Open Ear Blog

New Music Reviews: September

MIA — AIM

When announcing the release of this, her fifth album, MIA suggested it may be her last. As an established proponent of bold statements around album release dates, the accuracy of the quote is still up in the air. What is clear is MIA has continued on her established musical trajectory of political imagery and genre-splicing beats. As a whole it’s less bombastic than one may expect of a (potential) final hoorah from an artist who prides herself on provocation. Even the beats laid down by the less-than-nuanced Diplo, on ‘Bird Song’, have a relaxing warmth that smoothes the blunter aspects of the political verses. Catch the lead single ‘Borders’ here.

Izzy Bizu — A Moment of Madness (Epic)

As a nominee for the BBC Sound of ’16 it’s notable that Izzy Bizu focuses on the classic sound of Soul. That’s not to say that this is a nostalgia fest, however, as Bizu adds hints of flavour to each track that are unmistakably contemporary. Having opened for Jamie Cullum ** it’s perhaps unsurprising that there’s a hint of Jazz and smoke to Bizu’s voice, which goes some way to explain the comparisons to **Amy Winehouse we’ve heard mentioned. The highlight of the album is a collaborative track with Honne that is also featured on his recent album which we reviewed last month. Oddly, it was the highlight of that record too. Don’t miss it.

Jamie T — Trick (Virgin EMI)

After softening his approach for his previous release, Jamie T roughs it up a bit for this, his fourth album. His observational, man-on-the-street style is as bold as ever as he channels Albarn and Strummer, paying homage to the latter on ‘Tescoland’ in particular. Whether he’s throwing out rhyming couplets on the heavy ‘Police Tapes’ or singing plaintively on the downtempo Indie ‘Self Esteem’, there’s a sense that Jamie T has solidified his own style. Where previously his tendency to flit between genres could be confusing, it’s now a marker of his individuality. Catch ‘Tinfoil Boy’ here.

De La Sou — And The Anonymous Nobody (Warners)

After raising $600,000 on Kickstarter to record their 9th studio album, the now legendary Hip Hop trio De La Soul return with high expectations. The first surprise is that, despite place prized place in musical history for their use of sampling, the cash has apparently gone towards developing a who’s who of guest musicians and vocalists rather than on clearing samples. While that means there are fewer verses featuring the trio, there’s the benefit of a diverse range of voices that bring interest and depth. Standouts include tracks featuring David Byrne, Damon Albarn, and 2 Chainz. However, our top track is the classic G-Funk of ‘Pain’, featuring the vocals of Snoop Dogg. The beats have a classic Electro edge that stand the test of time, remaining fresh amongst the host of big name collaborators elsewhere. Catch it here.

Xenia Rubinos — Black Terry Cat (Anti-)

Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Amy Winehouse, Neneh Cherry; you’ll hear them all in Xenia Rubinos’ soulful vocals here on her second album. Rubinos also shows alluring musical depth, as tracks roams through Soul, Funk, Hip Hop, and Electronica with snappy percussion and solid bass throughout. In combination, this depth of both voice and musicality double up to create an album worthy of standing with the output of the luminaries earlier mentioned. Have no doubt, however, on tracks like ‘Laugh Clown’ Rubinos sets herself out as her own talent, successfully interpreting her influences in new and exciting directions. Do not miss this one. Start by catching ‘Mexican Chef’.

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