Do not cross The Bridge

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SOULFUL new singer Melanie Fiona, who aims to link classic soul with modern R&B with her debut album The Bridge, makes the crossing to the UK on Monday.
The neo soul album’s keystone, the Zombies-sampling lead single Give It To Me Right, starts the LP off to a promising start, followed with the poppy Bang Bang and the toe-tapping Monday Morning.
Sadly things get rickety for Fiona, real name Melanie Hallim, quite quickly after this.
From Please Don’t Go (Cry Baby) onwards, the whole affair is largely forgettable, a bit cheesy, and hardly likely to leave the listener in a state of suspension.

Classic thirty five – Princely Fresh

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SLY And The Family Stone‘s 1973 masterpiece’s title Fresh remains as apt as ever.
Because despite more than 35 years passing since the funk LP’s release, the album still is.
When you think of funk, you think of irrepressible grooves like Funkadelic‘s One Nation Under A Groove, Parliament‘s Up For The Down Stroke, Sly And The Family Stone’s Dance To The Music, and just about anything by James Brown.
But Fresh takes that base and builds on it.
From opener In Time with its brooding basslines, to all-time classic tracks like If You Want Me To Stay and Skin I’m In, the funk here grows from a groove, and lives and breathes fusing with elements of soul and jazz.
Put simply, if you want an album that stands the test of time, you want to get Fresh.

Crimea X rated average

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CRIMEA X play disco-flecked house music – if it was a house that just happened to have been built on the moon!
That’s right, they play deep house – deep space house, that is!
In fact you could say that the Phoros EP is house music that’s out of this world!
You get the idea.
The Italian dance outfit’s debut, which is a meeting of minds between creators DJ Rocca and Jukka Reverberi of glam post-rock band Giardina di Miro, is a steady flow of house laced with piano and 1970s sci-fi sound effects they describe as “cosmic disco”.
And backed by a set of Seaside Resort remixes – on the Sea Of Tranquility I’m guessing – there’s more than enough here for an enjoyable short break to their hedonistic house world.
Spacious rather than insistent, while Phoros isn’t exactly going where no dance act has gone before, you can rest assured that you’ll be jetting off to a good place.

Mercury Prize fighters

THE 12 album shortlist for the Mercury Prize 2009 has been revealed.
Contesting the competition this year are –

● Bat For Lashes – Two Suns
Florence and the Machine – Lungs
● Friendly Fires – Friendly Fires
● Glasvegas – Glasvegas
● The Horrors – Primary Colours
The Invisible – The Invisible
Kasabian – West Ryder Pauper Lunatic Aslyum
● La Roux – La Roux
● Led Bib – Sensible Shoes
Lisa Hannigan – Sea Sew
Speech Debelle – Speech Therapy
● Sweet Billy Pilgrim – Twice Born Man

From the list, I’d like to see Kasabian walk away with the gong.
What are your thoughts? Comment below or head over to Sound Off and let me know.

Token Four – Look out for The Invisible

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MIXING the ecleticism of jazz with elements of alt-rock, electronica, soul, funk and countless others, supergroup The Invisible‘s self-titled album is not one to be overlooked likely.
The work of jazz singer Dave Okumu, Polar Bear bassist Tom Herbert and Hot Chip drummer Leo Taylor, The Invisible is as hard to pin down as Hacksaw Jim Duggan.
The group have been labelled as a British TV On The Radio – imagine if you nobbled Bloc Party and Prince with horse tranquilisers, tied them all up in a big sack, and threw said sack into a canal, you’d be halfway there.
As a result the LP, released back in March to little fanfare, is probably too far removed from trad jazz to constitute a token inclusion – but in a few hours we’ll find out…

Late Of The Pier dates disappear

CASTLE Donington rockers Late Of The Pier are taking a break from playing live shows.
But in the meantime the band plan to concentrate on running their own label, Zarcorp Inc.
Band member Andrew Faley said: “We’re going to take some time out from Late Of The Pier live shows for a while. Figure things out properly. Do it bigger and better next time.
“In the meantime we’re going to be working on a heap of other projects, one of which is dedicating a lot of time to setting up our label Zarcorp Inc, something that’ll allow us to present other records and artists we’re involved with, love, wish we’d made or simply just honest music we feel deserves to be encased in time.
“It’ll also be the way we release all physical copies of future LOTP records.
“We’re doing everything from our bedrooms, completely DIY, meaning we have complete quality control, selling it entirely via paypal on the MySpace – and a few copies will be stocked in Escalator Records in Tokyo – and processing/posting them all from home.”

Token Three – Acoustic Ladyland land

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MOVING away from folk, another group I’d like to see on the shortlist would have to be the ever-amazing Acoustic Ladyland.
No strangers to the Mercury Prize, having seen their alter-ego oufits Polar Bear nominated in 2005 for the album Held On The Tips Of Fingers, the group’s fourth album, Living With A Tiger, was released earlier this month.
And the album is a electrifying return to the riff-based jazz of their sophomore album Last Chance Disco, which was one of my Albums Of The Year 2005.
Combining a punk ethos to making music with funky sax riffing and deliciously manic grooves, Living With A Tiger is beast of an album.
● You can grab a copy of Glasto, one of the tracks from the new LP, by clicking here.

Token Two – Lau is wow

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WITH the Mercury Music nominated albums due next week, I figured the time is nigh to finally blog about some albums already out there that could sneak onto the shortlist
Every year the Mercury’s 12 picks invariably include token albums from the worlds of folk and jazz – last year for example saw nominations for Rachel Unthank And The Winterset‘s The Bairns and Portico Quartet LP Knee-Deep In The North Sea.
For 2009, from the world of folk I’m tipping Jim Moray, whose album Low Culture came out last year and is my Token One, and Manchester trio Lau.
The group, who brought their fabled live skills to Loughborough Town Hall just over a week ago, are surely in with a shot.
Their current album, Arc Light, is a glorious slice of 21st Century folk music – which welds together trad warmth, sizzling musicianship and irrepressible rhythm.
In folk terms, Lau is now.

Pictures provide backdrop

FORMER Hefner frontman Darren Hayman has put out a new live LP recorded with Wymeswold band The Wave Pictures.
Madrid was recorded by a technician unknown to the singer and band at a gig in Madrid in 2007.
The 12-track release also features one Hayman track, The Genesis Rock, that is previously unreleased.
Hayman said: “
I had a tour to do in Spain and Sweden and because they were Hefner fans I thought I could get them to be my band for cheap.
“They said ‘yes’. The tour certainly had its ups and downs. Hard drives, some sparse gigs.
“They made me feel old, with their energy and optimism.
“One night I was watching their set and I realised that they were really, really good.
“This show was recorded by the desk engineer on the Madrid show of that tour, a happy accident. It has its faults, that’s why it’s cheap.”
To order a copy click here.

Shaping up nicely

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THE dance music on Rec Tangle‘s Heavy Maple is not the sort to get you throwing shapes.
Instead, the Brighton-based Frenchman’s debut album has a Kid Loco-style lushness to it more suited to soundtracking someone lying prone on their bedroom floor than someone on the dancefloor.
There are uplifting moments, here, granted, but it’s when Tangle – real name Adrien Rodes – colours the air with his brooding, threatening palette that Heavy Maple shines.
With an organic feel that surely comes from playing nearly all of the layers live, tracks like opener Square One, Anima’s Lament and The Meadow Green flower into swirling, threatening beasts of chillout tracks.
Heavy.