Labrinth – Electronic Earthquake (ALBUM PREVIEW)


A long awaited preview of an album which is fairly long awaited itself. Labrinth’s album, ‘Electronic Earth’ promises to be one of the year. I mean, if you listen to this, and don’t appreciate to consistent, exceptional production, then I must have put the wrong video into this post. My favourite track in this preview has to be Lab’s collab with Emeli Sande, ‘Beneath Your Beautiful’. Get a feature from Emeli and improving the track is a definite. It’s a superb preview, but you’ll have to wait ’till April 2nd to get a copy!

 

Ed Sheeran – Drunk (Live on Graham Norton) and ‘+’ Stops The Adele Party!


A typically great performance from the 4-time Brit nominee.

Also, in Ed news, ‘+’ went back in at number 1 in the album charts! Denying Adele’s ’21’ a 21st week at the number 1 spot on it’s release anniversary. Ed Sheeran, stopping an Adele party it seems! Will he do the same, by over-shadowing her at the BRITS?

Wait and see.

Review | Wiley – Evolve Or Be Extinct


The Godfather’s returned? Sorry, but when did he leave?

It was only last June when Wiley released ‘100% Publishing‘. And, yeah that was a great album in itself. But just 7 or so months later, he’s back with a 22-track LP – ‘Evolve Or Be Extinct‘.

Instead of attempting to do a track-by-track review, I thought it’d be better to do an overview, and include some of my favourites from the album.

You’d be forgiven for thinking that, in this 22-track, there’d be a few weak ones. Sure, there’s some that are better than some others – but you get that on every album, and it’s down to personal preferences. And I do think it starts better than it ends – but, to tell the truth, there are no ‘weak’ tracks here. And, there are some absolutely brilliant tracks:

#1 – ‘Welcome To Zion’As I’ve always thought, the opening track is so important. If you don’t shine on the first track, why the rest be any different. It hasn’t got to be the best track, but something to get you hooked. ‘Welcome To Zion‘ does just that.

#2 – ‘Evolve Or Be Extinct’The title track, and it showcases what the rest of the majority of the album will sound like. Huge. A great beat, surrounding Wiley’s top lyrics.

#6 – ‘Weirdo’Featuring a sort of distorted, creepy Tetris style beat, Wiley again, superhumanly delivers in full-on style.

#8 – ‘Can I Have A Taxi Please?’You’ll see in the next couple of track mentions, that ‘story-telling’, features again. But this story includes a beat, and various people trying to book a taxi – including, my favourite, ‘that typical posh guy’. It then ends with Wiley slamming a taxi company – which is always funny to hear.

#11/12 – ‘Customs’/ ‘Immigration’These are technically two tracks, but effectively go together. ‘Customs‘ is basically just a story- a lead-up to ‘Immigration‘. A story of Wiley being stopped at customs, for one of those ‘checks’, with a jumped up policeman. Giving some context to the next track, ‘Immigration‘. A track, which again, has great production and lyrics from Wiley.

#14 – ‘This Is Just An Album’Similar, in the sense that the production is pretty relaxed, to ‘Numbers In Action‘. And it features typically top lyrics and delivery from Wiley. ‘Had to let the beat breathe for a second’. Yeah, this is a ‘slowed down’ track, but doesn’t mean it’s not brilliant.

#22 – ‘High And Lows’Well he had to end strongly. ‘Highs And Lows‘ features a fairly laid-back beat, when compared to the rest of the album, which really shows off Wiley’s lyrical class. I’d be surprised if after to listening to this track, you don’t skip straight back to the beginning.

It’s dark at points, it’s funny at points, but it’s brilliance shines throughout. 2012 has already served up some great music, and in short, Wiley’s album is right up there!

Michael Kiwanuka: “The more people who hear your music, the more people you discover don’t like it.”


Speaking to the Guardian, the BBC Sound Of 2012 winner, Michael Kiwanuka has spoken about the added pressure, and ‘expectations’ that come along with the acclaimed win.

