28 August 2016

Laura Mvula - The Dreaming Room

This is my second blog for the 2016 Mercury Music Awards and, I'll be honest with you, I'm not looking forward to it. The reason why is because I reviewed Mrs Mvula's first album (click here to read it) and although the singing was great - and it was also a refreshing change to hear a lady who was utilising actual talent to get noticed rather than any kind of gimmicks, the music wasn't up to much which brought the album down quite a few notches. Still, what can you expect when Eternal are cited as an influence, as I mentioned in the first blog. For the uninitiated, Eternal were a 90's girl group who were shit.

Not sure what else I can say so I'm gonna launch straight into it. Hopefully this will be better...

1) Who I Am - Ambient opener which reminds me of the music that the owner of the Houston Energy Corporation is listenting to when Jonathan E goes to see him (it's in the classic movie Rollerball). But it sharp turns from ambient to what sounds like rumbling white noise and ends abruptly. Wow, that was sudden. Still, it was quite a nice opener.

2) Overcome (featuring Nile Rogers) - Well, this is interesting. Thumping drum beats and what sounds like a funk guitar line mesh with ethereal keyboards and choir-like vocals. Think Enya jamming with Earth Wind And Fire and you're kind of there. Already we're hearing an improvement over the last album, I hope there is more like this to come. I definitely like this song.

3) Bread - Gentle keyboards opening with shimmer stingers give way to an intricate drum pattern with some nice vocals. Not as catching as the previous song but still not bad. Multi-tracked vocals help create an atmosphere akin to lying in a white room on a bed of cotton wool. Very nice.

4) Lucky Man - Multi-tracked vocals introduce to this song while bassy whooshing noises go off in the background like it's a Doctor Who special effect from the 70's. The song does get a bit ethereal towards the end. It's ok. Gets a steady beat going before disappearing in a multi-tracked outro.

5) Let Me Fall - A bit more lively compared to the last two songs, which is nice as it does good to change things up a bit. Yes, this is definitely an album highlight. The drum beat is a brisk one and there are an assortment of keyboards in the background. It's a heady mixture.

6) Kiss My Feet - This one starts off with one of those instruments that sounds like a music box or something. Almost like the intro to a horror movie. Some great vocals coming in before the main bulk of the song. Epic mid-section before it goes all back to normal. Nice strings too.

7) Show Me Love - Another one where it's quite sedate with only the choir-like vocals and ethereal keyboards for company. I'd usually be bored by now but I'm finding this to be very good, to be fair. Sounds like a timpani or whatever you call those big drums towards the end. This is also the longest song on the album at just over six minutes. That's practically prog in grindcore!

8) Renaissance Moon - A lovely strings melody plays whilst a crackling effect to simulate listening to vinyl plays over it. Could have been a bit longer as it's only 46 seconds and it's such a good melody!

9) Angel - Multi-layered vocals with what sounds like a couple of FX over the top of them then leads into some kind of jingly-jangly rhythm thing. It's not too bad, to be far. Quite quaint. At least it's better than that Sixx AM shite when they tried multi-layered vocals as an intro. Nice music too. In fact, the whole album has taken me by surprise as I was expecting the same as the last album but it hasn't been like that. Like Benjamin Clementine, it's flitted from straightforward stuff into moments that are unconventional. And more power for it!

10) People (featuring Wretch 32) - Another one which alternates between slow, thumping rhythms and none at all while the magic ethereal keyboards work their magic. The rap by Wretch 32 sounds a bit out of place though. Shame, as it's an otherwise good song.

11) Nan - A recording of a phone call between Laura and her Nan, a bit of talk about God, which is fair enough.

12) Phenomenal Woman - Easily the most straightforward uncomplicated song on here. Sounds funky, in the same vein as  'Overcome'. Not as good as that song but still a decent one.

And there you go, turns out I had nothing to worry about! I don't feel as bad listening to this album as I did the last one so that's a bonus. All in all, it was a decent album which showcased more variety than the last one, seems that Mvula has ditched Eternal in favour of Enya which if you ask me, is an improvement already. If she keeps this up, I may even become a fan.

7/10 - This is good and well worth a check.

Chris J.

Top Track: Overcome.

This album is available on iTunes.


27 August 2016

Savages - Adore Life

The second album I've been given to review for this years Mercury Awards is also the second album by London-based Post Punk band Savages. It's also the second time they've been nominated for a Mercury Award following their debut Silence Yourself in 2013. Chris reviewed that album back then so it's also the second time they've been reviewed by this blog. Jolly good.

I was aware of the band before this review and had a reasonable idea of what to expect but hadn't actually heard them. A few people I know like them so I'm assuming I will too but we'll see.
Normally when I review albums I have a quick google for other reviews, just in case people pick up on something I missed or to make sure I'm not repeating something someone else has said. With Savages it appears that I should have no such worry as they're the kind of band that attracts a certain type of journa- reviewer, one that is incredibly fond of their own, sumptuous vocabulary. Where I might say a song has a pretty good riff they would describe it as, for example, "a glorious conflagration of noncombustible ebullience!". I started reading three different reviews and gave up halfway through them all.

There'll be no plagiarism here today.

Right anyway, The first track is The Answer, it's an angry bitter song of unrequited love, based around a brooding, lurching guitar riff. It's an effective opening track. immediately obvious is Jehnny Beth's peculiar voice. She's French by birth and her accent comes through clearly. There was something else about her voice that niggled me but I couldn't place it. It wasn't until I read on t'Wiki that Siouxsie And The Banshees were an influence on their sound that it clicked. There are similarities between both ladies' howls. It's not a bad thing.

 Next up, Evil lowers the pace somewhat but is still an energetic song. It's driven by an almost disco beat from Fay Milton and there's some nice jangly, reverby guitar from Gemma Thompson too. Is reverby a word?
Sad Person starts offs sounding like The Fall, Jehnny even infects the same way Mark E. Smith does a bit, it picks up pace gradually and becomes a full on Rock song and, again, seems to be about unrequited love. Actually it's more about not taking things further with someone because of fear and self doubt. It's an excellent song.

Semi-title track Adore follows next and it's a slow, minimal piece of melancholy that takes a couple of listens to fully appreciate. The "Maybe I will die maybe tomorrow". line of the chorus reminds me of The Smiths / Morrissey in it's melody and I guess theme,

L-R - Fay, Gemma, Jehnny and Ayse

Following that is Slowing Down The World is a meandering, introspective song with a pretty melody. It's a good song but next to Adore it weighs down the middle of the album and slows the pace too much. I Need Something New seems to continue the slower pace, beginning with Jehnny singing acapella but it builds in intensity and becomes an impressive wall of noise.
When In Love is a mid paced Indie Rocker that descends into chaotic feedback and Surrender is full of droning bass that rattles the speakers even on my shitty, tinny laptop. T.I.W.Y.G is the most frenetic song on Adore Life it powers along on Punk-fueled energy with an immense bassline and the repeated mantra of "This is what you get when you mess with love". It's a glorious conflagration of noncombustible ebullience.

The closing track, Mechanics, is a stark contract to T.I.W.Y.G. it's a slow, atmospheric song with more feedback and reverb though this time it's ominous and haunting. lyrically the song is about wanting to know how love works and picking it apart. It's a disturbing and creepy listen but works really well and is an excellent way to close the album.

The production of Adore Life is really good. It's very bass heavy but also crystal clear and each band member is perfectly audible. The production obviously benefits bassist Ayse Hassan who shines on every track. I've just read Chris's review of their debut and he says the same which I was pleased about.
I don't know how this will fare in the Mercury, even if David 'dead now' Bowie wasn't nominated but it's an excellent album and deserves to do well.

8 out of 10 - Oh, now you have my attention and maybe my money, time and heart

Best track: Sad Person

You can read Chris's review of Silence Yourself  HERE

You can listen on Spotify HERE

You can buy on Amazon HERE

Kano - Made In The Manor

Well, it's that time again/ The Mercury Awards are coming up which means the contributors of The Blog get the chance to review stuff that would normally be out of their respective ranges. My experience of this has lead to the awesomeness of Young Fathers and Benjamin Clementine, which was a bonus. I've since been given the task of blogging Kano, who I understand to be one of the finest practitioners of  'grime', a genre of music that apparently originated in London from both the UK Garage and Jungle scenes, not genres I've had much experience with. In fact, the only things that emerged from the UK Hip Hop scene that I've really listened to were The Streets and Gunshot, although that was more for the remix of 'Mind Of A Razor' which was done by Shane 'Napalm Death' Embury. I also used to listen to Silver Bullet (in fact, I've still got the album - it's the guy who did the song with all the samples from the movie 'Robocop' on it - 20 Seconds To Comply) but that is going back to the late 80's, so my knowledge of British rap is sorely lacking. Mind, I'm not a rap connoisseur, sticking mainly to NWA, Ice Cube, Dr Dre, Eazy-E, Snoop Dogg, Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, stuff like that, really.

This is Kano's fifth album, the guy has been going for about 16 years. His debut solo album came out in 2005, this was after a stint in a grime group called NASTY. Success came his way, which has lead us to this album. I've already had a quick skim of it and first impressions are that it is very unlike anything I've heard before in the Hip Hop genre, whereas the majority of music within that scene is taken from the funk sounds of the 70's, this seemed very sparse, dark and a bit foreboding. It also sounds like it could have been on the soundtrack to movies such as Kidulthood (and it's sequel, Adulthood), Harry Brown or any of those reality TV shows which go undercover to talk about British gangs or something. Possibly presented by (former DJ) Goldie. Another thing this album has is multiple producers - something I don't usually agree with due to the "Too Many Cooks..." thing. Turns out one of them is Damon Albarn, who has experience in Hip Hop thanks to his Gorillaz project, although, if we're honest, that (virtual) band covered pretty much everything and anything genre-wise. Mr Albarn is also the nemesis of one of the contributors of the blog. Not mine - my nemesis is *edited on legal advice* because they're a *edited on legal advice*. Anyhow, let's have a proper listen and see whether we can find anything else to comment on...

The first track is called "Hail" and has a bell tolling while a nasty - in a good sense - mechanical riff goes off in the background. Slow beats only add to the general sense of foreboding. At least it's not one of those 'skit' tracks which were like barnacles on a ship's hull for rap albums for a while. Possibly a dubstep influence somewhere, which is surprising as I didn't think people were still bothered about that genre. The rap is quite furious and name-checks Koko B. Ware (a shit wrestler who became cannon-fodder for the up and comers) which is interesting. This then becomes a bright sounding song called "T-Shirt Weather In The Manor", an ode to summertime. The beats alternate on this one, becoming a bit more funky in the chorus with a rhythm that is akin to Jamaican dance-hall. Nice piano melodies which are a sharp contrast to the harshness of the first song. "New Banger" is the next track and aptly starts with a banging snare drum beat before going into a stuttering beat song with what sounds like a kazoo ensemble for the melodies. Not too keen on this one as it doesn't grab my attention as much as the first couple of songs. Shame, as the rap is good. Definitely some talent there. "3 Wheel Ups" contains contributions from Wiley and Griggs, it's a decent little song, better than the last one, all jarring keyboards and scattering rhythms. Very good. Next up is "This Is England" and it sounds like more traditional Hip Hop, straight ahead funky rhythms and raps which start off talking about East London traits (jellied eels etc) before talking about their peers, particularly Lethal Bizzle. "Little Sis", the next track, is quite laid back in both music, beats and raps. Probably the closest thing in Hip Hop to a ballad or something. It's rather good. "A Roadman's Hymn" follows on from this with...more laid-back stuff musically but rather biting raps, with a hint of tuneful singing. it's ok but one doesn't notice the bit where it segues into "Drinking In The West End" which is another slow one which is quite melodic - although the squawk sample which permeates the song gets a bit repetitive. I like this one,

"Deep Blues" is up next and this features Mr Albarn. Nah, I'm not keen on this one as it goes nowhere very quickly. Very slow and not very inspired. Can't hear Mr Albarn anywhere, unless he's doing the back-up vocals. They're quite low in the mix, but atmospheric enough, I guess. "Endz" has some decent beats but I've a feeling we've hit a lull as we've got more lazy piano music for the melodies. "Strangers" doesn't really rectify this musically...more piano based melodies and no beats. I'm hoping that "Seashells In The East" rectifies that - it does, to a degree, as it reclaims the albums balls. Biting raps about the darker side of life in London's East End and although there is yet again a piano melody, not only does it sound 'fuller' than the previous songs but it has a bit of urgency behind it, as do the beats. "My Sound" is apparently the realest, good for you! It's not too bad, to be fair. Could have been better. Which sums this album up, really.

After what I felt to be initial promise, I felt a bit let down by some of the latter tracks for this album. Seemed to be an over-reliance on slow beats and piano melodies - which would be fine if there was a bit of oomph to them but I couldn't hear it. The first few tracks were great and showed real promise, but ultimately, this was a very front-loaded album. Kano is certainly a talented rapper whose lyrics, rhymes and delivery are great but some more consistent beats and melodies would be nice. The overall effect was like listening to some stuff by Ice-T and then following that up with (New Jack clowns) Color Me Badd - which actually happened on the "New Jack City" soundtrack. Hopefully, this will be rectified on the next album.

6/10 - Now I see where you were going, but not quite there.

Chris J.

Top Track - "Hail".

This album is available on iTunes.

Mortal Kombat (C'mon, you didn't think I'd miss that, did you?)

L.A. Spring - Passerby

I have actually struggled to actually write the opening paragraph to this blog, which is something of a change for me.  Mainly because the band in questions are freshly formed and there is not much out there about them, but that is bound to change I feel.  L.A. Spring are composed of James, Jamie and George and are based in London, with their music being labelled as Indie Pop.  Now I know James, we have reviewed his work before with his former project The James Rooney Band and the 'Try This At Home EP' (link to the review here) and I have been wondering what he was up to these days.  So it was good to hear that he had formed a new act and new music was coming.  This is their debut release and it is coming out on the 11th November 2016; so how is it sounding?  Well, it is a song that looks at the modern existence and how you can be surrounded by hundreds and thousands of people, but you can still feel as if everything is moving past you and it can be a little numbing on the soul as people do not have to remember you.  Sounding like a mixture of Little Comets and Vampire Weekend, it has a catchy riff and an infectious drum beat that will make it a hit wherever it is played.  Even though the subject is a bit heavy, the music is incredibly uplifting and sometimes that is what you need - a mixture of two extremes to make something brilliant.  I really like this song, it is one of the best I have heard in August 2016 and I cannot wait to hear more; please listen to it and purchase it when it comes out, you will not regret it.

4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track - saying as there is only one track.... Passerby

You can stream Passerby on the L.A. Spring Soundcloud page here

You can follow the activities of L.A. Spring on Facebook here

You can also visit the L.A. Spring website here

Passerby is not being released until 11th November, so it is not on streaming services such as Deezer and also not available to purchase then either.  However, I will update this review with links once that is done.

25 August 2016

Arklight/Sheep Bella Tine - Arklight/Sheep Bella Tine

Another split release that is available on tape; this time it is from Kerchow Records and features Arklight & Sheep Bella Tine.  A little bit about both bands - Arklight first, as they are the first band on the tape.  Arklight are comprised of Danny Kolm, Gregory Kolm and Max Kostaras and they hail from New York City.  According to their Facebook they class themselves as Noisy and are influenced by Nick Cave, Beat Happening, Sonic Youth and others.  Sheep Bella Tine are made up of Zach & Wica, they hail from Cookeville, Tennessee and they are very minimalist with their information.  Now this is the second time I have reviewed something that includes Sheep Bella Tine, as they were part of the 'Sweet Sounds Record Spring Sampler 2016' (review link here) and they were out there, one of the bands that require more than one track to make sense.  Now this is a ten track EP, four from Arklight and six from Sheep Bella Tine - let's find out how the tracks have turned out....

Arklight beginning this split release with "Big Ideas", it is a distortion harsh guitar number that gives off vibes of Smashing Pumpkins, Three Fish, Sonic Youth and Stone Temple Pilots; it is firmly in the old alternative rock heart land with a minimalist drum kit being used, lo-fi recording techniques and an intense feeling to the tune.  "Club Record" continues that lo-fi feeling that started on "Big Ideas", with a stop/start verse section and a solo that drifts through a lot of the song.  The vibe in places is almost western and then rock & roll driver until it goes back to the droning verses.  It is not as welcoming as "Big Ideas" and it may take a few goes to sink in, but there is potential in the mix and it has a strange vibe that I tend to like in my music.  The third song of this from Arklight is "Loyal Order of the Noose", this one has that dark undercurrent that I associate with Nick Cave and his various incarnations.  It has attitude with a swagger that would part a straight path to a bar, where a bottle of whiskey would be awaiting with no funds required - just a gem of a song, lo-fi and crazy. Their final track is called "Young Lovers" combines the feeling of "Club Record" & "Loyal Order of the Noose" with a stop/start feeling to parts of the song and then another dose of attitude to others.  The two distinct parts of the song are like night and day, mixing well and ending this section for this listener with a sense of interest and intrigue.

Sheep Bella Tine start with the short introduction track "Prominence" which sounds as if drums and strings are being warmed up, preparing to be unleashed upon the world.  This comes in the song "Of Hybrid Figures" and the differences in styles could not be more akin than that of night and day with the actually spin of the earth.  This song is a thoughtful, slow and droning piece of music that builds the atmosphere piece by piece, taking its time to craft each step as it builds up in intensity and aggression; all the time keeping the same sort of pace that could be played all day long.  "The Tragic Farces" follows on and this is an intense, aggressive thirty-two second attack in comparison, akin to a storm suddenly hitting and the shutters of the house coming loose in the wind; very short and probably could have been expanded upon, but still a good short, sharp, shock of a song.  "Of Katchina Dolls" reminds me of bands such as Godspeed You! Black Emperor & Mogwai, it has an intense and beautiful droning quality it to music and some quality sections of Post Rock that would put better known bands to shame.  The start of the song is a fade in and it makes you think you are coming in halfway through a song, but the rest is just quality from beginning to end.  "The Self Portrait" is the penultimate song from Sheep Bella Tine and it is the first to add words to the music, with a minimalist punk feeling to the music and an aggression that strains the actually style of the band.  It sounds as if it is going to break at any point and it just manages to keep it all together; very reminiscent of early Pixies on this one.  But like all things, an ending has to come to proceedings and in this case it comes in the form of the song "Of Nadie".  This lo-fi recording takes the energy level down slightly after three pretty aggressive songs, sounding like a dream/holiday tune is being played just down the hall and you are hearing the song that will be awaiting you in your sleep.  It is a good ending, very relaxing and thoughtful.

On this release, both bands sound fantastic and present completely different aspects of the lo-fi/independent spectrum in America.  Arklight has a punk/no-wave vibe that does not rely on distortion peddles and hitting the right angle to have the attitude and this performance makes me want to hear a bit more of their work.  Sheep Bella Tine have presented more in this release than on the track on the Sweet Sounds Records Sampler - but to be honest it is sometimes a little hard to gage a true reflection of a band on one song, here they showed that minimalist post rock is something beautiful, aggressive and can be something really special.  Comparing the bands is really harsh, both bring something different to the table and to say one is better than the other would do both a dis-service; so I will say both are fantastic and this release can only raise the profile of both acts.

4.5 out of five - This is really good, well worth checking out

Top track from Arklight - Loyal Order of the Noose

Top track from Sheep Bella Tine - Of Katchina Dolls

You can purchase Arklight/Sheep Bella Tine on the Kerchow Records Bandcamp Page here

You can follow the activities of Arklight on Facebook here

You can follow the activities of Sheep Bella Tine on Facebook here

At the time of writing, Arklight/Sheep Bella Tine split release was not available on streaming sites.

23 August 2016

Skepta - Konnichiwa

Good day to you all, or Konnichiwa as they say in Japanese.  Our looks at the Mercury Music Prize nominations have brought Grime Rapper Skepta to our attention.  Now, I am clearly not to usually demographic for an artist like Skepta, middle age, greying Frank Zappa fan from North East England, but I will always give something a go (also, I bet before I have even heard a note that it is better than some of the shite I have had to listen to this week already).  Brief history lesson for everyone (including myself) -Skepta is the stage name of one Joseph Junior Adenuga from Tottenham, London who released his first album 'Greatest Hits' 2007, a ballsy move that will have got him a lot of attention.  He has released four mixtapes and this is his fourth album, which was released in May 2016.  I can remember seeing Skepta's name around, but I cannot say I have not knowingly heard any of his music.  But the list of people he has worked with (Drake, Flatbush Zombies, A$AP Rocky, amongst others) is very impressive; this album reached number 2 in the UK charts, was a hit around Europe and reached the USA Billboard 200.  Whilst the way has now always been smooth, he seems to be doing very well.  Now I am listening to an album that is from a genre that I do not have much experience with, but the Mercury's always bring interesting works to our attention - so without further ado....

The first song is the title track "Konnichiwa", starting with cymbal clash, some wood-pipes, a splash of water, some birdsong, a drawing of a sword and the sound that can only be described as a man who is ready for an attack as the horns and glass starts to smash.  It has a minimal backing track, a large bass and a fine set of verse about a man trying to avoid change and still trying to showcase that he is the best in the country.  With a rap you have a lot of bragging and attitude, but that can be said for all music to a large degree; but this has a bass system that reminds me of The Bug and that harsh sound that comes from any Ninja Tune album - even though this is from the Boy Better Know label.  It is a strong opening, trying to get the right sort of attitude and style across and it is a very compelling opening track.  The second song is called "Lyrics" which features Novelist, starting with a sample of a promoter screaming for the MC to leave the stage and then the music starts and it is a huge song which show cases what both Skepta and Novelist are all about, laying down rhymes and sounding as if they own the room from the very beginning.  The bass is huge once again, it would rattle teeth a few miles away from wherever it is being played.  Even as an outsider to this style, it is very hypnotic and absolutely storming - that bass really does win me over from the very beginning.  The next song is called "Corn on the Curb" and features Wiley & Chip, this one is more serious in mood and style.  It is all about comparing the past and the present for Skepta, how the past was incredibly hard and whilst the world is full of ladies and bling now, there is still something else required for the world.  It is a strong song from the beginning and it gives more with each listen, but the interesting part is actually when the music stops - the conversation over the phone with someone having great doubts and the other telling the former to pick himself up, it is actually an insight to the vulnerability of people and how sometimes you just need someone to talk (maybe someone who will shout at you) to bring everything back away from the abyss; a very strong and interesting number.  The next song is about trying to keep out of trouble, just wanting to have a quiet life, but the world is against them and trying to antagonise them.  "Crime Riddim" is a power and intriguing number that shows how a night can be when you are treat like (for want of a better word) scum and discriminating against.  Musically, I am not like the song as much as the first three songs, but I love the rap on this song as it is absolutely compelling and sadly something that is too familiar to a lot of people.  It speaks of injustice and it also speaks of how it is for other people, powerful and amazing - the end segue about a gamer who takes stuff far too seriously is also funny as fuck.

"It Ain't Safe" featuring Young Lord is the fifth song on the album, it is a slower beat that greats you on this song with a rap about being attacked from all angles and nowhere is safe and sanctuary is scares; so the defences are high and the attack mode is just a few moments away at any given point.  It is heavy and dark musically, it does give a sense of menace and weariness from the beginning to the end of the song.  It is not one of my favourite numbers on the album, but it is one I can admire for the quality rap and sinister music.  "Ladies Hit Squad" featuring D Double E & ASAP Nast starts off with the brag about the ladies, the boastful side and it has some clever rhymes about not needing Netflix, round two and such slang about the various amount of sexual activity that they are going to experience.  It is still done in a slow style with some weird swirling synths to add take a little bit of edge off the bass (it fails by the way, nothing hiding that bass sound as it is glorious) and it has a swagger that can be seen from out of space.  I have never been the biggest fan of this type of number, but understand the need for this song - but I would be skipping it if I was listening to it again.  Numbers features Pharrell Williams, it is a song about the mistrust of record labels and there need for the record sales and numbers to take precedent over the artistic vision.  The desire to be away from all of that, to be away from the money pit that is the recording industry and creating his own label (Boy Better Know) with his brother gives the momentum behind this number.  It is a great song, one that shows a man who is not going to be fooled and is going to do his thing his own way.  The eighth song is called Man, it features a familiar sample to these ears from Queens of the Stone Age and the song "Regular John", it is about people trying to invade the inner circle of Skepta and claim to be family and Skepta is too smart for that sort of shit.  This was so close to being the top track of the album as it is huge, bigger than life and bass heavy (as is a lot of this album).  The energy, dynamics and the harsh beats dominate here; but it would be for nothing if the rapping was poor and that is not going to happen here, Skepta walks the walk and talks it too - as good a track on this album as you would expect for the rest of the album. 

"Shutdown" is a track that is all about Skepta and his view of the world, no one is better, politicians and the police are not to be trusted, if you are saying you are not into things, you are a liar, rules are not for him and he is going to do it his way.  This is for the clubs, raves and shows - it will go down a storm live and it has that all important bass that is the core of this album, it's heart and identity.  The track is not for me, but just because it is my not thing does not mean I cannot understand it or appreciate what is going on - I can imagine this coming out of bass speaker and it will sound as if the Titans have entered the world again to take over once more.  With help from JME (Skepta's Brother), "That's Not Me" is billed as an old school Grime song and is another look at the music industry and how something that has been force on them is not their style.  The rapping on here is great, but the music behind it is a little weak in comparison to other songs on the album and that has always been an important factor for me with the rest of the album.  The two elements are in unison for a lot of this album, sadly it is not the case here with this one; it is not a bad number, just pales in comparison to other tracks.  The penultimate song of this album is called "Detox" and it features Boy Better Know label mate Frisco, Jammer and Shorty who are billed as BBK; it is a rhyme about not being able to relax, always being on the ball and never taking down the intensity level.  It is a fantastic number, I love it when contributions work as well and fluid as on this number; it sounds so smooth and natural.  The beat is solid, the bass loud and they all bring their 'A' game to this number, what is there not to like?  Ending the album is "Text Me Back", this number is Skepta trying to almost apologise to a significant other that whilst he may not answer the phone when contacted, he is not playing silly buggers and that she is the only one he wants to be with, but he also is focused on his art and that is something that he cannot take his eye off at all.  It is a good ending, showing that Skepta values family and (as he puts it) his crew above all others; sometimes he does not get to show it, but he always true to those that he holds precious.  I admire that sort of thing, I understand it and it brings this album on a high note.

I like this album, it is a strong, passionate and well-crafted record.  The raps are crisp, the beat loud and the bass, oh that massive bass is able to raise the dead and cause Atlantis to rise out of the Atlantic Ocean.  I would be lying if I said that this is the album I would have be looking for, I do not want come across as an old man trying to sound hip and digging the current sound; it would reek of bullshit from the start and that is not how I write.  Would I play this normally, I don't know that for certain; but it does have something about it that cannot be quantified, call it passion, call it determination - there is a factor on here (not calling it X Factor, that name has been sullied) that you do not always get with music.  The sound is one of the loudest that I have heard outside of The Bug and whilst I might not be from the scene that created this album, I know that this will be a huge album for both Grime and also the UK music scene.  If it was not for the Mercury Prize, this might have passed me by and I think it is has a great chance of winning the event; there is a repetitive nature to some of the music, but the raps elevate this album.  An interesting contender for the crown, definitely one of the better releases in this line up.

7.5 out of ten - This is good and worth checking out

Top track - Numbers

You can purchase Konnichiwa from Amazon here

You can visit the Hello Skepta website here (which also has links to purchase Konnichiwa)

You can follow the activities of Skepta on Facebook here

You can stream Konnichiwa on Spotify here

You can stream Konnichiwa on Deezer here

You can stream Konnichiwa on Tidal here

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