Tag: Allan Rayman

The A List: 12th March

logomakr_0q2tab

Every Sunday we post our top 10 favourite tracks around right now on what we call the A List. It’s our chart; and it reflects the full range of musical genres and styles around.

This week’s list is heavy on the dance and r’n’b; we’re still waiting for the first few big guitar records of the year to come and hit us between the ears.

So here it is for your listening pleasure: this week’s A List:

1. Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) (New Entry)
As with Four Tet’s Opus remix, Jungelknugen refuses to go where you expect it to, but continues to delight throughout. Building synths, layer upon layer of electronic waves and some out and out hands-in-the-air moments; stonkingly good.

2. Jacob Banks – Unholy War (New Entry)

Birmingham-born R’n’B singer Jacob Banks provides his own stunning contribution t0 the soul/gospel/r’n’b revival that is underway. With a rich, deep and powerful vocal performance, excellent production and a more modern, electronic-laced chorus, Unholy War ticks all sorts of pleasurable boxes.

3. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

Australian singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell provides a slightly uncomfortable listen; for all it’s Simon & Garfunkel splendour, there is a layer of mystery that hangs over the melody. The song is both speaking of a paradise that is tangible and truly beautiful in the present, but also of a place that has yet to come in the afterlife.

4. Nightdubbing – Frontline

With perhaps the funkiest bass part of 2017 driving this track along, Frontline meanders between elements of house and disco to create what would be the perfect soundtrack to a day out in the sun. It’ll certainly work on the dance floor, but there’s enough to make this an excellent listen on headphones or – ideally -at a house party or barbecue.

5. Elliot Moss – Closedloop (New Entry)

New York singer-songwriter Elliot Moss finds himself firmly in the James Blake comparison zone with Closedloop, a creeping, discomforting, electro crawl of a pop track.

6. R I T U A L – Drown The Lovers

A sparse r’n’b inspired track with elements of hip hop, this time from London-based group RITUAL . On Drown The Lovers, the minimalist backing track allows the delicate and emotional vocals to flourish. Add in an impressive chorus that’s very much in keeping with the understated but stirring vibe, and you’ve got a pretty impressive track.

7. Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP) 

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta’s track  gets a reworking from his fellow Glaswegian – and stunningly good DJ – Jackmaster. Ripe for inclusion at every dance festival in 2017, this is a track that’ll get inside your head and stay there.

8. NoMBe – Young Hearts

Young Hearts is an unusual track; it could easily be classified as electro pop or r ‘n’ b. But its most baffling element is that – despite its title, luscious guitars, sensual synths and falsetto vocals – it’s a weirdly asexual track. In different hands this could have been a sexy affair, but the standoff-ish element only adds to its appeal.

9. Allan Rayman – Shelby Moves

Pointed lyrics, lurking, ominous beats and some awesome shifts in direction, this song beautifully captures Rayman’s unique selling points.

10. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (Second week; down 5)

Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

This Week: 8 fresh songs to tickle your ears

logomakr_76k0fb

Our Tuesday begins with the This Week Playlist, some new songs that we’ve heard a couple of times and feel need a wider audience.

It’s a bumper edition this week: one of the songs was meant to be a Track of the Week last week but I ran out of time to post it. There’s also been some really interesting releases out this week, with – yet more – pretty impressive R ‘n’ B tracks.

So here it is. Enjoy. Let the music tickle your ears.

Tall Tall Trees – Being There

We’ve featured Tall Tall Trees before on the blog, and he released his album Freedays in February. Being There is a slightly different sound to former Track of the Day Freedays; I think this sounds more like an upbeat indietronica track with a Kings of Leon style chorus.  The psychedelic infused indie folk of Freedays does make a reappearance towards the end, in – my favourite section of the track – the playful breakdown that keeps meandering off in different directions.

NoMBe – Young Hearts

This was meant to be a Track of the Day last week but time escaped me. However I very much wanted to post it, if for no other reason than this track continues to elude my categorising brain. Young Hearts is an unusual track; it could easily be classified as electro pop or r ‘n’ b. But its most baffling element is that – despite its title, luscious guitars, sensual synths and falsetto vocals – it’s a weirdly asexual track. It’s a little like watching your auntie twerk at a party (sorry about that); in different hands this could have been a sexy affair. I like this track in part because it defies my expectations I’ve yet to work out how all the pieces come together.

