music monday new

Music Monday – Volume Eighty Six

1) Rudimental, Will Heard & Anne Marie – Rumour Mill

Catchy, chilled-out tropical house-influenced track with ambient and electro elements. Will Heard’s rich, soulful vocals are a perfect match for Anne Marie’s jazz-influenced ones.

2) Katy B & KAYTRANADA– Honey

Chilled-out neo-soul track with electro elements. Katy B’s layered harmonies are gorgeous and the entire track has a relaxed vibe.

3) Rihanna – Same ol’ mistakes

Near enough a note-for-note cover of the Tame Impala original. It’s just as psychedelic and moody but it’s a fine cover.

4) Danny L Harle – Broken Flowers

Effervescent electro track featuring giggling synthesisers, scatty vocal samples and buoyant percussion.

5) DMA’s – Delete

This gentle acoustic ballad is a throwback to 90’s Britpop in a similar vein to Oasis. Despite somewhat shabby lyrics, it’s a pretty little track.

6) Troye Sivan – Ease

Gentle synthpop track with punchy percussion and warm, fuzzy synthesisers. Sivan’s bruised vocals drift softly over the catchy backing track and it’s a lovely song.

7) Bryson Tiller – Don’t

Chilled-out hip hop track on which Tiller’s  autotune coated vocals float over eerie sounds and transient beats.

8) SOAK – Reckless Behaviour

Lovely dream-pop/indie folk track from Irish singer-songwriter SOAK.

9) Seal – Love

Gorgeous and haunting piano ballad on which Seal’s raspy vocals reverberate infinitely into beautiful piano chords and eerie synths.

 

10) Rihanna – Close To You

Gorgeous piano ballad which closes Rihanna’s highly anticipated ‘Anti’ perfectly.

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Rihanna – Anti Album Review

 

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Artists are often wary of the potential ‘difficult second album’, being unsure of which musical direction to take and fearing not meeting the public’s expectations. In Rihanna’s case, it was to become the difficult eighth album. Throughout its construction, ‘Anti’ was plagued with issues regarding creative control, during which a great wealth of material was recorded and subsequently scrapped. Three successful singles were released in 2015; none of which are present on the album. Kanye West was once executive producer; Rihanna herself ended up assuming the role. What began as a short hiatus extended into a lengthy break for Rihanna as the release of ‘Anti’ became increasingly delayed and arguably, one of the most highly anticipated albums in years.

The finished product is a significant departure from the club bangers and massive Pop smashes Rihanna has become known for. It’s a moody and sullen affair, (not too dissimilar from 2009’s ‘Rated R‘) more a soundtrack for the aftermath of the party or the early-morning come-down than the party itself. This isn’t a criticism, however, it’s a powerful and compelling listen from start to finish.

Opener ‘Consideration’ is a dub-styled track with lo-fi elements, sparse production and Rihanna’s almost yodel-like vocals. The minimalistic production is a thread which is present throughout the remainder of the album, its simmering, dark tones resulting in a dark but enthralling album. ‘Needed Me’ is much in the same vein, comprised of unstable beats, tremulous synthesisers and eerie vocal samples. Lead single ‘Work’, a collaboration with Drake is a jittery reggae-influenced affair with mumbled, almost incomprehensible vocals whilst ‘Woo’ is abundant with furious distorted electric guitars and auto-tune soaked vocals.

The down-tempo softer moments also work well. ‘James Joint’ is a minute-long melodic soul interlude whilst ‘Yeah I Said It’ is a sulky soul ballad with mesmeric production. The inclusion of “Same Ol’ Mistakes”, an unexpected cover of Australian rock band Tame Impala’s ‘New Person, Same Old Mistakes’ is an unconventional move but one which pays off. It’s a more or less carbon copy of the original both in its delivery and production but is in-fitting with the moody, psychedelic nature of the album.

The second half of the album is reserved for ballads. From the pretty and acoustic-driven ‘Never Ending’ to the Soul infused, waltz-like ‘Love on the Brain’, it’s a peculiar turn in direction but largely works nicely until ‘Higher’, on which Rihanna wails like a banshee in a style not too dissimilar to Sia. Thankfully the track is only two minutes and avoids putting too much strain on the listeners’ ears (and Rihanna’s vocals…)

Whilst ‘Anti’ is certainly a change in direction, elements of Rihanna’s signature sound are still littered throughout. ‘Desperado’ is a classic Rihanna track, dark and broody on which, stuttering beats, moody piano chords and Rihanna’s purred vocals result in an intoxicating R&B hit. Likewise, ‘Kiss it Better’, heavily influenced by progressive R&B and rock elements is one of the album’s highlights.

Closing track ‘Close to You’ is a stunning ballad and a fitting reminder of Rihanna’s impeccable ability to deliver heartfelt R&B ballads. Built of nothing more than gentle piano chords and Rihanna’s syrupy vocals, it’s perhaps her best and most emotive ballad of her career.

