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Album Reviews, Audio Feedback: Music Blogjams

2011: Previously Unmentioned Albums Worthy of Mention

Seeing as one third of the year has already passed us by, here’s a quick round-up of some key LPs Blogjammin has woefully neglected to review in 2011 thus far:

Space Is Only Noise – Nicolas Jaar                8/10

I really should have got around to reviewing this grand experiment in mind-transfixing minimalism by now, especially when I consider the amount of ear-time I’ve dedicated to it these past few months. There aren’t many albums of this breed, which ponce around with vast empty spaces of next to no noise, that I really enjoy all that much – hell, I even find painstaking masterpiece Dark Side of the Moon a touch pretentious… alright I know, please don’t hurt me – so US techno producer Nicolas Jaar receives a big fat thumbs up from me for crafting a debut as thoroughly absorbing as it is patiently revealing.

Fantastic Track – Keep Me There

(Space Is Only Noise – Nicolas Jaar. Label: Circus Company)

Discodeine – Discodeine                                5/10

The album itself ain’t nothing special – a generally uninspiring synchronisation of house and disco – but by-gum, how good is this single featuring of all people, the Cocker himself? Since you’re probably reading to find this sort of shit out, I’ll tell you… well, like I said, it’s very good.

But don’t take my word for it, find out for yourself…

Fantastic Track – Synchronise (Featuring Jarvis Cocker)

(Discodeine – Discodeine. Label: Dirty/Pschent)

Wounded Rhymes – Lykke Li                       7/10

Swedish artist Lykke Li’s second LP is certainly an improvement on her first, but it’s still a mixed bag. She’s such an infectious bundle of energy when she gets all showy and stompy, as on I Follow Rivers, Get Some and Rich Kids Blues, but unfortunately some of her more yearning, wounded numbers dawdle on a bit too long. She can definitely crank out a melody or two though, and overall this album displays enough originality to suggest she’s only going to get better from here on in.

Fantastic Track –  Get Some

(Wounded Rhymes – Lykke Li. Label: LL Recordings)

The Bird and the Beat – Munk                       8/10

Meanwhile, there’s nothing too original about Munk’s methods. All you need is a sultry selection of female vocalists from the world over (the Birds), and then back them up with the eager snaps of house-disco bass n drums (the Beats). Think LCD Soundsystem crossed with Justice or Daft Punk, with an unashamed tinge of LFO. But sexy. Yeeeeaahhhh… really damned sexy. To listen to Munk’s 3rd album is to go on a vibrant expedition of global colour and character, spiced up with all manner of synths, xylophones and drum machines to keep you grooving on through. Let there be no doubt, The Bird and the Beat cements Mathias Modica’s reputation as the damn funkiest Munk 2011 has to offer.

Fantastic Track – Rue de Rome

(The Bird and the Beat – Munk. Label: Gomma)

House of Balloons – The Weeknd                  5/10

Fan of contemporary RnB? Good for you. Please allow me to point you towards The Weeknd. These cocksure Torontonians are producing some of the most innovative sounds to come out of your beloved genre in a long time. But since I tend to shirk away from this genre at all costs, in much the same way as I dodge daytime Radio 1, I’d be wary before taking my word as any kind of authority. And, although I’m partial to the trembling bass surges and swelling synths that bolster the egotistical bragging of the really quite frightening male lead, this album still hasn’t quite grown on me. But that doesn’t mean it won’t you. After all, it could just be my personal RnB hang-ups holding me back. Come to think of it though, it could also be the lyrics. “I’ll get on it after four more sessions of this drug on the floor, shoulda fucked you raw, but I fuckin pulled….” Hmm, skipity-skip, you get the picture. But hey, if you like women, drugs, or parties, and don’t mind cocking an ear whilst someone spouts out lurid lines about how expert they are at all three, this LP might be for you.

