Fold – ‘Stronger Than the Evils’

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Over the past few years, Leeds-based Hip-Hop/Trip Hop outfit Fold have proven themselves a reliable source of incredible music.

Fold’s 2015 self-titled debut was magnificent, pitting an enviable creativity with a powerful social consciousness to craft something thoroughly powerful, unique and memorable – as was their 2017 EP Written In The Sky.

After a four-year wait, Fold have returned with news of the follow up to their eponymous debut which is penned for release on April 13. Two new singles will precede the album’s release and Fold have shared the first ‘Stronger Than the Evils’, a brilliant and powerful track with Nottingham based MC / beatboxing champion MotorMouF. Fold have always stress a socially-conscious message and that continues as they rail against the many political and social issues, or evils if you prefer, that the world faces today. ‘Stronger Than the Evils’ is a funky-edged hip-hop tune with a irresistible groove and rhythm, laced with ominous blasts of synths, vocal samples and the blistering wordplay and beatbox work from Motormouf. An incredible and irresistible track – roll on April 13 and the new album.

Take a listen to ‘Stronger Than the Evils’ below now:

Sal Dulu – ‘Xompulse’

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Following up on from a string of stellar singles last year – ‘Duluoz Dream’, ‘Antasma’ & ‘Tyko’ – Dublin-based producer Sal Dulu impresses yet again, returning with the atmospheric ‘Xompulse’.

‘Xompulse’ is a beautiful piano piece punctuated by the classical, jazz and ambient influences ever present in Sal Dulu’s work to date. It is elegant, calming and spacious as we’re lulled into a dreamy opening sequence floating along a graceful reverbed piano that twinkles, ushering a richer, warmer second half as the melody gently shifts to a brighter tone, shimmering like an early morning sunrise. ‘Xompulse’ offers a decidedly calmer side to Sal Dulu’s talent; it is an elegant, tranquil and atmospheric beauty.

You can listen to ‘Xompulse’ below now. The Dublin producer’s other work is available here too, and well worth some of your time.

illmef – ‘Barely People’

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illmef is a Detroit-born, Sydney, Australia-based artist whose raw, barbed and outspoken sound dips into electronic, hip-hop and rap, among others.

Produced on a “shoestring”, illmef has kicked off 2019 by ushering his debut LP Light a Fire into the world. Triggered by a tumultuous social and political environment in his native US, Light a Fire unleashes a frenetic lyrical offensive across 11 tracks of barbed bars touching on issues of race, sexism, politics, anxiety, inequality, substance use, and more. The album is fronted by fantastic fiery lead single ‘Barely People’ – which is pretty typical of the record in general. The beats are fairly straightforward, simplistic or minimalist even, but they provide an ample energy charge for his raspy toned and feisty delivery to breathe, ebbing and flowing as it goes with an underlying grittiness and simmering anger. A fine vintage of raw, real & honest hip hop.

Tune into ‘Barely People’ below and if that is to your liking, you can listen to his debut LP Light a Fire, here.

Clear Soul Forces – ‘Hit Me Now’

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Detroit hip-hop quartet Clear Soul Forces are releasing a brand new LP, Still, on February 22 and to get us in the mood, they have shared superb slick single, ‘Hit Me Now’.

In under three minutes, the four members of Clear Soul Forces deliver plenty to excited about; boasting infectious verses and hypnotic, shuffling production. The slick wordplay is crammed tight with colourful pop-culture references – from Marvel superheroes to classic Nintendo games – and layers of metaphors, as rhymes are sprinkled over a neck snapping beat. Loaded with zip, gloss and bounce ‘Hit Me Now’ finds a balance between contemporary creativity and nostalgia – it is just irresistible, and will have you coming back for more time and time again. A slick, succinct and perfectly executed introduction to the new record.

Clear Soul Forces new LP, Still, is out on February 22 – for now, listen to ‘Hit Me Now’.

Introducing: DefByMisadventure

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Originally from Co Tyrone, DefByMisadventure (aka Marius Magfhogartai-Marius) is an Irish producer based in the UK – Preston to be precise.

DefByMisadventure has a clear preference for head-nodding and lavish explorations of genres and styles but the hip-hop influence looms largest on the horizon, as evidenced by introductory tunes ‘Chevynova’ & ‘Versacered’. Both tracks are smooth, cool as fuck hip-hop inspired electronic tunes, with popping beats, slick samples and swaggering grooves, and all permeated entirely with an elegant air of chicness. Moving along an uptempo, stuttering snappy beat combo, ‘Chevynova’ swaggers on its way with sultry sax-solo sample and vocal snippets adding a final veneer of allure to this infectious production. While the bumping beats remain, ‘Versacered’ offers a more chilled and elegant side to his approach. Fueled by a bouncy beat and infectious rhythmic groove, it bobs along a rippling of chiming synths, popping percussion, as it moves along on its merry way with quite a swagger. Two sublimely cool tracks to introduce you to DefByMisadventure’s wares.