“Loads of things excite me about it,” Michael says, “I’m not gonna lie and say I don’t care, because I’ve always wanted to be a musician and recognition for your art is definitely something you take to heart.”

However, he added, “but it may well come with baggage. Expectations. The fact that the more people who hear your music, the more people you discover don’t like it.”

To be frank, he’w write. Some people say it’s almost better to not win, just come in the top 5 or so – that way there will be a lot less expectation and pressure put onto your shoulders.

About his own, destinctive sound, Michael said, “I can’t sing any other way. At first I hated it, I didn’t want to sound like that. You have your heroes and you want to sound like them. In my little head I thought: I don’t sound like Marvin Gaye, so it’s crap.” Adding, “eventually you accept who you are. That it’s better to sound like you. That that’s actually cool.”

Not only a great, unique artist, but also, from the sounds of it, a very level-headed guy.

His debut album, ‘Home Agian’, is out March 23rd.

Ed Sheeran’s Continued Success


Seeing as all my followers really seem to adore Ed Sheeran, I thought I’d do another recap of the 13 days gone so far in 2012 – and what Ed’s managed to achieve in them.

I’ve already written a large piece on the wonder that is Ed Sheeran, in late December. But even that is out of date now, ‘cos things haven’t slowed down at all. Opposite, really.
The first number 1 album of the year, ‘+’ – which also soon after went triple platinum (over 900,000 copies), and was nominated for Mastercard British Album Of The Year for the Brit Awards. Oh, and with the other 3 nominations for the singer/songwriter. Best Male Solo Artist. British Breakthrough Act. British Single. 4… 4 nominations! 4 nominations for one of the most prestigious awards ceremony.

Add this to the 25 minute sell-out time for his Thetford Forest gig in the summer.

All of the above has happened in 2012. It’s currently January 13th. He’s done all this in 13 days?! Incredible.

Oh, plus, watch out for the release of his upcoming collaborations EP, with one of his favourite US artists.

Who Does 2011 Belong To?… Ed Sheeran.


(continued from the post below, I know it may not be continued, as this will appear before the first post, but yeah, read the one below first please…)

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I remember thinking after the BBC released their Sound Of 2011 longlist, ‘Oh, yeah, you’ve really missed someone out from that!’. They really did, didn’t they. Ed Sheeran. What a year he’s had! He stated his musical intentions, maybe indirectly in the charts too – with the release of his No. 5 Collaborations EP in January – featuring the likes of Sway, Random Impulse and Wiley. It shocked everyone, seeing it climb peak at number 2 in the iTunes charts – especially considering he was still an independent artist! Well, he was, but not for much longer, as on January 12th, Ed signed with Atlantic Records and it went from strength to strength from there on in.

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His first move after the record signing, was a good-willed one, as always. The ‘One Take’ EP was released for free, featuring a version of ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, a Jamie Woon cover of ‘Wayfaring Stranger’, and a version of ‘UNI’. And like anything he’s released, it went down a storm with his ever growing fan base – with over 10,000 downloads in the first 12 hours.

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These were just a few highlights of the year for Ed. There’s so many I could write about. The free Camden Barfly gig being one. It attracted over 1,000 people, and if you’ve never been to the Barfly, you’ll know that, as great a venue as it is, it couldn’t hold 1,000 people. Not letting that stop him, Ed played 3 times inside the venue – until it shut. Then once more outside in the nearby car park for anyone that still hadn’t seen him.

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Also, Sheeran performed ‘Wayfaring Stranger’ and debut single, ‘The A Team’ on ‘Later … With Jools Holland’ in April. With nothing but his vocals, acoustic guitar, and a loop pedal. The performance was stunning, proper goose-bump stuff!

