With so many releases flying at you, here are recommended vetted listens from Nialler9 for you this week, as collated in the Nialler9 New Albums Spotify playlist, updated weekly.



1.

Ships – Precession

“With Precession, Ships have taken all that guardianship, heart and knowledge and have made one of my favourite albums of the year. Songs for the mind and body. The album is one of the most beautiful and dynamic sounding records you’ll hear this year. Its production is detailed with lots of little sonic treats that easy to pick up on but hard to create.”

My album of the week. Full info here.

Favourite tracks: ‘Where We Are’, ‘All Will Be’, ‘I Can Never’.


2.

Gorillaz – Humanz

An all-star cast is Gorillaz thing but still the cast on this is ridiculous. Grace Jones, Kelela, Popcaan, DRAM, Danny Brown, Mavis Staples, De La Soul, Kali Uchis, Zebra Katz, Vince Staples, Savages, Rag ‘n’Bone Man, , Noel Gallagher (yes), Carly Simon, Ray Blk, Kilo Kish, Peven Everett. I could go on. It’s hard to weave so many disparate guests into a coherent whole but Damon Albarn is a dab hand at it. It may not be the best Gorillaz album (Plastic Beach reigns supreme) but Humanz provides many moments of kaleidoscopic pleasure, even while the formula feels a little tired on occasion. Standouts include Kelela’s vocal on the bouncy ‘Submission’, the Bobby-Womack tribute of ‘Andromeda’, Vince Staples sharp politically-charged verses on ‘Ascension’ and having Pusha T and Mavis Staples on the same track on ‘Let me Out’.

Favourite tracks: ‘Ascension’, ‘Submission’, ‘Andromeda’, ‘Let Me Out’.

Listen on Spotify.


3

Sylvan Esso – What Now

The second album from the North Carolina duo frees up the band’s electro with looser pop textures (‘The Glow’) and a near acoustic singalong (‘Song’). It’s still very much the duo who gave us ‘Coffee’ and Play It Right’ and that’s down to Nick Sanborn’s production which at its core is percussive electro-pop and vocally, the warm earthiness of Amelia Meath.

Favourite tracks: ‘Radio’, ‘Die Young’, ‘Kick Jump Twist’.

Listen on Spotify


4.

J Dilla – Motor City

The latest release from the vault of one of hip-hop’s great – maybe the greatest – producer. Dilla’s mother Ma Dukes has released this album of 20 varied instrumental cuts. J Rocc provides a single mix of the album too.

Listen on Spotify


5.

Feist – Pleasure

Leslie Feist’s first album in six years makes clear that we are far away from the bright guitar pop of 2007’s The Reminder and the silky textures of 2004’s Let It Die. Continuing the plaintive style of 2011’s Metals, Pleasure is a stripped back low-key album for quiet moments. Jarvis Cocker appears for some spoken word on ‘Century’, ‘Any Party’ feels like dropping in to a live band in the studio, and the title track brandishes a PJ Harvey-style intensity but Pleasure in this case, is very understated.

Favourite tracks: ‘Pleasure’, ‘lost Dreams’, ‘Any Party’.

Listen on Spotify


More albums to check out? Wilsen’s I Go Missing In my Sleep and Winter Aid’s The Murmur Of The Land.

Posted on April 28th, 2017

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Update: It’s 2016, I found this post and enjoyed it. I’ve now added a Spotify playlist of all of the albums available.

Below is a list of my favourite records of the ten years between the turn of the millenium, the year 2000 and 2010. Ranking these albums was led by a) what the album means to me and b) how often I’d listen to it. Each and every one of these albums blew me away repeatedly at some time between the ages of 18 and 27. Each one has something special going for it, something magical that brings me back to it. For that I can only thank the creators of each.

Without further ado, here are my favourite 50 albums from the decade. And remember, you can’t be wrong if they are your favourites.

