As a woman, I make mistakes and I am woman enough to admit to those very mistakes. One of those errors of judgement came on October 7th – the day that R&B singer Tinashe released her debut album Aquarius. I wrote a tweet about how great her album was – I don’t know the exact verbiage I used and I assume since it was Twitter I could find the information out by looking at my timeline, but I am lazy, distracted and eating Tater Tots with Fish with an excessive amount of Hot Sauce and a side of Lemonade – digression. But yes, I prematurely said that I loved the Tinashe album in so many characters when realistically, that’s not the truth. The album which Tinashe herself is the executive producer of, features production from Dev Hynes (Blood Orange), DJ Mustard and Mike WilL Made It, just to name a few. Aquarius has it’s high points but on the sixth full listen, I realized that the album became background music.
Tinashe has a good voice especially in the sea of autotuned non-singers or oversexualized singers with repetitive subject contents. But for me, what those albums have that Tinashe’s album lacks is the ability to keep listeners invested (kind of like the J.Cole syndrome). At times, I forgot that I was actually listening to the album perhaps because the lush, sex music vibes doesn’t captivate my short attention span. Also, aside from the lead single “2 On” featuring Schoolboy Q, the album production wise doesn’t really change up – everything is slow, saucy and cuddly.
That being said, as a whole Tinashe’s debut is leaps and bounds better than I expected. The songs on the album really allow Tinashe’s voice to play the lead role as she seamlessly goes between FKA Twigs-ish vibes on certain songs, and Janet Jackson in others.
Highlights on the album come in the form of the Future assisted “How Many Times.” Although Future kind of messes up his main part with a series of tribal chants that sound more Tourette like than necessary, this is subjectively speaking, the album’s best song. For the song, Tinashe flips the classic Janet Jackson track, “Funny How Time Flies” from her 1986 classic Control, and makes it contemporary and sensual. “Cold Sweat” follows in terms of highlights as Tinashe sings about friends, foes and all things that are synonymous with becoming a star. This song also shines a light on one of Tinashe’s strengths – her vocal versatility.
Overall, the Tinashe album is a nice debut album. I wouldn’t say that it is something that I will consistently play, but it was leaps better than I expected – just not gas-worthy like I said. Also, in closing, I would like to show for some reason, the feedback from the New York Times.
Tinashe was in good company but, it turns out, not the right company. Her slide into wider acclaim, in fact, has more to do with the templates that have lately been set by men. She may be descended from Aaliyah, yes, but she’s more immediately indebted to Drake and the Weeknd, Toronto’s slow-burn minor-key kings, who have been helping to remake the sound of hip-hop and R&B for the last few years. It’s not a coincidence that “Feels Like Vegas” sounds like a Weeknd outtake, and it’s not a surprise that “2 On” got further gasoline when Drake released his own version of the song.
In the mainstream, Tinashe isn’t alone in these ideas, strictly speaking. The underwhelming Ms. Aiko rarely sounds awake when she sings, and has found success that way. And over the last few years, Ciara has tried a version of what Tinashe is now doing. But Ciara has always been more preoccupied with the body than the heart. Her lack of vocal presence guarantees that it is easier to connect with her music physically than emotionally.
That leaves an open lane for Tinashe, then. Factor out Beyoncé and also Rita Ora, who sings the tempestuous hook on Iggy Azalea’s “Black Widow,” and there’s not a single female R&B singer on the most recent Billboard hot R&B/hip-hop songs chart besides Tinashe, who appears both for the extremely durable “2 On” and for guesting on the Kid Ink song “Body Language.” Soon, the singles from Beyoncé’s most recent album will have come and gone. There will be no one to shout Tinashe down.
For a new artist, releasing your debut album when you’ve already released two of the hottest songs of 2013, plus completed tour dates both in the states and overseas it has to be a somewhat daunting task. Critics and fans alike anxiously watch or judge to see whether or not the buzz you created was premature or valid. Luckily, for London based duo Gorgon City and their debut album Sirens, the hype was warranted.
