The Meteor Choice Music Prize in association with IMRO and IRMA, will announce the nominees for Irish Song of the Year 2014 next Tuesday 27th. The night will feature acoustic performances from some of the nominated acts as revealed on the night and takes place in the Workman’s Club from 7pm.
I have 5 pairs of tickets to the event to give away.
The ten songs chosen by judges will then go to a public vote on meteor.ie from next week.
Aphex Twin – Syro (Warp) Delorentos – Night Becomes Light (Universal Ireland) The Gloaming – The Gloaming (Real World) Hozier – Hozier (Rubyworks/Universal) James Vincent McMorrow – Post Tropical (Faction) Sinead O’ Connor – I’m Not Bossy, I’m The Boss (Nettwerk) Damien Rice – My Favourite Faded Fantasy (Warner Music) The Riptide Movement – Getting Through (Universal Ireland) U2 – Songs of Innocence (Island) We Cut Corners – Think Nothing (Delphi)
From the very first time I heard Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ ‘Uptown Funk’ back in November, I couldn’t help but admire the influences the pair were mining for the track. Particularly, I’m thinking 80s funk: whether it’s the Minneapolis funk pioneered by Prince along with Morris Day and The Time or the vocoder electro-funk of Zapp And Roger, or Cameo, either way, there’s a lot of fun to be had spotting the influences.
Here are 10 tracks that ‘Uptown Funk’ is inspired by, takes influence from or reminds me of and here’s a longer Spotify playlist featuring those tracks.
1. Morris Day and The Time – ‘Jungle Love’
Prince and Morris Day were high school buddies who were in a band together in school. Prince basically started The Time and Morris joined after and Prince focused on his solo career after that. The pair would go on to define the Minneapolis funk sound. Day and his band The Time famously appeared in the film Purple Rain and they’ve a couple of fun albums I’d recommend. Minneapolis funk is the most immediate influence many people hear when listening to ‘Uptown Funk’.
2. Zapp – ‘More Bounce To The Ounce’
If you’re like me you may have heard Zapp (or Zapp and Roger as they are sometimes known) on the soundtrack to Napoleon Dynamite or as sampled by the Beastie Boys on ‘Hey Ladies’ from their sample-bouillabaisse Paul’s Boutique. The Ohio band were characterised by Roger Troutman’s talkbox vocals and an electro-funk sound that would be influential on the west coast G-funk rap movement in the early 90s which culminated in Troutman providing the hook for Tupac’s ‘California Love’. Their song ‘So Ruff, So Tuff’ (which was the song on Napoleon Dynamite) was also sampled on the Beastie Boys’
3. David Christie – ‘Saddle Up’
The French singer’s 1982 sounds a bit like 80s Paul McCartney’s ‘Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time’ but despite Mccartney’s credentials ‘Saddle Up’ is much funkier. It’s all about that bassline.
4. The Gap Band – ‘Early in The Morning’
The funk band from Oklahoma was started by three brothers: Ronnie, Robert and Charlie (who sang on Kanye’s ‘Bound II’ on Jools last year). They had a 43-year long history until they retired in 2010 when Robert died. This track has similarities in the rhythms, drums and some of that dancing swing.
5. Earth, Wind & Fire – ‘Getaway’
The famous American funk band are responsible for many hits – ‘Boogie Wonderland’, ‘Let’s Groove’, ‘September’ and ‘After The Love Has Gone’ but it’s ‘Getaway’, and specifically the horn section of that disco funk track that can be most obviously heard on ‘Uptown Funk’.
6. Duran Duran – ‘Notorious’
Ronson told the Guardian in an interview that his father, who was in the 80s rock band Foreigner, asked him if the guitar in ‘Uptown Funk’ was Nile Rodgers. It wasn’t but Ronson’s guitar lick isn’t a million miles away from Rodgers work, particularly to these ears, Duran Duran’s ‘Notorious’.