Listen on Spotify

Nialler9’s albums of the decade (2000-2010)

  1. The KnifeSilent Shout (2006)
  2. Joanna Newsom Ys  (2006)
  3. Broken Social SceneBroken Social Scene (2005)
  4. Queens of the Stone AgeSongs for the Deaf (2002)
  5. Arcade FireFuneral  (2005)
  6. J DillaDonuts  (2006)
  7. BattlesMirrored (2007)
  8. Animal Collective –  Feels  (2005)
  9. RadioheadKid A  (2001)
  10. Why? Alopecia (2008)
  11. GorillazDemon Days  (2005)
  12. The StrokesIs this it?  (2001)
  13. MIA/DiploPiracy Funds Terrorism / Arular    (2004/2005)
  14. Four TetRounds (2003)
  15. Cannibal OxCold Vein (2001)
  16. Death in VegasScorpio Rising  (2003)
  17. LCD SoundsystemSound of Silver (2007)
  18. Panda BearPerson Pitch  (2007)
  19. The StreetsOriginal Pirate Material  (2002)
  20. Aphex TwinDrukqs  (2001)
  21. PlaidDouble Figure (2001)
  22. Godspeed You! Black EmperorLevez vos Skinny Fists (2000)
  23. Saul WilliamsSaul Williams (2004)
  24. MadvillainMadvillainy  (2004)
  25. Buck 65Talkin’ Honky Blues  (2003)
  26. SquarepusherGo Plastic (2001)
  27. Sufjan StevensSeven Swans  (2004)
  28. The AvalanchesSince I Left You  (2000)
  29. Super Furry AnimalsRings Around the World  (2002)
  30. BeirutThe Flying Club Cup  (2007)
  31. DJ ShadowThe Private Press  (2002)
  32. Girl TalkNight Ripper  (2006)
  33. Broken Social SceneYou Forgot it in People (2003)
  34. Grizzly Bear  – Veckatimest (2009)
  35. Bon Iver For Emma Forever Ago  (2008)
  36. CamilleLe Fil  (2006)
  37. Animal CollectiveMerriweather Post-Pavilion  (2009)
  38. El-PI’ll Sleep When You’re Dead (2007)
  39. Bloc PartySilent Alarm (2005)
  40. OutkastStankonia (2000)
  41. DangerdoomThe Mouse and the Mask (2005)
  42. The Beta BandHot Shots II (2001)
  43. Max TundraMastered by Guy at the Exchange (2002)
  44. MogwaiMr Beast (2006)
  45. Primal Scream XTRMNTR  (2000)
  46. Wolf ParadeApologies to the Queen Mary (2005)
  47. Jamie LidellMultiply  (2005)
  48. Dangermouse The Grey Album (2004)
  49. Flying LotusLos Angeles  (2008)
  50. Shugo TokumaruL.S.T. (2006)

Posted on February 25th, 2016

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Looking for more new music? Follow the Nialler9 New Music playlist on Spotify. Updated weekly. Hit the last page for the Soundcloud playlist.


1.

Kanye West

Ultralight Beam

He’s possibly unravelling but he’s capable of suspending disbelief in more than on way.

Let’s call it. The release of The Life Of Pablo (Swish, Waves, whatever) was one of the most infuriating things to have experienced in a long time for any release. The impression of an album with no restrictions or deadlines felt amateur; at best, a sympathetic look into an artist’s process which they are never finished tinkering with.

Then that Bill Cosby tweet. It was the last straw for many, including me. I wasn’t going to listen to this irritating egomaniac anymore.

But of course, once TLOP dropped, I did. Curiosity got the better of me. The album is largely a mess, with Kanye’s words finding less meaning and substance than ever before (why rap about your wife’s ex when you’ve just had two kids?) but what redeems a listen to any Kanye album is his executive production, which is always interesting to hear how he weaves the ideas of multiple producers into one song. It’s conflicting to enjoy any of it still.

I watched SNL as I do every week. The performance of ‘Ultralight Beam’ shone regardless. The gospel choir add some magic but it’s Chance The Rapper (one of the greatest new artists of the last five years) who lifts the performance and brings a new raptured energy to Kanye’s music, as his own state seems to crumble around him.

Hear the song on Tidal.


2.

