Review: Three months after rapper turned singer Lizzo's major label debut first appeared on CD and digital download, Atlantic has decided to offer up a deluxe vinyl edition of the well-received set featuring three bonus tracks. Prior to release, Lizzo admitted she wanted to become "this generation's Aretha Franklin"; while she's not at the late soul legend's standard just yet, there's enough on "Cuz I Love You" to suggest that she's going in the right direction. Her vocals are variously confident, powerful, strutting and tender, with the accompanying backing tracks mixing hip-hop and R&B style beats with raucous guitars, bombastic basslines, Daft Punk style synth stabs (think "Robot Rock" and "Technologic") and occasional nods towards more pastoral, semi-acoustic sounds. Above all, though, the album is funky, forthright and hugely entertaining.
Fabio Fonseca - "Ladroes De Bagda" (feat Marina Lima) (3:51)
Fernanda Abreu - "Hello Baby" (4:56)
Luna E DJ Cri - "Acabou Como Comecou" (4:28)
Junior - "Vim Te Buscar" (4:59)
Thaide & DJ Hum - "Coisas Do Amor" (Trepanado edit) (4:34)
As Damas Do Rap - "Um Sonho Real" (4:55)
MC D'Eddy - "Jeito De Ser Menina" (instrumental) (5:12)
Sharylaine - "Saudade" (5:26)
Review: Did you know that Britain was not the only country where street soul was a musical force to be reckoned with during the late '80s and early '90s? As this fine compilation from record collector Augusto Olivani shows, the sound also thrived in Brazil, where inner-city musicians embraced its post-boogie fusion of head-nodding grooves, smooth instrumentation and even smoother vocals. There's much to enjoy throughout "Street Soul Brasil", from the dreamy chords and sparkling melodies of Afrodite Se Quiser's breezy "Fora De Mim", to the Soul II Soul style shuffle of Luna E DJ Cri's "Acabou Como Comecou", via the rushing cheeriness of Junior's "Vim Te Buscar" and the sugary bliss of MC D'Eddy's "Jeito De Menina (Instrumental)".
Review: The criticism of Anderson .Paak's last album, the glossy, big-budget "Oxnard", was so voluminous that his mum took to social media to defend it. The fast-rising rapper laughed off the haters at the time, but it must have hurt. Either way, he's changed direction again on "Ventura", a follow-up that's noticeably more refrained than its predecessor. Musically, what we're offered is stripped-back '70s soul and Prince style purple funk instrumentation fused with head-nodding hip-hop and R&B beats. Paak is lyrically on point throughout, eschewing some of his more sexually explicit lyrics in the post #MeToo era. To complete the picture of an artist going back to his roots, the assembled guests (Outkast's Andre 3000 included) are generally pushed to the background in an unobtrusive manner.
Os Quentes De Terra Alta - "Praia Do Algodoal" (3:21)
Pinduca - "Pai Xango" (3:36)
Janjao - "Meu Barquinho" (3:13)
Messias Holanda - "O Galo Canta, O Macaco Assovia" (3:33)
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Lambada Da Baleia" (2:55)
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Mambo Assanhado" (3:25)
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Carimbo Para Yemanja" (2:19)
Pinduca - "Coco Da Bahia" (3:06)
Messias Holanda - "Carimbo Da Pimienta" (2:29)
Verequete E O Conjunto Uirapuru - "Da Garrafa Uma Pinga" (3:11)
O Conjunto De Orlando Pereira - "Maruda" (2:00)
Magalhaes E Sua Guitarra - "Xango" (3:20)
Vieira E Seu Conjunto - "Melo Do Bode" (3:45)
Grupo Da Pesada - "Voa Andorinha" (2:43)
Grupo Da Pesada - "Lundun Da Yaya" (3:15)
Mestre Cupijo E Seu Ritmo - "Despedida" (4:09)
Review: Analog Africa's latest must-have release focuses on the little-known musical culture of the Para state on Northern Brazil, and specifically the port city of Belem. Since the 1960s the city's musicians have been serving up unique and exciting new styles that draw as much on West African, Cuban and Caribbean music as they do the rhythms and instrumentation of the Amazonian tribes based nearby. It's these kinds of unique and exuberant fusions - think heavy bass, bouncy ska-style rhythms, punchy Afro-Cuban horns, densely layered drums, celebratory vocals and tropical guitars - that make "Jambu E Os Miticos Sons Da Amazonia" such an essential listen. Context is provided via the included 24-page booklet, whose extensive liner notes track the development of Para's unique musical culture.
