Wednesday, 21 September 2011

More New Music - From 90's Artists...

Like I stated last time, there some great music coming out if you look hard enough; the irony is that these three acts were household names in the 1990s and all have new albums either out or soon to be released; Monica, Mint Condition, and Johnny Gill.
Show' the kids how it's done, fellas...

Johnny Gill - In The Mood (2011)

It’s been 16 long years since award winning, R&B veteran Johnny Gill released a solo album (1996's Let's Get the Mood Right), but now he's back with a new single In The Mood, the first track from his forthcoming album, Still Winning on Notifi Records.
In The Mood was written by Gill, Ralph Stacey and also Dave Young, who has composed hits for Faith Evans, Toni Braxton and Mary J. Blige. Gill stated:
"It’s a blessing to be able to record again after 16 years and I’m excited for my fans to enjoy the new music."
With over 30 years in the business, including several platinum hits and awards, Gill recently told Singersroom R&B magazine that he just remains true to himself.
"I don’t know if I have a formula. I just know most importantly I have to do and be me. One of the things I have been battling with while recording this record is [that] I like so many types of music but you think I know what people are going to expect and what they want. All this is put into a place and then somebody said to me “you have to do you and where you are today that is what it is.” That is what people are going to gravitate and connect with. If you want to do something a little bit more different than what you have done in the past, you just have to speak to a truth of what you’re doing. Everybody else will be able to connect to it."
My, my, my, Johnny Gill is looking like he's swum a few laps in the fountain of youth on a relay team with Prince, Q-Tip, Common, Pharrell, and Raphael Saadiq in the video for the tune. Aged 45, JG is giving those young whippersnappers a run for their money and honeys, but outside of Johnny providing more proof that black don't crack, the video is pretty formulaic. I feel like I've seen this video a few times before in the '90s, but that's OK with me because it's tastefully done and, although not the most exciting, it works for this song.
The new album will be released 11th October, featuring production by Grammy Award Winning Producers Troy Taylor, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Bryan Michael Cox and Wyclef Jean.

Mint Condition - Caught My Eye (2011)

Mint Condition are a legendary band who should need no introdcution. The chart-topping and globe-trotting R&B mainstay, who were discovered by music moguls Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis and were on their now-defunct label, Perspective Records
Well now they're back with a new album, 7, their first since the 2008 release E-Life. Recently signing to Shanachie Records, the new LP was released April 5th this year, just in time to celebrate their 20th Anniversary. Currently on tour with Prince, the R&B super group has released the first single off the album, titled Caught My Eye, a two-stepper that does its best to recreate that signature sound they made their staple two decades ago.
I have to admit that I didn’t pay this track enough attention when it initially surfaced, like a fool. But, repeated plays have unlocked a groove thats up there with Mint Condition’s best (i.e. the Jam & Lewis years). It’s an addictive midtempo number featuring the hallmarks of that classic MC sound; live instrumentation, memorable vocals, mature lyrics and catchy songwriting. As a person who makes no qualms about hiding their appreciation for R&B music, I’ll gladly spread the word on MC's new tune.

Monica Feat. Lil' Kim & Rick Ross - Anything (To Find You) (2011)

Monica is back with a new single called Anything (To Find You), and was  for me probably one of the most infectious songs of the summer.
Monica, for the uninitiated, has sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, including over five million units in the US alone. With a career lasting over 15 years, she became the first artist to top the US Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart in the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s. In 2010, Billboard listed Monica at number 24 on its list of the Top 50 R&B and Hip Hop Artists of the past 25 years.
Anything (To Find You), produced by Missy Elliott, rides atop a familiar beat to hip-hop heads, Notorious B.I.G’s classic tune, Who Shot Ya? Ironically, it features two artists who were definitely influenced by Big Poppa, himself -  Rick Ross and Lil Kim.
Rozay even mimics Biggie’s lyrical cadence on the track, but surprisingly, it’s the Queen Bee who comes through with the standout verse, referencing Who shot ya, but putting a love rather than hate slant on it.
Overall, this is a great R&B/hip-hop song for Monica and has got major airplay on US radio.
Be on the lookout for her upcoming album, New Life, when its released on the 29th November.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Think All New Music Is Rubbish? Think Again

Whenever I look up a tune now on YouTube, chances are that the comments section will contain remarks along the lines of:
'Music now ain't as good as it was in the old days.'
'No-one can sing worth a damn now, its all Autotune.'
'Its all about looks not talent.'
Granted, the charts are mostly best avoided, but go off the beaten path, dig a little deeper... and find that beneath the surface layers of pasteurised schlock, good music is still being made. Here are just three examples; I will be presenting many more over the course of time.

Its time to throw the playlist away...

Janelle Monáe - Tightrope (feat. Big Boi) (2010)

The first official single from her second album ArchAndroid (Suites II and III). The single premiered on February 11 on the Pitchfork Media website, earning an immediate 9/10 rating and their coveted "Best New Music" tag with the companion song entitled Cold War debuting the following day via Monáe's official website. The official Wondamix version features rappers B.o.B and Lupe Fiasco.