J Dilla

The Introduction

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Dilla’s lost album gets a release date

Three years on from the news, and a week on from the 10th year since he passed, it was announced that Nas’ Mass Appeal label will finally release the album in conjunction with Dilla’s Estate as PayJay. To be released on April 15th, 14 years after it was originally scheduled to come out ( the album was literally shelved and Dilla moved to LA where he made his name), The Diary features ‘Diamonds’, ‘Ice’, ‘Fuck The Police’ and ‘Trucks’.

‘The Introduction’ is the first song from it, produced by House Shoes with Dilla, is a wavy synth stomper.

https://soundcloud.com/massappealrecs/j-dilla-the-introduction


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Posted on February 22nd, 2016

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My new music show is live every Thursday from 10pm to midnight on TXFM. Here’s what I played on the most recent show.

Listen: Part One | Part Two.


Part One

Holy Ghost! – Crime Cutz
Jay Dee aka J Dilla – Nothing Like This
Kelela – Rewind
Bantum & Loah – Take it
Daithí – Love On Top feat. Sinead White
Charles Bradley – Change for the World
Anderson .Paak The Season/Carry Me
Junior Boys – Big Black Coat
Moderat – Reminder
KING – The Greatest
Roisin Murphy – Evil Eyes
Flume – Smoke & Retribution (feat. Vince Staples & Kučka)


Part Two

Jay Dee aka J Dilla – Two Can Win
Jaylib – The Red
De La Soul – Stakes Is High
Dilla Ghost Doom – Murder Goons feat. Ghostface Killa
J Dilla – Lazer Gunne Funke
Jay Dee aka J Dilla – Lightworks
The Pharcyde – Drop (Extended Mix)
Busta Rhymes – Woo-Hah!! Got You All In Check
A Tribe Called Quest – Get a Hold
Jay Dee aka J Dilla – U-Love
Jay Dee aka J Dilla – Workinonit
Slum Village – Raise It Up
Q-Tip – Let’s Ride
The Roots – Dynamite!
Jaylib Raw Shit Ft Talib Kweli
Jay Dee Love Jones
J Dilla Diamonds – The Shining Pt. 1
Jay Dee So Far So Good (featuring Common & D’Angelo)
Jay Dee aka J Dilla Last Donut of the Night

You can listen live on Thursdays to the show on 105.2FM, online, the iOs app, Android app or if you missed it, along with all the other shows, via the listen back section

Posted on February 12th, 2016

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I’ve spent the entire week walking up to the sound of a web-downloaded compilation from 2007 or so called Donuts Originals featuring the original songs as sampled on J Dilla’s seminal Donuts album. There were tracks from Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye, Dionne Warwick, the Jackson 5, Isley Brothers and Raymond Scott.

So I decided in the spirit of the day that’s in it, and that last Friday was Dilla Day and that he died this week 8 years ago, to put together a 31-track Spotify playlist taken from songs across his entire discography that he sampled with a love theme including Patrice Rushen, Al Green, Zapp, Minnie Riperton, The Marvelettes, Brenton Wood, The Stylistics, Bill Evans and The Escorts. Some of Dilla’s own work is scattered in the tracklist too. Enjoy.

Open/Subscribe in Spotify.

Artwork adapted by the Donuts artwork made by Brandon Brown.

Posted on February 11th, 2016

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I’m not quite sure who made this but it’s a nice tribute to a classic album all the same. The unnamed person has made an entire music video of relevant footage to match J Dilla’s Donuts, the important and last album from the producer, made in his hospital bed, before he passed away.

Also: My J Dilla Love Jams mix from last year.

The pic is from Denise Nestor’s print for This Greedy Pig which you can buy here.
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Posted on January 20th, 2015

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The LA label Stones Throw has held a high watermark in the quality of its musical output in the world of hip-hop, and in its latter years, beyond the fringes of rap, into punk, electronica, outsider music and jazz. It has been consistently referenced into the fabric of posts on this site, since I started.

More than any other label, independent or otherwise, it has stamped its communication and catalogue with its own identity, whether it’s their online site (a good example of how to do a music label website right), email marketing, their artwork or their personal touch (the label’s artwork director and co-founder Jeff Jank once emailed me to tell me about a new Dilla release which doesn’t really happen with most labels).

