TOP TRACKS OF THE MONTH – December 2016
Hold the mince pies and pause the Strictly Christmas special, there’s still time for a sack full of entirely non-seasonal ditties to fortify you for the festive period. Here’s FIFTY of the best new tunes – that’ll sound good 365 days a year.
Apologies must go to the artists as a lack of time means the text accompanying the tracks mostly consists of hastily copy and pasted press releases! The quality of the music is by no means reflected by my own shoddiness. Merry Christmas and see you soon for my annual very late “Top 200 tracks of the year”.
A few more highlights include:
Leandra & the Dream — ‘Don’t Wanna Be Poetry’
I’m not sure quite where I stumbled upon Leandra (possibly via the delectable tastes of Jean Grae?) but a big thank you to whoever pointed me in the direction of this so far perplexingly unheralded talent.
Hailing from New York, Leandra is clearly heavily influenced by Chance The Rapper and as such is a must for fans of Chicago’s finest. There are also similarities to former Chance collaborator NoName along with Princess Nokia with whom Leandra shares a desire to give voice to ‘queer folks of colour’.
I wouldn’t want to define them solely by ‘queerness’ though, as NoName has said in the past “I’m a rapper not a ‘female rapper”. It may be that Leandra’s music means even more to you if you’re ‘of colour’ or identify as ‘womyn/genderqueer’ – I wouldn’t know – but it already sounds pretty damn fine to the ears of this straight, white bloke!
Check Leandra out on Soundcloud now before the music press notice their brilliance.
yo i wanna make the ultimate queer anthem
— Leandra & the Dream (@leaandthedream) August 3, 2016
Roger Robinson – ‘Bun Bun Bun’
Roll on 2017 when we’ll finally get a chance to hear ‘Dog Heart City’ the new mixtape from Disrupt and Roger Robinson.
It’ll be going some to match the dub splendor of first taster (and free download) ‘Bun Bun Bun’. The album promises “Robinson’s full vocal spectrum between low-end dub poetry tremors and haunting falsetto singing, try to make the invisible lives visible: giving people affected by gentrification, racism, unemployment and low wage work a sense of authority and aesthetic nobility”.
Get this track for free here: http://rogerrobinsononline.com/bunbunbun
Shadow – Lets Get It Together’
Awesome Tapes From Africa: “It’s November 5th, 2106. The generally crackly phone connection between Dublin and Port-of-Spain, the capital city of Trinidad and Tobago, was as good as I’d expected it would be. I’d finally managed to “hook” the legendary Shadow – also known as Mighty Shadow – whose very first sentence in a thick Trinidadian accent was; “I take my guitar and strum and sing some tings and blow people’s mind. But I ain’t trying to do anybody’s music. I’m doing what I feel”.
When it came out in 1984 the far-out album Sweet Sweet Dreams by Trinidad & Tobago’s Shadow (aka Winston Bailey) was described as “way ahead of its time”. Undeservedly it was panned by critics and, unable to reach markets, disappeared into the dusty record collections of a few music aficionados. Now, more than three decades later that cosmic dance-floor UFO is about to take off again, change all that and set the record straight. Remastered and cut by Frank Meritt at The Carvery the album is truly a masterpiece”.
RC And The Gritz – ‘Good Day To You Sir feat. Sarah Jaffe & Sam Lao’
The Gritz Band is more of an eclectic super-group than your average hip-hop band. Known by some as Erykah Badu’s band. ‘Good Day to you Sir’ comes recommended by NinjaTune’s very own Mr Scruff.
Jstar – Deadly Dance feat Brother Culture
This is not exactly new but the full Jstar album is out so that gives me an excuse to replug his collaboration with Brixton sound system veteran Brother Culture. Listen to those horns!
Jstar: “Brother Culture is so busy. We recorded this quite a few years ago in my bedroom cupboard, and my instrumental never really stood up to his vocal power until I applied some real effort into complimenting his gruff style. It’s like Mafia vampires gone dubwise”.
Collapsed Lung – ‘New Song, Old Band’
Collapsed Lung are back AND not with the 34th reissue of ‘Eat My Goal’… it’s an actual new song by a fairly old band (they formed back in 1992 in Harlow).
The Lung initially got back together for (lead rapper) Jim’s 40th, as a “surprise” – i.e. he didn’t know it was happening, and was surprised to find himself doing a Collapsed Lung set at his own surprise party. After a one off concert nothing happened for 5 years partially due to Jim’s other stage persona as Mr B The Gentleman Rhymer, purveyor of Chap-hop.
Ruspô – ‘Moça Chorando’
“Knowing no musical boundaries – and made on the same DIY base as its predecessor, “Dourados” sprung out of music collages, maintaining the artist’s Tropical Lo-Fi principles. The album was composed and recorded on the road, during his work as a journalist while covering stories from the Brazilian south to the Amazon region, through center-west, north-east and north of the country – with one of the songs written in Miryang, South Korea.
Ruspô’s music maps his vast home country, in some sort of “musical ethnography”, as art writer Guilherme Cavalcante pointed out. Sposati blends his own experiences with the voices of those who live in this “dystopic far west”, describing paramilitary attacks against indigenous peoples communities, classmates killed by the police, friends in prison cells, communist lovers and monks urinating fish”.
Armour – ‘Wheel Riddim (Bun A Fire Freestyle)’
What happened to MC Armour? Even those on the scene were at a loss at the whereabouts of one of the original Grime MC’s and former Nasty Crew member. Now D Double E has brought his old band mate back to absolutely destroy with his gruff booming voice on the fantastic “Bun A Fire” out now via D Double E’s Bluku Music label.
Papa Chango – ‘First Contact’
“Melbourne based Afro-funk 9-piece continue their sonic evolution, pushing further out into the vastness of the void, propelling you towards distant unexplored territories.
Featuring newest member Nat Grant on vibraphone and percussion, the band have let their ethio-jazz influences flow free and delivered an album that explores the darkness of space and the lightness of life. Once again, texture and form are at the forefront of the release with 8 tracks of cinematic, instrumental badness”.
Chicano Batman – Friendship (Is A Small Boat In A Storm)