Radio jockey and producer Blundetto has dropped a new album, an unusual and unique set full of sonic surprises and imaginative arrangements and instruments.
It presents a cocktail of low-key instrumental tracks and laid-back vocal cuts featuring talents such as Biga Ranx, Jahdan Blakkamoore, Marina P, John Milk and Pupa Jim.
World of is melancholic, earthly and atmospheric. Sometimes it leans towards electro lounge music and sometimes it’s more reggae-oriented, like Biga Ranx’ airy Above the Water, Marina P’s elegant Last Broken Bones, a track custom-made for a blunted jazz club in Paris, or Jahdan Blakkamoore’s stylish Work.
This set is not your ordinary reggae album and Blundetto is not afraid of thinking out of the box.
Dubtonic Kru – one of the baddest bands from Jamaica – is back with a new blazing album. Conscious Dub collects eleven tracks and is a mix of different styles and genres and is not – as the title indicates – a dub album.
Conscious Dub is a cocktail of dub versions of previous released material and new smashing vocal cuts. Pitchy Patchy comes with a scorching organ and Guiding Light is driven by a haunting guitar solo and echoing keys, while the smooth The Highest fades out with some stylish deejaying.
Microphone duties is shared with Rasta revivalists Protoje and Iba Mahr along with the lesser known Jamaican vocalist J Militia. Protoje graces the strong Mankind with laid-back verses and Iba Mahr lends his voice to the repatriation cut Somewhere Inna Africa.
Positive and uplifting. As always with the Kru.
Jamaican horn maestro and arranger Tommy McCook was one of the key architects behind ska, rocksteady and reggae. As part of the Skatalites at Studio One and The Supersonics at Treasure Isle he made some of greatest music ever made.
In the 70s he played on countless of roots records and also fronted a few of them. One of those – often rare items – was reissued today by Japanese acclaimed label Dub Store Records.
The Sannic Sounds is the title of the album. The title was advertised on the label of a 7″ release of Determination Skank as The Sannic Sounds of Tommy McCook. The album was then released in 1974 in very scarce quantities as Tommy McCook Dub. Three years after it was picked up by a UK label and was released – again in scarce quantities – as Horny Dub.
In 2003 parts of the album was reissued by Blood & Fire Records as part of the magnificent compilation Blazing Horns – Tenor in Roots. But now it’s widely available as a single album.
And it’s great. As always when it comes to Tommy McCook. He certainly knows how to blow a horn, whether it’s an evergreen like the beautiful When I Fall in Love or the brutally militant Dirty Harry.
Glen Brown was the producer behind this set. And some of his productions are some of the heaviest to be put on wax. Dirty Harry, and its version Determination Skank, is one such production.
The Sannic Sounds is a varied, and sometimes dub-infused, instrumental album that deserved to be reissued.
U.S. producer Diplo’s label Mad Decent is probably best known for its many electronic dance music release, often with a strong foothold in the Caribbean and Brazil. But one of the label’s most recent releases is something else. Something completely else.
The Frightnrs is a four piece outfit from New York City with a passion for vintage reggae and eerie rocksteady. Inna Lovers Quarrel is their debut EP and it’s full of vintage reggae spiced with raw energy and rub a dub vibes.
The set is produced by the renowned Victor “Ticklah” Axelrod and the EP was recorded live in the studio using analogue techniques and gear. It gives the set a warm, genuine and organic sound.
Organ and piano is used heavily throughout. Just listen to the head-nodding and organ-driven album opener Argumental. A minor-chord masterpiece.
Lead vocalist Dan Klein has a soaring tone and a high-pitched voice. On Which Way he could probably be confused with the legendary falsetto singer Junior Murvin. The best cut is however lead single Admiration, which comes with a classic rocksteady beat and urgent singing by Dan Klein. The remix of Admiration comes as bit of a surprise. But if you know Cadenza and Toddla T you probably know what to expect.
A killer release, so get ready for a real treat.
U.S. singer Puma Ptah – formerly Ras Puma – was born on the Virgin Islands, but moved to the mainland about ten years ago where he later joined eclectic DJ and artist collective Thievery Corporation. Last year he decided to pursue a solo career – even though he still works with the Corporation – and recently dropped his debut set.
In One Accord collects seven rootsy tracks; five vocal cuts and two dub versions mixed by I Grade’s Tippy I and Y & D Duke from Switzerland.
