Album Review: The Introduction – Zoe and Zara

Since appearing on NEW LEASE MUSIC with their single ‘Get Up Now’ last January, my mind would sometimes wonder on the whereabouts of twin sisters ZOE & ZARA. A few week ago, my curiosity was quashed when received an email from the duo.

After five years on London’s music scene, the pair decided to start a new chapter on their journey. So after much deliberation, long hours in the studio (which came with tears and near-breakdowns – their words, not mine!) ZOE & ZARA now present their debut album, ‘The Introduction.’

Recorded at The Blue Studio in Dalston (my hometown!), ‘The Introduction’  displays a delightful journey of Jazz (modern and from the golden era), old school soul and neo soul alternating between the down right funky and the ambient/easy listening.

The flood of tears and near breakdowns definitely paid off –  their neo-soul signature is more rich and refined (compared to their previous releases). The sisters’ venture into other genres by far didn’t disappoint. Their soothing vocals in fourth effort ‘Hey Sir’ were well suited to the golden jazz/big band/rat pack combo.

After reading the review, I think you guys know how I feel about this album. All there’s left say is – ZOE & ZARA, I salute you!

Check out the album and song recommendations below:

Must Listens: Weather Is Golden, Autumn Afternoon, Butterfly, Talk About It

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Album Review: Meesh – Tunnel Traffic

It’s been some time (I think roughly a year and a half) since Adam Hachey, the brainchild of TUNNEL TRAFFIC, appeared on NEW LEASE MUSIC with his 2015 album, ‘Absolute Dreams’. Out of nowhere, this alternative folk-rocker recently emailed his new album, ‘Meesh, in which he produced while making his big shift to the City of Brotherly Love.

Unlike his previous collection, which was an atmospherically intense affair, ‘Meesh’ gets right down to it with bursts of zesty guitar licks through the first few tracks, ‘Lesson Learned’, ‘Pockets’ and ‘Anew’.

The psychedelic ride passes and makes way for a softer journey of lo-fi/new wave(ish) arrangements and the rich influence of that  70s inspired soulful rock, before turning up the tempo through efforts, ‘Maxwell’ and ‘All Day, Err Day.’

The latter part of the album is what I personally think is classic TRAFFIC TUNNEL. With the return of the zesty guitar plucks, the almost stripped back pieces becomes intense and personal, where you can not only hear, but FEEL every word uttered.

‘Meesh’ sees Adam comes out of his comfort zone and go down the experimentation route, which is great – but personally, he’s at his best when he perform songs that hone right into the soul.

Must Listens: Familiar, Slope Day, Mitch, Memorial

Album Review: Primative Beats and Rhymes

Veteran producer REDDTUNE called upon a mammoth lineup, in a bid to keep golden hip-hop/boombap alive, through his latest album, ‘Primative Beats and Rhymes’.

The 11-track production kicks off on a smooth note, with elements of classical and rich sounds of retro soul met with feather-light boombap. Halfway through the album, the tempo does a full 180. Entering full on into the golden era of the eighties/nineties, the bassline becomes more prominently gusty in the latter tracks, giving them that added spice.

Have a listen to ‘Primative Beats and Rhymes’ at least a few times and you’ll discover some real gems shattered throughout the production…real hip-hop heads will get it straight off. Check it out here.

Must Listens: Last of the Classics, Act A Fool, My Waves, Hustler’s Theme, Primative Beats and Rhymes.

 

Album Review: Love, Hugh – Hugh

Last time HUGH were featured on NEW LEASE MUSIC was last September, with their upbeat and chirpy single, ‘Look at In Laughter.’ Soon as I learnt of their debut album, ‘Love, Hugh’, I had to have a peep as the infectious melodic pop overtones in ‘Look Back In Laughter’ have been swimming in mind ever since its feature on the blog.

The four piece band from London, featuring Joshua Idehen and Izzy Brooks, have been praised by BBC Radio One, The Guardian, Stereogum, i-D and Hype Machine for their balanced blend of R&B/soul and synthpop featured in the 11 track album…and quite rightly so.

However I have to say the better part of ‘Love, Hugh’ is the second half of the album. The sweet melancholic presence of pop art takes a back seat, making way for the smooth and atmospheric R&B, enhanced by a woofing electronic bass (which reminds me of Massive Attack, for some reason).

Usually, I don’t follow hypes, but this one for real.. they’re definitely worth a trial. See the recommended tracks below.

Must Listens: I Can’t Figure You Out, Protect My Heart, I Don’t Like You, Take It Slow, In and Out of Love.

