Get The Blessing

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AGAIN, like Portico Quartet, Bristol-based post-jazz outfit Get The Blessing have been thrust into the limelight somewhat, after winning the 2008 BBC Jazz Award for Best Album.
Luckily, thrusting is something that Get The Blessing – founded as The Blessing by two former Portishead members with “a pathological hatred of chords” – do very well on All Is Yes.
With more energy than a red bull on Red Bull, the four-piece’s riff-based crossover jazz comes charging out of the speakers on opener Cake Hole, and it rarely lets up.
Akin to Acoustic Ladyland‘s punk-funk/jazz classic Last Chance Disco, All Is Yes will tickle the fancy of fans of jazz, rock and dance with its genre-mashing energy.
In fact, everything is positive about All Is Yes.
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Get Get The Blessing

• JAZZ pioneers Get The Blessing have scooped the prestigious Best Album award at the 2008 BBC Jazz Awards.
The album, All Is Yes, by the group, formed by former Portishead members Clive Deamer and Jim Barr, is an exciting, energetic post-jazz mix of riff-based saxophone grooves and rock influences.
• Stump up for Cut Off Your Hands’ debut single, Expectations.
The indie pop single, released on August 18, and produced by former Suede axeman Bernard Butler, is the first to come from the forthcoming album You And I.
• Eighties pop sensation Hue And Cry are to release a new album on September 8, following a 16 year absence from the charts.
As well as the Scottish brother’s usual crafted fare, the album also features a cover of Beyonce’s hit Crazy In Love.
• Alaskan metal band Avenged Sevenfold have released a new song, Dear God.
The track, taken from their self-titled fourth album, sees a dark country twang added to their furious metal oeuvre.
• High flying pop group The B-52s have a new single out on July 21.
Juliet Of The Spirits, taken from their current album Funplex, is backed up by live cuts of favourites Roam and Rock Lobster.
• Mark Ruebery will release a new album, Because Of You, on August 18.
The singer’s debut, which features current single It Goes Around And Comes Around, is a heartfelt mixture of classic anthemic rock and ballad showcasing Mark’s rich vocal tones.
• Silky-voiced singer and musical experimentalist Milosh releases his third album, iii, on August 25.
The Canadian, who has been compared to everyone from Radiohead to D’Angelo, makes music that mashes the boundaries between soul, classical, electronica, jazz and the traditional singer-songwriter.
• X-Factor’s finest Maria Lawson is back with a new single, taken from her second album Emotional Rollercoaster.
Breaking Me Down is a soulful pop track that showcases Maria’s vocal abilities.
• The bittersweet Sugar Mouse is the new single from folk pop duo Oh, Atoms.
The track, out on September 22 but available online from mid-August, also features in the new film Angus Thongs And Perfect Snogging.
• Leftfield guitar pop group Flipron release a double A-side single, Book Of Lies/Mess It Up, on September 15.
Both tracks will also feature on the band’s third album, Gravity Calling, which is out in October.
• If all of this is music to your ears, log on to Isaac Ashe’s Sound Advice for more from the pop world.

Seth for Loughborough date

FOLK hero Seth Lakeman is coming to Loughborough University this Autumn as part of a mammoth new UK tour.
The West Country-born singer, touring to promote his third album Poor Man’s Heaven, has pencilled in a town date on November 11.
A spokesman for singer-songwriter Seth said: “This is Seth’s largest headline tour to date.
“Seth’s critically acclaimed third album Poor Man’s Heaven charted at number eight in the UK on it’s release earlier this month, an unprecedented achievement for a so-called ‘folk inspired’ artist.
“Poor Man’s Heaven represents a progression for Seth’s sound – while remaining firmly rooted in folk, it moves from a more acoustic-based feel to a fuller, rockier sound, underpinned as ever by emotive lyrics and story telling, this time with a strong coastal theme.
“It is also the closest representation on record of Seth’s live show yet, capturing the rhythmic, raw energy seldom seen in any other acoustic band.”
For more information on tickets, which cost £16 each, click here.

Wade into Knee Deep In The North Sea

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ALTHOUGH Portico Quartet‘s Knee-deep In The North Sea is not a new release as such, I felt I should dip in, as – along with folk droners Rachel Unthank And The Winterset‘s The Bairns – it is new to 90 per cent of people thanks to the release of this year’s Mercury Music Prize shortlist.
And being another staple of the Babel Label stable alongside previous nominees Polar Bear, it’s no surprise that Portico Quartet are not your average jazz band.
The London-based band do give a cool trad feel to the album, with subdued basswork, brushed drums and sax taking the lead, but a warmer current is added by the use of a hang, an instrument not a million miles away from a steel drum in sound.
Despite being nominated, Portico Quartet’s chances of winning the Mercury Music Prize could already be considered dead in the water – but the free promotion for the supurb Knee-deep In The North Sea that comes with it alone should keep them in a bouyant mood.

Faly good

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IT IS a potentially a good time for former Afro Celt Sound geezer N’Faly Kouyate to be releasing an album of African-Western crossover music.
With the likes of Yeasayer, Foals, Vampire Weekend, MIA etc etc parading around the top 40 in 2008, Afropop hasn’t been this vogue since Paul Simon was called Al.
So while Guinean-born musician Kouyate and his backing band Dunyakan may offer a more traditional slice of West African contemporary music, the appetite for it might just be there.
And although a step away from my usual musical diet, it is clear that Kouyate is a proficient musician, and, as you would expect from a composer who cut his teeth in dance/world hybrid Afro Celt Sound System, the rhythmic play here is full of beans.
At times the result may be a tad cheesy – maybe because the indie shoegaze element found in the likes of Foals and Yeasayer is missing – but you can really tell that from the start to the big string finish Kouyate recorded this album with a smile on his face.

Decked out

Just a quick post to let you know that the Isaac Ashe’s Sound Advice Ashemobile Soundsystem Appeal has come to an end.
The drive for readers to donate their cassette tapes has come to a halt because the Ashemobile is dead – long live the new Ashemobile, which has a CD player in it.
Although don’t expect a higher quality of review from now on, people!
Thanks to everyone who donated to the appeal – in total I received one tape.

Ray J – wahey!

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RAY J, full name William Ray Norwood Jr, has somehow produced a 13 track album of slick R&B using a one track mind.
Because, make no bones about it, this is music that positively screams “how’s your father?”.
Luckily Ray J’s voice is smooth enough, so he an get away with saying things that, if they came out of my mouth, would lead to a slap at the very least – just look at my picture to the right and imagine the words “you’re looking so cute in your birthday suit…”
This slick patter is matched by the production, although it can be a tad pedestrian (or, given the slap-and-tickle subject matter, should that be missionary).
Standout tracks include album title track All I Feel, and single Sexy Can I – and that sounds like something Master Yoda might say one lonely night to a good-looking yet naive young jedi…
But even if you are after an album for the sole purpose of acquiring a soundtrack to the beast with two backs, look elsewhere, because All I Feel is ruined, for me, by a narcissistic quality – true, this is music to have sex to, but probably only if Ray J is involved.