Al Man Muntzie & The Embraceables - "We Are Steady Rockin'" (8:02)
Review: It would be fair to say that Winston is nowhere near as well known as some of the record collectors who've compiled volumes in the "Under The Influence" series (think Nick The Record, Sean P and Red Greg), but it seems his crates are every bit as deep. Check, for example, the unashamedly celebratory, slap-bass propelled disco-funk of Doug Payne and Polygon's "Holiday", the heady, high-octane disco thrills of Expose's "I Just Wanna Dance With You", the low-slung early funk-rap headiness of Jungle Band's "Jungleland (Part 2)" and the wickedly percussive salsa-disco heaviness of Suave's "Salsa Gon Gitcha". In other words, it's a killer collection of top-notch cuts that you'll never have heard before. What's not to like?
Review: Since opting to release more music under his given name, DeepChord man Rod Modell has largely stuck to dubbed-out ambience and heady drone soundscapes. His latest full-length is a little different, though, offering up club-focused cuts that mix his usual fuzzy aural textures and dub-fired motifs with up-tempo techno rhythms. By his standards, it's a very forthright set, with highlights including the noise-soaked stomp of "Reiki", the thrusting heaviness of "ITO", the hypnotic slam of "Jade" - where breezy, early morning electronics flutter away above tough drums and a mind-altering bassline - and the boisterous peak-time techno anthem "Scrawler".
Last I Heard (...He Was Circling The Drain) (5:10)
Dawn Chorus (5:34)
I Am A Very Rude Person (3:52)
Not The News (3:57)
The Axe (6:58)
Impossible Knots (4:19)
(Ladies & Gentlemen, Thank You For Coming) (4:57)
Review: It's taken a while, but finally Thom Yorke's impressive third solo album, "ANIMA", is available on wax (and in a fetching shade of orange, too). A future classic that continues the legacy he started with XL Recordings back in 2006 (with his solo debut The Eraser), ANIMA is well worth picking up, as Yorke and co-producer Nigel Godrich offer up evocative, off-kilter songs built around the twin attractions of the Radiohead man's distinctive vocals and skewed backing tracks rich in layered electronic noise, body-bending sub-bass, discordant synthesizer parts and intriguingly jaunty drum loops. Highlights are plentiful throughout, from the creepy, lo-fi ambient swirl of "Last I Heard (...He Was Circling the Drain)" and "Dawn Chorus" (a blissfully dewy-eyed early morning soundscape), to the low-slung, post-trip-hop hum of "I Am A Very Rude Person" and the fizzing, jazz-fired thrust of "Impossible Knots". Melancholic, yes. Deep and self-effacing, of course. Nihilistic, not really. Percussive futurist sub-pop is back.
Review: Astonishingly, 23 years have passed since Glenn Underground and Boo Williams established the Strictly Jaz Unit project, a fluid collective of underground Chicago deep house producers. These days, SJU mainly operates as a duo, and it was this stripped-back line-up that produced "The Tempest", a rare album-length outing bristling with quality cuts. As a whole, the album is far more intergalactic, electronic and sci-fi sounding than either man's solo productions, with just a few hints of the luscious instrumentation and swinging grooves associated with their previous work. There's no dip in quality, though, with the dubbed-out deep house hypnotism of "Heard Syndrome", the Patrick Cowley/Giorgio Moroder influenced "The Struggle", the Chicago-goes-Yorkshire bleep flex of "Time of Speed, Not Day" and acid-fired gorgeousness of "The Flat (London Projects)" standing out.