However, in the end I have to tip my lager-stained trilby to The Weeknd. House of Balloons is as brash and confident a debut as you’ll hear all year. And they’ve definitely got a talent for mixing. AND it’s available for free download. So you might as well float your cursor on down to the link below. You’ve nothing to lose. Except maybe your patience.

Fantastic Track – House of Balloons – Glass Table Girls

(House of Balloons – The Weeknd. Label – Self Released)

http://the-weeknd.com/ For free RnB, click me!

You Stand Uncertain – FaltyDL                    7/10

Yes FaltyDL, now you mention it, I do stand somewhat uncertain. I mean, what the hell is behind the name FaltyDL? Explanations please. I’m lost. Also, please tell me why you can’t settle on one mood long enough for it to be truly captivating. Many of these tracks would sit well amongst others of similar ilk but as a collection come across, for wont of a better word, uncertain. Examples? How about Brazil, featuring Lily MacKenzie. This song unwinds like a gorgeous massage, with Burial-esque 2-step shuffles sweeping it along. But after this my brain goes into abrupt meltdown mode at the scrambling drums cracking through the next track, Eight Eighteen Ten. I like both songs, but perhaps not the best bed-fellows. I recently adored Siriusmo’s genre-swapping eclecticism on his ‘Mosaik’ LP because, despite its squirmy tendencies making it difficult to pin down, it still adhered to one golden rule: that of the PARTY. FaltyDL is happy to bring the party too, but it’s often a surprise party, just after you’ve rather settled into a song with eyes closed, nice cup of tea and a self-satisfied grin. But hey, maybe that’s the whole idea; to keep the audience on their toes. And despite being on my toes, the slick production certainly keeps these toes a-tapping.

Fantastic Track – Brazil (Featuring Lily MacKenzie)

(You Stand Uncertain – FaltyDL. Label: Planet Mu)

Return of 4eva – Big K.R.I.T.                            8/10

The award for most amusing opening to an album so far this year has to go to US producer/rapper Big K.R.I.T, and his inspired first track R4 Intro. All 1.46 mins of it. You know a dude has a sense of humour when his dreams of sitting at the top of the Hip-Hop table, supported by aptly overblown crowd samples, are abruptly interrupted by reality, in the form of his alarm clock and a hollering housemate. Getting shades of Michael Jackson’s intro to Black and White from this one, I’m telling y’all. Despite this reality-check, the signs are good for this “boy from the south”, who is releasing his second FREE mixtape in a matter of years, on the back of last year’s ‘K.R.I.T Wuz Here’. If Return of 4eva is anything to go by, he’s well on his way to turning those wittily deployed crowd samples into the real deal.

I find it easy to warm to Big K.R.I.T, even if on the front cover he does look suspiciously like Patrice Evra sporting a goatee. His rhymes don’t spit attitude in your face like others of his brethren, and in fact his arguments only become forceful when he’s trying to distance himself from the aggression so often associated with Stateside rap. “Tell the world, I don’t wanna be another nigger” he pleads at one point, not angrily, but with a rather charming unpretentious humility. Of course, having said that, he does devote plenty of time to rapping about the usual shit, as when “rotatin ma tyres” in Rotation or when whipping out his major moves on a girl in Get Right. But it’s all so much more ingratiating than I expected and this, in large part, is down to his talents as a producer. The beats on here are a marvel, programmed not to whip you into a fury, but rather to sit you back, tokeing on a doobie. He’s a choice sampler too. Amtrak for example, borders on the ridiculous, as K.R.I.T. lays down a blasé beat kept chugging along by tooting steam engines, whilst he glides through an endless line of sexual innuendos about locomotives.

I’ll be honest with you, I was caught off-guard by this album. Not usually my bag, but the production is so smooth, the rhythms and beats so well synced, and Big K.R.I.T’s casual self-awareness so endearing, that it’s popped up as one of my picks of the year. Download for free, follow the link below.

Fantastic Track –  R4 Intro

(Return of 4eva – Big K.R.I.T. Label – Cinematic Music Group)

http://returnof4eva.com/

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