Rag’n’Bone Man has been around for a few years now, but only really broken through to the mainstream with the first track on the album Human. His unexpected dulcet tones and soulful delivery are in contrast to his hard man look which is more befitting a heavy metal artist.
Originally from East Sussex, Rory Graham spent much of his early career putting on Jungle nights in Brighton and moved into freestyle Hip Hop before discovering his true vocal potential and picking up on the positive response to his unique voice. A highlight was when Rory received a unidentified call. He reluctantly answered the private number to be greeted by the sound of Elton John’s voice waxing lyrical about his talent and praising him for the track Human. Rory is a reluctant celebrity and would much rather focus on the music than embrace the spotlight. We love this album and stand out tracks for us include - Human, Grace and Be the Man.
Elbow returns with their 7th album bringing back a laid back rock vibe that retains much of the Elbow DNA so expect no surprises in this new album. Elbow are renowned for very precisely crafted songs and polished deliveries, and there’s no disappointments here with what feels like a more grown up album with no real pretences or attempts to break the mould. I really like this new album and look forward to getting to know it better. Stand out tracks for me include Gentle Storm with it’s upbeat percussion and yet melancholy vocals and K2 which would be just as at home on a Beta Band ep.
Despite his recent rant against the industry where he announced his retirement. American rapper Lupe Fiasco returns with an unexpected album DROGAS Light. A protege of Kanye West over 10 years ago, he’s earned countless Grammy nominations over the years and has contributed some classic tracks like Kick Push. This album has a very different feel and transcends genres with upbeat tracks like It’s Not Design which would be more at home on an early Daft Punk album and uninspiring and repetitive cliché rap tracks. This album is far too schizophrenic to have any cohesion between tracks and doesn’t really leave a lasting impression on us. Check it out and see what you think, if we haven't put you off.
The much anticipated new album from Ed has obliterated the singles chart with 9 of the 16 tracks in the UK top ten (at the time of writing) and all 16 tracks being in the top 20! It’s a far more pop album than we’ve heard from Ed before with some tracks which sound very different to his traditional breathy guitar tracks. Shape of You could have been a track by Justin Bieber or any other generic pop singer. It’s currently number one in the singles charts so it’s obviously well received, but I can’t help to feel like Ed’s making tracks that sell rather than keeping to his defiant roots of doing his own thing and not following the mainstream. Personally I miss the raw delivery and think the polished delivery detracts from his original appeal. I’m certain his label has intervened far more in this album than previously, but despite the pop factory vibe there are still some glimpses of greatness. For me the stand out tracks are the African Soukous inspired Bibia Be Ye Ye, and Supermarket Flowers which is a clearly recognisable Ed Sheeran template track and a loving dedication to his Gran who died while he was making the album. It will be sure to bring on a few tears from even the hardest bastards.
Washington DC electronica Producers Rob Garza and Eric Hilton bring a Jamaican vibe to their latest release. No strangers to a pounding dub baseline they setup camp in Geejam Studios in Port Antonio to collaborate with Jamaican artists including Racquel Jones. Jones is a former Miss Jamaica contestant and delivers vicious vocals in a stark contrast to her delicate frame in the stand out track Letter to the Editor. This album also sees the return of frequent contributor Notch who was the vocalist on the classic track Richest Man in Babylon. Don’t expect this to be a pure reggae album, it’s as varied as you would expect of any Thievery Corporation album. Quite how they’ve managed to make an album so unique yet remain distinctively 'Thievery Corporation' in flavour is amazing. Personally this is one of my favourite albums so far this year and will remain on my frequent playlist for some time. Stand out tracks for me (although I don’t dislike any of them) include Babylon Falling, Letter to the Editor, Drop your Guns and Road Block. Temple of I & I is out now, and released on Thievery Corporation’s own DC based label ESL.