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Green Light in the City

March Album reviews

30 March 07 words: various
Joe Buddha and Klashnekoff, Departure Lounge, Idlewild, Klaxons, Amos Lee, The KBC, Fall Out Boy, Radium88, Goose, Cash Money and more

Lionheart on LeftLionJoe Buddha Presents Klashnekoff
Lionheart: Tussle With The Beast (Riddim Killa)

So two of the UKs finest talents have joined forces, Joe Buddha supplying the beats while Klash spits the lyrics. It’s an extremely versatile combination as this album clearly demonstrates, combining a melange of styles both vocally and production wise. There is a lingering element of a Reggae/Dancehall flavour intertwined with the boom-bap sound of the Hiphop culture. This is demonstrated through hard hitting battle rhymes while a conscious air is present on tracks like “My Life” which is self-explanatory as the title suggests. You find yourself a listener on an almost roller coaster ride of musical prowess as the album peaks and drops in all the right places. Both Mc and producer have crafted their talents well and this Lp holds testimony to that. A strong release which should knock the bar up another notch for any UK artist that supersedes this… Jesse Keene.

The Departure Lounge - Volume One (Various)
Dealmaker Records

The Departure Lounge is a compilation and collaboration album mixing jazz and funk beats over heavy hiphop styles. The CD arrives in transparent bag with weed included – which is fake by the way - at the bottom screams that this is either going to be mellow listen or I need to get mellow.
The Departure Lounge was over 18 months in the making which is evident from the shear cleanness of the album. It’s tight and flawless, taking hiphop and fusing it heavily with soulful melodies and jazz riffs. There is an eclectic mix of artists on the album from the soft velvet vocals of Sophie Johnson-Hill and Lorna Harris to the heavy beat boxing and rap vocals of The Sicarios and Lost Project.
Departure Styles is a showcase of talent indicating that The Sicarios are an act to look out for. Cleaver lyrics and rhymes with an undeniable flair for beat boxing, highlighted on Be Water My Friend, a track which is solely beat box with jazz saxophone playing intermittently.
My Escape is a beautiful track; simple harmonies bring on goose bumps as the saxophone and piano create a laid back but powerful accompaniment. Sophie Johnson-Hill’s voice isn’t as spectacular as we know it can be on the two tracks on Departure Lounge but there’s enough there to want to hear more. Life Has Taken It’s Toll is a contrast and shows the versatility of her voice from smooth soprano to mellow alto and dancing between the two with half spoken/sung lyrics.
Velvet Waters is a semi political track with an urgent string sample repeated throughout. Lost Project’s lyrics will no doubt speak to the student/post-student generation. They are clearly a group with strong views and this is evident in their rhymes, which like the artists on the album are seamless. The Departure Lounge is a must have compilation of local vocals, particularly if you’re prone to kicking back and appreciating music that isn’t afraid to experiment with outside the mainstream. I didn’t 'get mellow' but after listening to this unquestionable work of art I was. Françoise Marie-Jeanne
Dealmaker website

Mister Lee - BootleggerMisterlee
Bootlegger/ This Is Not a Lifestyle Sandwich
(Rubber Czech)
Bootlegger/This Is Not a Lifestyle Sandwich is a singular ECD. To those without the necessary savvy, that means when you pop it in the computer a string of music videos starts rolling but the disc functions as a music CD as well. Nifty! The benefit is it provides a glimpse into the stellar live performance of this league of blokes. They are Lee Allatson, chief screecher and boxman; Jamie 'Pirate' Smith on six-stringed things; and Michael Curtis Oxtoby working violins and an adapted bass guitar. Bootlegger/TiNaLS is an archive of their adventures over the years from their own Leicester city to that music Mecca London town.
My heart goes out to librarians across the world trying to choose the right ‘genre’ sticker. At times mellow enough to be some sort of jazz, then enter electronically enhanced screams and just a hint of reggae. This is not music for the faint of heart, nor the soft of ear- imagine PJ Harvey reincarnate as three annoyed blokes, with a fetish for feedback. Angry? Perhaps. Definitely cynical. Chewing gum stuck to my foot agaaaaaaain…revolution’s just another bar in Preston/And revolution’s just another bar in London/And revolution’s just another bar in Leicester City!’ Music tracks are interspersed with comments from the stage including an argument with the equipment, making the listening experience rather like a dialogue. The options to click on the computer feature respond, ( :::click::: ‘Are you sure?’ :::::click:::::: ‘Ok’). There’s a piece of material matching that on the cover art stuck behind the tray [*A quick myspace check points out that this is hand woven Fen Colour, 16oz, Marto Cheviot Loden tweed.] Each box is hand numbered and thumb printed. It’s as if the band is saying ‘Here, we made this- try it, we think you’ll like it. A good opportunity to get your hands on the ECD and see the real thing is coming up. Catch Misterlee at Supernight on April 27th. Rebecca Kielty
Misterlee website




