Category: New Tunes

APRIL: GREY Area by Little Simz

Well, well, well. What a little belter this is.

Little Simz AKA Simbiatu “Simbi” Abisola Abiola Ajikawo (can see why she went for the shortened nickname) has been knocking around for a few years. I heard a couple of tracks that I really liked without falling in love with. She did stand out from her peers by seeming less interested in the beats of grime and more the classic beats of old skool hip hop.

So I admit it – I initially dismissed her a bit as a promising UK hip hop like a million before her that was full of promise but hadn’t quite delivered THAT track.

And then I heard OFFENCE. Jesus H Christ. What a ridiculous beast of a track that is. It became a genuine crossover that was being played on 6Music AND Radio 1 AND Capital (which I know, thanks to my kids).

Still, I approached this album expecting 10 tracks of more of the same. What I wasn’t expecting was such a rich, inventive brew, so full of creativity and painted on such a wide canvas.

Influences? Oh man, where to start? The nu-soul meets hip hop of Anderson .Paak and K-Os (of old!) on tracks like WOUNDS. SELFISH is basically a gorgeous RnB pop song but with a rap holding it together. VENOM’s flow feels like a grime style and BOSS is a great track 2 choice, smacking you right in the face. FLOWERS could be a collaboration with Cinematic Orchestra, and obvs Michael Kiwanuka is always a seal of quality.

So much to love on here – the live band and instrumentation gives it a blaxploitation film score vibe. Everywhere there are surprises – fresh samples, unusual arrangements. This is a really ambitious album made to aim high, and it nearly completely delivers.

Finally – oh joy of joy – it’s got NO SKITS and it’s a tight, punch 35 minutes long. How many hip hop albums could learn from this?

I notice she right at the top of the bill of one of the Coachella stages. She’s that good. Not surprised the US is noticing.

Any criticisms? Maybe her delivery and flow is a little bit monotonous at times, but lyrically it’s bloody brilliant – and she works around that by making each song such a uniquely constructed entity.

So yeah. I LOVE this album and I’m sure it’ll end up in my top 10 at the end of the year. How about you, Brothers?

March: Crushing by Julia Jacklin

 

I can’t pretend that I had even heard of Julia Jacklin until a month ago but Crushing makes me feel like I know her intimately.  I often pick an album from Metacritic’s highest scored new albums and commit to spending some real time with it. This year, I have found 3 albums in this way that I adore and considered for AOTM. I have decided to go with Crushing by Julia Jacklin as I find it the most emotionally connecting of the three. The instrumentation, production and arrangements take a back seat to hauntingly powerful yet understated lyrics. There are more upbeat moments on the album than the opening track that I’ve linked above but they are still melancholy and moody in their atmosphere.

This is the kind of album that makes me reconsider actions, words and relationships from my past. I find it rare that an album makes me feel as much as this album does and I love it for this.

The opening track is called ‘Body’ and is a beautifully written remembering of a difficult relationship captured in a 5 minute track of simplistic beauty. The story telling is compelling and affecting and paints pictures that you connect with instantly (or at least I do). Following this track the word ‘body’ appears in more than half of the remaining tracks and marks and openness and intimacy that makes me feel like I might just love Julia.

I don’t want to say much more than I have other than that I hope you connect with this in the same way that I have.