The line “Uptown Funk You Up” that Mars sings could be from anywhere due to it being used in funk vernacular over the years but the cadence of it does closely align with this 1979 track from The Sequence, an all-female trio of Angie Brown Stone (Angie B, now just Angie Stone, a Grammy-winning long-standing recording artist), Gwendolyn Chisolm (Blondy) and Cheryl Cook (Cheryl The Pearl). The Sequence were the second release on Sugarhill Records after the song that brought hip-hop to a larger consciousness – ‘Rapper’s Delight’.
7. Skyy – ‘Call Me’
Cited by others as a closer influence to the guitar riff, this New York band also known as New York Skyy released this in 1981 and it was their biggest hit.
8. Brass Construction -‘Get Up To Get Down’
The 1979 funk track from the New York band has a similar style.
9. One Way – ‘Let’s Talk’
A 1985 funk hit from a Detroit band embodies the spirit of Ronson and Mars’ track.
10. The Bar-Kays – ‘Too Hot To Stop Part 1′
The late 60s/early 70s group were known for backing Isaac Hayes and their Stax Records recording career. This song opened their 1976 album Too Hot To Stop and a parallel between its double time rhythm is found in ‘Uptown Funk’ as is its “too hot” title.
There are plenty of other artists heard by others too from Cameo to Rick James to Prince. I should also say that the only credited track in the liner notes is for ‘All Gold Everything’ from Trinidad James which gives the song it’s “don’t believe me just watch” line.
Dan Snaith shared an 1000-song playlist that’ll serve as your background playlist for any situation from rap to soul to funk to psychedelia and beyond. It’s something else. From Minnie Ripperton to Shuggie Otis to Liquid Liquid to Pusha T, this is a musical education.
The last few years of my life have been incredible, thanks in large part to all of you – so I’ve been thinking of how to say thank you.
As you can imagine, music has been a central love of my life since I was a teenager and over the years I’ve been introduced to a lot that has stayed with me. I’ve collected the majority of that music here – and I thought sharing it with you seemed like one way I could say thanks. I’m sure some things are under-represented or over-represented, but roughly speaking this is a musical history of my life. Of course a lot of this music has come to me through my friends – thank you to Koushik, Kieran, Jeremy, Gary, Brandon, Jason, Sam, Ketan, Ryan, Toby and many others… Also, please share music with me that you think I would like but is not included here, in the hope this becomes a dialogue rather than a monologue.
I suggest you listen to this on shuffle as I made no attempt to sequence these tracks – I just entered them as I browsed along the shelves in my record collection. If you see dead links or duplicate songs please tweet me @caribouband.
Due to a fault in youtube’s playlist coding if you embed this playlist it will be truncated down to 200 tracks. Hopefully they will resolve that at some point but for now if you want to hear all 1000 songs you need to listen at the link below.
I hope you find something to enjoy here. Thanks, Dan
The first Nialler9 show of 2015 was broadcast last Thursday at 10pm on TXFM. The two hour show leaned forward and featured some of the best new music coming out in the first months of the new year: from All We Are to Emmy The Great; Laura Marling to Jape, Marina & The Diamonds to Lapsley, Dan Deacon to Panda Bear. HAve a listen below.
Here’s my favourite list of the year to do: my songs of 2014 All I ask is that if you discover something through it, leave me a comment below and let me know. Listen on Spotify or browse below. I’m taking an extended Christmas break until January 13th. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you!
My favourite albums of the year features a sixth album career highlights from a psychedelic mathematician, a fourth album breakthrough for a rubbernecking sweat-drenched band, the return of Aphex Twin, a Wicklow man who seemed to take over the music world, two great Irish rap albums, an album about an imagined trip through China, two very different R&B debut albums, lounge-time electronica from Norway, Annie Clark’s continued ascension through ambition, a collaborative effort from Iceland and the Faroe Islands and a marquee buddy rap album that said more about the state of America than anything else this year and had a brash kick-ass time doing it.
