SZA envelopes your soul at first listen. Coveting a special innocence about her, the Maplewood native laces her music with soul-quenching traces of seductive allure. It’s truly the subtleties that make a difference though; the floral imagery, the small touches on her production, her concise yet intense songwriting. It all molds together to form this beautiful package.
“I was raised on a lot of John Coltrane, Satchmo, Miles Davis, Billy Holiday, and Björk with an adult obsession of all things Wu-Tang,” says SZA. ” The one thing I’ve always admired is their ability to paint scenes with their sounds. When I write I usually let the beat saturate my mood and head space; that determines every scene and set design for any song, the rest is all secondary.” Continue reading
Alternative R&B vocalist and songwriter Kelela was raised in suburban Maryland and didn’t have aspirations as a singer until she started studying jazz. Subsequent obsessions with Amel Larrieux and Little Dragon helped push her toward finding her own style — one she found after she moved to Los Angeles. She connected with Teengirl Fantasy and contributed to the duo’sTracer album on the song “EFX.”
This led to meeting the Fade to Mind label’s Prince William, who exposed her to his associates’ lean yet sharp and deep productions. Knocked out by what she heard, she provided vocals forKingdom’s August 2013 single “Bank Head” (taken from the Vertical XL EP). With contributions from Fade to Mind and Night Slugs producers such asKingdom, Bok Bok, Girl Unit, Jam City, and Nguzunguzu, Kelela sought to make a mixtape of tracks that sounded like remixes. The release, titled Cut 4 Me, was issued in October 2013 as a free download through Fade to Mind. It was one of the year’s more striking debuts.
Born in Australia but spending her teenage years in Weybridge, Surrey, Lucy fell in love with London’s music scene. Influenced by No Doubt, Smashing Pumpkins, The Cranberries and Radiohead and learning the guitar aged 13, Lucy knew she wanted to be a songwriter. After heading back to Australia to study, she visited the UK five years later and within four weeks of arriving she was offered a support slot with Jamie Cullum at the HMV Forum where Q Magazine described her as a ‘gifted performer in the making.”
Deciding to make London her home, she packed up her life in Australia and moved over in the summer of 2012, with a body of work that defined her style. With plans already in place to release an EP she was thrilled to be invited to support Matt Corby on his UK Tour in November and December 2012. This year Lucy has supported Josh Kumra, completed a 20 date UK university tour alongside Coffee house sessions, was invited to perform at West End Live in trafalgar square and came first place in the UK Songwriting Contest for her song ‘Sirens’. Lucy’s songs were composed on guitar, in her bedroom, and are deeply personal, inspired by different experiences in her life. Continue reading
Jessy Lanza?s debut album, ?Pull My Hair Back?, co-written and co-produced with Jeremy Greenspan from Junior Boys is a 2013 flagship for what electronic pop could sound like, stripped of bloated, behaviourist impulses that treat listeners like lab rats. It?s graceful and erotic without the gratuitous close ups, icey and sensual, sweet without rotting your teeth, emotional but with enough blue glow to pull your heart strings. Jessy?s voice flutters through the synths seductively, insistent without the over-singing and grating choruses that plague so much contemporary pop. Jessy has a background as a singer and skilled piano scholar, and the duo share a mutual love of collecting the old hardware synths and drum machines that grace this collection of songs. Transecting R&B, house, disco and 80s studio rock, the production is immaculate, reminiscent of early Junior Boys, treading that fine line between cold futurism and the R&B the duo are infatuated with.
The album opens with the bouncy, acidic bassline, plaintive piano and shimmering, delay effected vocals of ?Giddy?. The ominous pitched down opening of ?5785021?, gives way swiftly to a juddering pulse, insistent lyrics, bustling hi-hats and citric, crystalline synths. ?Kathy Lee? is a minimal, smouldering slow jam illuminated by smudged water colour keys, that switches into double time syncopation in the closing stretch. The song begs as many questions as it answers. Jessy?s vocals sound just at home over the fluttering-pitched synths of ?Fuck Diamond? and the album?s pop pinnacle, ?Keep Moving?, where the tempo rises into classic disco, house and techno. ?Against the Wall? marches in with crunchy, metallic drums and a bumbling baseline. Jessy?s sweet, delayed voice rides a line through the gurgling, strobing synths creating a powerful contrast. The album?s title track stutters in with carefree, implied S&M directives and sour splashes under an ultraviolet glow. ?As If? throws a curve ball as its rolling, martial snares and walking bassline climax in a sour, acidic crescendo. And the album rounds off gracefully with the flood of endorphins of ?Strange Emotion.”
Formed at the dawn of 2014, PRIME is a NYC-based duo comprised of vocalist and songwriter, Paul Benedict, and instrumentalist and songwriter, Bryan Christopher. The pair first met in 2010 when Paul was holding open guitar auditions for his project- Dexter’s Kin. They quickly hit it off and in 2011 released their first album. Their hit single “Spill Out The Lies,” gained extensive Internet exposure and exceeded over 125,000 plays on YouTube. After a few years playing local establishments in the Tri-State area, Paul and Bryan set out to refine their vision. Shortly thereafter, PRIME was born.
At start of end of an incredible year already for BRIT and BBC Sound Poll winner Sam Smith, he announces the release of his debut album ?In The Lonely Hour? on 26th May through Capitol Records. 2013 saw Sam?s journey from featured vocalist on Disclosure?s big breakout hit ?Latch? to being awarded one of the industry?s biggest accolades for a new artist, the Brit?s Critics Choice Award. To add to the accolade Sam has just been announced as the winner of the prestigious BBC Sound Poll 2014.
?In The Lonely Hour? is a 10-track labour of love for Sam ?I said to myself, I don?t want to have a genre. ?I wanted to take a risk?. In the course of putting it together, Sam has worked with a roll call of blue chip collaborative names including Fraser T Smith, Two Inch Punch, Eg White, Disclosure, Zane Lowe, Tourist and long term writing partner Jimmy Napes. Despite the impressive list of partnerships, the album still has Sam?s signature all over it making his own unique sound amplified by his mesmerising and unforgettable vocal.