Allan Rayman – Shelby Moves

I’ve written more than enough about Allan Rayman for one week. I’ve been loving his dark and intriguing new album Roadhouse 01 and Shelby Moves is one of the highlights from it. Pointed lyrics, lurking, ominous beats and some awesome shifts in direction, this song beautifully captures Rayman’s unique selling points. In his recent interview with Billboard, Rayman picked out this track as the one he most connects with:

Are there any songs that you’re particularly close to?

AR: “Shelby Moves.” It explains why I haven’t been doing many interviews and haven’t been all over social media; at the end of the day, I think fans build up these crazy ideas of celebrities or musicians or the people they’re listening to and watching and I think there’s a really dark undertone to that fandom and celebrity-ness. So “Shelby Moves,” I think, explains that at the end of the day. I’m a pretty average dude with a pretty boring story, but I can write some songs and I’m very creative — but I’m not going to wow you with my background. I often, especially recently when I’m at home, am wondering, “Why is this becoming so successful?” Because at the end of the day, I would say I’m just a regular dude, so why me? I still haven’t really figured it out.

R I T U A L – Drown The Lovers

Another sparse r’n’b inspired track with elements of hip hop, this time from London-based group RITUAL . On Drown The Lovers, the minimalist backing track allows the delicate and emotional vocals to flourish. Add in an impressive chorus that’s very much in keeping with the understated but stirring vibe, and you’ve got a pretty impressive track.

Lucy Rose, The Staves – Floral Dresses

I discovered Lucy Rose through her work with Bombay Bicycle Club – who I seem to be mentioning a lot on the blog recently; I think I’m missing them – and her obvious musical charm shines through on Floral Dresses. Nailing the gentle, minimalist folk sound that Laura Marling has perfected, Floral Dresses seems to hark back to some childhood tensions, seemingly with some female authority figure. As she sings: ‘I don’t wanna wear your floral dresses, And my lips won’t be coloured, I don’t want your diamond necklace
Your disapproval cuts through.’ 
GLASS – Vulnerable

London-based duo GLASS provide this week’s dose of electro-pop. With an incredibly catchy synth part running throughout the track, the stark contrast between what sounds like a heavier Keane style backing track and vocals that sing ‘Oh she’s vulnerable, really shouldn’t be alone’ leave an intriguing aftertaste.

Savoy Motel – Western Version Boogie

Savoy Motel caught my attention in the second half of 2016 with Sorry People, one of the most ill-fitting singles of the decade. Western Version Boogie is similarly baffling; sounding a little like Talking Heads had kidnapped both the female vocalist from Human League and a glam rock guitarist. The Nashville four piece are making music that absolutely doesn’t fit the mould of what you need to be successful in 2017, and more power to them.

Michael Kiwunuka – Cold Little Heart (Tom Misch Remix) 

Michael Kiwunuka’s Love & Hate was my favourite album of 2016; a real triumph of artistic integrity and coherence combined with beautiful song-writing. The opening track to Love & Hate is Cold Little Heart, a near-1o minute epic that truly sets the tone for what is to come. 2017 has seen the track given some – drastic – cosmetic surgery to get it down to a 3 minute radio version, and a reworking from Tom Misch. I like the way he’s helped to give it a new and slightly more carefree vibe whilst keeping that stupendous voice front and centre.

Ramblings: On Allan Rayman, R’n’B and what’s coming up

logomakr_6gasea

Regular readers of the blog will know that one of the artists we’ve been most excited about in 2017 is Allan Rayman.

I discovered him slightly by accident. My Spotify Release Radar playlist told me that Jessie Reyez had a new song out (Repeat); but I was immediately blown away by the male voice on the track and wanted to know more. It was, of course, Allan Rayman.

He’s a man who I previously described as an international man of mystery. When I first googled him, the top hit was about how mysterious he was, how he didn’t give interviews or appear in videos or chat to the audience at gigs. He released 13, a stunningly good single that’s still in the A List after four weeks, and his album Roadhouse 01 came out recently.

As part of the promotion for the album he has given his first interview to Billboard, which you can read here. It’s a great read, and helps to get you a little closer to understanding his artistic vision. But – again – there’s enough distance, enough things unsaid, that leave a hefty layer of intrigue around him.

Last week I went to see him live (with Gig-Buddy Matt) at the St Pancras Old Church. In the pub beforehand I said I was looking forward to finding out if I knew more about Allan Rayman at the end of the evening, or if he remained an unsolvable problem.

The most important thing to say is that it was a stunning gig. He possesses one of the most impressive voices I’ve come across in a very long time; its unique in its range, power and style. I’d go as far as to say the recordings don’t actually do it justice.

