Tag: The Bonus List

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 Monday Bonus List: 10 songs we’re still loving

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Every Sunday we post the Astral Penguins A List: our 10 favourite songs right now. It works like a chart and it’s always bloody hard to limit it t0 10 songs every week.

Which is where the bonus list comes in. These are the songs that we’re still loving, but have either dropped out of or fell slightly short of the A List.

Here are numbers 11 to 20 for your listening pleasure.

11. Otzeki – All This Time (Down 2; 3rd Week) 

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.

12. HOMESHAKE – Every Single Thing (Down 2; 2nd Week)

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.

13. Cold War Kids – Love Is Mystical (Down 1; 2nd Week)

Love Is Mystical is a cracking blues-inspired indie pop record that explodes with excitement. From it’s opening piano to it’s awesome chorus, everything is a little off-kilter and distorted.

14. Pumarosa – Dragonfly (new entry) 

Creating etherial music with elements of pop, indie and dance, there’s a mystique to their work that few acts achieve.

15. Electric Guest – Back For Me (non-mover; 2nd week)

Back for Me skips along with a relentlessly upbeat tone, propelled by beating percussion and one of the funkiest bass parts around. Simple, catchy and really rather good fun.

16. Vnusamr – Runnin (new entry) 

A debut single rooted in modern r’n’b, but brave enough to incorporate touches of rock and pop. The sensual vocals are great, it’s superbly produced with teasing melodies throughout.

17. Incubus – Nimble Bastard (new entry) 

Nimble Bastard sees Incubus on strong ground; driving riffs and very little pissing around.

18. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Sleep Drifter (up 2; 3rd week)

Sleep Drifter is the musical equivalent of being awake for 48 hours; everything is there but you’re not sure you can piece it all together.

19. Rudie Edwards – Lover Like You (down 3; 2nd week)

 

Lover Like You is an infectiously catchy disco pop track that immediately grabs you with its gripping bass and 80’s style production.

20. High Contrast – Shotgun Mouthwash (down 2; 2nd week)

Shotgun Mouthwash is a corking piece of electro punk. It’s full on from the get-go and is stacked full of attitude.

The Bonus List

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As a special Friday bonus here is the Bonus List – the extension of our weekly A List (posted every Sunday) and another chance to showcase some of the other songs we’re still really liking right now.

[If you’re particularly interested, I set out how it works in last week’s debut; if not, just read on and enjoy the music] 

There are some cracking songs on here; the first seven weeks – or so – of 2017 have been rather kind to music fans. So here we go, here are 11-20 in our current chart.

 

11. The XX – Dangerous (fourth week; up 2) 

A tremendous statement of intent to kick off new album I See You. Every time I hear the opening notes I can’t help but smile at the joys this track – and the album – provide.

12.  Mixhell, Joe Goddard – Crocodile Boots (Soulwax Remix) (third week; down nine) 

A five minute industrial revolution full of dancing percussion samples and snippets.

13. Magana – Pages (new entry)

Twinged with sadness, Pages is the end of a story which seems to have come to an abrupt and not entirely mutual ending.

14. The XX – Performance (third week; up two) 

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.

15. POOLCLVB – Waiting for You (new entry)

Waiting for You sounds very much like the child of the nu-rave scene, with memories of Delphic and Klaxons coming flooding back.

16. Stage Van H – Orange Beach – Marko Melo Remix (fourth week; down four) 

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.

17. King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard – Sleep Drifter (new entry)

Sleep Drifter is the musical equivalent of being awake for 48 hours; everything is there but you’re not sure you can piece it all together.

18. Father John Misty – Ballad of the Dying Man (new entry)

On the Ballad of the Dying Man, Father John Misty has found himself back at his mischievous best.

19. Tall Tall Trees – Freedays (third week; down four) 

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

20. Tourists – Masquerade (new entry)

Synths, bass, guitars, drums and vocals come together like the five Power Rangers to create a grand and ambitious record that sounds both fresh and vintage.