There’s a Spotify playlist available for it all but click down to get some context for each album from 10 to 1. Top 100 songs of the year tomorrow.
“We know now that the contents of Syro is just some of the material recorded in the intervening years in one of James’ many studios. The oldest track stretch back six or seven years, using a massive 138 pieces of musical equipment (all listed in spiral on the artwork).
“What appears before it also echoes the heavier side of Druqks but repeated listens reveal new textures, new moods, new avenues explored by James. The trademark eeriness of melody and general cheeky humour is still evident throughout but the greatest part of a new Aphex Twin record is that is truly allows you to get lost in its puzzle, a completely different musical terrain even when there are expected imprints of ambient works, electro, acid, jungle and squiggly funk.
“The 10 minute experience of ‘XMAS_EVET10 [thanaton3 mix]’ feels different every time with environmental listening experiences changing the focus and feel (headphones, outdoors, late-night) as all the best electronic music can do. Syro still offers much to explore, many repeat listens in.
“And that is the key to why Aphex Twin is pored over so minutely, because he goes into such detail in his music. James’ intricate compositional skills remains his biggest asset. While his sounds have been copied over the years, his brain is still peerless.”
The American singer dials up the amps and keeps things intimate.
“When you have a voice so striking you could hang a hat on it, it’s probably a good idea to hang your songs on it too. Angel Olsen’s 2012 debut album Half Way Home introduced us to the Missouri singer’s deep country-folk vibrato that sometimes sounded like an entrant in a yodelling competition and musically, was set to throwback acoustic folk. She was an otherworldly attraction.
“The followup, Burn Your Fire For No Witness (Jagjaguwar) still relies on Olsen’s distinctive tones to draw you in but the songs hold you closer and Olsen reveals more of herself in the process, while expanding the arrangements to include a rock band at full tilt, devastating acoustic songs and poignant country-folk.
“If Olsen sounded distant and unearthly before, on Burn Your Fire For No Witness, she is emotionally baring, whispering uncomfortably close in your ear or sometimes dancing around you, a real person, hanging her songs and her voice on relatable and knowable experiences.”
A brilliant grimey hip-hop collaborative album via Clare, Zimbabwe and Limerick..
“As they describe it, ‘a Zimbabwean Christian and an Irish pagan sit down with a pot of tea’ with the expressed interest of changing the game.
“What God Knows, the founding member of the Random Acts Of Kindness collective and Ennis-born mynameisjOhn came up with (along with MuRli) is a game-changer in the way it drags Irish hip-hop into a fully-formed album/mixtape format with a confidence and skill that is unfamiliar in this country’s rap output.
“MC God Knows is a fervent presence, an MC with command, as heard on the soulful clip of ‘Standard’, an easy album highlight. MynameisjOhn provides the horn-soul hip-hop backing but doesn’t rest there, the beats bang, the strings stab and God Knows goes double time to the beat slowing to let the soul sample breathe.
“The versatility extends to MynameisjOhn too. ‘Throw The Spear’ reminds me of an MF Doom production – Dangerdoom era, meets Machinedrum. ‘Habbahuk’ is more plaintive, ‘Twentyfourseven’ is psychedelic funk and there are hints of a knowledge of electronic subgenres, even African dance on ‘African Shirts’.
“Aspects of being an African boy growing up in Ireland seeps through the lyrics in details about being black in an Irish school. He’s Joined by MuRli and Guide on ‘Words Of Our Fathers’, a track which, in the short history of Irish-African rap would have never been made twenty years ago, and serves as an aural document of one small thing that multi-cultural Ireland has given us.”
Icelandic composer Ólafur Arnalds and Faroe Islands’ synth-pop musician Janus Rasmussen’s first album together collides two worlds of sounds to engaging effect.