Listen to both ‘Chevynova’ & ‘Versacered’ below now:

Johnny Fenney’s Albums of 2018

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Aside from compiling my own end of year lists, I always look forward to checking out other people’s take on the year and none more so than that of Johnny Feeney.

A reliably insightful musical sage, Johnny’s guest appearances are always interesting and add an extra flavour to the blog and I look forward to reading – of which, surely I’m not alone?

A massive thanks to Johnny for taking time out to compile this list, and on that note, I’ll leave you with his Mr. Feeney’s favourite records of 2018.

10: Parquet Courts – ‘Wide Awake!’

New York City garage-rock outfit Parquet Courts enlisted the help of Danger Mouse on production duties for their sixth full-length studio album, with a more polished sound evident throughout. The band’s trademark spiky guitars are joined intermittently by keyboards, cowbells and whistles to create a highly entertaining and fun record.

Listen in full here

9: Django Django – ‘Marble Skies’

The kaleidoscopic third album from Django Django is a veritable smorgasbord ranging from the group’s distinctive, jangling Beach Boys-style surf rock to lilting dancehall to electronic club bangers. Although there are some slower moments of real beauty present, the high points are when the Djangos speed things up such as on ‘In Your Beat’.

Listen in full here

8: IDLES – ‘Joy as an Act of Resistance’

The Bristol punk-rock quintet go from strength to strength with their second album, following up from last year’s brilliant debut Brutalism. The album’s twelve tracks of pummelling, angry punk are a furious state-of-the-nation address to post-Brexit Britain, with moments of lacerating wit thrown in for good measure by formidable lead singer Joe Talbot. Powerful.

Listen in full here

7: Dream Wife – ‘Dream Wife’

The debut album from this London-based all-female trio is punk-rock at the other end of the spectrum from IDLES but is nonetheless a fantastically good listen. Dream Wife specialise in melodic, (mostly) radio-friendly pop-punk with incredibly catchy hooks, lots of attitude and feminist undertones that may not become too apparent until you see the band live.

Listen in full here

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Albums of the Year 2018

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Yes, it’s that time of year again, lists, lists and well, more lists – and from every angle possible. That said, drawing up a list of my favourite records from throughout the year is one of the most enjoyable aspects to the blog.

There was lots of great music in 2018 (as is the case every year) but here are 18 of my favourite records from the year – 18 for 18 if you will.

Without further ado, here are my favourite records from 2018. Enjoy!

18: Conor Mason – ‘On The Surface’

Conceived, developed and rendered into life over eighteen months in his hometown of Derry, Conor Mason’s fourth album is a treasure trove of musicianship and songwriting craft and is very assured in his musical landscape, conjuring the wistful wonderment of Elliott Smith, Grandaddy, Villagers and Matthew Jay. In essence, it is an exploration living life with uncertainty; the highs and lows, curiosity and change, and significance, or insignificance, of humans in the universe. Flowing gently by, amid a sea of hushed lilting vocals, whispering lyrical poeticisms and subtle instrumentation, Mason reveals himself master of hook, harmony and heart. At times fragile, tender and touching, his songs are paradoxically permeated by an air of richness and comforting warmth, yet shrouded in melancholy, and draped in Mason’s intuitive song writing and storytelling abilities. A beautiful record.

Listen in full here.

17: The Coral – ‘Move Through The Dawn’

The Coral returned with their ninth studio album in 2018 and their prolific work rate and flair for psychedelic folk and classy pop songs shows no signs of abating. Move Through The Dawn glides along serenely, laden with seductive, sweet melodies and lush string arrangements, with the likes of ‘Reaching Out For a Friend’ and ‘Sweet Release’ bouncing around your head all day. While ‘Outside My Window’ and ‘Stormbreaker’ remind us on The Coral’s other side (and the closest relations to 2016’s Distance Inbetween); heavier riffs, jagged guitars and general air of menace. It is another wonderful and solid record from one of Britain’s most enduring and lovable bands.

Listen in full here.

16: Kneecap – ‘3CAG’

Comprised of Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí, Kneecap are a satirical hip-hop trio from Belfast who perform in Irish. The trio combine a fluency in Irish with an amazing delivery and a wry sense of humour to produce one of the most unique homegrown records of 2018. Over eight tracks, their mixtape 3CAG offers a satirical take on life for young people, with a particular west Belfast slant. If like me, your command of Irish leaves a lot to be desired, it doesn’t matter a jot. The beats are superb and so infectious, and the flow and lyrical skill on show is second to none, with plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure – anyone who might be sceptical to begin with will be easily won over, just press play.