Then the release of ‘The A Team’ just 6 weeks later. Things were moving quick, as his debut single charted at number 3 in the UK – selling 58,000 copies in the first week! It was the lead single from his debut album, ‘+’, released in early September. It showed, not just the progression throughout 2011, but the progressions since Ed started performing, writing, singing, and being around music. ‘+’ went straight in at number 1, the week after Example’s album had done just the same – and both were full of joy for the other one!

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From that last bit, it seems like Ed did nothing between April and September? Very wrong. Notably, he performed a headline set at Glastonbury on the BBC Introducing stage. This was one of many summer festival performances, Bestival and Reading Festival to name a couple others.

He also released his second single in the run up to the album release. ‘You Need Me, I Don’t Need You’, and although it charted lower than ‘The A Team’ (number 4), it still sold more first week copies. But to be frank, this release wasn’t really about chart position. Obviously it was intended to promote the album. But it had much more meaning than that. ‘You Need Me…’ was the first introduction many people had to Ed – due to Jamal Edwards and SBTV. The song has changed through the years, with many new and retracted verses. So to see a final single was brilliant for Ed fans, even if they didn’t like the new beat put in, they understood it had to be done.

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‘Lego House’ was the next single, and the first off the back of ‘+’. I’m proud to say that I was there on Ed’s sell-out Autum Tour, when they filmed the iconic video – at Herts University Forum, with Rupert Grint. It was also my 17th birthday that day. So, yeah, it was a pretty good day really. Anyway, ‘Lego House’ peaked at number 5. Why it didn’t chart higher was because it was available from the album, so people just couldn’t wait to buy the single version. So to peak at number 5 is absolutely massive!

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There’s so much I could write about Ed Sheeran. I am one of the people that knew of him before ‘The A Team’ release, and I’ve actually met him a couple of times. Not that he’d, one; read this, or two; remember me, but even so. However, I don’t think when you discovered his music matters. As long as you support him, go to gigs, buy the singles, watch the videos, then why should it matter who saw him first?

It’s also strange to see an artist break through, and still manage to maintain their backgrounds. He’s kept the same support artists through the year close to him. Ryan Keen, Lester Clayton to name a couple.

It’s also shown by the No. 5 Collaborations EP (talked about earlier) – which came out in January 2011. Many artists would have left it behind. But not Ed. Because, as I’m writing this, I’m preparing to hear the specially recorded Live Lounge for the No. 5 Collaborations, featuring Wretch 32, P Money, Devlin and Mikill Pane for Trevor Nelson’s show on BBC Radio 1xtra. This is around 11/12 months after the release. What more could Ed do to show how committed to his music than this. (Listen and watch the whole sessions here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/1xtra/sessions/2011-12-21_edsheeran)

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I think Ed is the perfect middle ground I mentioned earlier. He’s actually broken through – without having a big backing of influential music people at the start, like Jessie J. He was an independent artist at the start of 2011. He ends 2011, with a number 1 album – which sold over 102,000 copies in it’s first week, and was the most downloaded debut album in history, singles charting 3, 4 and 5, with live festival and TV performances as well. But most importantly, with a religiously following fan base, stronger than anything that could have been imagined. The future looks pretty good for him really.

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Who Does 2011 Belong To?


2011 has been one of the best years for music in a very long time. With so many artists finally ‘making it’, how can you say who has had the better year? Do you base it purely on chart positions? If so, it counts out some artists. Do you base it purely on breaking through? Again, that counts some artists out. So you have to try find that middle ground. This post is effectively like a ‘BBC Sound Of’ post, but for the year just gone. So often we’re caught just looking forward, rightly so on occasions, to the new, fairly unknown, exciting artists. However, we need to hand out some credit to the people responsible for the music that shaped 2011. Shaped it in the good way, by the way. (Don’t expect to see a section on LMFAO.)

