Jack Swing, 90s hip-hop, downtempo electronica, chill-hop and acoustic soul also have influenced the emerging British artist and her work. The Manchester-based artist can trace the origins of her music career to when she was 5: her grandmother had given her a keyboard as a gift — and along with her brother, who had a Casio mini keyboard, they’d create beats, sounds and songs, which they recorded into their beloved tape recorder.

Luna Musiq learned several different instruments during her teens but she stopped playing in her early 20s. Interestingly, Musiq started writing songs in 2017 and went to a a week-0long songwriting trip in the Andalusian Hills, where she met a collection of singers, songwriters and musicians with whom she currently collaborates, as well as  some multi-talented and multi-skilled artists, songwriters, producers, composers and vocalist, who have become mentors.

Since then, the emerging British artist has been writing constantly — both as a solo artist and for other artists, with whom she collaborates with.  Her latest single, “Fix Me,” finds her collaborating with British indie R&B artist Effy Lowan. As Luna Musiq explained to me . Both our music explores topics around hardship to love, trust, betrayal and the difficulties navigating the relationship with yourself as well as others. Having both worked on previous R&B projects, Effy and I came across each other through the same songwriting network. We thought our styles blended well together and decided to collaborate, resulting in Fix being the first release. We’re working on some more joint projects together for the future, but are both solo artists in our own right (I’ve released 6 tracks so far and featured on a few other releases) and often write for other artists too.”

“Fix Me” is an anachronistic R&B/pop song that’s centered around a warm and soulful production featuring twinkling keys, stuttering boom bap beats, Lowan’s effortless vocals  and a swaggering hip-hop verse. And while sounding mischievously anachronistic, with the track sounding as though it could have been released in 1997, 2007, 2017 or just the other day, the track displays earnest songwriting, informed by deeply lived-in personal experience. In this case, the song details the weird mix of co-dependency, need, longing and desire of almost every romantic relationship with a novelist’s attention to detail.

 

 

Over the past couple of years, I’ve spilled quite a bit of virtual ink covering the acclaimed Bristol, UK-based soul singer/songwriter and JOVM mainstay Hannah Williams. Williams can trace some of the origins of her music career to growing up in an extremely musical household: her father  was a musician and  minister. Interestingly, the acclaimed British singer/songwriter and soul artist  learned how to read music before she could read words —  and as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to  Motown and Bill Withers, which wound up transforming her life. As the story goes, Williams’ mother quickly recognized that Williams had a natural gift and encouraged her to join the church choir.

With  “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. At one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece with the video amassing over 1.5 million streams on YouTube.

Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; and Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe with the likes of JOVM mainstays  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her current backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations — currently, James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals) — and the album further established Williams’ growing profile across the international soul scene.

Over the course of the following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received even greater international attention, after smash hit-making producer  NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of  “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a  result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.

With even more attention on them, Williams and company were determined to make the record of their lives. The end result was their Shawn Lee produced effort, last year’s  50 Foot Woman. The album finds the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — white further establishing a sound that generally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.

Much like countless other bands across the world, Williams and her Affirmations have been enjoying connecting with their fans and followers in a whole new way during the past few months of COVID-19 imposed quarantines and lockdowns. Putting some of their musical direction in the hands of their loyal following for the first time, the band put a cover song choice to a vote — and the result was the challenge of covering Nirvana’s classic, smash-hit “Heart-Shaped Box.”

Naturally, because the acclaimed JOVM mainstays operate in a completely different genre and style than Nirvana, they craft a slow-burning, horn-driven take on the grunge rock classic that retains the brooding and uneasy quality of the original — while putting the song into a contemporary context. Of course, what the Hannah Williams and The Affirmations cover should remind the listener of a fundamental fact: great compositions and great songs can translate across different genres and styles if embraced and adapted with care, so that the intent and purpose of the original isn’t messed with or altered too much.

Through countless back and forth with their mixing engineer and rapid advancements to each of their home recording setups, the band managed to record and sculpt the song despite lockdown restrictions. And it was done in a way that sounds as though the band were all in the studio together.

“This release is an ode to the world and its struggles” the band says, “a nod to the past but also a move into the future, and most of all a tribute to all the amazing people who continue to not only support our band but also all the important messaging and movements we try to encourage through our art and influence.”
 

 

 

 

 

New Video: Introducing the “120 Minutes” era MTV-like Sounds of Auckland’s Lexytron

Lexy is a Manchester, UK-born, Auckland, New Zealand-based singer/songwriter and guitarist who claims Greek, Persian and English heritage — or as she described herself as a young girl, “Half Greek, half Persian, half English.”Much like countless other musicians, her passion for music was stoked when she learned piano and violin as a girl.The British-born, Kiwi-based singer/songwriter and musician is the creative mastermind behind the emerging recording project Lexytron. 