The duo comprised of producers Matt “RackNRuin” Robson-Scott and Kye “Foamo” Gibbon, have gained an immense amount of notoriety for their version of Dance/House fusion. In 2013, the pairing provided the musical landscape for two of the hottest dance tracks of the year first with their single, “Real” featuring Yasmin. Their magic was also shown with their infectious track “Ready For Your Love,” featuring singer and songwriter (who more than likely is and/or will be taking the music industry by storm) MNEK. These two tracks were only a taste of what could be expected from their debut, and in entirety, their debut does not disappoint.
Living in a genre that is praised on a somewhat sporadic and all over the place vibe, Gorgon’s album actually feels very cohesive and well thought out. The album which features guest appearance from singers including the likes of Maverick Sabre, Laura Welsh, Katy B and even a surprising feature from singer Jennifer Hudson, captures and sets the tone perfectly for a fun evening, or party. Not only is the production on the album seamless, the collaborations and lyrics of the songs should also be spotlighted as well.
Sirens begins at a high point with the opening track “Coming Home” featuring singer Maverick Sabre. The production on this song plus the raspiness of Sabre’s voice make for a definite highlight. Not to mention, the song also sets the tone for what can be expected throughout the album – enthralling and claps and/or sporadic dancing.
The opening song is followed by the second single “Ready for Your Love” featuring MNEK. The song which was released last December, was number four on the UK Singles Chart (should have been higher) and not only introduced listeners to the sultry and smooth vocals of MNEK, but the production on this song provides listeners with a full fledge experience complete with being pulled in, let down, and pulled back in. The lyrics for this song are also catchy, “I’m ready for your love.”
Jennifer Hudson joins the duo for the epic dance-floor banger “Go All Night.” As soon as the song begins with minimal production, Jennifer’s voice commands full attention. As the song continues and the beat develops, Gorgon City create a song complete with traces of the legendary Cece Peniston in her heydey. This is a song that will easily be an anthem in gay clubs or House music parties around the world and for good reason – it captures a feeling and makes you dance uncontrollably (I have a little sweat forming as I write listening to this song for the sixth time in a row). The jam session of “Go All Night” is followed by the somewhat mellow “Unmissable” featuring Zak Abel. The song was written by Jimmy Napes who helped to write duo Disclosure’s hit single “Latch” featuring Sam Smith, as well as Sam’s debut album The Lonely Hour. This song once again has a big feel with great vocals. It also speaks to the versatility that is synonymous with Gorgon City.
“FTPA” featuring Erik Hassle also taps into the mellow vibe found on “Unmissable” this time however, there are traces of Hip-Hop and galactic vibes. The lyrics of this song are beautiful and command attention, “Let your body do the talking, I’ll be listening. Do me a favor stay in this moment.” Erik’s raspy voice fits perfectly on this track because the production and his voice bounce well of each other highlighting the power of both. “Imagination” featuring Katy Menditta has the makings of being both a Pop smash, as well as a female anthem. “6 AM” featuring Tish Hyman, also makes for an album highlight because it’s hypnotic and the lyrics are both catchy, fun and relatable.
The last album highlight comes from the closing track on the album, “Hard On Me” because it definitely puts the versatility of Gorgon on the forefront, almost like an en note in the form of “Yes! We just murked this album.”
Gorgon City’s debut album Sirens, proves that yes these guys will be around for awhile. In a musical landscape that is consistently evolving or with people tapping into multiple genres to create what is thought of as innovative or buzzword friendly “amazing” you can easily hear some of our favorite singers or rappers gracing a Gorgon City track. It is my hope to hear Vic Mensa over a Gorgon City track – not sure this will happen, but imagine Vic on one of these tracks creating a song that is reminiscent of his smash single “Down On My Luck” – just saying, can we make this happen or nah?
It was a pretty chill Tuesday evening as the sun set on Los Angeles, a lively group lined the outer perimeter of the Mack Sennett Studio, chatting about the day and days to come, excited about the YOU’RE DEAD! release about to take place. Many of us didn’t know what to expect from this party; I, and a few others, went to the Little Dragon TumblrIRL event in May, but hadn’t gotten the chance to make it in the door. We speculated but nothing could have braced us for the rapture that was to come.