Most independent labels these days are labours of love, but the new documentary, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton: This Is Stones Throw Records , on Stones Throw by Jeff Broadway, really makes you feel it.

The film recounts the history of the label, giving context through a prologue about Peanut Butter Wolf, the label’s founder. Wolf has an aspiring musician, a music-mad kid who spent his lunch money on vinyl and with his friend, recorded a radio show-style chart countdown of the albums they collectively owned. The recording ends abruptly, when the budding DJ is forced to end play time to finish a book report for school.

That enthusiasm and thirst for music lead Wolf to form a group with his lifelong friend and rapper Charizma, only for the progressing career of both to end with the untimely passing of Charizma in a random car jacking.

That sadness and leads to a void musically, that is partly filled by the set up of Stones Throw, which Wolf sets up after meeting Madlib and his then group, Lootpack.

The film charts the ups and downs of the label between profiles of its artists, given insight by peers, label admirers and clear enthusiasts including Questlove, Mike D, Common, J Rocc, Talib Kweli, Flying Lotus, Portishead’s Geoff Barrow and Kanye.

The back stories of Madlib, MF Doom and J Dilla and how they came to be on Stones Throw are among the most fascinating. Small details matter: while Madlib was sleeping in the Stones Throw label HQ, MF Doom would be down in the bomb shelter studio recording vocals over tracks Madlib made that day that would eventually become one of the best rap albums of all-time – Madvillain. The only thing they did together was “chocolate mushrooms.”

The film really gives a sense of the “quiet power” and mutual respect between producers Madlib and Dilla, who made the Jaylib Champion Sound record together after Dilla was tractor-beamed into the sunny world of LA by the label.

The section on J Dilla, who of course died of a rare blood disease in 2006 remains poignant, particularly the story about him wearing 45 records on his wrist as a boy and the footage of him in the wheelchair at a gig shortly before he died. Music was his life, and he left a elegant parting gift in the stunning soulful sample-heavy beat record Donuts.

After Dilla died, the label went through some turmoil that resulted in some terrible releases: Gary Wilson, Wolf’s alter-ego Folerio, Wolf’s brother’s punk band. It’s understandable that labels will hit bad patches but the film paints this period as sort of an identity crisis, but talking heads like A-Trak are too polite and respectful of the label to say so.

Similarly missing in the film are details of record construction: surface level details are given about now-classic records but little else in terms of creativity and process. But those omissions are forgivable thanks to the film’s positivity, which is warranted and infectious.

In the last five or so years, the label had a renaissance of sorts, while moving away from its core sound of hip-hop, that lead to the release of records from soul-nerd Mayer Hawthorne, the classic-soul of Aloe Blacc and the west coast funk of Dam Funk. Hawthorne and Blacc both moved to major labels in 2011, a move that presumably helped the financial stability of the label at the time.

Wolf talks about the difficulty of running a label who want to remain staunchly independent, resisting being bought out by a major. He defines Stones Throw in opposition to the major label system, which moulds artists for an audience where as Wolf is a curator, a finder of artists who just need a family, an audience.

I did find myself wondering if, with Blacc and Hawthorne, Stones Throw could have made a distribution deal with a larger label to get the music out while retaining creative control. Wolf acknowledges he may not have made the best business decisions. That Aloe Blacc declined to be interviewed for the film maybe tells you how the vision differed in that case.

But Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton isn’t a film about the business acumen of a record label. It’s a film about a shared ethos, a thirst and desire for creativity, for the love of it. It’s a film about a label as a home, a family, as Questlove puts it, who are welcomed into the fold by Wolf, a man “embracing the unembraced.”

Watch the film via Rental on iTunes. / Buy it via the Stones Throw site.

Posted on June 3rd, 2014

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The 33 1/3 books are a series of small books about seminal and important albums, and one of the newest will focus on J Dilla’s Donuts, the last album by the rap producer before he passed away of an incurable blood disease. He made the album in his hospital bed and it was released three days before his death.

The book’s author Jordan Ferguson interviewed anyone involved in the project including Stones Throw’s Peanut Butter Wolf, Jeff Jank, his friends and associates over the years. In doing so, the book uses the album as a jumping off point for an exploration of Dilla’s life.

