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Posts Tagged ‘R&B

Top Tip for 2013 – Experimental and eccentric, with an artistic edge: Mikky Ekko

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Mikky Ekko is an American singer-songwriter and producer, who I first featured on here back in March 2012.

I’d heard Ekko’s track, ‘Who Are You, Really?’ on an early episode of Sarah Michelle Gellar‘s now cancelled mystery drama series, Ringer. Since writing and dueting on Rihanna’s latest ‘Unapologetic’ album track ‘Stay’, Ekko is beginning to create the level of interest and excitement that his early fans and critics have long since predicted.

Ekko is currently working with producer Clams Casino on tracks for his forthcoming debut album.

Pull Me Down’ is the latest track to be aired from the much anticipated body of work. Ekko is experimental and eccentric, with an artistic edge that sets his lyrics and live shows apart from the rest. I foresee many more high profile collaborations for this artist.


Mikky Ekko is the first of my weekly top tips for 2013.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂


Written by shelleyhanveywriter

January 4, 2013 at 4:27 pm

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Heartfelt, full of heat and hedonism; Tyler James’s new single ‘Single Tear’

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Tyler James, finalist of The Voice UK and dubbed the UK’s answer to Justin Timberlake, is set to release the lead single from his upcoming second album, ‘A Place I Go’ on October 14th, 2012. The track entitled, ‘Single Tear’ was co-written by James and Guy Chambers and is a heartfelt R&B ballad, full of heat and hedonism. The accompanying music video is every bit as sleek as the artist himself and similarly, it isn’t exactly unpleasant to look at.


The album is set for release on October 22nd 2012, via a joint recording deal between original label home Island Records and Universal Music Group. James released his debut album, ‘The Unlikely Lad’ on Island Records back in 2005 and has said that:

it’s great to be back with a team that I know get me, my sound and where I’m going.

I think this track is the perfect choice to launch James in to – what I am sure will be – a long and successful career to come. The Timberlake comparisons are understandable but I actually prefer James’s vocals and think that he could be a much more diverse artist. James comes across as genuinely humble and appreciative for the support and blessings he has enjoyed so far, however justified they might be, and I like that quality in a person. There is a lot to be said for humble these days.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

September 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm

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Great new tracks: Janelle Monae, Goldfrapp, Groove Armada, Robyn.

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I’ve always been in to Electronic Dance music; Psychedelic, Chillout and House being my notable favourite sub-genres. In recent months my appetite has been whetted even further by the  increasingly creative and diverse offerings from such artists, and also their accessibility in the mainstream. After all, what is the spice of life if not variety?

Groove Armada ft. Will Young, ‘History’ (released August 30th, 2010)

I’ve always had time for Will Young and liked the direction he’s taken with his music, so the combination of him and Groove Armada was not too shabby for me. Will’s vocals on this track  have been likened to Jimmy Somerville of Bronski Beat and later, The Communards; High praise indeed; Somerville’s version of ‘To Love Somebody’ betters the original in my opinion, primarily due to his striking and instantly recognisable falsetto. ‘History’ wasn’t originally planned to be released as a single so I’ve heard, but after a number of compelling live performances and positive word of mouth and online referrals, the audience won through. This track is taken from Groove Armada’s latest album ‘Black Light.

Janelle Monae, ‘Cold War’ (released August 30th, 2010)

If you haven’t already heard of Janelle Monae, it’s only a matter of time. Signed in 2008 by P. Diddy and then described by him as :

a true visionary, with an original sound and a mesmerizing presence…

Monae is obviously destined for big things and for the right reasons. Her debut album ‘The Archandroid‘ is a whirlwind ride of Soul, Funk and Hip-Hop and if you check out her live performances on YouTube, particularly on The David Letterman Show, you’ll see why her name is on the lips of many an industry insider and luckily now, the general music-loving public too.

Goldfrapp, ‘Believer’ (released September 6th, 2010)

This track is taken from Goldfrapp’s latest album ‘Head First’ and hits another home run for me. I don’t actually know what a home run is, I tended to be picked last in PE as I have a motto in life; ‘you only need to run when a. you’re being chased by a masked killer or b. the ice cream man hasn’t seen you in his rear view mirror’, otherwise, nope, not for me…but I hear a home run is a good thing, hence the comparison.

Robyn, ‘Hang With Me’ (released September 6th, 2010)

There’s a really good acoustic version of this track on You Tube if you so fancy. This is taken from Robyn’s latest album ‘Body Talk PT. 1’ On the strength of this, I very much look forward to PT. 2. I think Robyn’s voice suits her genre perfectly; being both soothing and uplifting in equal measure. I also think she’s a great songwriter and contrary to popular belief, yes, dance music can contain stand-out lyrics, it just doesn’t happen that often.

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

July 26, 2010 at 2:04 pm

2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize shortlist; hooray for Folk!

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2010 Barclaycard Mercury Prize – shortlist announced today (July 20th, 2010)

Well the Mercury Prize shortlist has been announced today and I am delighted to see 3 folk artists/bands in the line-up; those being Laura Marling’s ‘I Speak Because I Can’, Villagers’ ‘Becoming a Jackal’ and Mumford & Sons’ ‘Sigh No More.’ The full list is below:

Biffy Clyro, ‘Only Revolutions’

I Am Kloot, ‘Sky At Night’

Dizzee Rascal, ‘Tongue N’ Cheek’

Paul Weller, ‘Wake Up the Nation’

Corinne Bailey Rae, ‘The Sea’

The xx, ‘xx’

Villagers, ‘Becoming a Jackal’

Kit Downes Trio, ‘Golden’

Foals, ‘Total Life Forever’

Laura Marling ‘I Speak Because I Can’

Wild Beasts, ‘Two Dancers’

Mumford & Sons, ‘Sigh No More’

With a talent for poetry and lyricism far beyond her tender 20 years; Laura Marling is well respected in both folk and wider contemporary circles. This, her second album, was released in March 2010 and peaked at number 4 in the Official UK Chart and number 1 on the iTunes UK Chart. The album has produced two singles thus far; those being ‘Goodbye England (Covered in Snow) and ‘Devil’s Spoke.’ These just happen to also be two of my favourite tracks from a genuinely striking and sublime record.