The gates here welcomed us — entering the smoky, haunted halls, greeted by a smiling Michael Jackson, we crossed over. A looming death eater (a hooded and masked Flying Lotus) walked in our mist, roaming back and forth to guide us, introducing us to purgatory. Lights flashed and cracked like lightning, the bass like thunder. On a highlighted, red screen projected shadowed beings, our spirits, as we continued on the journey to our final resting place.
DJ PBDY (P-Body) started the ceremonious evening off with bangers that rattled your brain loose from your noggin. My neck still hurts from nodding so hard. Monster beats shook and swayed corpses free of flesh to reveal rattling skeletons. Serenading us like a dear friend reading our eulogy, the string quartet raised and praised our souls. The heights the soprano violin held you at, made you feel suspended in the air. Just there. Absolutely breathtaking. The spiritual dance wasn’t over. Thundercat then riffed and wailed with his jazz ensemble, launching us to different dimensions with heavenly solos.
As for FL’s album itself, it’s hard to captivate it’s entirety into words. It bangs, it throbs, it rocks, it rolls, it soars. Jazzy undertones match with obliterating kicks of bass to make an eclectic conundrum of curtained sounds. Make sure you get your copy on October 7th.
The sincerely special thing I observed was that every artist became a part of the audience when their set was over. Flying Lotus himself walked over to the watch Thundercat’s set just after announcing them a few minutes earlier, I made my way in behind DJ PBDY; everyone was there to enjoy the art.
What do you think the afterlife is like? This is the imagined concept of Lotus’ album, from his idea of what it would be like after this realm is no longer in need of us. When you can lose track of time and get lost in every rise and fall, hit and drop of the music that’s when you know you’ve truly made a masterful piece of work, a feat Flying Lotus can say he has done. Paradise awaits, get it here.
Thank you Flying Lotus, Thundercat, and the whole crew, and TumblrIRL for putting on such a spectacular event; truly a once in a lifetime production. xo
History has been made! On August 12th, Tahliah Barnett, FKA twigs, released her first international album, “LP1″ and kick started her UK and US tour. The fairy godmother of trippy indie graced the stage of the El Rey Theatre in a silk, white pajama suit adorned with a gold body chain staring down the audience as a cheetah would stare down it’s prey. And prey on us she did. Her shy, angelic presence can be overwhelmingly felt in every note she sings. Whimsically belting about young love enduring the ups and downs, ins and outs, and rising above the all too common heartbreak.
She allows us to enter her kingdom as one would begin a fairytale book, with “Preface,” blasting you off into orbit around her beautiful, galactic mind. Her two singles, “Two Weeks” and “Pendulum,” laid the foundation for the release, demanding you give her only two weeks to make her way into your head, and certainly in to your heart. In the visuals she provides, she sits at her throne while her images dance around her. Tired of hanging in the balance, effortlessly trying to show that she’s worth the time while he’s looking for more elsewhere.
“You’re younger than I am broken,
I dance feelings like they’re spoken.
So my conversation’s not enough.”
In the tracks “Closer” and “Give Up,” you hear the yearning of every 20-something lady in an on again, off again relationship; trust and unconditional acceptance. Don’t let “Hours” go by without noticing, either. Super sexy and sultry, a punch drunk love anthem that invites you to communicate without words. A challenge many couples should take up like the #ALSIceBucketChallenge (donate too, please).
All in all, it embodies all the sexiness that a lady has while still wrangling with her emotions, from insecurities to empowerment. I seriously can’t pick a single track that I favor over another; every time I listen to this album I hear another note, or a new verse that I relate to, that impacts me so deeply. Album is available on iTunes.