Review: There's much to admire about Andrew Wilson and John Tanner's second collaborative full-length, which sees them build on the fluid and atmospheric ambient of 2016 debut "69". Utilizing a relatively small array of instruments - mainly piano, acoustic guitar and a few choice synthesizers - the pair serves up ear-catching soundscapes wrapped in atmospheric field recordings and just the right amount of processed effects. For the most part their compositions are summery and seductive, emphasizing unfussy combinations of melodic refrains and positive chord progressions. There are, though, one or two more experimental cuts, with the tipsy, slow-motion shuffle of "Idle" and spaced-out "Safe Bird" standing out.
Review: Given that Alex Storrer released his first Lexx record way back in 2001, this album is way overdue. It's Storrer's first as Lexx following an abstract 2002 ambient set as Lexxodus. "Cosmic Shift" is as warm, groovy, Balearic and beguiling as you'd expect with Storrer joining the dots between yacht rock, dub, deep house, ambient, folk, new age and lazy Latin grooves. Interestingly, Storrer successfully takes to the mic on numerous occasions, while guests including Woolfy, Ella Thompson and Harriet Brown also lend a hand. The results are uniformly superb, which begs the question: why didn't he do it sooner? Let's hope it won't be 20 years before we get a sequel.
Evasion 85 - "Van La Ka Vante" (Omar Mendez TD Fix) (3:55)
Bessoso - "Para Decir Que Te Quiero" (4:45)
Goma-Laca - "Do Pila" (feat Karina Buhr) (4:38)
Equipe Radio Cidade - "Bon Tempos" (2:34)
Voilaaa - "Spies Are Watching Me" (4:56)
Blyk Tchutchi Loy Dtchutchi - "Mandamento De Deus" (3:43)
Gordon Henderson - "The Highest Bidder" (3:21)
Simon Jurad - "Macadam" (3:35)
Mubashira Mataali Group - "Emaali Ya Bamulekwa Orphans Property" (2:42)
Eko Roosevelt Louis - "Tondoho Mba" (4:41)
Slim Young - "Otan Hunu" (4:48)
Jacinta Sanches & Pedro Ramos - "Vizinha Ka Bale" (3:13)
Andre Marceline - "Candencedisco" (4:17)
Misumami First Touch - "Prove Your Love" (4:01)
Alma Luma - "Princesa Isabel" (3:36)
Review: While he's been offering up some sizzling solo albums of late, French DJ/producer GUTS is still arguably better known as the seasoned selector behind the excellent "Beach Diggin'" compilations. Here he offers up another compilation, this time showcasing tried-and-tested tracks that have been rocking his DJ sets for the last few years. Mostly focused around club-friendly global sounds past and present, the 17-track selection is full of little known killers, overlooked dancefloor workouts and forgotten gems. Highlights come thick and fast throughout, from the horn-sporting boogie-zouk bounce of Evasion 85's "Van La Ka Vante" and the cheeky "Rappers Delight" re-write "Bon Tempos" by Equipe Radio Cidade, to the sparkling Afro-disco heat of Eko Roosevelt Louis' "Tondoho Mba" and the righteous Afro-Brazilian drum workout that is Alma Luma's "Princesa Isabel".
Sly & Lovechild - "The World According To Sly & Lovechild" (Andrew Weatherall Soul Of Europe mix) (8:25)
Deniro - "Epirus" (6:34)
Psyche - "Crackdown" (5:59)
Hiver - "Paert" (7:04)
Aphex Twin - "Vordhosbn" (4:46)
Review: South Korean star Peggy Gou continues her seemingly unstoppable rise by serving up her first ever DJ mix CD. It's a contribution to one of the longest running series in the business, DJ Kicks, and she's used the opportunity to showcase the depth and variety of the music in her crates. Beginning with the classic early '90s ambient of Spacetime Continuum, Gou flits between humid, mid-tempo Balearic house (her own "Hungboo"), acid-fired downtempo electronica, throbbing 1990 peak-time anthems (Weatherall's ace but largely forgotten remix of Sly & Lovechild), hypnotic techno minimalism, main room throb-jobs (Hiver), pulsating electro, classic breakbeat hardcore, post-dubstep, dark tribal drum jams and sunrise ready Motor City brilliance (Deniro).