Villagers are an Irish indie-folk band, hailing from Malahide in Dublin. This, their debut album, was released in May 2010 and immediately topped the Irish Albums Chart and the Irish Indie Albums Chart. Lead singer Conor J. O’Brien is widely respected and lauded for his songwriting, musicality and influence amongst his peers. O’Brien’s music has been described as drawing inspiration from dark imagery and by romanticising the mundane aspects of life. Definitely a wordsmith to note for the future.

I think most people will have heard of Mumford & Sons at this point; regardless of whether they happen to be a fan of folk music. This, their debut studio album, was released in October 2009, peaking at number 6 in the Official UK Charts in July 2010. The album has since been certified Platinum in the UK and has produced the following hit singles, ‘Little Lion Man’, ‘Winter Winds’, ‘The Cave’ and ‘Roll Away Your Stone.’ Continuously sold out shows confirm the band’s popularity both at home and abroad. I would be surprised if this band weren’t judged to be in the top 3 of those shortlisted; but then again, I fear other factors come in to play with these commercial prize-giving ceremonies; I still haven’t got over Lisa Hannigan not walking away with the award for ‘Sea Sew’ last year.

Still, us folk fans can dream and hope, hope and dream; I think these three are worthy winners but would like to have also seen Richard Hawley’s ‘Truelove’s Gutter’ and Noah and the Whale’s ‘The First Days of Spring’ nominated. But, you can’t have everything.

Christina Aguilera, ‘Bionic’ – album review

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Christina Aguilera, ‘Bionic’

This week saw the UK release of Christina Aguilera’s fourth English studio album, ‘Bionic.’  It’s been a wait of four years, but with a 23-strong track listing, I don’t think anyone could say she doesn’t deliver; after all, if something’s worth having, it’s worth waiting for.

I’ve been a fan of Christina since the early days of ‘Genie in a Bottle’ and ‘What a Girl Wants’, right through to the ‘Dirrrty’ dance floor numbers and the ‘Hurt’ . I consider her to be the best female vocalist of her generation, as well as an accomplished and multi-skilled songwriter.


Recently hailed by Rolling Stone as number fifty-three on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, Christina was featured as the youngest and only artist on the list under the age of thirty. My sister and I went to see her perform live in 2003 and I would have to say that her vocals were the only ones to rival another performer I have seen and that is Celine Dion…Don Valley Stadium, Sheffield, 1999, with support from Mike and the Mechanics, not a dry eye in the house…and that was in no way related to the increased awareness and consequent upsurge of glaucoma in the late ’90s (I was undoubtedly the youngest concert-goer there, aged 20). What can I say, I’ve always had an old head on young shoulders; which probably looks slightly strange…

Christina said prior to the release of the album, that she had been experimenting with a futuristic, electro-pop sound and that fans should expect something totally different; I would have to agree with this preview, as ‘Bionic’ features certain tracks that you wouldn’t necessarily associate with those hits that have gone before, but for me this is what I look forward to with a new record. There’s something to be said for “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” but then when would we get a chance to hear an artist diversify and show what they can really do? Christina’s past albums have fused R&B with Jazz, Pop with Rock, so I don’t think her musicality or range will ever truly be in question.

Christina works with Australian singer-songwriter Sia Furler and her collaborator/bassist Samuel Dixon on four songs for the album, and these for me are the stand out tracks. A couple are vintage Christina with intimate melodies, atmospheric keyboards and emotive vocals (‘All I Need’ and You Lost Me’), with the other two, whilst being just as heartfelt and delicate, feature more subtle vocals which allow the music and emotion to flow through (‘I Am’ and ‘Stronger Than Ever’.)



Christina works with Linda Perry again on this album, specifically on track ‘Lift Me Up’, which is another of my favourites. Perry wrote previous hit single ‘Hurt’ which I’ve included a link to above; I think the melody and vocals on this track are amazing, what I wouldn’t give to be able to sing like that! I really like Perry’s lyrics, she knows her audience and seems to deliver every time with all the emotion, regret and angst that we all secretly lap up.

Christina is a big fan of British electronic band Ladytron and asked them to work with her on this project and produce some songs. ‘Birds of Prey’ features on the second CD and the synthpop template is clearly evident from the outset. It would be fair to say that this record draws on numerous influences and experiments with various genres, indeed with most of Christina’s albums they feel more like a showcase than simply a thrown-together collection of same-old, same-old stuff.

For R&B and Dance fans there are also the up-tempo numbers ‘Bionic’ and ‘Not Myself Tonight’ and ‘Woohoo’, which provide those essential beats to kick-start your Friday night…or Monday morning, depending how wild you are. I love cheeky Christina who toys with the taboo, but a couple of the tracks were disposable in my opinion and didn’t need to be there, such as ‘Sex for Breakfast’ and ‘Vanity’, it can sometimes feel forced I think.

Overall, I would give ‘Bionic’ a 7.5 out of 10 which is mainly on the strength of the Sia Furler and Linda Perry tracks. Definitely an album I will listen to again and enjoy, pre wild night out or wild night in.

shelleyhanveywriter 🙂

Written by shelleyhanveywriter

June 11, 2010 at 1:52 pm

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