“Drawing from philosophy, critical theory and musicology, as well as Dilla’s own musical catalog, Jordan Ferguson shows that the contradictory, irascible and confrontational music found on Donuts is as much a result of an artist’s declining health as it is an example of what scholars call ‘late style,’ placing the album in a musical tradition that stretches back centuries.”

The book is out on April 24th.

Listen to my recent Dilla Love playlist:

Posted on February 26th, 2014

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These two J Dilla tracks surfaced long ago in low-quality form but are finally coming out.

Taken from Dilla’s album recorded for MCA Records, The Diary, which will be released some time on Pay Jay Productions this year, a label managed by his family. ‘The Anthem’ /’Trucks’ has already been released from that record which will feature Dilla’s vocal and raps with production by Madlib, Nottz, Karriem Riggins, House Shoes and Pete Rock.

This second single features two tracks ‘Diamonds’ &’ Ice’. The former, produced by Notz, has a celebratory chorus and is classic Dilla. The latter, is produced by Madlib is not online officially but has a bit of A Quasimoto vibe. Full tracklisting below. Sleeve above by Jeff Jank and Label by Sheppard Fairy & B+. Get the release out on August 27th from RappCats.

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Posted on August 21st, 2013

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Woah. Props to Stones Throw for keeping tabs on things. Yesterday, I got a mail from Jeff Jank, one of the label founders pointing to this old Dilla post. He was letting me know that the official version of J Dilla’s Gary Numan-aping track ‘Trucks’ was now released on PayJay Productions. Now, that’s organisation.

J Dilla recorded “Trucks” in December 2001-February 2002 at Studio A, Detroit, MI. An unmastered MP3 version which leaked in 2008 has been heard by countless Dilla followers. This is the first time the mixed & mastered track has been heard. It was just released on J Dilla’s “Anthem” 12-inch, the first official release from J Dilla’s long lost vocal album, The Diary, coming next year on PayJay Productions.


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Posted on April 18th, 2013

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“We must be in loooooooove…”

Fancy getting all soppy over some J Dilla beats this Valentine’s Day? Then, pop down to The Sugar Club on February 14th for Love Jones a night featuring a screening of the Dilla memorial concert film Suite for Ma Dukes, Choice Cuts DJs and a live set from Butter, a live neo-soul cover band and Nat and Dave (who cover Otis Redding, Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald). Tickets: €8 or €5 before 9pm. February 10th is the seventh anniversary of Dilla’s untimely death.

Deets.

Posted on February 6th, 2013

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Lethal Dialect shows you how Irish hip-hop can be done over a J Dilla Beat with help from Costello & Willa Lee, recorded at the Community Of Independents live show. See the COI weekly episodes and look out for Lethal Dialect’s new album 1988 in the summer. The original of ‘A Dark Horse’ is on LD50 Part II and the live version is by DJ Moschops.

Posted on January 28th, 2013

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Beats inspired by J Dilla is the theme at the centre of SertOne’s newest EP Quesadillas. Each of the four tracks is inspired by an individual Dilla production from the Intro to the Ruff Draft LP to chimes and vocals of ‘Make’em NV’ to Slum Village’s ‘Fall In Love’.

Proceeds for the sale of the EP go towards the J Dilla Foundation. Sert got the idea for the EP because he is playing a Dilla charity night in Liverpool.

Posted on January 30th, 2012

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Erykah Badu

Erykah Badu Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah Part Two: Return of the Ankh has just been released. Less politically-minded than Part 1: 4th World War, it is more focused on matters of the heart. Overall, It is also more deeply rooted in the R&B that Badu is known for rather than that album’s finger-clacking hip-hop crossover with more live instrumentation and raw emotion throughout.

Producers this time around alongside Badu are Karriem Riggins, 9th Wonder, Madlib, J Dilla, Georgia Anne Muldrow and James Poyser. You may have heard or seen the brilliant jam ‘Jump Up In The Air and Stay There’ which features Lil Wayne. That tune is a red herring as oddly, it only appears as an iTunes bonus track . I guess the straight-up Outkast hip-hop style doesn’t really fit in with the rest of the album.
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Posted on March 30th, 2010

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