Puma Ptah makes solid and soothing roots reggae with live instrumentation and beautiful arrangements. His vocal style is calm and relaxed yet with a dramatic touch. He reflects on politics and spiritual issues and sings about unity and love for all mankind.
The percussion-driven Prudence is dreamy, Home comes with strings and a pulsating organ and Upright has bright horns and echo-laid vocals.
Certainly a solid debut from a promising singer.
UK’s Lloyd Brown – one of the most consistent artist in the reggae industry – is no stranger to productiveness. He usually drops one album each year and sometimes two. And this is now the case.
On July 30 he dropped two albums – From the Old School and Twenty. And together they collect a whopping 32 tracks; 16 on each set.
Both albums have telling titles. From the Old School – with a sleeve influenced by The Harder They Come – carries vintage vibes with several relicks and influences from rocksteady and reggae from the early 70s. Twenty is the name of his 20th album and has a slightly more contemporary approach.
They present timeless reggae of the finest calibre. It’s soulful, natural and bittersweet. The quality is impressively uniform; as always one might add.
Lloyd Brown is probably best known for his sweet and smooth relationship outings. And there are plenty of love and romance on both sets. His honeyed voice is custom-made for singing about lost love, relationship mistakes and heartfelt apologies.
These two albums are beautiful and clearly recorded and produced with love and affection.
The U.S. reggae scene has been growing in the last couple of years, partly thanks to the thriving VI reggae scene with trailblazers like Midnite. They have for example had a great impact on the conscious sounds coming from the West Coast.
Bobby Hustle is from Seattle and part of the West Coast – or Left Coast as he puts it – reggae scene. He has been around for quite a while now and recently dropped his soothing debut album It’s the Hustle. It’s an eleven track set full of uplifting vibes, ganja smoke and infectious melodies.
Bobby Hustle likes marijuana. The weed is celebrated on no less than three tracks. He sings that he needs it to calm down. And judging from his incredibly relaxed and silky smooth singing style he probably uses rizzlas and chalwas quite often.
You are drawn into this contemporary reggae album. And the pop melodies, laid-back vibes and catchy choruses stick like glue.
Kenya-born and Germany-based singer Treesha started singing in school and in church. After moving to Germany she was discovered by Gentleman and joined his Evolution Band about three years ago. But while on tour she met talented singjay Skarra Mucci who believed in her talent and signed her on his own label.
One of her first singles as a solo singer was a cut on Oneness Records’ Retro Locks riddim, which dropped earlier this year. Her Don’t Do It is a slice of contemporary one drop showcasing a confident singer with great vocal capabilities.
Listen has a number of different producers involved – Oneness, DJ Denzen and Bazzazian – and collects 15 tracks offering mostly modern reggae, but also a few slices of R&B, ska and lightweight dancehall.
Treesha has a lush and sensual singing style and highlights include the urgent I’m a Lion, the catchy title track and the romancing Skarra Mucci combination Love You Like 123.
Nice when talented singers are able to move from the background to the spotlight.
UK roots and dub champion Russ D has joined forces with France’s Idlers Corner Records on the joint effort Idlers Corner Records meets Russ D.
The set collect 15 cuts and leans heavily towards dub – ten tracks are dub versions. It’s rootsy and digital and features vocal talents from veteran Waterhouse specialists like Kirk Davis aka Little Kirk and Yami Bolo along with Avaran and Ras Attitude.
Russ D is dangerous every time he reaches the mixing board. He has been a disciple of reggae and dub since the mid-80s and has worked with high profile producers like Jah Shaka, Jah Tubby’s, Jah Warrior, Frenchie and Irie Ites along with several others.
A solid set with particularly deadly, yet very tasty, dub versions.
Dominican singer Oriel is productive. On July 2 he put out two EP’s. But that was however never the plan and the idea morphed after working with UK-based and Grammy-nominated producer Daniel Boyle.
Love SoulJah was slated for release and then Oriel teamed up with Daniel Boyle who remastered some of his previous releases, and they, together with a few new tracks, sum up Confidence 2.0.
The two EP’s are combined as one release on digital outlets, but they have a slightly different approach and sound. Love SoulJah is smoother and softer and deals with love and relationships, while Confidence 2.0 is deeper with a more social and political vibe.
This combined set leans much toward pop music and it’s often easily accessible and catchy. Most cuts are however powered by brilliant bass lines. Check the country and western inspired Down Where I Live, the contemporary R&B flavoured Love SoulJah or album opener Confidence with its bulldozer bass line.
A fresh and urban set from an artist with great potential.