FKJ – Take Off

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22 year old Vincent Fenton aka FKJ (French Kiwi Juice) is a seriously funky electro-soul producer from Paris (obviously).  FKJ seems intent on bridging the gap between old school funk and flawless production techniques that make every single track as smooth as a baby’s bum.  His unblemished musicality seems to be innate and effortless.

FKJ dropped his first single ‘Lying Together’ back in November 2012 and his first EP ‘The Twins’ around the same time.  Since then we’ve had another stunning EP, ‘Time for a Change’, in July 2013. It’s reminiscent of Moodymann-techno, highlighting a similar mix of acoustic and synthetic instruments.

On Tuesday 1st July he released ‘Waiting’ which features Madelyn Grant. It has a slightly more commercial sound than his previous tracks, but still showcases his extraordinary talent.  Madelyn Grant hints at a Lauryn Hill-type flair and has some serious similarities to UK singer Elli Ingram.   It’s the first track to be made available from his most recent EP ‘Take Off’ which is available for purchase on 21st July.

Have a listen to as much as you can find. Whatever your mood, whatever your age…

Glass Animals – Zaba

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Icky Gooey Hazey Woozy, Glass Animals love onomatopoeias that’s for sure.  Brand new, debut album Zaba is released on Monday, 9th June.  I’ve been following Glass Animals for 6 months or so and am so excited that finally the Oxford-based boys are releasing this record.  They were the first band to be signed to Paul Epworth’s Wolf Tone Records, alongside Canadian producer Zodiac – most famous for his work with The Weeknd, but expect bigger things to come.

So far from Glass Animals we’ve had ‘Leaflings EP’ which was released in 2012 – second track ‘Cocoa Hooves’ features on Zaba (a good shout). ‘Glass Animals EP’ was released in January this year and was the trigger of my interest in their innovative music.  Diffused, echoey but headbobbingly-bassy, ‘Black Mambo‘ on this EP also made it on to the album, but my favourite song was ‘Woozy’ which features seriously talented Jean Deaux, who’s debut record ‘Soular System’ is out later this year:

Glass Animals have created a kaleidoscopic, psychedelic stamp and coated every track with it. This most recent collection of tracks follow a similar theme, but somehow still manage to sound unique. This album is the epitome of Indie/R&B, with some droppings of HipHop, World music and  Psychedelic Rock/Dance/Trance whatever you fancy really. The range of sounds and samples used throughout is so intriguing.  My favourite is Hazey, track 7.  I think it gives the perfect balance between smooth R&B rhythms, interesting instrumentation – a bit of India, some China – and damn good vocals.

You can stream the whole album from their website or Spotify if you’re that way inclined: http://glassanimals.eu/

Finally, in April this year we had the release of ‘Gooey EP’, with the trippy, vibrant title track ‘Gooey’.  It also features on Zaba (alongside ‘Pools’ which has a peculiar stop motion video). Here is the very creative and frankly bizarre video for Gooey:

Chet Faker – Built on Glass

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Bearded Aussie, Chet Faker, has released his first full length album.  After years of writing and producing dance and electronica, Built on Glass is a skilful and accomplished collection of tracks.

For those of you who don’t know jazz, the real Chet Baker was a brilliant trumpeter and vocalist – his heyday during the 50s and 60s.  He was known for both his intricate trumpeting skills but also his clever transition into contemporary singing, something our own Chet Faker pays homage to.  Faker (born Nicholas Murphy) began his musical career as an electronic producer, remixing the likes of Temper Trap and MSMR, along with producing for British singer Rainy Milo and collaborating on several tracks with fellow Aussie, Flume.

Thinking In Textures LP was released in March 2012, and was Faker’s first introduction in to the commercial music industry.  It features his cover of ‘No Diggity‘ which was famously used for the Beck’s advert in the 2013 Super Bowl, and has had a reasonable amount of publicity since.  Built on Glass was released mid-April this year and has become a resident in both my headphones and my house!  The album is chilled, soulful, electronic yet musically valid and versatile.  Faker has a nice voice, not impeccable but homely and warm.  His lyrics, although not arduous, are food for thought and let you come away feeling refreshed and enlightened.  To me, the most impressive aspect of this album is the instrumental arrangements and the sheer extent of musical talent he exudes.

Title track from the album ‘Talk Is Cheap’ incorporates growling sax lines, effective lyrics, a shapely bass and is accompanied by a refreshingly original video.

SOHN – Tremors

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Finally it’s arrived. London-born, Vienna-based producer, singer and all-round-talented-musician Sohn released his debut album on Monday (7th April).  He’s produced for two of the most exciting new artists, Banks and Kwabs, and has released three singles to-date.

Artifice‘ is his most recent single and is currently playlisted on BBC Radio 1.  It’s a tuneful, well constructed song, and definitely the most likely “single” from the album.  The further 10 tracks bring quite an array of concepts.  Generally, the focus of the album is on the colourful mosaic of rhythms, but Sohn’s vocals shape the tracks to form eerie and refined gems.