Its mixed response from critics and fans alike is justified. It’s a somewhat confused and indecisive album, mirroring its conception. Despite this however, its dark and disturbing tone and eclectic approach makes it a captivating album and one of Rihanna’s best.

  • Rating: 4/5.
  • Highlights: ‘Kiss it Better’, ‘Work’, ‘Desperado’, ‘Same Ol’ Mistakes’ and ‘Close to You’.

‘Anti’ is available now on Roc Nation records.

 

music monday new

Music Monday – Volume Eighty Five

1) Nate Ruess – Brightside

Quirky yet utterly beautiful pop song which makes full use of Ruess’ idiosyncratic vocals over a backdrop of jazzy piano chords, squeaky string sections and eerie music box sounds. Dreamy and magical.

2) One Direction – History

Bittersweet Pop track which serves as a perfect ‘goodbye’ (at least for now) to fans. Considered by many as an update of Toy Story classic ‘You’ve Got A Friend In Me’, acoustic guitar strums and a sing-along Chorus make this a perfect Pop anthem.

3) Rihanna & Drake- Work

Rihanna returns with this laid-back reggae-pop track, aided by Drake. It’s rhythmic and catchy with Rihanna’s heavily auto-tuned vocals sliding effortlessly over clever production.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/music/clips#p03grqg5

4) Ellie Goulding – Army

Stunning synthpop track in the same vein as material on Goulding’s debut ‘Lights’. Over jittery guitar samples, crashing percussion and simmering synths, Goulding sings of her best friend.

5) Zayn – PILLOWTALK

Sexy and sultry alternative R&B track comprised of thunderous beats, eerie electro elements, broken vocal samples, wailing guitars and soaring melodies.  It’s a far-cry from Zayn’s One Direction days and conveys a far greater depth of maturity, mostly through its sexual themes.

6) Lion Babe – Where Do We Go

Funky disco-themed neo soul track from New York City duo Lion Babe.

7) Taylor Swift – Out of the Woods

Dramatic synthpop track comprised of broken vocal samples, gated percussion and Swift’s almost whispered vocals. One of the highlights of Swift’s ‘1989’ album, it’s perhaps the best representation of the album, utilising scatty samples and ’80’s electro sounds.

8) Lawson – Money

Lawson return after a period of instability in terms of musical output. The release of the band’s second album has been repeatedly delayed but they are now preparing or its release in March. ‘Money’ is its lead single (excluding last year’s single ‘Roads’), a catchy pop-rock track in a similar vein to ‘When She Was Mine’ and ‘Brokenhearted’.

9) Dawin – Dessert

Catchy, jittery and squeaky pop track by American singer and producer Dawin featuring a rap from Silento.

10) Tom Parker – Lost In Your Love

Ex member of The Wanted Tom Parker impresses on this catchy house track which he has also produced.

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FEATURE: Zayn – PILLOWTALK

Zayn_Malik_-_Pillowtalk_(Official_Single_Cover)

Ex One Direction member Zayn Malik has set the world alight with excitement with the première of début solo single ‘PILLOWTALK’.

‘PILLOWTALK’ is a sexy and sultry alternative R&B track comprised of thunderous beats, eerie electro elements, broken vocal samples, wailing guitars and soaring melodies. It’s a far-cry from Zayn’s One Direction days and conveys a far greater depth of maturity, mostly through its sexual themes.

The fizzy downtempo track is co-written by Zayn with Anthony Hannides and Michael Hannides of MYKL [who’s track ‘Red’, Zayn tweeted support of back in March 2015] in addition to Levi Lennox. The latter three also produced the track.

Zayn always exhibited one of the more powerful voices within One Direction and his buttery vocals suit this progressive R&B far more than the anthemic Pop of his boyband days. It’s a carefree transition into R&B in a similar fashion to Justin Timberlake following his NSYNC days.

A bold and triumphant launch as a solo artist.

Check the track and its racy video out below:

FEATURE: Ko JazZ – Jazz Daniels EP

Ko Jazz delivers his latest project Jazz Daniels EP, an EP comprised of a rich jazz/hip-hop fusion. It’s a polished, bold and substantial piece of work from the chilled-out jazz-influenced ‘Honey On The Rocks‘ to the heavier hip-hop ‘The Brewery‘.

You can read the overview of the EP supplied to us below:

The unsung hero of iLLustrious, KoJazz finally delivers his newest project, Jazz Daniels EP, which is entirely produced by in-house beatmaker, Solidified. The most ambitious element of KoJazz’s sprawling Jazz Daniels EP was its attempt to trace the pervasive ills of his drinking habits and cleverly providing drunken tales throughout hypnotic production. The conceptual idea was spawned by Token Photo and Jazz’ liquor of choice. KoJazz raps about the highs and lows of alcohol consumption. The project features Bishop, MeRCY, Rell Burgundy, YoAmanduh and others which all came through with stellar guest appearances. Producer Solidified, provided sonically the perfect backdrop on every record that you often find yourself drunken with amazement. Whether you find yourself texting your EX because of “Drunk EXting” or confessing your sins due to “I Swear To Drunk, I Ain’t God”; KoJazz gotta song for everyone. There’s a message in the bottle. Make sure to listen responsibly.