” Arnalds and Rasmussen explore what happens when contemporary composition that uses stringed instruments, has a classical knowledge and is often written with scores in mind intersects with the sensibilities and practices of synthesizer-driven music structures.
“The pair spent much of the year in Reykjavík working together on this album. The result is a grandiose vocal-less dance album that effectively uses the tactile textures of the former in the arena of the latter.
“Across seven, often long tracks (the average length of about 6 and a half minutes), the opposing worlds of electronic and classical mesh well together and Kiasmos moves in a place that is neither contemporary or classical, house or techno, but that crosses both with a new identity.”
An alluring minimal indie R&B album from the Oxford musicians.
“ZABA, the band’s debut album pushes their atmospheric agenda into a cohesive release. Their M.O. is slinky minimal pop, not a million miles from Alt-J, but more exotic and worldly than their counterparts. But they do share a common parlance in how they translate their traditional band setup into an otherworldly place.
“Executive production by Paul Epworth with Bayley producing ensures that level of aural consistency, meaning ZABA which is likened to ‘a backdrop of man-made wilderness,’ according to the band directly, is awash with ambient and alluring songcraft.”
Dark disco and electronic pop on album #2 from the Long Island band.
“The eight tracks on the self-titled second album are definitely night-time grooves, which occupy the same mood without jumping around from genre to genre, and as an album it works wonderfully, because Mr Twin Sister have an attention to the small details that stands to them when they delve deep into genres like disco and funk.
“Andrea Estella’s lyrics suit the vibe, their disco-noir sound is escapism and she often seeks to escape. ‘In The House Of Yes’ she locks herself in her room, drinks to a stupor and dances on her own own til her head is on the ground. ‘Rude Boy’ finds her rejecting the advances of an opposite (“I have all the drinks i can handle”), content to exist in the space. “Is there a real me? Or am I just a series of nights,” she sings on ‘Blush’. The thrilling ‘Out Of The Dark’ has her questioning identity too – “I am a woman / But inside I’m a man / And I want to be as gay as I can.” The Johnny Jewel-esque ’12 Angels’ has someone singing about being in drag to reinforce the theme.
“Despite the album being united in tone, there’s a sense that Mr Twin Sister aren’t settled. It’s in the artwork which is deliberately unfinished and packaged, it’s in the 37-minute running time and it’s in the new name. The altered band have reset and are heading in their own independent direction and making great music as part of the process.”
“Twigs has showed herself in public through artwork and videos which have hyper-realised versions of herself (large eyes, elongated neck, disfigured faces), that she is interested in examining and distorting her identity, including the very name she’s persisted with – Formerly known as.” On LP1, she shares seemingly true intimate versions of herself.
“There is no worry that the separation of the music from the visuals FKA twigs has become synonymous with has lessened the impact of LP1 or that twigs has nothing to say. A longer sustained running time means rather than snatches of character-forming opinion, we get a confidential look at the artist herself talking sex, self-image, desire, loneliness, intimacy, and state of mind, subjects normally guarded from others more vehemently, particularly for new artists.
“The combination of twigs’ alien otherworldliness, her ambient often anguished electronic R&B style and her intimate and lustful portrait of herself, directly or reflected in others, makes for an iconic release and helps form a person who feels human and real. By the end of the album’s 10 tracks, twigs decides that she knows herself best, after all.”
The Baltimore band’s fourth record of melodramatic synth-pop hit a bigger audience.
“These are songs that have the chest-thumping melodramatic new wave pop at the heart of what they do while refining the songwriting and production by Chris Coady make for an overall better album.
“There’s a straight up heart-on-sleeve anthemic lean to all of the songs. Each of them stand on their own, hence the title, whether it’s the yearning synth-pop of ‘Spirit’, the hook-laden chorus of ‘Sun In The Morning’, the bass-funk of ‘Doves’ , the slow epic atmosphere of ‘A Song For Our Grandfathers’ or the brilliant album closer ‘A Dream Within A Dream’.