In terms of charts, it’s hard to look past Adele. ‘Someone Like You’, off of her ’21’ album took the worldwide charts by storm – number 1 in 24 separate countries! ’21’ also overtook Amy Winehouse’s ‘Back To Black’, as the highest selling album of the, funnily enough, 21st century. I mean, that’s quite a good year, I guess.

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But so many artists have had a really good 2011. Calvin Harris, with the massive summer anthems, ‘Bounce’ and ‘Feel So Close’, not forgetting his Rihanna earworm collaboration, ‘We Found Love’. Also, Chase & Status, with the massive singles, like, ‘Let You Go’ and ‘Blind Faith’, off one of the biggest albums of the year, ‘No More Idols’. This list is endless! (Obviously it isn’t endless, but yeah, you get the idea.) There’s just been so much great music in 2011! Image It did seem to be some of my favourite music was finally getting recognised, Professor Green finally getting a massive number 1, with ‘Read All About’, Example smashing the summers festivals, with 2 number 1s, ‘Stay Awake’, and possibly many peoples’ favourite single of the year, ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’ – not to mention the number 1 album spot, with ‘Playing In The Shadows’. Image Rizzle Kicks have really grown in the past 6 months. Their rise to success was fairly sudden. I met them outside the Barfly in Camden ahead of their gig. This was in July – just 5/6 months ago. This was around the time ‘Down With The Trumpets’ took off, not long after this, ‘When I Was A Youngster’ was released, and also their feature on Olly Murs’ number 1 single, ‘Heart Skips A Beat’. Their newest single, ‘Mama Do The Hump’, off the back of their brilliant album, ‘Stereo Typical’, features James Corden in the video. Just another example of their progression. They’re now one of the hottest duos out there. Image An album which went fairly, and annoyingly, unrecognised, in terms of acclaim, was ‘Black And White’, from the supremely talented Wretch 32. For me, it’s one of the albums of the year. It flows together better than any other album I’ve heard in a long time, let alone 2011. ‘Traktor’ hit number 5, bringing in a wide range of new fans, as well as touring with Example in early 2011 – it set out where Wretch was going. The second single release followed – ‘Unorthodox’ feat. Example. In my eyes, this is one of the best tracks of the year. (Oh, and Adele agrees with me.) Unfortunately though, it only charted at number 2. I remember the first set I saw at V Festival, was Wretch 32’s. It was also the weekend that the beautiful ‘Don’t Go’ feat. Josh Kumra, charted at number 1, and you could tell from the performance he gave that he was enjoying all this success so very much. Soon after the album followed, but for some reason, it didn’t have the success that other artists were rightly getting around that time, and even more strangely, Wretch didn’t receive any MOBO Awards. But even so, he’s definitely had one of the best years imaginable. Image As I’ve mentioned, many artists have broken through in 2011. But Nero have been influential in the break through of a whole genre. A year ago now, Nero were included in the BBC’s Sound Of 2011 longlist. But no-one could really have imagined how they’d progress. They brought Dubstep to number 1. Single charts with, ‘Promises’, and album charts, with ‘Welcome To Reality’. Even Lupe Fiasco featured a couple of Nero’s tracks on his latest mixtape! Image There’s almost too much choice! Jessie J was the eventual winner of the ‘Sound Of 2011’, giving her much deserved acclaim. ‘Do It Like A Dude’ was released in 2010, but Price Tag’ was one of the biggest singles of the 2011! In fact, it was the biggest collaboration single of 2011, with B.o.B. As well as that, her album, ‘Who You Are’ is the biggest selling debut album of the year! Image Obviously, you’ve got the likes of The Vaccines, Katy B, Rihanna, Bruno Mars, Coldplay, Jay Z + Kanye, who have all had good years as well – and I’ve probably left a few out, but there really has been so much success this year in music! Image

Tell you what though, 2012, will be even bigger! Maverick Sabre, Emeli Sande and Delilah are definitely three to watch out for. But you should probably know that by now.

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But there’s one artist I’ve significantly left out of this review so far. Ed Sheeran…

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