Listen in full here.

15: Gwenno – ‘Le Kov’

Gwenno’s debut, 2015’s Y Dydd Olaf, was almost all in Welsh; Le Kov, sung in Cornish is just as stunning and serene a sonic dream. The music continues in a retro-futuristic psych-pop vein, but Le Kov is even more expansive sounding than Y Dydd Olaf. Gwenno’s calm, precise and often reverbed vocals navigate a whirlwind of electronic noise, intricately weaved mixture of moods, textures and pulsations, and soaring strings.The record feels alive, vital and organic, like a luminous dream, it is a place playfulness, shimmering beauty, mythology and modernity that are all interwoven with freeflowing ideas, synth-lines and electronic blips, and an undercurrent of poetical dissent. A stunning record – inviting and bubbling with creative ideas, energy and possibilities – from a unique talent.

Listen in full here.

14: Half Man Half Biscuit – ‘No One Cares About Your Creative Hub So Get Your Fuckin’ Hedge Cut’

Album number 14 from Half Man Half Biscuit sees Nigel Blackwell and company in top form with a collection of great, cheerful, upbeat tunes combined with witty, sardonic lyrics. Musically it picks up where Urge for Offal left off, a rocky, brash and pretty loud post-punk indie backdrop for sardonic but never cynical takes on everyday life. In short, it’s got what a HMHB LP always has; the irresistible wordplay, varying cultural references, surreal and improbable surreal tales, and the most quotable lyrics in the world. A real treasure.

Listen in full here.

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Pablo Zuazo – ‘Macaco Nu Jazz’

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Pablo Zuazo is a Brazilian-born jazz pianist, singer and songwriter who’s genre-defying sound zigzags between bossa nova, MPB, jazz, samba, hip hop and electronica.

This genre hopping approach is demonstrated expertly and with precision by single ‘Macaco Nu Jazz’. An astounding and meticulously crafted affair, it is a lavish exploration of genres, styles and eras. Macaco Nu Jazz’ is a super cool, gloriously smooth and funky head nodding adventure, spliced and diced into an infectious beat filled jam. You will be lost in a sea of breathtakingly lush layers, choice samples and irresistible beats and groove. Maintaining chillout and feelgood vibes, Zuazo has created a sound which oozes nostalgic feelings for all manner of hazy summer days and nights. An exemplary display of his deft skills.

Fall in love with ‘Macaco Nu Jazz’ below:

Introducing: Kneecap

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Regular patrons of the site will be aware of my fondness for music of Welsh origin, and especially that performed in their native tongue.

Given this predilection, it gave to wondering about Ireland’s own native language and the comparatively scarce amount of contemporary music performed as Gaeilge. Now, that is a topic for another day and deserving of more attention and further examination (thesis anyone?) but it did bring my attention to Kneecap; a satirical hip-hop trio from Belfast who perform in Irish.

The three members; Mo Chara, Móglaí Bap and DJ Provaí combine a fluency in Irish with an amazing delivery and a wry sense of humour to produce one of the most unique homegrown records of 2018.

Over eight tracks, their mixtape 3CAG offers a satirical take on life for young people, with a particular west Belfast slant. If like me, your command of Irish leaves a lot to be desired, it doesn’t matter a jot. The beats are superb and so infectious, and the flow and lyrical skill on show is second to none, with plenty of laughs thrown in for good measure – anyone who might be skeptical to begin with will be easily won over, just press play on ‘Amach Anocht’, ‘Cearta’ or ‘Tá na Baggies ar an Talamh’ below.

You can listen to mixtape 3CAG in full here; and like mentioned above, it is one of the most unique homegrown records of 2018.

Kneecap have also announced an Irish tour for February 2019 – you can check the dates near you here.

Catching Flies – ‘New Gods ft. Jay Prince and Oscar Jerome’

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London producer Catching Flies is busy prepping the release of a new album and the first fruits of that labour come in the shape of new single, ‘New Gods’.

Joining forces with rapper Jay Prince and multi-instrumentalist Oscar Jerome, together the trio create ‘New Gods'; a warm aural feast of jazzy, soulful and slow-slung, hip-hop grooves. Sweeping electronic textures coalesce with soft drum rhythms, twinkling keys, flourishes of strings and bright flecks of guitar and are smoothly intertwined around the natural spoken rhythms of Jay Prince’s eloquent and thought provoking ponderings. An elegant, beautiful and dreamy blend of perfectly balance sounds, textures and pallets – ‘New Gods’ is a jazz-fueled hip hop lullaby.

That so far unnamed album is expected in late 2018 or early 2019 – for now feast your ears on the wonderful ‘New Gods’.