Plan B: Heaven Before All Hell Breaks Loose

Plan B shot to mainstream fame after following up his inner-city rap album Who Needs Actions When You Got Words with his successful Motown persona in The Defamation of Strickland Banks, telling the tale of Mr Banks, a British soul singer. The boy could sing, and had soul. Soundtrack Ill Manors came next, a “hip […]

Gorillaz: The Now Now

We like Gorillaz as a singles band as much as the next primate, but have never really dug the albums, at least until this one. Probably because it’s low key, induces calm and doesn’t try anything too clever. Opener Humility is a gentle pop tune. It could have been made by any middle-ranking, decent chill-out […]

Lack of Afro: Jack of All Trades

Lack of Afro is Adam Gibbons, who lacks both an Afro and the deep suntan normally expected from the sound of 70s funk. The name might be a joke but the music isn’t, as Gibbons belts out pukka-sounding 70s soul, funk and disco, with some hip-hop thrown in. The sound is either peak Earth Wind […]

Jorja Smith: Lost and Found

While Anne-Marie goes for the formulaic and makes a fun album, Smith shows how the grown-ups do it. The 20-year-old singer has a smooth, soulful voice and blends soul and trip-hop on her debut album in a way that’s both retro and modern. She reminds us of one of our guilty pleasures, Deniece Williams, the […]

Denis Jones: 3333

Like The Courteeners, Denis Jones is from Manchester but unlike them he makes interesting music. On a website we found he was described as making “scuzzy Mancunian blues”, which is good, but misses out the word “electronic”. It’s the blues of a dirty city where residents have good reason to sing soulful songs, but it’s […]

Tom Misch: Geography

Years ago, we briefly flirted with trip hop/funk (Hull’s Fila Brazillia were a favourite) and this new album from Misch (born five years after Fila Brazillia formed) takes us back to those days: sleek, jazz-tinged funky pop that’ll be playing in any wine bar you care to enter for the next few years. There’s a […]

Lisa Stansfield: Deeper

We weren’t sure what this was going to be like, except that if the Press budget extends down the food chain to us, great things must be expected. Deservedly so. Banish thoughts of cheesy pop or pop diva-ish warbling: this is a great pop/RnB album and Stansfield gives a masterclass in how to produce music: […]

Rationale: Rationale

We were anticipative of contemporary hip hop but Rationale — real name Tinashe Fazakerley — is somewhat old school Rnb. Having been flummoxed by the lack of hippity hop, the album still left us slightly discombobulated (he started it, Rationale Fazakerley indeed): Fazakerley has a good voice, a soulful baritone that connects with the listener’s […]

Amadou and Mariam: La Confusion

There’s world music and there’s world music. There’s the rootsy world of earnest music fans, which is played by traditional artists who are probably seen as traditional in their own lands. Then there’s the world music that the owners of internet radios can listen to: music that’s played for (say) Africans to listen to as […]