Lexytron’s full-length debut Something Blue was recorded in London with City Reign’s Mike Grice and the album reportedly finds the emerging singer/songwriter crafting material with roaring riffs, lush strings and soaring choral arrangements in a  way that seamlessly meshing rock and classical music — while being an an indie rock girl’s guide to love, loss and lust. The album’s latest single “Blue” is a decidedly 120 Minutes-era MTV-like alt rock song centered around jangling power chords, soaring strings and the British-born, Kiwi-based artist’s plaintive vocals. 

Directed by Lexy and Mike Grice, the recently released video is an intimate, DIY video of the emerging singer/songwriter on the shore of Lake Pukaki, located on the New Zealand’s South Island. 

New Video: Kill Your Boyfriend’s Horror Movie-Inspired Visuals for “Elizabeth”

Since their formation back in 2011, the Venice, Italy-based industrial psych act Kill Your Boyfriend, comprised of Matteo Scarpa (vocals, guitar) and Antonio Angeli (drums), have developed a cold and sinister sound that manages to be simultaneously atmospheric and pummeling. Or as the Italian duo described in an interview, their sound is “a killer that came in the night, violent and cold.”

Over the past few years, the Venice-based industrial psych act has released a handful of singles and an album, which allowed them to tour across the European Union with the likes of Zola Jesus, The KVB, Civil Civic and Zu among others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Kill Your Boyfriend have shared a stage with JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and they played Manchester‘s The Psych Rising Festival alongside Gnod and The Telescopes.

Officially released today through Depths Records, the duo’s latest single “Elizabeth” is a chilly track that finds them further honing their sound as it features elements of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails-like industrial rock, A Place to Bury Strangers and Sisters of Mercy-like noisey shoegaze centered around a motorik groove, Angeli’s mathematically precise four-on-the-floor drumming and Scarpa’s desperate and anguish-filled howls. 

Hot on the heels of the single’s release, the recently released classic Italian horror movie-inspired, Blau!-directed video follows a woman whose obsession with her lover gradually leads her to a world of madness and feverish hallucinations, which feature the members of Kill Your Boyfriend menacing her. The woman’s obsession and hallucinations eventually creates an ironic and horrifyingly tragic ending — of which she can never escape. 

Since their formation back in 2011, the Venice, Italy-based industrial psych act Kill Your Boyfriend, comprised of Matteo Scarpa (vocals, guitar) and Antonio Angeli (drums), have developed a cold and sinister sound that manages to be simultaneously atmospheric and pummeling. Or as the Italian duo described in an interview, their sound is “a killer that came in the night, violent and cold.”

Over the past few years, the Venice-based industrial psych act has released a handful of singles and an album, which allowed them to tour across the European Union with the likes of Zola Jesus, The KVB, Civil Civic and Zu among others. Adding to a growing profile, the members of Kill Your Boyfriend have shared a stage with JOVM mainstays Preoccupations and they played Manchester‘s The Psych Rising Festival alongside Gnod and The Telescopes.

Officially released today through Depths Records, the duo’s latest single “Elizabeth” is a chilly track that finds them further honing their sound as it features elements of Ministry and Nine Inch Nails-like industrial rock,A Place to Bury Strangers and Sisters of Mercy-like noisey shoegaze centered around a motorik groove, Angeli’s mathematically precise four-on-the-floor drumming and Scarpa’s desperate and anguish-filled howls. The B side is a remix by Preoccupations’ Daniel Christiansen, retains Scarpa’s vocals and Angeli’s four-on-the-floor drumming but while adding a muscular. industrial clang and clatter to the proceedings.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

With the release of his debut effort Shivers, the Manchester, UK-based electronic music producer MindMassage quickly emerged into the national and international electronic music scenes: Shivers featured material that landed on Spotify’s USA Viral 50, Canada’s Viral 50 and R&B UK playlist. Building upon a growing profile, the rapidly rising British electronic music producer will be releasing his sophomore album Emotion later this year, and the album will reportedly further establish his ethos of opening himself to new concepts, as well position himself as a unique artist on the contemporary electronic music scene.

“Indecisive,” Emotion‘s latest single is a breezy and vibrant, pop-leaning, club anthem, centered around tweeter and woofer rocking beats, shimmering reverb-drenched synth arpeggios, soulful horn blasts and ethereal yet soulful vocal contributions from Rx and Joshua Benjamin. And while sonically managing to recall Off the Wall-era Michael Jackson and Octo Octa‘s Between Two Sides, the song is essentially an alluring and flirty, late night come on.