Discovered by OutKast's Big Boi, Monáe founded the Wondaland Arts Society with like-minded young artists and made appearances on Outkast's 2006 album Idlewild, where she is featured on the songs Call the Law and In Your Dreams. Big Boi told his friend Sean Combs about Monáe, whom he had not heard of before. Combs promptly visited her MySpace page, and according to Bad Boy Records' A&R Daniel 'Skid' Mitchell in an interview with HitQuarters, the label boss loved it straight away."He felt like she has something that was different - something new and fresh."
Monáe signed to Bad Boy in 2006. The label's chief role was in facilitating her exposure on a much broader scale rather than developing the artist and her music, because in the words of Mitchell, "She was already moving, she already had her records - she had a self-contained movement." Combs and Big Boi wanted to take their time and build her profile organically and allow the music to grow rather than put out "A hot single which everyone jumps on, and then they fade because it's just something of the moment."
Monáe released the video on March 31, 2010. It was directed by acclaimed director Wendy Morgan. In the music video she portrays an inpatient that possesses the power to walk through walls and later she catches the 'crazy/ dancing feet' with her friends. Monáe talked about the video saying " Tightrope takes place at the Palace of the Dogs. A lot of the greats were admitted into this place, like Charlie Parker and Jimi Hendrix. We wanted to keep it raw and funky - just having it in an insane asylum made it that much cooler to me." The video references experimental filmmaker Maya Deren's iconic film Meshes of the Afternoon (1943).
Another artist I knew nothing about until I heard this track on Craig Charles Soul All-Nighter; I think this girl has 'star' written all over her. She's clearly been influenced by James Brown, even Michael Jackson (in his Off The Wall period), and has that TLC-like quality of coming off like a lady without having to resort to sexist clichés. Tightrope is a certified floor-filler, proof that you can make a modern Rn'B sound without having to resort to tired old ideas and Autotune.

When you come back from having your baby, Beyonce, this girls gonna be sitting in your throne.
You ain't shifting her.

The Fantastics! feat. Sulene Fleming - Somewhere.. Finally (2011)

Summer never properly came, but this slice of slick soul let us dream of a perfect one. From The Fantastics! (the excalamtion mark is part of the band's name), featuring the smoky yet sensual vocal delights of micro diva, the wonderful Sulene Fleming.
The interplay between Fleming and the imperious tones of tenor sax-man Mark Norton will delight the listener over this slower Groovin' - style vibe. A subtle taster for their forthcoming new album. The Fantastics! once again demonstrate their versatility on this refreshing and golden tinged love song ripe for radio.
Never really comfortable with tightly defined and rigid musical pigeon holes, The Fantastics! have always been pushing the boundaries and honing their musical eclecticism since before their first Freestyle releases back in 2008. As a primer for their second Freestyle album All The People, released August 2011, 
Teaming up with stunning vocalist Sulene Fleming, on the recommendation of DJ, promotor and all round musical guru Lubi Jovanovich, the band set to writing with Sulene (who first came to attention on The New Mastersounds first album, with the funk club banger Turn This Thing Around) and the results speak for themselves. Somewhere Finally is a concise, catchy and beautiful summer love song, that's dripping with deep soul, horn hook lines, Sulenes' soaring vocals and a shimmering vibe that has already seen this track become a highlight of The Fantastics live shows already. 
All the People provided the band the opportunity to blend together their favourite influences into something that defies classification; is it disco, soul-jazz, fusion or organ funk? Well - it's all that and more..and just like the album it's taken from - this busts wide open the rigidly defined and often claustrophobic boundaries some people would prefer music to be trapped in.
That approach is not for The Fantastics!

Adele - Rolling In The Deep (2010)

Written and recorded by Adele for her second studio album, 21. The song was written by Paul Epworth and Adele, who described it as a "dark blues-y gospel disco tune". It was first released on 29 November 2010 as the lead single off the album.
The song has been acclaimed by music critics. The single has peaked at number one in some countries in Europe, as well in Canada and the United States. As of August 2011, Rolling in the Deep had sold over 4.93 million copies in the United States, making it her best-selling single outside her home country, topping her previous best-selling Chasing Pavements.
Rolling in the Deep has reached number one in eleven countries and top five in several other countries. The song has also become Adele's first number-one song in the U.S., reaching the top spot of four Billboard charts. It spent seven weeks atop the Billboard Hot 100, the longest-running number-one single of 2011 so far. In July, the video was nominated for seven MTV Video Music Awards nominations, making it the most nominated music video of the year. The video won three awards: Best Editing, Best Cinematography andBest Art Direction.
But enough of the facts and figures; what do I think of the song? Well, I missed this song when it was first released (primarily as I don't follow 'the charts') and happen to catch it on Craig Charles' Soul All Nighter on BBC Radio 2 over the bank holiday weekend.
Talk about grab my attention! A deep, soulful, inspirational foot-stomper that I can't stop listening to. Her vocals are a little reminiscent of Brenda Russell's; high praise from a big B.R. fan like myself.
Blue-eyed Soul in the Dusty Springfield tradition.