Music December 6, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

skycover SKYEskye header SKYE
Skye will always be associated with her original group, Morcheeba, even if she is on her third solo record, Back To Now. When she originally broke out on her own, Skye embarked on the singer/songwriter path with her voice as the central focus and guitars and piano playing background roles. On her latest, Skye returns to the Morcheeba style of doing things with beats and manufactured loops backing her instantly recognizable honeyed vocals. No matter what accompanies her, it is Skye’s distinct silky voice that is her calling card. Back To Now is driven by dark electronics, which in turn bring out a moodiness to Skye’s normally sweet tones. The dance-lite “Featherlight” broaches pop territory and the spitting chorus of “Every Little Lie” helps make it stickable. Despite these effort, Back To Now is missing the immediate trip-hop pop that the Morcheeba combination brought so easily out of Skye. After a six-year break from Morcheeba, Skye is back to her day job with that group, so those hits are impending.
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Music October 2, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

Plan B - Album Pack Shotheaderillmanors1 Plan B
Ben Drew’s emotions are always on the extreme end of the intensity scale. The sole powerhouse behind the entity Plan B, the 28-year-old Drew displays forceful passion no matter what the situation. Speaking non-stop about large-scale ideas, Drew’s ambitions sound like the kind of big talk people spout when they have nothing going on. Except that Drew has a lot going on. Anything he ever said he was going to do, Drew did it. Singing his raps with just a guitar? He did that. Number one album? Did it. Acting? Done. Writing and directing a feature film? Done and done.

No matter what the vehicle, Drew’s intensity is relayed potently. Initially introduced to the world as a musician, his 2006 debut album, Who Needs Actions When You Got Words is the kind of album the Parental Advisory sticker was created for. Putting no filter on Actions’ language, Drew lets forth with a flow similar to Eminem. With a distinct British undercurrent of urban street rhythm, Drew paints a stark picture of growing up in England. Four years later, he restyled himself as a Motown crooner with The Defamation Of Strickland Banks.
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Music August 1, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

LIANNE FINAL MATH CENTREDpost Lianne La Havaslianne la havas title Lianne La Havas
England is churning out the youthful soul singers like its economy depends on it. Latest in this assembly line is 22-year-old Lianne La Havas. Likened to Corrine Bailey Rae from that side and Erykah Badu from this side, La Havas is heralded by both Bon Iver and Prince. Plus, her debut, Is Your Love Big Enough? is produced by Aqualung’s master songcrafter, Matt Hales. With her voice alternating between soft and thin to throaty and husky, La Havas’ lyricism has a familiarity to it that lets you correctly guess what the next words are going to be before you hear them. The likeable youngster plays a mean guitar, which effortlessly complements her breezy soul-pop. Going from the stripped back “Lost And Found,” which counts heavily on La Havas’ delivery–that she doesn’t quite present, Big Enough moves to the light mood of “Au Cinema” and the playfulness of “Forget.” Love song and after love song, Big Enough isn’t as big as it could be—but it is growing and La Havas is going to get there in the end.
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Music July 18, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

Photo Credit: Sam Butt

Photo Credit: Sam Butt

kiwanukaheader MICHAEL KIWANUKA
To what extent does your environment define who you end up becoming? In the case of Michael Kiwanuka, this extent would be large. The British folk-soul-jazz singer/songwriter, who is in his mid-twenties, is a product of the affluent Muswell Hill neighborhood in North London, by way of Ugandan parents. He sounds, however, like he’s a senior citizen who grew up in the bowels of Middle America. Terry Callier, Marvin Gaye, Bill Withers, these are some of the names being thrown around when speaking about Kiwanuka’s debut full-length Home Again.

Brushed drums, super-crisp strings, and immaculate woodwinds are the ingredients in the concoction that is Home Again. Over-polished to perfection under the Band Of Bees’ Paul Butler’s production chops Kiwanuka’s vintage tones deliver primarily neutral sentiments far away from the pain and suffering of his main vocal idol, Otis Redding. But then, Muswell Hill doesn’t give you a lot to worry about. It does, however, give you a lot of rope to experience different kinds of music.

“Muswell Hill is a middle class, predominantly white area,” says the ever-affable Kiwanuka. “What I would listen to would be different if I grew up somewhere else. I don’t know if I would ever listen to Dylan or the Beatles if I grew up in Hackney in East London.

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Music June 20, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

postop Emeli Sandetitle95 Emeli Sande
Aren’t we fortunate that Adele has had such success to make music industry types want to find more like her? Enter Emeli Sande. This Scotswoman meets much of the criteria for the thick-throated female singer/songwriter. Having a hand in co-writing her own material, the requisite men issues to give her something to write about, and the strong personality to pull it off, Sande is all set. Her debut, Our Version Of Events kicks off with one of her standout numbers, “Heaven.” Lifting its beat pattern directly from Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy,” this trick doesn’t work against “Heaven.” Rather, it kicks it up to a familiar space in the listener’s mind, making it an instant hit. Breakbeats line most of Our Version Of Events giving it a British flavor. Sande, however, takes her vocal cues from classic, and contemporary, impassioned R&B singers. The soul-fused “My Kind Of Love” is such a powerhouse of emotion it crunches with intensity. Our Version Of Events is not wholly original—neither is Sande’s Salt ‘n’ Pepa hairdo—but don’t hold it against her, she more than makes up for it with her sincerity, plus, she sounds good. filler29 Emeli Sande

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Music May 30, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

