Maker – Girl Quit Your Crying EP

MAKERMaker hail from Medway – home to the likes of The James Taylor Quartet, The Prisoners and Billy Childish.  But though their music has an undeniable 1960s and early 1970s taste, it is a much more rich, diverse and complex  than the back-to-basic 1960s garage more akin to the aforementioned local heroes, and commonly referred to as the ‘Medway Sound‘.

This week Maker release their second EP. The title track, ‘Girl Quit Your Crying’ is full of a hazy blues, after hours lock-in complete with feathered haircuts, Double Diamond pint jugs and a Rod & The Faces swagger. Alessandro Marinelli’s gravel-throated bluesy voice underlines only one of many influences present on this solid 5-track EP. But the Maker sound is much more versatile, complex and multi-layered than a shallow retro posture.  Somewhere between then and now,  Maker sound unique in these days of shortlived fashions, reality tv and throwaway pop.  They appear to take influence from an array of solid sounds, styles and grooves and run, run, run with it.  They are not simply retro and not exactly contemporary.

Similar to the previous single, ‘Move Your Feet’, there is a strong element of early 1970s soul, R ‘n’ B and rock ‘n’ roll running throughout the whole  EP.  ‘So Serene’ and ‘Are You Watching Me?’ are full to the brim of a white-faced soulful funky groove.  Think Sly & The Family Stone fused with  a steam-charged rhythm n blues of Mick Taylor era Rolling Stones, a good helping of The Faces and etched in the post house music influenced rhythms of Primal Scream and The Stone Roses. Great stuff!

Maker look good and sound great.  They are Alessandro Marinelli (Vocals), Andrew Donaldson (Guitar), Gavin Donaldson (Drums) & John Austin (Bass).  The ‘Girl Quit Your Crying’ EP succinctly captures their authentic rock n roll, psychedelic, bluesy soul sound.

‘Girl Quit Your Crying’, ‘So Serene’ and ‘are You Watching Me?’ were recorded at the famous Rockfield Studio & Leeders Farm. The EP also includes two demos, ‘Lose It On The Second Turn’ and Stop My Heart Dead’, recorded at Ranscombe Studios in Rochester.

Girl Quit Your Crying EP by Maker is available via Kidda Records.

Matisyahu, returns with powerful new album, Light

Back in 2006 with the release of his Youth album the world discovered the sound of Matisyahu a Hasidic Jewish musician living in New York writing and singing his own reggae songs about his religious devotion.

This week sees the release of the latest album from Matisyahu,  Light,his first full length for three years.  Featuring the excellent single One Day, already a wonderful reggae anthem, the album takes the listener on a journey through a variety of musical genres  from reggae to dancehall, ska-inflected new wave, pop rock and acoustic folk.

While One Day is a stand out radio sensitive track, it also fits nicely into this powerful collection of songs. A deep and meaningful songwriter, Matisyahu is also a master of writing catchy melodies and infectious beats selling his heavier messages in lighter very acceptable bite size pieces.

The album content is about as diverse as it is possible to get from ballad to ballsy rock, R&B, pop and everything in between including of course some top reggae and ska-inflected tracks.

R&B star Akon is featured on the bonus remixed version of One Day, the final track on what is a remarkable album of strong songs, intricately produced with a message of peace, hope & understanding in a style that could only be Matisyahu.

Matisyahu – One Day

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52KmT1fN_ak

Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement – album review

Mayer Hawthorne – A Strange Arrangement – album review

(Stones Throw)

Mayer_Hawthorne_strange_arrangement_ART
Mayer Hawthorne - A Strange Arrangement

Mayer Hawthorne grew up in Michigan, near Detroit, a city he describes as rich in music tradition and high on the list of influences in his choice of a musical career.

A Strange Arrangement is his debut album released last year without ever really making the commercial splash it should have.  Certainly it is only recently that I was turned on to him after a quick look on YouTube at the video for the fantastic single from A Strange Arrangement, ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’, a piece of jazzy soul, to which Mayer Hawthorne adds a spoken introduction something in the vein of The Chi-Lites, and to the rest, a falsetto to rival Cry Me A River in its ability to tangle the heart strings with ambiguous gender imitation.

In fact, a lot of Mayer Hawthorne sounds like The Chi-Lites, and with such a consciously retro sound, it almost sounds like a pastiche, but, as is often the case with these things, it is clearly an indisputable love of the music that is being mimicked and that is driving these songs, and it is therefore really quite hard to tell the line between irony and reality.

At other times, you find Mayer Hawthorne using other genres – r&b, Motown, pop – in the way you always imagined them ideally, but had never quite heard. He does it with such simplicity, honesty and an ear for a well-produced song that it is near impossible not to love what he is doing in a manner much deeply than irony alone would allow.

These, then, are absolutely brilliant contemporary tunes that would be compared with the Winehouses of the world if his subjects didn’t require singing plainly and truthfully about the sort of candidly simple subjects soul singers used to sing about – beautiful girls, pathetically fallacious rain, or plain simple positive thinking.

Out on the label, Stones Throw, A Strange Arrangement joins an output of some great contemporary soul. Apparently, label chief Peanut Butter Wolf needed just a cursory listen to two songs to realise he had to sign Mayer Hawthorne up.

Here’s the video for ‘Just Ain’t Gonna Work Out’. See what I mean about the ambiguity between irony and passion for the music?

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pBKx8PyE5qQ

Here is the MySpace link for Mayer Hawthorne.

Stay Too Long the excellent single & video from Plan B

plan b aka ben drew
plan b aka ben drew

The excellent new single form Plan B, aka as Londoner Ben Drew, will be released on January 11th 2010 and has already featured as Record Of The Week for Radio One’s Zane Lowe and is currently Fearne Cotton‘s Record Of The Week on the same radio station.

Coming on the back of the 26 year olds fantastic top ten hit with Chase & StatusEnd Credits, and his appearance in the acclaimed British thriller Harry Brown, Drew is about to take the music industry by storm.

Stay Too Long is a ferocious collision of retro soul, funk, rock and rap, that surprisingly works on every level, erupting into a massive cacophony of wonderful noise.

Produced by Paul Epworth, the studio genius behind Florence and the Machine, The Big Pink and Friendly Fires the single serves as a spectacular taster of what to expect from Plan B’s monster new album The Defamation of Strickland Banks.

To further add weight to its sheer monstrous potential, Stay Too Long has been put through the mill by bass troublers Pendulum – their first remix in three years – resulting in one of the biggest sounding tracks you’re likely to encounter for some time.

Plan B – Stay Too Long

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wauIGhax9xg

Check out the incredible Pendulum remix here.

Stay Too Long by Plan B is released on January 11th 2010 on 679/Atlantic Records as a CD, 12″ or digital download.

For more information visit the Plan B MySpace page.

Rihanna – Rehab

No it is not a cover of the Amy Winehouse song, but the excellent latest release from R&B girl of the moment Rihanna.

This is easily my favourite from the album Good Girl Gone Bad and in my opinion the strongest of her incredible string of hit singles, the sixth to be taken from what is clearly a collection of hits.

It is no surprise to see that Justin Timberlake was involved on the songwriting of Rehab, it is a catchy track reminding me of the early TLC and Destiny’s Child songs, Scrubs in particular comes to mind.

The single is released on Monday August 11th.

Rihanna – Rehab

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kUpsX7ihHdY