The second observation is that he sits across a range of musical styles and genres in a very exciting way. Combining hip hop beats, guitar parts that could belong in prog, rock, funk or electro pop tracks, vocals that range between pure power and an R ‘n’ B style shimmer. Even within the same song, he can display a range that’s bafflingly good.

My final comment is that I’m not sure I do know anything more about Allan Rayman the man behind the music. He stood in a small church in North London, illuminated by red lights, and seemed to let his satanic demons take over – especially on the newer songs (for which he’s adopted a darker alter-ego). But, even though he spoke to the audience a lot more than I was expecting, he didn’t necessarily say anything that gives us any greater insight (perhaps my favourite between-song comment was: ‘I’m not much of a talker’).

But I am more than a little bit in love. With his art, with his voice, with his style. Every now and then an artist comes along who leaves you hooked; simply wanting to know more. Allan Rayman is the latest addition to that very special list.

____

Onto different matters now, and we’ve got a big week lined up on the Blog. Later today The Bonus List is coming up, and tomorrow morning the This Week Playlist will be live. I’m also hoping to get around to updating the Dream Festival, which is proving to be trickier than I thought.

Tam went to see White Lies at the Troxy last night, so I’m looking forward to reading his review of that. Similarly George is positively bursting at the seems with new albums to review, so expect one or two of those to drop this week.

____

Finally, speaking of George, if you didn’t see his monthly column on Saturday Word On The Street, I highly recommend you give it a read. Covering a mind-blowing number of genres with his passionate style, he brings you up to date on everything in the world of ‘urban’ – a term both he and I hate – music for February. It’s fab. Go read it.

 

The A List: Our 10 biggest songs right now

logomakr_0q2tab

If you follow the Astral Penguins Blog closely, you’ll know three key things:

  1. Every Sunday we post our top 10 favourite tracks around right now on what we call the A List;
  2. That – as songs on the A List are limited to four weeks – there was bound to be a few changes this week as a number of last week’s A List were at that limit; and
  3. The songs in contention for the A List – those that appeared on the This Week Playlist and our Tracks of the Day were really strong this week. I mean, really strong.

With that in mind, and after a decent amount of head scratching, here is this week’s A List, complete with six – six! – new entries.

1. Jacob Banks – Unholy War (New Entry)

Our Track of the Day  on Wednesday, Birmingham-born R’n’B singer Jacob Banks provides his own stunning contribution t0 the soul/gospel/r’n’b revival that is underway. With a rich, deep and powerful vocal performance, excellent production and a more modern, electronic-laced chorus, Unholy War ticks all sorts of pleasurable boxes.

 2. Todd Terje – Jungelknugen (Four Tet Remix) (New Entry)
Four Tet’s journey from obscure electronica producer to master of the main stage has been one of the most brilliant and unlikely stories in the – relatively short – history of dance music, and here he’s on remixing duty for the ever brilliant Todd Terje. As with his Opus remix, Jungelknugen refuses to go where you expect it to, but continues to delight throughout. Building synths, layer upon layer of electronic waves and some out and out hands-in-the-air moments; stonkingly good.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (fourth week; up 1)

Fourth and final week for Mr Staples on the A List, and we think this is one of the best records of the year so far. Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. He has a lot to say and – with top level production and jaw-dropping lyrics – he’s earning himself a bigger platform from which to say them.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (fourth week; up 1)

Another track that is in its fourth week on the A List, 13 is an r’n’b inflected track that – like a lot of Rayman’s work – doesn’t easily fall into one musical genre. The standout element of the track is Rayman’s smoky soul voice is rich, pure, fragile and honest – often all in the same note. In 13 his rasping delivery of the opening verse is formidable but it’s the quieter moments that leave you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Daniel Trakell – Paradise (New Entry)

Yesterday’s Track of the Day from Australian singer-songwriter Daniel Trakell is a slightly uncomfortable listen; for all it’s Simon & Garfunkel splendour, there is a layer of mystery that hangs over the melody. It is perhaps best described using the impressive dual quality of the vocals, they are both beautiful and eerie at the same time. The song is both speaking of a paradise that is tangible and truly beautiful in the present, but also of a place that has yet to come in the afterlife.

 

6. Elliot Moss – Closedloop (New Entry)

New York singer-songwriter Elliot Moss finds himself firmly in the James Blake comparison zone with Closedloop, a creeping, discomforting, electro crawl of a pop track.

7. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (Second week; down 5)

Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

8. Denis Sulta – Dubelle Oh XX (JVIP) (New Entry)

Young Glaswegian DJ and producer Denis Sulta’s track  gets a reworking from his fellow Glaswegian – and stunningly good DJ – Jackmaster. Ripe for inclusion at every dance festival in 2017, this is a track that’ll get inside your head and stay there.

9. Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What (Second week; down 3)

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Guess What revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

10. Destructo, E-40, Too $hort – All Nite (New Entry)

Destructo is LA based former A&R/record executive Gary Richards, who helped to bring Basement Jaxx to a mainstream audience. All Nite is an instantly-grabbing party track full of fun and frolics; it has, how to put it, more than a whiff of stoner fun about it. It’s a track that Bulldozes the line between hip hop and dance; my only reservation – and the reason why this isn’t higher on the list – is some of the lyrics are not exactly forward thinking in their portrayal of women.

The A List: Our 10 hottest songs right now

logomakr_0q2tab

Every Sunday the Astral Penguins Blog takes stock of the 10 biggest – and best – songs around right now.

There’s four new entries on this week’s list and three of this week’s top 10 have stuck around for four weeks, which is the maximum songs can stay on the A List.

Here are the best 10 songs around:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 4th week)

Fourth and final week – and a fourth week at number 1. Automaton is an electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. Come December, this is destined to be high in the top 50 of 2017 list.

2. Brutus – Drive 3/4s (New Entry)

A new entry from Belgiun post-hardcore trio Brutus. They’re led by Stefanie Mannaerts, who acts as both vocalist and drummer, and their debut album came out this week. Drive 3/4s is a stunningly good rock track; its impressive in its ambition alone, but the delivery of intricate melodies, shifts in style and epic chorus makes this track an absolute monster.

3. Parcels – Allaround (down 1; 4th week)

With beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way, this is a superb piece of music.

4.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (down 1; 3rd week)

Hip hop is rediscovering it’s political voice and Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. Staples is undoubtedly one of the most exciting men in music right now.

5. Allan Rayman – 13 (down 1; 3rd week)

13 is an r’n’b inflected track that could easily have felt at home in Prince’s mid-80’s era work. The standout element of the track is Rayman’s smoky soul voice is rich, pure, fragile and honest – often all in the same note. In 13 his rasping delivery of the opening verse is formidable but it’s the quieter moments that leave you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

6. Code Walk, Smerz – Guess What (New Entry)

This track is a collaboration between two Scandinavian duos, Norwegian pair Code Walk  and Copenhagen couple Smerz. Guess What revolves around shimmering techno beats and top line percussion. Everything about this track is ice cold. Simple and yet highly effective.

7. Sub Focus – Lingua (New Entry)

Slower and more minimalist than a lot of his other works, Lingua sees Sub Focus straying closer to dancehall and hip hop than his usual drum and bass, but it’s a banger all the same.

8. Priests – Jj (down 3; 4th week)

There’s great fun nestled within this track; it’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

 

9. Ibeyi – Lost In My Mind (down 2; 2nd week)

A sparse, beautiful and affecting track that speaks of loneliness and isolation. It’s a track that lingers with you. It ends with a more positive – or is it pleading? – feel, but throughout you feel there’s a deep sadness that inspired it.

10. Blood Youth – Reasons to Stay (New Entry)

Melodic hardcore trio Blood Youth have produced a real balls-to-the-wall track in Reasons to Stay. A tale of a relationship ending in a complicated way, this will be an absolute monster live.

The A List – our 10 favourite songs right now: 19th February

logomakr_0q2tab

Every Sunday the Astral Penguins Blog takes stock of the 10 biggest – and best – songs around right now. There’s only two new entries this week, which reflects the strength of the songs currently occupying the A List.

Here it is for your listening pleasure:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 3rd week)

This still sounds absolutely massive. Whilst the second single from the new album is nowhere near the same standard, Automaton is still an electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown.

2. Parcels – Allaround (up 3; 3rd week)

With beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way, this is a superb piece of music.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

Hip hop is rediscovering it’s political voice and Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. Staples is one of the most exciting men in music right now and the last 60 seconds of this track could have come straight from Yeezus, such is the anarchic quality.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

13 is an r’n’b inflected track that could easily have felt at home in Prince’s mid-80’s era work. The standout element of the track is Rayman’s smoky soul voice is rich, pure, fragile and honest – often all in the same note. In 13 his rasping delivery of the opening verse is formidable but it’s the quieter moments that leave you breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Priests – Jj (Up 5; 3rd week)

Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural and its full of energy and excitement. There’s great fun nestled within this track; it’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.