If you haven’t gotten a chance to watch her live, allow her to pull you into a beautiful melodic trance so deep you’ll lose track of time. She’s in the UK until the end of October, returning to Washington, D.C. in November for the latter half. Her US dates are as listed:
11/6 – Washington, D.C. @ 9:30 Club
11/7 – Philadelphia, PA @ Union Transfer
11/8 – New York, NY @ Terminal 5
11/11 – Boston, MA @ Brighton Music Hall
11/13 – Chicago, IL @ Metro
11/14 – Minneapolis, MN @ Fine Line
11/17 – Vancouver, British Columbia @ Commodore
11/18 – Seattle, WA @ Showbox
11/20 – San Francisco, CA @ Regency
11/21 – Los Angeles, CA @ Regent
11/26 – Austin, TX @ Parish
11/28 – Dallas, TX @ Trees
11/29 – New Orleans, LA @ Republic
12/1 – Nashville, TN @ Mercy Lounge
12/2 – Atlanta, GA @ Terminal West
12/3 – Orlando, FL @ The Social
For more information on her tour dates and tickets, check them out here.
The last time we heard from New Zealand grown singer, Kimbra, it was with the release of her 2011 album, Vows. The genre-bending album with singles like: “Settle Down” and “Cameo Lover” proved that Kimbra had what many consider staying power. Not only did she know how to write memorable and timeless songs (“Call Me”) she could also use her voice as a musical weapon of sorts. The album also drew several uncanny parallels to singer Regina Skeptor. After the release, Kimbra was also the saving grace in many people’s opinion for her Gotye collaboration for “Somebody That I Used To Know” which won a Grammy. After nearly three years, Kimbra is now back with her sophomore album The Golden Echo, out today via Warner Brothers.
Rumor has it that in order to create her latest installment, Kimbra had to cut 70 recorded songs down to 12. My only fear in with doing this, Kimbra left off some of the gems that would have made this album better. With Vows, I could honestly say that there were perhaps two skippable songs for me in the form of the single “Cameo Lover” which was tolerable just too visible as well as, “Sally I Can See You.” This time around, only five songs (out of 15 including bonus tracks) have left a mark on me from the first few listens. Kimbra is a champion of pulling from multiple genres and multiple sounds which is always reflected in her music but this time around it feels dizzy. The album just sounds a little scattered, and although it was the work of great collaborators; John Legend, Thundercat, Flying Lotus, Bilal and Van Dyke, it sounds a little bit unfocused, yet somewhat more psychedelic with the contributions of Thundercat’s bass.
In terms of the high points on the album, the first comes into the form of the intro track “Teen Heat.” For the track, Kimbra sings about the complexities of adolescent love – having it, losing it. The harmonies on the track are love, as well as the lyrics. “Goldmine” is a catchy song with a confident chant of sorts. “Rescue Him” which Kimbra wrote with Empire of the Sun’s Surahn Sidhu. The song is laced with an interesting hybrid of soul and synth pop, resulting in a musical orgasm of sorts complete with squinted eyes and an excessive amount of head nods. The lyrics of the song are also quite captivating and the way her voice sounds on the chorus laced with background vocals sounds amazing.
“So I will rescue him, I will rescue him, each time he knocks I’ll let him in. When he wants it time and time again, time again. I’ll give my forgivin’ seventy times seven. So I will rescue him, I will rescue him, no matter what the cost is. When he wants time and time again, time again. I’ll give my forgivin’ seventy times seven. 1,2,3,4,5 I’m on your side, my patients won’t tire with you. 5,6,7 baby up to eleven, I’ll never be tired of you.”
“Everlovin” Ya” featuring Bilal is another highlight because realistically, it is a duet that makes so much sense to me. Personally, I’ve always wanted them to do something together since I heard “Wandering Limbs” on her debut album. The last album highlight comes in the form of “Nobody But You” which was released as a downloadable single around the time of the lead single from the album “90’s Music.” The song just feels so good and makes you want to be so in love with someone that you sing these words ( which I’m not ).
Overall, this album is decent. I think my hopes were a little higher which is why it’s not necessarily something I’m feeling so much. I do think however, perhaps it will grow on me at some point. If you want to check it out for yourself, purchase the album via iTunes here.