Category Archives: Music

101 Great Albums. No.9: Kendrick Lamar – Section.80

Section.80 is an often overlooked part of Kendrick Lamar’s impressive back catalogue, coming as it did just a year before the critically acclaimed Good Kid M.A.A.D City, but offered the first (inconsistent) sample of the rapper’s desired direction.

Lamar focuses the majority of 16 breezy “chapters” upon specific life events, refusing to accommodate generalisation, and thus conjuring lustrous couplets that knit tightly between exquisitely arranged soundtracks.

Chapter Six refers to the unpretentious pleasure of cruising around in a car whilst clouds of Mary Jane pour freely through ones lips (the most middle-classed description for blazin’ up I could muster).

Kendrick Lamar

With a blissfully soulful beat and repetitious lyrics, the song jabs hypnotically at the listener’s senses, breaking from archetypal flow with its linear structure, whilst also containing the requisite chitty-chatty bridge associated with contemporary rap releases.

Admittedly the first three songs on the album, the delectably titled F**k Your Ethnicity, Hol’ Up and A.D.H.D, are the sparkling apex of the piece, and to have continued in the same vain would have guaranteed further accolades upon release.

This is a bit of shame, as the rest of the album has plenty to offer, and had tracks been dispensed with a little more care, the divide may not have been quite so conspicuous.

The good and excellent certainly outweigh the mediocre, although admittedly a quarter of the one hour output could probably have been trimmed without negatively impacting in any way.

Section.80 is a must for Kendrick Lamar enthusiasts, and a definite for any hip-hop fans keen to avoid the stereotypes churned out Ad nauseam through the 21st Century.

The first three tracks and Chapter Six nail their intention without wasting a syllable, while Keisha’s Song, Rigamortus and HiiiPoWeR remain among the young rapper’s finest work to date.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

November Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea continues his pursuit of musical perfection with November’s instalment of his ever expanding playlist – this one features Weezer, but there isn’t an inhaler in sight…

Don’t Breathe Out – Roots Manuva

A soul-stirring sample of portly baritone Barry White’s ‘Honey Please, Can’t Ya See’ forms the unlikely bedrock of this gloriously gospel-tinged track. The orchestral intro to the Walrus of Love’s slightly sickly love letter morphs into something altogether more mystical and compelling under the spell of Stockwell’s philosophical wordsmith, Roots Manuva.

The king of – as he says in the song’s opening throes – ‘twist and adapt’, Roots uses his undimmed gift for vivid imagery to full effect. From his self-proclaimed ‘pulpit’ he delivers a flowing sermon about holding onto a ‘golden breath’ and uplifting invocations of the ‘new black Jesus’. It’s a return to familiar (but fertile) ground for an artist more concerned with espousing his idiosyncratic version of spirituality than figuring out his current place in the UK hip-hop firmament. But Rodney Smith’s trademark humour isn’t entirely absent: with talk of ‘hide the salami’ and ‘flopping it out’ prompting an adolescent grin.

One of his most lyrically potent moments of recent years, ‘Don’t Breathe Out’ is the third single release from Roots Manuva’s sixth studio album, Bleeds, which saw the light of day just last week.

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Thank God for Girls – Weezer

Already this new Weezer track has been interpreted by some imaginative souls as a ‘feminist anthem’, which might be pushing it a bit seeing as the major female role in Rivers Cuomo’s latest verbose rock anthem is a cannoli-maker. Instead, it’s less Taylor Swift girl-power-pop, more middle-aged rock-band paean to women from a particularly male perspective.

God grinding up and microwaving Adam’s rib ‘on the popcorn setting’ is just one of many offbeat images from a song packed with reasons to bow before the fairer sex, while the middle verse focuses on the desperate protagonist’s longing for a deliciously distant femme from an underwear catalogue.

Some of the indie veterans’ more recent output has been bordering on the execrable, so the zippy, infectious ‘Thank God For Girls’ indicates a promising return to form, coming in the slipstream of last year’s ‘Everything Will Be Alright In The End’ LP. The single’s cover art, featuring Pope Francis sharing convivialities with adoring female fans, is an instant classic-in-the-making too.

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Persephone Dreams – NCZA Lines 

Undeniable under (and over) tones of south coast synth-stars Metronomy should come as no surprise on ‘Persephone Dreams’, given that NCZA Lines provided the support on their UK tour last year. Singer and lyricist Michael Lovett is also a self-declared fan of R&B royalty Aaliyah, Ciara and Bajan bottom-barer, Rihanna; though those influences are felt very distantly here.

His electro-pop stylings first caused a stir when an eponymous debut album arrived in 2012, full of silky falsettos and sophisticated sci-fi imagery. Since then, one-time indie band bassist Lovett has been joined by ex-Ash guitarist Charlotte Hatherley and Hot Chip collaborator Sarah Jones. Their influence has evidently brought about some subtle changes which can be heard on this new single. Intriguingly, the slinky six-minute semi-epic breaks into a sort of steel drums vs synths battle half way through, but carries such implausible sonic adventures off in rare style.

NCZA Lines will be on the bill at the Moshi Moshi label’s new By The Sea festival at Dreamland theme park in Margate, on Nov 13th. An eagerly awaited new album, ‘Infinite Summer’, follows on January 22.

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Also recommended this month


Breaker
– Deerhunter
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCVWrqxyt3Y

In My Eyes – Best Coast https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhGwARswL_o

Machine – Euros Childs http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/records/n3cjm9

Like what you’ve heard? Infuriated by it? Just want to troll? Leave a comment below! Follow Jonathan O’Shea on Twitter by clicking here.

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

October Playlist: Music Reviews

Music; it’s not all One Direction and Fine Young Cannibals. Jonathan O’Shea shares his singles of the month, and there isn’t a Zayn Malik themed barbershop quartet in sight.

Window Shades – U.S. Girls

Skilfully structured around an irresistible deep disco beat ‘magpied’ (i.e. ‘nicked’) from Gloria Ann Taylor’s cult classic ‘Love is a Hurting Thing’, ‘Window Shades’ begins with a intriguingly haunting piano refrain and builds to a heart-rending tale of love lost. Accompanied by another bewitching (and self-directed) video, following the similarly mystical ‘Woman’s Work’ promo, this genre-defying single release confirms U.S. Girls as considerable new creative force.

Somehow this track seems just a smidgen under-cooked though; slightly running out of steam mid-way through. Still, it’s another stimulating taste of the idiosyncratic delicacies to expect from Toronto-based Meg Remy’s debut album ‘Half Free’, recently released on 4AD Records.

 

Kuma KitaDeerhoof

Deerhoof

Confuse and astound your neighbours as you jangle your flesh to the frantic, demi-demented electro-wibblings of the loveably strange Deerhoof. A malfunctioning futuristic story-bot tells a twisted tale of an encounter with a brown bear amid intermittently pulsing beats. It’s massively infectious, unreasonably joyous and can be found on the Post Tangent compilation, released in aid of Syrian refugees stranded in Calais.

Not convinced? OK, the lyrics:

Once upon a time/Kumanakumanakuma/Am I safe here?/Is that is that a bear?/Let’s play dead. Play dead!/That is that is a bear. Big and brown head!/Saying Gao Gao/Showing teeth and menacing bang bang bang/Cruel nature, eat or eaten/Everyone waltz.

Resist that.

Fever Elvis Presley & Michael Buble/
Bad Blood – Ryan Adams

Ever dug up your beloved pet rabbit – let’s call him Snowy – and sinisterly waggled his mangy, mangled remains around in the pretence that the once-lovely bundle of fluffy fun is still alive? No, neither have I. But Michael Buble has. Well, effectively.

This pseudo ‘duet’ between the super-syrupy auto-tuned crooner (AKA Micky Bubbles) and the greatest hip-swinger in rock history makes a sick mockery of the King’s considerable legacy. Presumably prompted more by desperation and greed than any desire to produce something enduringly special, this is the latest of innumerable covers of Little Willie John’s 1962 standard. In fact, Elvis obviously once recorded it himself – y’know, when he was alive and all – so why not just leave it at that?

Similarly, what can alt-crooner Ryan Adams’ motivation really be for recording – and actually releasing – an entire Taylor Swift album (‘1989’), so soon after it was initially a hit for the new queen of pop? Sure, he’s made a pleasant enough job of the universally adored Tay-Tay’s ‘Bad Blood’, but what’s the point? And she’s not even dead (yet)!

Coming soon: Harry Styles jives with the decomposing corpse of Ginger Rogers, while Miley Cyrus twerks malevolently in Marlon Brando’s rotting face…in the exclusive video for Bing Crosby and Peter Andre’s new festive EP, ‘Bing & Pete’s I’m Dreaming of an Insania Christmas’.

 

Also recommended this month

 

Paydirt – Horse Party

Singularity – New Order

A Change – Participant 

Let us know your tracks of the month and win a free iPod! Golf bag! Date with a pop-star! Old phone with nude photos of ex-gf that I can’t find a charger for! Sainsbury’s carrier bag worth 5p!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

September Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea serves up his monthly musical musings for Kureen readers to consume in the September playlist – make sure to let us know your opinions in the comment section below!

Sapokanikan – Joanna Newsom

Airfix-light, playfully plinking piano opens a wrought tale about the colonisation of a Native American settlement that preceded Manhattan. The accompanying video, evocatively directed by Hollywood hot-property Paul Thomas Anderson (‘There Will Be Blood’, ‘Boogie Nights’, ‘Magnolia’) follows Newsom as she strides purposefully across New York, a little like the rootless wanderer played by Greta Gerwig in ‘Frances Ha’; her long skirt billowing along to the parping brass flourishes.

Always charismatic and idiosyncratic in equal measure, the Californian harpist here showcases her imaginative take on events that have shaped NY’s Greenwich Village across the years. A distinctly (inevitable comparison alert!) Kate Bush-esque manic crescendo brings this typically unorthodox, but vivid ballad to its conclusion. Though it follows a familiar formula, the bouncy lightness and engaging lyricism of ‘Sapokanikan’ whets the appetite for Newsom’s upcoming new material.

‘Divers’– a double album – is her much-anticipated fourth LP, which follows in the autumn.

 

One Thing – Roots Manuva

As befitting a man named Rodney, Roots Manuva is unafraid to use prosaic and everyday imagery to illustrate his complex, thought-provoking rhymes.  Following his past declaration of affection for cheese on toast (‘Witness’); scrambled eggs and Walkers crisps are name-checked in this potent latest track.

Money is the ‘one thing’ on Roots’ mind here. A veteran of social commentary from his South London stronghold, he pointedly comments on the obscenity of the social welfare situation while paradoxically dreaming the consumer dream (of Lamborghinis and snakeskin bikinis). Dark, hypnotic production by Switch lends a sense of urgency to the message from the genre-defying instigator.

Fresh from the festival scene and supporting Blur at Hyde Park this summer, a re-energised Roots Manuva releases new album ‘Bleeds’ in October.

 

Snakeskin Deerhunter

Self-styled U.S. indie darling, Bradford Cox, has recently been dabbling in acting (‘Dallas Buyers Club’) and his ongoing solo project, Atlas Sound. But his most revered work comes as part of the fluid 4/5-piece band, Deerhunter. They return with new album ‘Fading Frontier’, concocted in the group’s hometown of Atlanta this year.

“I was born already nailed to the cross” is a killer opening line, if one which is hardly indicative of a sprightly clap-along tune such as this. The sinuously-delivered lyrics to ‘Snakeskin’ appear to be autobiographical – perhaps referencing the lead singer’s unusual adolescence (illness and isolation) and/or his recent unfortunate collision with a car. Funky, melodic and highly accessible; this track offers a good entry-point into Cox’s weird and wonderful world for those who are yet to experience its munificent pleasures.

Deerhunter will return to these shores in October/November; with gigs in Manchester, Liverpool, Leeds, Brighton and London.

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Also recommended this month

 

Gratitude – Talib Kweli.
Hip-hop mastery; inciting us to ‘Fuck The Money’ (but not literally, that’d end messily).

Bodies – Farao.
Soaring and strident stuff from the “Scandi indie-folk goddess”.

Woman’s Work – U.S. Girls.
Like a demented Santigold. Sample YouTube comment: “This is some next level shit!”

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

101 Great Albums. No.8: Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman emerged as a marketable artist in the late 1980’s, with the release of a self-titled album that sold in its millions.

Tracy Chapman was recorded over an eight-week period at Powertrax studio in Hollywood. As many as thirty different bass players and drummers were invited to come in to play with her.

Having performed acoustic sets for the past decade from the perspective of protest rather than marketability or eventual stardom, Chapman initially struggled to come to terms with the agglomeration of accompaniment – eventually settling on recording her sections separately, with the additional instrumentation added later on.

The exception to this rule is the stirring “Behind the Wall”, which remained A cappella with a subtle reverberation shift confirming its status as the LP’s most haunting sample.

Tracy Chapman album

The album opens with “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” a song that embodies the ethos of a performer who grew up surrounded by poverty in Ohio, awash with aspirations to affect change upon the world.

The running order of the other ten songs on Tracy Chapman was determined by writing titles out on three-by-five inch cards and shuffling them around in different sequences.

Single releases such as “Fast Car” and “Baby Can I Hold You?” have been relentlessly covered, re-interpreted, and karaoke-fied in recent years, but the original cuts retain an integrity that none of the newer versions come close to emulating (Sorry Boyzone!)

Although an almost inevitable midsection malaise succeeds those big hitters, the compelling opening sequence of penultimate track “If Not Now” leads into some of Chapman’s most exquisite vocal dexterity of the entire album, with the post-production adding a flourish as it tumbles towards a precise conclusion.

Having spent the best part of a decade performing the majority of these songs before the album’s release in 1988, it is perhaps unsurprising that Chapman was unable to scale such heady heights with future releases.

Tracy Chapman’s music remains defined by the raw, unaffected essence of her inaugural release, an album which retains its place at the apex of folk-rock storytelling, more than quarter of a century after setting her on the road to stardom. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

July Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea returns with a new monthly column reviewing the best music releases of the month. For July he’s selected a quartet of “must hear” tracks for Kureen subscribers to get their lug holes around.

Bodyline – Peaches

Ripe as ever, the pornographic priestess Peaches is back. Typically lascivious and with trademark urgency, ‘Bodyline’ is – somewhat disappointingly – not about the 1932/33 Ashes tour (ask your great-granddad). Instead, it’s more about her familiar themes of submitting to animalistic impulses and seeking personal freedom.

Implicit references to willies are fewer than usual, as the returning electro queen corrals the guitar skills of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner to augment her belligerent vocal style. Two-and-a-half minutes of insistent suggestiveness climaxes in wailing sirens on this interim single, released ahead of her forthcoming new album (released in September). As Peaches preaches: “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it”.

Go – The Chemical Brothers ft Q-Tip

Grand Old Dukes of electronica, The Chemical Brothers, are also back among the airwaves, re-uniting with rap royalty, Q-Tip (following up their impressive collaboration on 2008’s ‘Galvanize’). ‘Go’ begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); and Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a familiar Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

This dancefloor-friendly slice is escorted by a characteristically oblique Michel Gondry video. Gondry, who has previously conjured magical moving images to accompany the sounds of (among others) the White Stripes, Metronomy and Paul McCartney, presents an alluring troupe of overgrown Oompa-Loompas practicing sailing drills/Morris dancing in a futuristic fortress. At least that’s my interpretation of it.

‘Cause I’m a Man – Tame Impala

Australia’s Tame Impala have received an avalanche of positive acclaim for their third album, ‘Currents’, which apparently expands their repertoire from psych-rock to electro, disco and new romanticism. This dreamy, 80s-flavoured Prince-esque letter of apology for being ‘typically male’ (i.e. acting before thinking) is a good indicator of the new direction.

The band’s musical mastermind, Kevin Parker, has stated his aim to hear their latest creations emanating from dancefloors – presumably rather than the bedroom windows of stoned students. This stylish slow groove could fulfil that wish in a last-song-of-the-night kind of way.

Dreams – Beck

Not another Fleetwood Mac cover, mercifully. But pop is constantly chewing on itself and, here, alt-veteran Beck serves up an MGMT-flecked melange: the song’s eclectic feel shamelessly recalls their ‘Electric Feel’. It works brilliantly; even threatening to infiltrate the ‘mainstream’ by featuring in TV ads and various musical montages of late.

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections. Never outstaying its welcome at five minutes, it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

Also recommended this month

 

Kings Never Die – Eminem ft Gwen Stefani.

Comeback rant featuring boxing legend Riddick Bowe (in the lyrics, sadly not rapping.)

What Went Down – Foals.

Lung-bursting, stock-in-trade anthem by the ascendant kings of UK guitar music.

Them Changes – Thundercat.

Soul-stirring stuff from bass boss Stephen Bruner.

Tune in again next month to see which tracks J O’S selects as August’s top tunes. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

EP Review – Ba Dow II

Fresh from their white-hot main stage set at the Bestival, the increasingly impressive Ba.Dow have released a new three track EP entitled Ba Dow II, Dom Kureen gives his feedback on the emerging blues-rockers’ latest output.

 

 

King of riffs Sam Morris’ influence is evident from the inaugural shred of Ba Dow II lead track Get Up, Get Up – undoubtedly the cleanest, least burdened composition of Ba.Dow’s embryonic career.

The guitarist’s captivating apéritif expertly blends with Jodie Amos’ velvety vocals and a chorus that is distinctively anthemic. Indeed, it is during the latter that there is a hint of homage to Queen’s We Will Rock You, with a thudding crescendo hurtling from the speakers courtesy of guitarist Morris and bassist Bradley McGinty’s (to date) lesser witnessed support articulations.

Lyrically the track ostensibly divulges a narrative of lost love and resentment from the perspective of the party responsible for terminating romantic liaisons; an impenitent aura of ‘fuck you, get over it’ granting a veneer of unbridled authenticity to proceedings.

Extending that theme, Help Myself fixates upon a moribund relationship in need of resuscitation, or perhaps more pertinently to be put out of its misery.

Although not quite in the ‘instant classic’ bracket of the EP’s opener, an addictive melody makes this another toe-tapper that should keep hardcore fans satiated without drifting too far from the bands’ archived material.

IOW Festival 2014 Ba.Dow

Concluding cut Realise allows Amos to further exhibit her range, adroitly unfurling a husky resonance in her voice, assisted by an unpredictably arranged landscape that eases towards a simple, buoyant bridge.

Culminating with a glorious string of “la-la’s”, the sanguine nature of the final piece extends an apt metaphor for a band that seem to be gathering momentum rather rapidly at the moment, and while critics may infatuate upon a dearth of lyrical acuity, advocates will counter that this is one of the charms of their early work, which steadfastly refuses to accommodate cliché.

Certainly this is an EP that will leave fans salivating at the prospect of Ba.Dow’s first full length album, having sampled an Hors d’Oeuvres that provides a more than palatable taster to be going on with.

One magnificent track and two notable ones make Ba Dow II a recommended purchase for Kureen readers.

Click —-> here <—- to purchase Ba.Dow II and —-> here <—- to listen to Ba.Dow’s SoundCloud.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Three Track Playlist: New Singles Reviews

After an extended sabbatical, Jonathan O’Shea returns with a trio of single reviews for your consumption. This time the spotlight shines upon Azealia Banks, Gruff Rhys and Laetitia Sadier.

Azealia Banks 2
Azealia Banks: Creative potty mouth.

‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’ – Azealia Banks

Queen of the c-word, f-bomber supreme, attention-seeking “slore” (combination of slut and whore, apparently) according to rival rapper Jim Jones – there are many monikers you could attach to potty-mouthed princess Azealia Banks. The Harlem-born rapper has garnered almost as much interest for her innumerable Twitter feuds as for her white-hot debut single ‘212’.

Since the release of the filthiest/funniest track of 2012 there has been little but a dribble of musical content from the controversial starlet; with her first LP, ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ still stalled on the production line nearly three years later and a lucrative contract with Interscope now expired. As such, it’ll be a relief for Banks’ fans to hear this tune, which will be released on her own label.

On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be an immediately apparent correlation between heavy metal, as a genre, and reflection, but our Azealia seems to have spotted one. In the space of a prodigiously pounding two-and-a-half minutes, she almost certainly references the (thankfully) long-forgotten Japanese pseudo-pet, the Tamagotchi, amid frenzied Prodigy-esque beats and with her trademark intimidating delivery. Female rap is a crowded field these days, but this blistering new track again evidences that Miss Banks has something incendiary about her which burns brightly – and possibly briefly. 

 

Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)’ – Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

While not characteristically playful, Gruff Rhys’ new single is typically melodic – and a fair representation of what to expect from his fine fourth solo album ‘American Interior’, which also spawned a feature-film travelogue and an app. An accompanying tour commences (in Shetland!) early next month.

The whole multimedia project focuses on fellow Welshman John Evans’ trek across America in the late-18th century in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. Coming from a man who once released a whole album inspired by the DeLorean car which featured in the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, this unconventional subject matter should come as no surprise.

On ‘Liberty…’, soaring strings, glorious pedal steel guitar and longing lyrics about Evans’ voyage of discovery through America mark a new high in the erstwhile Super Furry Animal’s solo output. He manages to cram several too many syllables into one line mid-song, which elicits a wry grin, as much of the bearded maestro’s canon often does, but otherwise plays it straight. The urgent outro, with Rhys ‘doo-doo-do-do’-ing his way to a climax, caps a delightful summer-time ‘tune with a tale’. 

  

Then, I Will Love You Again’ – Laetitia Sadier

Laetitia Sadier

Similarly melodic and stirring, but with a pleasingly Gallic twist, is the ex-Stereolab singer’s elegy to the intrinsic difficulties of long-distance relationships. This single was initially made available exclusively to an apple-related musical monolith (aka eyeChoons) back in April, but now thankfully enjoys a wider audience with a full release.

Wistful strings, picked bass and restrained brass backing underscore the anxious nature of her regretful lyrics, delivered in her inimitable style. ‘Where to settle?’ she repeatedly pleas, as if hoping to find some answers to the unanswerable in the music. Thought-provoking, yet suitably catchy enough to secure more success for this surviving veteran of the early-1990s indie scene. 

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa’s latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Album Review: DRK – Retroverted Propulsion

17 year-old Dylan Kulmayer released his first album last week, here’s what Dom Kureen thought of the American born, Isle of Wight based rapper’s debut LP.

Dylan KulmayerDestined to hook hip-hop fans tightly from the start, the debut album of 17-year old Dylan Kulmayer (aka: DRK), Retroverted Propulsion, leaves little debate as to from whom the major artistic influence has been acquired, with later references confirming that Eminem was a pivotal inspiration in the diction development of the talented native of Virginia, USA.

That acknowledged, this is far from a parody of ‘Slim Shady’, with the storied evolution of a fresh, cerebral orator progressing over the course of seven singles and three skits.

The first prominent feature of the album is in its slick production, something that sets it apart from a gaggle of other Isle of Wight compilations and speaks volumes for the dedication the rapper has to his craft.

Better still, in the shape of the decadent Highschoolhood the LP has a ready made hit. An engaging tune provides strong foundation for DRK to work with, nevertheless it is the energy of his wistful frustration at perceived creative castration from a stifled academic system that most compellingly engages the audience.

Lyrically even that Tour de Force is marginally trumped by the brutally honest, undoubtedly cathartic To Be A Success, a track fuelled by pop-culture references, directly affecting society and, as a consequence, the artist.

It is easy to forget that DRK isn’t long off the teat when getting lost in the lyrics of ‘Training Day.’ One inspired burst reveals: “I’m Nostradamus, not predicting comets, but approximating my chance of making it as an artist.”

So lyrically tight is the majority of the album that it does necessitate a few listens to truly gather in all the information and appreciate the relentless unloading – not that this is a negative, with the catchy landscape of the melodies another facet in common with Mr Mathers’ embryonic solo output.

Max Lyrical
DRK will be performing at Ventnor Fringe Festival on August 15th.

As regular readers of Kureen’s reviews are aware, we pride ourselves on being authentic and not pulling any punches, particularly when it comes to the rap genre, as we’re huge fans of the scene.

Even so, it’s difficult to pick holes in this release. If there is one minor flaw it might be the slightly tiresome chorus of You Got It, but even that is offset by the regularly captivating concepts of a teenage musician who already warrants a grander stage.

Until that day arrives the Isle of Wight is his oyster and it’s clear that these are merely the initial acts of what is likely to unfold into an exciting career.

 

 

Retroverted Propulsion provides a stunning launchpad for Dylan Kulmayer, in the words of Fort Minor: Remember The Name. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Album Review: JC and The Catfish – ‘Diamond In The Rough’

JC and The Catfish are set to release a seven-track album later this summer, Dom Kureen gives his take on the hip-hop duo’s latest exploits.

JC at work
JC at work

Rarely does a pre-release appear in my email inbox with the sort of anticipation that surrounded ‘Diamond In The Rough’, a seven track LP written and produced by Jason Cox (JC) and Jon Clucas (Catfish Jon) respectively.

A combination of societally scathing rhetoric and unrelenting percussion, the album gets underway via the agile exploits of its ethical quandary fuelled title track.

Focusing on the battle between authenticity and perceived necessity, there is a flavour of early Silibil ‘n’ Brains here, as JC’s heartfelt, seductively crafted lyrical attack on widespread subliminal psyche numbing serves to expose and address an often overlooked political device, whilst ostensibly unburdening the performer from his own demons.

Those concepts are further explored during the next trio of tracks, culminating with the album’s most poignant, stirring cut ‘If I Should Die,’ which hints at underlying religion and recreational drug related reminiscence.

Bob Marley

Following such a storming embarkation,  there are a couple of let downs: ‘Vitamin D’, an ode to an often logistically bound nature versus nurture impasse, focuses on the coming together of a segregated species, poking indecisively at the subject without threatening resolution.

Likewise, ‘Liar’, struggles from the blocks, initially retracing ground by now well worn, although it does ultimately evolve into a decent eulogy for a planet teetering beneath the weight of the excessive apex caused by such ill-conceived hierarchy.

Concluding in a blaze of glory, the duo’s re-imagining of Bob Marley’s legendary ‘Redemption Song’ allows listeners a traipse through JC’s psyche, as he possibly seeks his own redemption from a haunted inner optical.

 

A risky addition due to the original’s continued relevance , the cover is arguably the zenith of a potent, well thought out album and guarantees a satisfying denouement to proceedings.

Despite a brief lapse in vigour, five and a half good to excellent tracks make this thought provoking LP essential listening for fans of spoken word, rap and/or hip-hop

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me.
I meditate and wash daily when possible.