 

 

 

New Video: JOVM Mainstays Hannah Williams and The Affirmations Release a Slow-Burning Power Ballad

I’ve written a bit about Bristol, UK-based singer/songwriter and soul artist Hannah Williams over the past couple of years. The Bristol-based JOVM mainstay can trace some of the originals of her musical career to growing up in an extremely musical household — her father was a musician and minister. And as you may recall, Williams learned how to read music before she could read words — and as as the story goes, when she was a young girl, her mother introduced her to Motown and Bill Withers, which wound up transforming her life. Interestingly, Williams’ mother quickly recognized that a young Williams had talent and encouraged her to join the church choir. 

With the release of “Work It Out,” off 2012’s full-length debut Hill of Feathers, Williams and her first backing band The Tastemakers, quickly emerged into national and international soul circles with the track receiving attention across the blogosphere and airplay on radio stations across the States, Australia and the European Union. Interestingly, at one point “Work It Out” was one of the most downloaded songs in Greece and the video has amassed over 1.5 million streams on YouTube. Building upon a growing profile, Williams played sets across the European festival circuit, including stops at Shambala Festival, Valley Fest, Wilderness Festival, Cambridge Jazz Festival and Larmer Tree Festival, as well as some of Europe’s most renowned clubs, including Hamburg, Germany‘s Mojo; Manchester, UK’s Band on the Wall; Camden, UK‘s Jazz Cafe and others with the likes of JOVM mainstays  Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings, and Charles Bradley, as well as Cat Power.

Williams’ 2016 Michael Cotto-produced sophomore album Late Nights and Heartbreak was the first recorded output with her current backing band, the Bristol-based soul outfit, The Affirmations, currently comprised of James Graham (organ, piano and Wurlitzer), Adam Holgate (guitar), Adam Newton (bass), Jai Widdowson-Jones (drums), Nicholas Malcolm (trumper), Liam Treasure (trombone), Victoria Klewin (baritone saxophone) and Hannah Nicholson (backing vocals). The album continued to build upon Williams’ growing profile in soul music circles, thanks in part to the Dusty Springfield-like torch song “Tame in the Water” and the psychedelic soul-tinged edition of “Dazed and Confused.” In fact, the album was one of my personal favorites that year.  

Over the course of the following year, Hannah Williams and The Affirmations received even greater international attention, after smash hit-making producer  NO I.D. sampled the heart aching hook of  “Late Nights and Heartbreak” for Jay-Z‘s “4:44.” “It was an incredible catalyst,” Williams says in press notes, “as a change in our collective career, and getting a global audience. Suddenly, there were millions of predominantly American hip-hop fans listening to my voice, going ‘Is this from the ’60s? Is she dead?’” Unsurprisingly, as a  result of the attention they received from “4:44,” the rising soul act spent the better part of 2018 on the most extensive touring schedule of their collective careers, including stops at SummerStage, Rumsey Playfield, Central Park, Brooklyn Bowl, the Toronto Jazz Festival and across the European Union, where they expanded their fanbase.

With growing attention on them, the members of the rising soul act were determined to make the record of their lives. And in order to do so, they recruited Shawn Lee, an acclaimed funk/soul artist and producer to work on Williams’ third album 50 Foot Woman. Slated for release this Friday through Record Kicks Records, the album reportedly finds the members of the band accurately capturing the visceral power of their live show on wax — all while further establishing a sound that equally draws from classic soul, psych soul and funk, with a subtly modern take.

“50 Foot Woman,” the album’s title track and first single was a strutting and explosive stomp that sonically was one part Ike and Tina Turner-era classic soul and one part fed-up tell-off to haters, naysayers and others and one part Daptone Records-like soul — with a fed-up narrator, who has finally had enough with the bullshit and games. But at its core, the song is a contemporary feminist anthem of a strong woman being done wrong and who figures out a way to survive and then thrive. The album’s second and latest single “I Feel It” is a primarily a slow-burning ballad, centered around Williams’ expressive powerhouse vocals, twinkling keys, a sinuous bass line, a horn section that can compete with the Dap Kings and a production that’s effortlessly old-timey without resorting to soulless mimicry or homage. But more important, Williams is superstar in the making — she can pair soulful vocals with gut-punching earnestness in a way that’s rare in this age.

Directed and filmed by BD, the recently released video for “I Feel It” is an incredibly stylized and cinematic shot visual featuring the band performing the song in a 60s-like studio space, complete with some brooding close ups of the members of the band.