Tag: Jessie Reyez

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

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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.

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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.

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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 Bonus List: Monday 6th Feb

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Introducing the new weekly Bonus List – the extension of our weekly A List that is posted every Sunday – which is another chance to showcase some of the other songs we’re still really liking right now.

As with the A List, these tracks are listed in order of preference. It’s the closest blogging gets to the charts. As with the A List, there is a four week limit for the tracks, so if it has been on the A List for a couple of weeks then it can only stay here for two. Some songs will also come straight into the Bonus List, from either the This Week Playlist or from our Tracks of the Day selections.

These 10 tracks have all features previously on the site and are all – as far as we’re concerned – really very good.

11. Dan Croll – Away From Today

A slightly disorientating indie pop track that could easily have been take from Bombay Bicycle Club’s back catalogue. It plays with the senses a little, never quite settling.

12. Stage Van H – Orange Beach – Marko Melo Remix

Orange Beach has a top-line that constantly teases you; dangling melodies and noises but withdrawing then before you get too comfortable and drawing your ears and imagination back to its dynamic underbelly.

13. The XX – Dangerous 

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You.

14. Jaakko Aukusti – What If All Else Fails? 

What if All Else Fails? has all the icy and bare elements of any great Northern European glacial landscape.

15. Tall Tall Trees – Freedays 

Sounds like a product of vast and hazy country landscapes, and would comfortably sound at home alongside records by Fleet Foxes and Jonathan Wilson.

16.The XX – Performance 

A heart-dropping, mournful and gripping track that finds The XX back on familiar ground. Romy’s vocals are – as usual – emotional in a way so few other singers can manage.

17. FREAK – Cake

Loud, thrashy and suitably angry, FREAK hails from Chelmsford,  has bags of talent and kicks off 2017 with a bang.

18. Harlea – You Don’t Get It 

There’s a confidence in Harlea’s emotions – no vulnerability here, it’s part sassy but absolutely certain (YOU don’t get it) – but also a confidence in the song-writing. Nothing is too complicated, nothing is messy; it’s exactly as it should be.

19. Skott – Glitter & Gloss 

Glitter & Gloss is a little bit like eating a chocolate bar that you’ve taken from a communal fridge; it’s sweet and satisfying, but there’s a lurking sense of guilt and troubles to come.

20. Allan Rayman, Jessie Reyez – Repeat  

His voice is extraordinary; it elevates what is a slightly off-kilter r’n’b meets indie pop track into something very compelling.

The missing This Week Playlist

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As explained here, I didn’t post the This Week playlist last Monday, despite having it ready. However, in the interest of full disclosure, here are the ten tracks I’ve been listening to on repeat this week.

1. Jamiroquai – Automaton 

What an extraordinary return. An electro pop masterclass with euphoria, menace, and a playful 90’s pop-meets-hip hop breakdown. I’m not sure anyone realised the world needed a Jamiroquai return, but Automaton sounds as fresh and innovative as anything released so far in 2017.

2. Parcels – Allaround

This was nailed on to be one of my tracks of the day. Taking 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. Parcels have released a steady series of hugely impressive singles, and this is my favourite so far.

3. Rationale – Reciprocate 

Back in 2015 I fell in love with The Mire, a track from Rationale’s Fuel to the Fire EP. I’ve kept an eye on his stuff since then and Reciprocate finds him back on form; a rich and distinctive voice elevates this r’n’b track.

4. Priests – Jj

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.

5. Tiga – Eye Luv U

Canadian DJ and producer Tiga has a pretty stunning back catalogue, creating some of the most innovative of off-beat electro bangers. The ridiculously titlted 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.

6. IDLES – Stendhal Syndrome

IDLES are one of my favourite up-and-coming bands. Back in August 2015 I saw them in London and, for lack of a better word, it was frightening. Delivering aggressive post-punk, these Bristolians are gearing up for another tour and possibly world domination. Stendhal Syndrome is brash, loud and hilarious.

7. Brett Gould – Say It Loud

East London DJ and producer Brett Gould has been steadily releasing great tracks over the past eighteen months. Say It Loud is surely designed for a small, sweaty club with a good sound system at 4am; it’s all about the menace lurking in the bass lines.

8. Skott – Glitter & Gloss 

Scandinavian pop songstress Skott would – had the blog existed – been one of my tips for 2017. Since her debut single around seven months ago she’s released some stunning pop tracks; Glitter & Gloss is a little bit like eating a chocolate bar that you’ve taken from a communal fridge; it’s sweet and satisfying, but there’s a lurking sense of guilt and troubles to come.

9. Allan Rayman, Jessie Reyez – Repeat

Gig-buddy Matt sent me a Jessie Reyez track late in 2016 that I liked very much. However I’d never heard of Allan Rayman, and the first google hit is ’10 Reasons Why Allan Rayman Is The Most Mysterious Man in Music’, which is good work. His voice is extraordinary; it elevates what is a slightly off-kilter r’n’b meets indie pop track into something very compelling.

10. Husky Loops – Fighting Myself

Rock and roll newcomers Husky Loops offer an intriguing and eccentric new single in Fighting Myself. 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’m seeing these guys this week and I’m hugely excited to see what they do live.