Soulsavers <em>The Light and the Dead See</em>

Soulsavers The Light and the Dead See

titlesoulsavers Soulsavers
Mellow beatmasters Soulsavers team up with Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan for their fourth long-player, The Light The Dead See. The duo of Rich Machin and Ian Glover has been featuring complementary vocalists on its last few albums. The contributors have ranged from Mark Lanegan and Spiritualized’s Jason Pierce to Faith No More’s Mike Patton and Butthole Surfers’ Gibby Hanes. This most recent collaboration with Gahan hits the jackpot. Soulsavers max out their soundtrack expertise to create an emotive bed of music over which Gahan lays bare his soul. There is something about the earthbound instrumentation billowing and crashing around Gahan’s overly familiar voice that is bringing out all the skeletons in his closet. He hails in a choir to back him on “Longest Day” and calls on a higher power on “Presence Of God” while dramatic washes sweep him away on “Take Me Back Home.” It starts sounding like the same song on repeat towards the last third of The Light The Dead Sea, but that may be due to Gahan lamenting about similar topics. Nevertheless, the coupling, or rather, tripling, is made in heaven—or it is hell?
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Music May 16, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

postoption11 Black Seedsblacktitle Black Seeds
This New Zealand collective has Jamaican blood pumping through its veins. The fifth album from the Black Seeds, Dust And Dirt, maintains the group’s signature reggae-lite sound. Dust and Dirt moves at a leisurely pace that gives it a ready-to-use quality. The grown-up pop, soul touches, and funk sprinklings strung throughout the reggae structure make Dust and Dirt almost easy listening reggae for non-reggae aficionados. The title track with its familiar reggae-by-numbers rhythms exemplifies the Black Seeds’ ethos. This is punctuated by some non-island-accented vocals that bring an unexpected, but welcome, mainstream flavor to Dust and Dirt. This low-key mood persists for most of Dust and Dirt, hitting particularly relaxed tones on “Wide Open.” Just when you’re getting comfortable with the slow grooves, “Loose Cartilage” explodes with a raunchy guitar intro. This falsely works up the listener’s energy which it then drops to a relaxed ‘70s funk swing. “Rusted Story” works similarly with thrusting horns tempering the crunch of the guitars. The Black Seeds may not be breaking any barriers with Dust and Dirt, but they are providing an excellent excuse to lie around and do nothing all summer but listen to them soundtrack the season.


Music April 3, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

quakerspost Quakersquakersheader Quakers
Quakers’ Ashley Anderson, AKA Katalyst, sits in his studio much like an astronaut in a space shuttle—except without the no-gravity floating aspect. Everything is within stretching reach, and just past that distance is the full expanse of Sydney, Australia, Anderson’s hometown. He might glance out of the window every once in a while, but Anderson seldom makes it out there—except recently. Anderson’s partner-in-Quakers, Geoff Barrow of Portishead (under his Fuzzface guise), brought his family to beach it in Australia, and Anderson went along for the rare experience.

It was an outing like this that brought Anderson and Barrow together a few years back. An annual escape from cold British winters provided the two with the opportunity to cultivate a working friendship. The association spawned their imprint, Invada Records, and birthed Quakers, which is rounded out by Portishead’s engineer, Stuart Matthews AKA 7-Stu-7.

The trio’s self-titled debut, which follows the music Quakers provided for Banksy’s Exit Through The Gift Shop, is the record that global worshippers of American hip hop wish they could make. Put together like a mixtape are over 40 bite-sized, overlapping, shuffle-resistant tracks of inventive, fresh sounding beats. These are embellished by numerous layers of original and borrowed creatively shaped, scratchy samples giving each number a lot of texture that Anderson refers to as “rugged.”


Music February 6, 2012 By Lily Moayeri

lindstrom post Lindstromlind title Lindstrom
This Norwegian producer has the subtlest of touches when it comes to dance music. Six Cups Of Rebel marks Hans-Peter Lindstrom’s fourth album and his most ambitious yet. Alternating between belching basslines and cathedral organs, the seven tracks on Rebel are in turns peak-of-the-night stormers and experimental prog-rock. “De Javu” is a rolling, bumping, hip shaker. With its swirling rhythms “Quiet Place To Live” could easily fit onto an episode of the classic ‘70s show Fame or with its honking beats in the center of a superclub. Hitting the mark in both cases, on cuts like “Call Me Anytime” and the title track, Lindstrom manages to blend both very disparate genres, and that works too. Alas, it doesn’t always work. On album opener, “No Release,” Lindstrom drags out the organ medley and on the album closer, “Hina,” overcooks the wordless blended soundscape going into the 10-minute realm, which can task anyone’s patience.

Music January 31, 2012 By Lily Moayeri


You may recognize this Danish group’s songs before you know who is performing them. The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s “Around The Bend” has blasted repeatedly on iPod Touch commercials, and their music has turned up on television programs such as Mad Men. On their second album, Out Of Frequency, The Asteroids Galaxy Tour’s squeaky-voiced, arms-in-the-air combination of ‘60s pseudo psychedelia, indie immediacy, and big band brassiness pervades. Vocalist Mette Lindberg’s flowing locks are the physical embodiment of the group’s sound, which on tracks such as “Heart Attack” is at its fizzy, bubble pop, ebullient height. Solidifying the physical with the aural, Lindberg’s layered frocks match the many layers in Asteroids’ music. Case in point, on “Ghost On My Head” horn honks, handclaps, and massive percussion are in perfect matching band harmony. Producer and songwriter Lars Iversen hits his effervescent peak on “Fantasy Friend Forever” where organ swirls top off what is already a stew chockfull of funk flavor. Our Of Frequency dares you not to move.


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