Album Review: Eight Days A Week – King Blitz

After a loooong spell away from the scene, KING BLITZ came back bolder with track, ‘That’s Real’, featured on NEW LEASE MUSIC back in January. Now the Indiana wordsmith is keeping the momentum at full speed with his ten-track album, ‘Eight Days A  Week’, released late last month.

A downtempo and menacing bass dominates and runs riot in the latest project, where this young emcee slams down his flow at varying speed. Somehow this smooth operator always comes out on top as his spats seamlessly weave throughout in every single track – well I guess that’s why he’s called KING BLITZ!

There’s some real gems in this set for those who are into alternative hip-hop; go and check it!

Must Listens: 99, New Wave, No Surprise, Yuu, Does It Matter 

Album Review: Reason Or Rhyme – Midnight Mystery Club

Just on the preview alone (which I discovered at the start of the year), David Newell and Michael Gray – aka MIDNIGHT MYSTERY CLUB – really cause a stir and kept fans and tastemakers on the edge of their seats with the release of their (obviously) highly anticipated album, entitled ‘Reason or Rhyme’, released last Friday.

A summer-hazy electronic/dance drive dominates the ten-track set, with elements of downtempo funk creeping in just before the second half of the album, before making its occasional presence well and truly known, for an even more pleasurable listen.

‘Reason or Rhyme’ was certainly worth the wait and – seriously – I cannot fault these guy’s production – it’s five stars from me!

Must Listens: Richest Man In The World, Orange County, Reason or Rhyme, Alright (Album Remix).

Album Review: Fairytale Land – Pedro Syrah

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Featured on NEW LEASE MUSIC back in September, PEDRO SYRAH‘s delicately warm effort, ‘Summer Night on Fairytale Land’ is the built up to his long-awaited debut album, ‘Fairyland’… and as much as I enjoyed the single – because it does spark a soul-glowing sensation – I wondered if I could survive ten tracks of the same tempo….

…Well I stand corrected, as from the very beginning, the bass guitar and drums receive a good workout in the introductory track, creating that real gritty funk. Soothing ambient soundscapes with, at times, feather light elements of Americana/new-wave follow through to the first half of the album, completed with tingling harmonies providing a real magical and folklore kick.

The second half of ‘Fairyland’ becomes progressively emotive and intense when Syrah takes to the limelight with put his vocals to almost stripped-back pieces – a combination that will smooth over manic traffic in an instant.

This collection is worth investing in for those quiet spring/summer nights…here’s your chance to have a listen.

Must Listens: Cocaine and Cigarettes, Paper Thoughts, Release the Clocks.

 

 

Album Review: Fiero – Population 7

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Hailing all the way from the West Midlands, nine piece hip-hop/neo-soul act POPULATION 7 have dropped their brand new album entitled ‘Fiero’, earlier this week.

A real sultry soulful/jazz fusion takes centre stage and swagger throughout the nine-track production, with smooth Erykah Badu-esque vocals and the occasional, laid-back freestyling giving the slick combo that extra kick.

I’ve found a real treasure here – so don’t disappoint me now and CHECK IT OUT!!!

Must Listens: Blindspot, Slugums, Wi – Fi, Fiero, Paz6 & FoxP2.

 

 

 

 

 

Album Review: Staring Into Space – Oloff

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After four months releasing his EP Life’s Got You Riveted ( once voted Album of the Week by NEW LEASE MUSIC) OLOFF rounds off the year with his 15-piece album, Staring Into Space, released last month.

The latest project predominantly includes three-minute bursts of his old instrumental recordings dating back to 2012, where this young artist put his smooth spin on vintage/Slum Village-esque hip-hop. This guy is cut from a different cloth; he’s worth a trial – check him out!

Must Listens: Never Was Feeling Poorly, DECRACS, Someone Took.

Album Review: A Band On Hope – A Band On Hope

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Award-winning alt hip-hop duo A BAND ON HOPE have released their 13-track album of the same name last week…and you’ve been warned; it’s not your run-of-the-mill mainstreamer.

Producer/multi-instrumentalist Kristian Sharpe and lyricist Ill Literate do not present a single dull moment. The two cleverly fuse hip hop, rock, funk, soul, blues, electro and a hint of jazz with raging guitar riffs and infectious (80-ish) flying synths which gives a respectfully wayward and futuristic feel to each offerings in the collection.

A Band on Hope is just like Marmite – you’ll either love it or hate it; there’s no in-between with this one…but the only way to find out is to hit that play button on the four-track sampler.

Must Listens:  Dead Angels, Low Budget High Life, Phantom of Hipopera, Russian Dolls, Spaced Out Break Out