Standout Track: Gentleman Jazz

KoJazz – Jazz Daniels EP // Entirely Produced by Solidified
https://soundcloud.com/kojazz/sets/jazz-daniels-ep

@KoJazz
@Solidified_

Listen to the EP below:

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Feel Good Friday – A Playlist

Every Friday, we will be adding three tracks to our Feel-Good Friday Spotify playlist. The aim? To create a definitive playlist featuring the best uplifting, feel-good tracks in the world!

Check here every Friday to check any additions!

FOLLOW the Music Box to never miss an update again.

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Coldplay – A Head Full of Dreams Album Review

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In an astonishing twenty year career, Coldplay have exceeded all expectations to become one of the UK’s most successful exports. They’ve won eight Brit Awards, five MTV Video Awards, seven Grammy’s and sold over eighty million records worldwide, cementing their place as one of the world’s most successful acts. Once a quirky alternative-rock outfit unafraid of existing outside of the commercial market, Coldplay’s sound has grown with their popularity, becoming increasingly commercialised over the past five years. Fans first feared for the worst back in 2011 upon the release of ‘Mylo Xyloto‘, a concept album which was drenched in electro-elements and met with a mixed reception. Still, fans needn’t have worried for another four years.

A Head Full of Dreams‘ is the epitome of Pop music; a lively affair, full of catchy up-tempo tracks mawkishly coated in over-production. Whilst long-term collaborator Rik Sampson is still present, he has been demoted from production duties on this album, passing the baton to Norwegian Pop/R&B production duo Stargate, known for their work with Rihanna and Ne-Yo. Understandably, the result is an exuberant yet somewhat confused album on which Coldplay seemingly attempt to ditch their Rock-roots and transition into a Pop band. It’s the exact antithesis to previous album, the melancholic and ambient-influenced ‘Ghost Stories‘ and arguably, the entire foundation on which Coldplay built their career on.

Diversity is a likely focus on ‘A Head Full of Dreams‘, on which Coldplay attempt to branch out into various genres and sounds. Camp disco-stomper ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’ with its broken vocal samples and squeaky guitar riffs remains one of Coldplay’s best whilst the substantial, Hip-Hop heavy ‘Hymn for The Weekend’ – a duet with Beyonce – is comprised of tinkling piano riffs, hip hop beats and shiny brass instruments. These clever production elements all work nicely until ‘Army of One’, a ballad so bland, even clever production cannot reinvigorate it. Likewise, the track’s hidden feature ‘X Marks The Spot’ is an abortive Hip-Hop jam, best left to Martin’s close friends Jay-Z & Beyonce.

Despite its Pop approach, however, ‘A Head Full of Dreams‘ is still very much a typical Coldplay album. The signature Coldplay elements are still present; the anthemic Chorus’, wailing guitars, sweeping piano arpeggios and Martin’s pining vocals. The opening title track isn’t too far removed from the material on ‘Mylo Xyloto‘ albeit with a disco-funk groove. It’s a catchy opener abundant with the band’s trademark wailing guitars and is classic Coldplay, just with an extra sprinkle of Pop. Likewise ‘Fun’, a pleasant duet with Pop princess Tove Lo is more or less loyal to the band’s sound with distant guitar riffs, acoustic strums and Martin’s vocals warbling between his lowest and highest vocal range. The album’s finale and one of its highlights, ‘Up&Up’ is the band’s ‘Champagne Supernova’, just two minutes shorter. No surprise, then, that Noel Gallagher is guest guitarist on the track.

The hazy and tranquil interlude bridges between tracks – as present on the band’s previous two albums – also remain prevalent, the most enthralling being ‘Kaleidoscope’ which samples an Obama speech and clip of the president singing ‘Amazing Grace’. Furthermore, the dainty piano ballads are ever-enduring. ‘Everglow’ is gentle ballad on which ghost of Christmas past, Martin’s ex-wife Gwyneth Paltrow provides vocals on. ‘Amazing Day’ is one far superior, however and is one of the album’s highlights, built from elegant piano arpeggios and soaring melodies.

Whilst it’s far from their best work, ‘A Head Full of Dreams‘ is a compelling and enjoyable album; a reminder of Coldplay’s sustained presence in the music industry.

  • Rating: 4/5.
  • Album Highlights: ‘Hymn For The Weekend’, ‘Adventure of a Lifetime’, ‘Kaleidoscope’, ‘Amazing Day’, ‘Up&Up’.

‘A Head Full of Dreams’ is available now on Parlophone records.