“There’s quite enough eccentricity in Herring’s vocal delivery whether he’s whispering, skulking, brooding, wailing, growling, crooning or delivering a monologue like David Bowie in Labyrinth on ‘Fall From Grace’. His range is beautifully dramatic and spirited and the music doubles down on providing an effective poignant foil for that – focusing on chugging bass, propulsive rhythms and colourful synths. It’s a perfect distillation of Future Islands which just happens to leave a more accessible, hook-laden welcoming impression than before. The band are all on the same powerful page rather than just being “that band with the eccentric lead singer.”
And let’s face it – as Letterman proved, and as this album substantiates, Herring, Gerrit Welmers and William Cashion have a lot more highly-strung emotion and joyful connections to make with audiences.”
“What a pleasure it is to arrive at the sixth album from an artist to find them at the peak of their music-making abilities. Press play on Our Love and that sentiment is obvious.
“Snaith’s psychedelic imprint and swells of emotion covers everything, through his falsetto and his preference for nostalgic-faced melodies. His lyrics add to the tenderness, chiefly concerned with a slipping, fading love, yet he offers us, and himself, solace in every other way.
“On Our Love, Snaith is now fully immersed in the world of the nightclub but he wears his heart on his turntable. That doesn’t mean that there’s an dumbing down or mindlessness. There is a simplicity to a lot of the tracks that, only comes from putting in the long hours. Snaith’s love of his craft continues to shine. If anything, he’s has just better at making things sound larger with less.”
Best buddies El-P and Killer Mike made the year’s best rap record.
“The sequel to one of the best rap mixtapes in recent times does what many sequels do not. It improves the dynamic between the cast, it delivers smarter, more quotable lines, it takes aim at larger targets and it adds a whole lot of bang.
“Run The Jewels 2 is what happens when a producer-rapper/rapper hit a career high at the same damn time. Because this is El and Mike’s album, they own it. Because even though there are vocal guests: RATM’s Zack De La Rocha, singer/producer Boots and Three 6 Mafia’s Gangsta Boo, they serve the version of a banging lean record, rather than overcrowd it.
“RTJ2 is two buddies, operating at their creative peak. It’s more than another chapter, more than a sequel. It’s a sinewy distillation of more than a friendship, it’s a fruitful creative partnership that sounds like it’s been reinforced by steel foundations such is the wicked bulging energy contained within the album’s 40 minutes.”
Stevie G is a DJ, radio presenter and all-round legend from Cork; a lover of soul, hip-hop, disco and R&B, a maker of tracks, a mentor, a promoter and label owner. Here are his 10 favourite tracks of the year.
This one crept by virtually ignored but it was a very significant record in some ways. A limited 7 inch dropped from the sky on Record Store Day, and a guy even more reclusive than D’Angelo managed to submit a remix. Ludovic Navarre is the man behind St Germain and some amazing jazz, soul and house music, but he has been out of the spotlight for over 10 years. Gregory Porter is one of the finest jazz singers and writers of his generation and the original of this was a good example of a great artist who has something important to say too. The remix uses subtle bits of the Roy Ayers produced “Daylight” by Ramp (a hip-hop staple since the days of A Tribe Called Quest), and it’s a beautiful combination.
2. Saun & Starr – ‘Hot Shot’
We are always slaves to the past but soul music, like jazz, is producing great new artists and music too. These two have backed Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings live but their debut single on Daptone is an irresistible brass infected jam that is typical of the label. I was inspired by labels such as Daptone in starting my own Soul Jamz record label this summer and we released “Deep Down south” with Christiana soon after, hopefully the first of many singles. Shookrah are another Cork band worth mentioning here, but in truth, there’s loads of good soul music out there if you dig.
3. D’Angelo & the Vanguard – ‘Prayer’
“I believe that some day we will rise”. It could have been almost anything from this album; a stunning reminder that he’s still got it. And then some. Soul music probably needed this shot in the arm, as it will throw more light on many of the other artists doing very good stuff. Sonically it is incredible and it keeps up an impressive record of one great record every decade!
4. Ilovemakkonen – Tuesday’ (Drake remix)
I played this for weeks and weeks before it got any bites, but that moment when it hit home was special. I actually play every Tuesday night, to a young student crowd, and they are very open to newer hip-hop and r&b so it works out. This, the Rae Sremmurd singles, Future, Tyga, Schoolboy Q, Young Thug, Tinashe and many more were all big for me in quite a productive year for low slung throwaway minimal music.
5. Run the Jewels – ‘Love Again’ (Akinyele Back)
“I think I’m in love again”.
Many hip-hop fans are reluctant to move past the ’90s; but if there’s one group capable of waking them from their slumber it’s Run the Jewels. El-P and Killer Mike are pretty much veterans of the game at this stage, but their two albums together have helped ensure things are still going on an upward trajectory. They’ve got a lot to say, and were among the most vocal rappers after a turbulent year which included tragedies such as Ferguson. Special shouts to Danny Brown and Dej Loaf for great singles as well.
In Ireland, we had some great hip-hop too. Mynameisjohn, Lethal Dialect and Corkman Trigger all coming out with impressive albums, while the likes of Deviant and Naive Ted, Spekultiv Fixtion, Jimmy Penguin and others continued to represent prolifically for the underground. Also, domestically, a few of us helped set up anam recordings to release music from Tommy KD, a recovering addict who has enlisted the legendary Hazo and DJ Mek in his team and who is already causing a stir too. Keeping it real for 2014.
6. Lorde – “Tennis Court” (Flume Remix)
I’m a big fan of this track in it’s original form, but this remix bangs and brings back some great memories of 2014, particularly my set at Body and Soul Festival in June. SertOne’s remix of Hannah Diamond’s ‘Pink and Blue’ is another that killed it in 14.
Lots of the best jazz these days is made by electronic artists, or even hip-hoppers who grew up discovering jazz through sampling and rap. We now have jazz artists covering hip-hop classics and it’s all gone full circle, as bands like BadbadnotGood have shown really well. FlyLo’s jazz credentials are in his family tree, but his Brainfeeder label showcases some amazing music from Thundercat, who is an essential element of the FlyLo sound, as well as Ras G and more. Taylor McFerrin made one of the jazz albums of the year on Brainfeeder, with the long awaited “Early Riser”, while FlyLo’s latest opus did not disappoint either. He managed to once again get big names like Snoop and Herbie Hancock to compliment his sound, and this track with Kendrick offers a big hint of what is to come from the Compton rapper, as he prepares to deliver one of the most eagerly awaited rap albums in years in the the next few months
8. James Vincent McMorrow – ‘When I Leave
Beautiful track, which he released on soundcloud, and which is on the bonus version of “Post Tropical”. Also worth mentioning Talos here. He released a couple of great singles on Feel Good Lost and there’s plenty more where that came from.
9. Doc Daneeka featuring Seven Davis Jr – ‘What’s it gonna be’
This is great. The whole EP is really good, and Seven Davis Jr released some wonderful stuff on his own too, including “P.A.R.T.Y.” and “Friends”. On a similar tip SBTRKT brought us “New york New Dorp” featuring Ezra Koenig. Lots of mixed reaction to their music this year but I like the album and love that jam.
10. Jhene Aiko – ‘The Pressure’
The influence of Aaliyah grows stronger as time passed. A year of some fine minimal soul and r&b vibes with Kelela, FKA Twigs, Fatima, The Weeknd, Kali Uchis, Jasmine V, Mapei and many more all contributing some great music. Also big shouts to King Avriel, who I first read about on this blog, and who’s “180” kicks off a mix i did of some of the best hip-hop and r&b from 2014 it’s a free download.