6. Future Islands – Ran (Non-Mover; 2nd week) 

Driving bass, keyboard euphoria and heartbreaking vocals, Future Islands have returned with their winning formula and a track that will undoubtedly make many festival fans happy again this summer.

7. Ibeyi – Lost In My Mind (New Entry)

French-Cuban sisters Ibeyi are back with a sparse, beautiful and affecting track that speaks of loneliness and isolation. It’s a track that lingers with you. It ends with a more positive – or is it pleading? – feel, but throughout you feel there’s a deep sadness that inspired it. It’s great to have Ibeyi back and here’s hoping for more material in 2017.

8. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (Non-Mover; 3rd week) 

Three weeks in and the menace, insecurity and playful dark-humour hidden within the lyrics still sounds great. Fighting Myself is initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before it builds to a frantic and thrilling finish.

9. Otzeki – All This Time (Down 2; 2nd Week) 

A track that sounds like it was designed to be the theme tune for one of those big budget HBO thriller/horror programmes. From it’s opening hum and creeping bass, it has an eerie and agitating tone, which only increases as the organ noise and vocals kick in.

10. HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing (New Entry)

Every Single Thing is a shimmering r’n’b track with a disconcerting lo-fi meets synths dynamic. The vocals are impressive in their range and delivery, and yet it’s the cold aesthetic of the track that makes me want to keep this on repeat.

The A List: the 10 hottest tracks right now – 12th February

logomakr_0q2tab

Here’s the A List for this week: my favourite 10 tracks at the moment.

Here is this week’s A List: the ten tracks I’m loving the most right now.

Every Sunday I update and post a new A List, and the tracks featured here will either have been previewed on the blog beforehand – either on the This Week Playlist or as a Track of the Day – or come from albums I’m listening to at the moment. Tracks can stay on the A List for a maximum of four weeks (so that I don’t overplay them).

There’s lots of good music around at the moment and this week there are four new entries in the top ten.

Later in the week I’ll be posting the Bonus List – an extension of the A List with the 10 songs that just missed out on the A-List.

So let’s get to it. Here is this week’s A List:

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton (Non-mover; 2nd week)

An electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. Automaton sounds as fresh and innovative as anything released so far in 2017.

2. The Black Madonna – He is the Voice I Hear (Non-mover; 4th week)

The fourth and final week on the A List for this monster of a track. He is the Voice I Hear is a rollercoaster ride with strings, jazz piano and disco-influences.

3.  Vince Staples – Bagbak (New Entry)

Hip hop is rediscovering it’s political voice and Bagbak is Vince Staples’s contribution on racial identity and politics. Staples is one of the most exciting men in music right now and the last 60 seconds of this track could have come straight from Yeezus, such is the anarchic quality.

4. Allan Rayman – 13 (New Entry)

 

13 is an r’n’b inflected track that could easily have felt at home in Prince’s mid-80’s era work. The standout element of the track is Rayman’s smoky soul voice is rich, pure, fragile and honest – often all in the same note. In 13 his rasping delivery of the opening verse is formidable but it’s the quieter moments that leave me breathless; in 13 he drops his voice and almost whispers some of his hoarse, sorrowful judgements.

5. Parcels – Allaround (Down 1; 2nd week)

With beautiful vocals that sound like they’ve been borrowed from Kings of Convenience, layering them onto a track that plays with disco and funk – a la Jungle – and delivering some stunning musicianship along the way, this is a superb piece of music. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

6. Future Islands – Ran (New Entry)

Driving bass, keyboard euphoria and heartbreaking vocals, Future Islands have returned with their winning formula and a track that will undoubtedly make many festival fans happy again this summer.

7. Otzeki – All This Time (New Entry)

A track that sounds like it was designed to be the theme tune for one of those big budget HBO thriller/horror programmes. From it’s opening hum and creeping bass, it has an eerie and agitating tone, which only increases as the organ noise and vocals kick in.

8. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself (Down 3; 2nd week)

This track is a spring of menace and insecurity wound way too tight; it’s initially menacing – with traces of art rock – before building to a frantic and thrilling finish. I had the pleasure of seeing Husky Loops on Thursday and I think they’re really special and very exciting.

 

9. Tiga – Eye Luv U (Down 1; 2nd week)

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. Eye Luv U finds all of his favourite hallmarks, an infectious beat, weird and slightly off-kilter vocal snippets and a playful approach to melody.

10. Priests – Jj (Down 3; 2nd week)

A post-punk quartet, Priests have delivered their second single from new album Nothing Feels Natural. It’s like being trapped in the getaway car from a bank robbery in the wild west: country-twinged, all action, energy and attitude.