Saturday, 23 March 2013

FEATURE: Ady Suleiman

*Originally published for The Tipping Point (19/3/13)

If anyone is going to make a perfect, pre-packaged pop star, then they should have a look at Ady Suleiman. He’s young, good-looking, a talented guitarist and an even more talented singer – everything you need to face the music industry’s bite. Currently studying at the prestigious LIPA and with a BBC Introducing MistaJam session to his name, the Nottinghamshire musician certainly has an exciting future ahead of him.

Taken from his MistaJam session, ‘Serious’ is already racking up a healthy amount of hits and it’s no puzzle why. Ady's soulful vocals, styled seemingly on a diet of Ray Charles and Stevie Wonder, are immediately arresting and ever the more attractive with creaking acoustics plucked beneath them.

There’s a definite reggae sound lurking with attractive off-beat rhythms and looped melodies, but you can pick out a whole host of influences from hip-hop to soul and even a bit of jazz. Ady has gobbled up these sounds and spat them out into a fully-formed pop song in ‘Serious.’ I can’t imagine it’ll be long before the bigwigs wrap their ears around it.

*Tip courtesy of Lyndsey Boggis at BBC Introducing.

Monday, 18 March 2013

REVIEW: Jessie Ware @ O2 Academy Oxford - 11/3/13

*Originally published for the Oxford Mail (13/3/13)

It's a normal Monday evening in Oxford. The shops are shut, people have braved the start to the week and the bitter winds are keeping many at home. But there is a party going on at the O2 Academy Oxford, and soul popstress Jessie Ware is hosting.

Opening with the sparse but brash electronics of 'Devotion', the Mercury-nominated singer makes an impressive start to her headline set. Hitting the high notes like it's already the encore, Jessie's live persona smacks of professionalism and passion in equal measure and the audience is hooked just minutes in.

Crowd favourite 'If You're Never Gonna Move' (originally released as '110%') boasts Jessie's ability to effortlessly hop between harmonies. Her backing band help to provide it's skittish dubstep beats and bleeps, but it's a shame there isn't more interaction between them and the confident frontwoman.

Thankfully, a little further into the set, drummer Dornik Leigh steps in to duet on 'Valentine', a song that Jessie usually sings with Sampha (featured on SBTRKT's debut album). It adds some welcomed variety with soulful male vocals and snappy electronic drums.

Finding what she calls her "inner Chaka Khan", Jessie gets the crowd dancing to 'Imagine It With Us' like it's the 1980s. The relaxed hip-hop beats of 'Wildest Moments' foretell the set's close, but Jessie and her band still squeeze every bit of energy to power its grand chorus.

Following a huge applause, Jessie exclaims: "Wow, I thought with it being a Monday night you'd want to be in bed at a reasonable time!" And with that, the explosive 'Running' closes tonight's party at the O2 Academy. Fans might just feel that little bit closer to the weekend.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

FEATURE: Hilang Child

*Originally published for The Tipping Point (13/3/12)

Ed Riman of Hilang Child is one busy man: live musician with The Midnight Beast, one fifth of London folksters Garnets and a professional session drummer. It’s any wonder how he musters the energy for his solo act but when you listen to his delightfully understated pop, you realise it’s not at all forced. It flows naturally and makes complete sense atop these musical projects.
‘Chatuanga’ is a charming introduction to Hilang Child. Humble piano chords loop beneath Riman’s pseudo-American vocals, carrying much of the track’s weight. High hats dance gently and violins stretch out Riman’s earthy hums. If you imagine Ben Gibbard pouring his heart out on a grand piano, you’re just about there. Riman builds all the layers until a colossal ending seems in sight, but he then tucks them in, leaving just marching drums to roll and harmonies to ring. It’s really quite lovely.

First Writings EP, featuring ‘Chatuanga’, is available to download for free at

*Tip courtesy of Rob Platts.

Friday, 1 March 2013

FEATURE: East India Youth

*Originally published for The Tipping Point (1/3/13)

It’s a given that most songs gleefully skip over brain cells, satisfied enough that they will leave a small though not lasting imprint. In fact, we listeners have a lot to be thankful for. Can you imagine trying to digest one ‘Karma Police’ after another? Poor to average songs inadvertently better the, well, better. So, Mr “sound gardener” William Doyle, AKA East India Youth, you have done it. You have written one of the best songs I’ve heard in ages.

‘Heaven, how long’ tells you it’s going to be one cathartic 6-minute journey the instant those new-age synths simmer at the opening. Doyle’s lonely vocals wrench at your gut, perched as they are on the edge of things. Earth-shattering root notes and motorik rhythms create a strange crossover of the archaic and the modern – like some Celtic lament given the Krautrock once-over.

But the genres don’t stop there. As all the electronics bleed into one another and rhythms surge forward, shoegaze guitars burrow their way in, producing that dazzling and decaying sound My Bloody Valentine so proudly discharge.

Although it’s just a taster from East India Youth’s self-produced Hostel EP (released in March on The Quietus Phonographic Corporation), ‘Heaven, How Long’ is a fine introduction to this extremely gifted musician. Now, to press that repeat button…

*Tip courtesy of Shell Zenner and Rob Platts.