‘Lights’ is one of my favourite tracks on the album.  Vocally it doesn’t stand out from the rest but the complex, synthesised rhythmic and string sections fascinate me.   It’s immersive and totally mesmeric.  Here’s a video of live session for his label 4AD (I’m not sure why he’s dressed as a nun):

You can download title track ‘Tremors’ for free as part of iTunes Single of the Week:

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/album/tremors-single/id853622938

 

Route 94 – Fly 4 Life

Route-94Route 94 (Rowan Jones) began as a relatively low-key, anonymous House DJ.  In 2012, rumours began stirring about his identity; most fans and producers assumed Route 94 was the new alias for an already-established Dubstep artist. As it turned out, it was an accurate guess. Dream, a native Londoner, was signed by our dear friend Skrillex, on his OWSLA label.  In 2012 it appears Dream had a change of genre-heart and decided to reinvent himself as a House producer.

Route 94 first appeared with ‘My Window’, a Deep House record which is unsurprisingly less mainstream than his most recent hit ‘My Love’.  Jones, still only 19 years old, remained quite under the chart-radar until ‘My Love’, a track which topped the UK singles chart in its debut week.  Apart from the obvious fact that it’s particularly catchy, there is a couple of other possible factors contributing to its success: Clean Bandit’s recent number 1 -’Rather Be’ which also featured Jess Glynne and the huge rise in popularity of Pop-House music in the last 18 months.

The ‘Fly 4 Life’ EP originally dropped in summertime last year, but was withdrawn for unknown reasons.  It’s now back on the circuit, conveniently only a week after the release of ‘My Love’.  ‘Tell You Why’ is the opening track on the EP and features R&B infused vocals and a funky bass.  Title track ‘Fly 4 Life’ is actually my least favourite track on the EP, there’s some slightly creepy vocals and a mildly irritating synthetic-organ sound. Track 3 is ‘In My Heart’, which takes a more four-to-the-floor vibe with low sampled vocals, often heard in Deep House music. ‘Walls Come Tumbling Down’ is reminiscent of early 90′s House, particularly in the vocals, but features a really groovy bass line (sorry I couldn’t think of another adjective!).  Out of the four tracks, ‘Tell You Why’ is definitely my favourite. I can’t see any of them being as successful as ‘My Love’, but I get the impression this EP wasn’t targeted at the charts anyway.

The EP is out on 31st March, but you can stream it from SoundCloud here:

London Grammar @ Troxy, London

london-grammarWith over 500 people in the queue in front of us, we arrived to the Troxy horrified we might miss the beginning of the show. Luckily we bumped in to some friends (of friends) and joined them at the front. The show started fashionably late at 9.30, so we had time to grab a beer before finding a spot.

London Grammar kicked off with ‘Hey Now’, which featured on their first official EP release back in February 2013, and one of the tracks that catapulted them in to fame. I don’t normally get emotional in these situations, but honestly if I’d been slightly sad about something I would have burst in to tears.

Their set was flawless, beginning to end.  Hannah’s mind-blowing vocals are even better live and evoked chills on multiple occasions. I was fascinated by Dot’s ability to switch between instruments (keys, drums, synths), and the delivery of each was seamless. Dan had some impeccable guitar riffs, particularly when Hannah was off ‘steaming her voice’ and changing her shoes!

They were filming their music video for future single ‘Sights’ – I’m looking forward to seeing the outcome as it was an epic performance.  Unfortunately we missed Dan Croll who was the support act, I’m gutted because I would’ve loved to have seen him. (My train was cancelled – due to “unsafe track”. Cheers FGW.)

Here’s a little clip of the set, and their dreamy performance of ‘If You Wait’:

The Hics

hicsThe only way I can describe The Hics is if you put Fat Freddy’s Drop, Submotion Orchestra, James Blake, Frank Ocean, London Grammar, The xx and Little Dragon in a bowl and blended them together. They have a fantastic sense of musicianship, particularly evident through the jazz-influenced saxophone sections and the unusual clash of emotions in the vocal harmonies.

The Hics are a London based electronic-soul sextet consisting of Roxane (vocals/guitar), Sam (vocals/synths), Matt (bass), Geordan (guitar/electronics), Jacob (drums) and David (sax).  Ranging from 17-24 years old, they met through Pimlico Academy, which has also produced the likes of Roots Manuva and Elly Jackson of La Roux. They released their sole record to date ‘Tangle – EP’ back in August 2013, and there’s rumours that they’ve got lots of new material to come.

They are playing at Oslo Hackney – London this coming Thursday (27th Feb).  There’s currently no tickets available, but I’m keeping my eye on the website as it seems there may be more released soon. I’m aware I’m a little behind the bandwagon with these guys, but for those of you yet to hear about them, keep your ears peeled.  We haven’t heard the best from them yet.  You can stream the whole Tangle – EP below: