Tag Archives: album

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: Black Keys – Turn Blue

A spate of high-profile album releases has seen the UK chart summit change hands with frequency this month, one of those to sit atop the pile briefly was The Black Keys‘ ‘Turn Blue.’ Dom Kureen investigates…

Black Keys 3

For their latest album, Midwestern dyad, Dan Auerbach and Patrick Carney, A.K.A ‘The Black Keys’, enlisted the assistance of production guru Danger Mouse, widely acknowledged as the driving force behind the blues-rockers’ seminal LP ‘El Camino’ in 2011.

With that in mind, it was perhaps inevitable that the seven-time Grammy award winning Keys’ eighth studio album would carry expectations of further unremitting expansion – a fact not lost in the shuffle of construction, with heavy doses of hitherto scarce psychedelic punctuation serving as a thread from whence to bind the eleven-track composite.

The turbulent spirit of inaugural ditty ‘Weight of Love’ serves as a mouth-watering aperitif, with intricate guitar looming atop a sorbet of unpredictable percussion.

Continuing that alluring trend, the initial decadence of ‘In Time’ soon transforms into a breakneck voyage through unlikely dimensions, carrying a whiff of early ‘White Stripes’ towards its denouement.

Other stand-out morsels arrive in the shape of raw title track ‘Turn Blue’ and the album’s most elegant gift, ’10 Lovers,’ the former of which struggled to make an impact on the French and American singles billboards earlier this year.

Full of serenades to happier times, this latest slice of idiosyncratic inventiveness from Ohio’s finest export since Halle Berry gratifyingly vanquishes any pre-issue apprehension devotees may have harboured.

Already a contender for album of the year gongs en mass, ‘Turn Blue’ remains faithful to the Black Keys’ previous creations, whilst garnishing it with a welcome prescription of hallucinogen straight from the heaving bosom of Mother Ayahuasca.


Despite fears to the contrary, the irrepressible Black Keys have struck gold once again with a release that continues their uninterrupted rise. 

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 – Pharrell Williams: Girl

Pharrell Williams is set to take his place on the jury of the ‘The Voice’ in America. It caps a whirlwind 18 months for the 41 year-old singer/producer. Dom Kureen pays homage by sharing his opinion of the white-hot maestro’s latest solo album, ‘Girl.’

Pharrell Williams 2

For Pharrell Williams 2013 was something of an annus mirabilis. Collaborating with the likes of Daft Punk, Robin Thicke and Azealia Banks ensured that the former Neptunes and N.E.R.D front man rarely drifted from the spotlight.

Eight years after hitting the solo scene with the widely panned ‘In My Mind,’ the ageless star launched his follow-up LP having morphed into a bonafide A-lister during the interim, with ‘Girl’ reaching the summit of the album charts in no fewer than eleven countries.

Striding into earshot with the typically addictive strains of ‘Marilyn Monroe’, a recent single release, it’s clear from the outset that fans are in for an annoyingly catchy stroll along melody lane. The casting of Kelly Osborne for background vocals provides an unexpectedly inspired addition to the track.

The steamy silhouette spawned by ‘Gush’ leaves little to the imagination, with dirty beats and suggestive lyrics that only cease during a synthesised string-dominated bridge that temporarily alleviates the steaminess.

‘Happy’, part of the ‘Despicable Me 2′ soundtrack, has been a staple of radio waves and YouTube videos during the past couple of months, yet remains the album’s inspirative calling card, temporarily transforming Williams’ sweet counter-tenor into a decadent slice of Cee Lo Green.

Also noteworthy is the tightly hooked ‘Gust of Wind,’ a composition boosted by the unmistakable accent of French electro duo Daft Punk. Recounting a self-effacing tale of romance, this surely warrants a single release.

Amongst the easily absorbed harmonies are inevitably a couple of self-indulgent miscues.

‘Lost Queen’ is an absurdly dull love letter that rarely advances beyond glorified artist ejaculation and is little more than the gristle on the pork chop.

‘Brand New’ is a notch or two superior, although the inclusion of Justin Timberlake serves only to accentuate the shortcomings in Williams’ falsetto by placing him alongside a more sophisticated practitioner.

A-lister: Pharrell has made huge strides since N*E*R*D.
A-lister: Pharrell Williams has made huge strides since N*E*R*D.

Even with those two unnecessary additions, there’s enough variety dispersed over the eleven tracks to make ‘Girl’ a worthwhile purchase.

If you’re not a fan of this tweak of direction, there are hints of Pharrell’s former life as a Neptune in ‘Hunter’, a song which flagrantly borrows its baseline from Diana Ross and contains an almost identically laid out rap interlude to Debbie Harrie’s ‘Rapture’ confabulate.

An album most notable for threaded sexual undertones and elaborate orchestration (credit for the latter goes to master composer Hans Zimmer,) ‘Girl’ delivers a decent, if not superlative, addition to the singer’s ever expanding body of work.

  Pharrell’s bandwagon continues apace, with another worthwhile release.

 

 

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: Lily Allen – Sheezus

Five years after ‘It’s Not Me, It’s You’ hit the shelves, Lily Allen has returned with her third studio LP, ‘Sheezus.’ Dom Kureen takes a gander at what all the fuss is about.

Lily Allen

“Somebody remind me where I am, Miami or Timbuktu? Did I ever tell you my uncle’s monkey ran away from the zoo?”

The elementary opening burst of Sheezus’ most captivating harmony, ‘Air Balloon’ extends an apt metaphor for an album of succinct simplicity and unmistakeably transparent intentions.

With its throbbing, carefree waves, the Shellback/Allen collaboration provides a snapshot of Lily’s blissful existence since her real world evolution from Ms Allen to Mrs Cooper.

Where ‘Air Balloon’, ‘Our Time’, Take My Place’ and the lively ‘As Long As I Got You’ sparkle is their brazenly innate authenticity, rising above tacky insults or staged malevolence.

In stark contrast, the dismally maudlin and horribly titled ‘L8 CMMR’ serves as a misguided attempt to recapture the naïve, indignant spirit of the artist’s inaugural LP, ‘Alright, Still.’

Rude Girl: Lily often plays up her wild child tag.
Rude Girl: Lily often plays up her wild child tag.

Likewise, ‘URL Badman’ provides little more than tedious animus towards fans who dare to question the validity of Allen’s credentials, with some unjustly citing her famous father, Keith, as the driving force behind a prosperous entertainment career.

Additionally, the track contains an almost unfeasibly lousy instrumental section, which sounds as if the singer let her 15-month old daughter, Marnie, bash around on a sticky 1985 Casio SK-1, rather than hiring Greg Kurstin to implement his notoriously lavish production values.

‘Close Your Eyes’ is a minor improvement, but still falls deep into filler territory, with strung out sentimental mush only likely to curry favour with hubby Sam Cooper and a few diehards.

Title track ‘Sheezus’ similarly has its moments, but is too dependent upon crude pop-culture references to warrant a spot on any future ‘best of’ compilations.

Thankfully, the nostalgia sodden ‘Life For Me’ feels less affected, with an unravelling recollection of personal growth. Painting a portrait of contentment, the tune borrows much of its baseline from Paul Simon’s ‘Graceland’ and seems in conflict with spikier cuts elsewhere.

Having leapt straight to the summit of the UK album charts, ‘Sheezus’ is destined to provide financial and commercial dividends for Lily Allen. There’s enough decent material to warrant an £8.99 iTunes outlay, even if it all feels a fraction flat in the looming shadow of two previous knockout EPs.

If you’re intent on stumping up the bucks, do yourself a favour and dig £2 deeper for the deluxe edition, where the handful of supplementary bonus tracks offset some of the overplayed concepts elsewhere.  

 

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.