Amos Lee on LeftLionAmos Lee 
Supply and Demand

The whole singer/songwriter thing can be a little dull and tiresome these days and with a generic album title such as “Supply and Demand” I wasn’t really expecting too much out of the ordinary. However, this second outing from Philadelphia based Amos Lee is a soulful and sometimes beautiful record with some great little acoustic pop songs. Amos himself it has to be said has a great voice and the gospel backing vocals which come in on certain tracks accompany it perfectly.
It would seem natural to compare Amos Lee with other contemporary singer/songwriter types but that wouldn’t do much justice to the music. Not whiney or seemingly aimed solely at teenage girls like the likes of James Blunt and Paulo Nutini it could be said Amos Lee is more in the Jack Johnson mould. Having said this I find Amos Lee’s music more interesting than that of Jack Johnson’s for having a backing band and having more of a rootsy, soulful, jazz influenced sound.
From the observational suppositions of the opening track, “1000 empty windows and only half the lights are out, I wonder what these people’s lives may be all about,” through the infectious title track and on to the end of the album this is solid all the way through with Lee providing brief glimpses and snapshots of moments and experiences which make for interesting listening. It may be premature to say that Amos Lee could be the next big thing but he certainly has the vocal talent and songwriting ability to really make something of himself. If you want something quite chilled, soulful and a little bit different then I would regard this as a definite purchase. Samuel Rogers.
Amos Lee website


Kickin Flava on LeftLionDJ Cash Money
Kickin Flava (Boombox Distribution)
Let it be said that you can always look forward to a Cash Money mix, it’s not that you’ll hear anything new or ground-breaking in there, but what you do hear is always guaranteed to have that old skool mix-tape flava that takes you way back to an era of Hiphop that has somewhat been forgotten. His skills with the turntables are on point and his choice of beats never fail to get your head nodding. So with that said this new offering does exactly what it says on the tin and kicks flava directly to your cerebellum via your ear, from rocking hip-hop tunes, funky breaks through to some fine reggae business, all thrown together from a world class Dj. What more could you want in terms of a perfect mix, run go grab yourself a copy soon as… Jesse Keene.


El-p,
I’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (Def Jux)

So here we are five years after El-p’s Debut album “Fantastic Damage” dropped heavier than Kong from the Empire state building. So the main question on everyone’s lips is could he have possibly bettered his last offering? Well judging by the contents of this project he has. The result is a very dense sounding album awash with social commentary and incredible depth of subject matter. El-p production has stepped up a level and it shows although It’s hard to deconstruct or even define this album fairly as it genuinely stands out on it’s own, and nothing more than you would expect from such a prolific artist. What can be said is expect that b-boy freshness with that technical twist which could well be one of the best albums of this year and possibly next?!? Jesse Keene.


Awol One & Mascaria
The Chemikillz (N/A independent release)

Ok so this particular album is not hot of the press but here at LeftLion we like to think that we bring quality music to your attention rather than just keeping up with current trends. For those unfamiliar this project is a collaboration of producers Yetoxz, Awol One, Uncle Charles and Mascaria with Awol also providing the vocals. It’s a rather melancholy b-boy affair, but has an incredible amount of substance both musically and lyrically that it could possibly be described as a work of art. Awol as an mc has a harsh and gravelly style which pulls no punches over almost choral symphonies. I urge you to hunt this down and play it at loud volumes throughout your neighbourhood, this is raw Hiphop at it’s most concise, highly recommended listening…. Jesse Keene.

Mr Hudson
A Tale of Two Cities (Universal)

The debut album from the very talented Mr Hudson and the library is a new spin on hip hop, soul and reggae or any music you may have heard. To compare this to any other artist would be difficult but there are some similarities with the semi-autobiographical style of The Streets, and friend of the band Amy Winehouse. This eclectic collection of, I have to say sublime tracks from the album ‘A Tale Of Two Cities’ has been playing mostly non stop since I first heard it. The newly released Too Late, Too late has been a regular favourite of Radio 1 lord of cool D.J Zane Lowe, and no doubt the very chilled Bread and Roses will very much be a favourite in the future. The music produced has been greatly enhanced by the genius edition of a steel pan to the party (brought by Joy Joseph) which adds a certain edge. One criticism I have is the track Two by Two which is a bit slow to get going and too obvious for my taste! Overall a jolly good stab at the currently very exciting, singer/song writing british music scene. Definitely a band I will be seeing live as soon as possible, currently touring a library (!) near you. Amanda Taylor
Mr Hudson on myspace

Manchester Presents Ch’ill Cru
Concrete Jungle

Surely a group so proudly declaring its geographical origins should actually sound like where they say they’re from. Unfortunatley, Ch’ill Cru don’t even sound English, let alone Mancunian. What every happened to hiphop's golden rule number one? Keepin’ it real? Staying true to your roots? Concrete Jungle is full of unimaginative, ropey and frankly boring rhymes delivered in the pseudo-American accent that many artists naively assume to be the way hiphop should sound. Which is a shame, because shite lyrics and hypocritical delivery aside, the production is quite good. The beats are chilled and easy to listen to, reminiscent of UK artists like Jehst or Lewis Parker (though I’m not sure they’d appreciate the comparison). Now, this should be the part of the review where I give you a little background to the artist, name drop artists they’ve worked with and tell you a bit about their history. However, the CD landed on LeftLion’s doormat sans explanation, and their online presence is poor. For once google has failed me. So, in the absence of any real information I can only assume that Ch’ill Cru consists of 384 ASBO toting, 17 year old guys living Mosside, who formed at the back of a maths lesson back in year 9. Since then they’ve spend a lot of time freestyling in souped up cars outside McDonalds and hot boxing their spare room in preparation for playing big venues including Didsbury Community Centre. They truly are destined for big things. All in all, Ch’ill Cru seem to be nothing more than a mish mash collection of bored Mancs with a mic and a CD burner. Based on the content alone I’d say don’t rush out to get your sweaty little hands on a copy, but if try-hard rap is your thing – enjoy. Louise Doherty
Ch'ill Cru myspace

Goose
Bring It On (Skint)
If I were in Star Wars, in space, during a laser attack, in the 80’s…this music would be the soundtrack. Flippantly named Belgium-based trance/techno group Goose (A band denoted by a noun could only suggest foreign members, in this case Flemish) do the honours. Opening track Teag is an extremely fertile ground for mad dance moves and ticks all the boxes for a bangin’ track, with the clicks, claps, arty whirl of keyboards and choruses of ‘hey!…yo!’ in all the right places. Unfortunately this descends into an Electro nightmare with what sounds like the beat of someone’s pulse just randomly recorded over the top in Last Scream. Track four Shutdown sounds like something is printing. There are vocals (in English) but they echo in a perverted Barbershop fashion over uncooperative drum machine slurs. In theory this album has all the ingredients to be the new Daft Punk or Fat Boy Slim, but the margins are too narrow. The same keyboard/synthesiser framework is used in each track, with effects just stacked one after the other into a rumba of ‘I’m- having-a-go-on-dad’s-keyboard’. There is light here if you like things experimental and spaced out. But this CD needs context. Its not for the bedroom and definitely not for the car. It’s only cope-able if you have consumed more than10 units of alcohol, are in Rescue Rooms and don’t give a shit about whose watching. Jessica Troughton
Goose website


Idlewild 
Make Another World (Sequel)

I remember Idlewild as one of those bands who came into the public eye amidst a flurry of excitement whipped up by the NME in 2002. Alongside Starsailor, The Electric Soft Parade and a handful of others, who have now disappeared into obscurity, Idlewild were seen as a beacon of hope and a sign of what was to come from the Britpop revival.
Five years, three albums and nine singles later and what was once a burning beacon of hope is now little more than a fading candle. Their latest offering, Make Another World, shows a band at the end of their creative integrity and artistic worth.
Having said this there are a few, albeit short-lived, moments of joy, as evident in Future Works a slow burner that is fondly reminiscent of a marching band with its melodic guitar played out over a driving beat. Furthermore the first single, No Emotion, is also a fairly good tune with its layered chorus, but this aside there’s little to recommend it.
After a couple of listens of this record the monotonous, overdriven guitar tones and self-pitying lyrics become a bit overbearing and aroused feelings in me more of annoyance and disdain than sympathy for Roddy Woomble and co. Also, after the first four tracks, one can’t help thinking the remainder of the album is merely a rehashed version of what lay before it. This is really just one for the die-hard fans.  James Pulford
Idlewild website


The KBC
On The Beat (High Voltage Sounds)

On The Beat is the new debut album from the highly acclaimed Preston based trio, The KBC. The band are already seeing a big following in Japan and released on High Voltage Sounds the albums record label does not fail to deliver.
The album takes you back to the 80’s new wave sound. The retro Blondie style drum beats and boogie bass lines are clearly apparent, making you want to move your body, get up and dance. Three Tripping includes a Funky bass groove beat, accompanied by electric guitar rifts. Like other tracks on the album, it’s catchy and strangely addictive making it easily indie music you can dance to. Not all songs are purely dance songs though. The starting rifts of Busy Hands are reminiscent of Razorlights riff in America. Melodic, soothing and euphoric, it is a song that can unravel your mind and leave you in a trance of deep thought.
The band easily captures the sound of the present indie youth, with their own added kick of the modern KBC sound. If describing the The KBC’s sound as a clothes shop, it would be Topshop. It desperately aspires to be original but depends too much on other peoples originality to develop its own.
Still, even with saying this, that isn’t to say The KBC’s album is not a one of good quality. If you like clubs like the Rescue Rooms, The Cookie Club or NME type nights this is definitely an album you should give a listen to.  Leanne Gardner
The KBC myspace

Radium88 
Only Science Can Tell Us The Truth
(unsigned)
With a title like Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth this album initially sounds like it may be music written for or by Richard Dawkins. And, if Oxford’s favourite atheist scholar had have given up writing books and decided that the only way to convert people to atheism was to chill them into submission with a killer mix of mellow piano lines, electronic beats and progressive whirring synths then he couldn’t have done a much better job.
It is difficult to pick out too many individual tracks as stand out numbers as it all feels quite samey. However, whilst I have criticised albums in the past for repetitiveness somehow it doesn’t matter so much on Only Science Can Tell Us the Truth. This is because of the atmospheric nature of the album and the way it does genuinely flow from start to finish conjuring up various levels of chilled from ambience to pure sedation.
Having said this, the title track and Rising Tide are particularly good tracks with the latter having a Gorillaz Clint Eastwood–esque wind instrument loop and in Enter Hyperspace Radium88 up the tempo to drive their album to a euphoric conclusion.  Samuel Rogers
Radium88 website


Fall Out Boy
Infinity on High (Universal)

There are three kinds of bands today- there’s those bands you think you like, those bands you tell people you like, and then there’s the bands you really listen to, Fall Out Boy are the latter. Infinity On High, FOB’s second offering, doesn’t digress much from the usual formula, but there’s something lurking behind all the whiney teenage angst and eyeliner that kinda makes me want to throw on a pair of skinnys and cover my arms in star tattoos. Now there are plenty of emo-bashers out there, and I myself have been seen throwing the odd bottle at My Chemical Romance during a certain Reading gig, but the problem is we just don’t understand. Fall Out Boy have pioneered the pop-rock take-over, laughing all the way. First song Thriller, quite frankly kicks ass with layered guitars, a catchy chorus and introduction from Jay-Z, I mean what more do we want from a pop song?! Golden is a mature piano lead ballad, Hum Hallelujah is inoffensive, bouncy and fun and the rest are, quite frankly, the same…. but who cares! This Ain’t A Scene It’s An Arms Race, the first single from the album, follows RnB hooks, makes you jump and sticks up every possible middle finger to, well, anyone that’s watching- you left it too late the bandwagons full, find another.
So maybe, just maybe, all this whiney emo shit that “no one understands me” is exactly the point and maybe Fall Out Boy are actually producing good records- bollocks, now I can never show my face in public again! Bottom line- they like being loved, they love being hated and they know they are big.  Gareth Vipers
Fall Out Boy website

Klaxons
Myths of the Near Future (Rinse/Polydor)
 
Until recently 'Synth' was a dirty word, compelling any self-respecting indie fan to recoil in both fear and disgust, amidst feverish mutterings about Gary Numan and Human League. But 2002 saw the seeds of change planted with bands like New York’s The Rapture delivering albums, acclaimed by critics and indiephiles alike, fusing musical opposites dance and rock.
Four years later, with NME and club support, and more importantly a mass of disillusioned music fans screaming out for something fresh and exciting, the second wave (New Rave if you will) of this unlikely hybrid is upon us. With Klaxons leading the charge, 'MOTNF’s the album that’s got those in the know salivating in anticipation. And rightly so. ‘Two Receivers’ literally gallops out the speakers, all apocalyptic seriousness and rhythms, only to be upstaged by the immense, funk-defining breakthrough single Atlantis To Interzone whilst Totem On The Timeline races along like a Bloc Party gig. Sci-fi, Doctor Who style electronics and lyrics referencing deceased gonzo writers are not usually ‘great album’ staples, but harmonies, an ever-changing pace and quirky lines Marc Bolan would be proud of (“Sequin covered swans that are used to make their own mosaics”, “Madcap Medusa flank my foghorn/We’ll change four seasons with our first born”), make MOTNF weirdly accessible. Casualty theme tune comparisons firmly repressed, Klaxons is a self-assured, utterly innovative debut.  Laura Prescott
Klaxons on myspace






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