Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Album Reviews

Jamie Woon - Mirrorwriting (4/5). British singer Jamie Woon is the latest of the BBC Sounds of 2011 poll to release an album and save for Clare McGuire, who I haven't given a listen to yet (and I probably won't), Woon's Mirrorwriting is among the best from I've heard from the poll--on par with James Blake and better than Jessie J and The Vaccines. Woon has a cordial, soulful texture to his voice (a little like Craig David) that works nicely beneath his haunting downbeat urban-shadowed productions--nicely demonstrated on opening track "Night Air." The album gradually ventures into more spacey territories, "Street" lays down some deterred pulsing beats, synths and disquieting atmosphere. Current single "Lady Luck" is a little more upbeat; kinetic handclaps and beats backed with what now seems like an obligitory wall of soundscape. Critics compared this to fellow poll-graduate James Blake, while I do here I hear the similarities he also sounds a lot like American singer/song-writer Amos Lee too, particuarly on closing number "Waterfoot" a soulful, acoustic ballad. Best: Lady Luck, Night Air, Street, Waterfoot, Spiral, Echoes

Gorillaz - The Fall (3/5). Blur's Damon Albarn's animated alternative rock band Gorillaz release their fourth album, the majority of which produced on Apple's iPad, which would explain why the sound on here is, quite appropriately, more electronically charged than their previous work. Last year's rather bloated set Plastic Beach introduced listeners to the band's more experimental endeavors--and while this follow-up seems to want to push the boundaries a little further, I feel the sound isn't as thrilling as it could have been, although as you would arguably expect from the Gorillaz, they do deliver a handful of interesting moments, such as third track "Hillbilly Man," which begins as a somber, mellow arraignment of low-key acoustic guitars and restful vocals before breaking into a sputter of clumping synths and beefy electronic beats. The morphing soundscapes and engorging electronic undercurrents of "Detroit" is another winner, however my favorite on here is "Bobby in Phoenix" featuring American singer Bobby Womack, which does an awesome job of merging a pretty high-strung acoustic arrangement layered over electronic pulsing. At 15 tracks it is quite lengthy, with a lot of misfire, definitely their least consistent set thus far, but still somewhat enjoyable. Best: Bobby in Phoenix, Hillbilly Man, Detroit, The Joplin Spider

1 comment:

ww_adh said...

I'm on the fence as to whether I want to listen to Jamie Woon's album. It didn't get generally good reviews, but I like the sound of what I've heard. Sounds like minimalist R&B/electronic--kind of like The XX.