The rebirth of Beyonce

Sometimes a change in concept makes magic. «Beyoncé» the self titled brand new album release from the artist known as Beyoncé – was hush released without any pre-promo ahead of it’s release. The biggest surprise is that this release is her best album in her career so far.

Beyonce by Patrick Demarchelier for Vogue March 2013_5

Beyoncé is laid back and her voice is cooler and more amazing than ever. I first heard this vocal change on her husband Jay-Zs latest album. It’s an adult album, full of sexual references – at times explicit without being pure porn ala Janet Jackson’s albums releases “All For You” and “Domita Jo”. On her new album Miss Beyoncé is experimenting and flirting with several genres, the music is eclectic flirting more with hip-hop than she has done earlier – a trick also the controversial Miley Cyrus did on her latest “Bangerz” album.

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I bet Mr and Mrs Carter has boomed albums like Drake, Jay-Z, D’angelo, Prince,Miley and Ocean on their stereo before deciding the sound of her brand self titled 2013 album.

You can actually draw a line between Miss Janets «Velvet Rope”, to Miley Curys «Bangerz» to Beyoncé latest album. D’angelo around Voodoo and Prince lurks in the shadow, especially on the track «Rocket» which sounds just like a twin-sister or part II to D’angelos «Untitled» and the purple Prince´ bluesier soul moments like «Call My Name» or «The One», the song is really soothing and god damn sexy! Had to check the liner-notes both once and twice…to see if Prince is doing a guest appearance on the track (or is it a secret appearance by the Man? Maybe a payback for her guest appearance on «Purple Rain-medley» on 2004 the Grammy awards? Just speculating, or dreaming if you like!

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The album production is close to Drake and Frank Ocean and she even sounds like she’s ripping off Miley Cyrus here and there, especially on the tracks where she raps. Yes, you read correctly – Miss B is even rapping on this album!
…She works on the album with song-writer extraordinaire Sia, Timbaland and Ryan Tedder. But the real gem here is the, until now, unknown producer Boots (take note of that name). His production skills is probably the best of the years since Mike Will Made It duties on Jay Z “Magna Carta Holy Grail” and Mileys «Bangerz». Boots, just like Mike Will, sings, produces, and plays a lot of the instruments used on his productions. 9 out of 14 tracks are produced by Boots.
Is Boots a pseudonym to Mike Will? Just speculating again.

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I have mentioned both Drake and Frank Ocean earlier, as a possible musical influence, they both visits “Beyonce”. She also lets her hubby Sean Carter aka Jay-Z guest the album, no album without his participation these days and they even lets their little daughter Blue Ivy feature on the last track named «Blue» coincidencially? I don’t think so!

The album sleeve is all black, with just her name on it. Is this her “Black Album” back in 1988, and like Metallica did on their “Metallica” aka The Black Album, and is it a reference to the Beatles self titled album “The Beatles” aka the legendary «White Album»?

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Click on the album cover to download the album through iTunes

By not including her self on the album sleeve, as she normally does, she makes a fresh start, she makes gives her album a bit of a mystique. A secret, just like the sudden not-promoted, just like whoooph there it is! And there it was! She somehow erase her own former musical concept and starts a new one!

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Beyonces «Beyonce» is a game changer, a new start
The album is an up a modern affair, a grown up 2013 style, modern and funky – a coffee table album, the music answer to coffee table book, an album you would love to play to your friends, and will follow you and your life. I recommend it everyone around me ´cos this is a real grower of an album!

A dark yet beautiful world!

It´s not often I stumble upon a female solo artist that sounds like – and write songs – that brings to mind gravel voiced artist like Leonard Cohen, Johnny Cash and Nick Cave – and sirens like  Hope Sandoval of Mazzy Star, PJ Harvey and Liz Phair. This sextet’s musical expression is recreated in the form of a woman of in er mid-twenties of Ethiopian origin but now residing in Finland.

The name Mirel Wagner sounds less Ethiopian and absolutely not like a name from Finland. It´s a name that seems to have a lot of dark history – and her stories is as dark as someone at least twice her age.

After name dropping Cash, Cohen, Cave, Sandoval, Harvey and Phair who is still reading – and wants to hear more about Mirel Wagner and her self titled debut album?

The Mirel Wagner record was recorded in just two days, mostly accompanied by a naked guitar. Minimalist picking the guitar. From bitter sounding melodies to more mantra-riff-o-rama – all performed solely on the guitar. Only accompanied by Mirel Wagners lonely yet strong and mellow voice

The voice and the songs need to be explained more closely; When Mirel sings, her voice is monotonous, coarse, rough, tired of life – it sounds as if each word must be forced out of her mouth. At the same time, there’s still something oddly beautiful – and she has a natural sensuality in her voice. The recording of her voice and instruments is so quiet and calm that every little strum the guitars neck can be heard. When the nails touches the guitar strings – and her fingers are being dragged up the guitar neck it makes this sliding sound. As if the guitar sighs.

You´ll hear Mirel Wagners voice deep in your ears, so close – you can almost feel the warmth of her breath. Hear the sound of her lips when she separate them and starts to sing – and you´ll even hear them touch each other again when she finishes the song. Even when Mirels tongue moves around her mouth to make this small clicking sound – and it hits the palate and her teeth in the oral cavity. Every small sigh of air she’s making as she prepare her self to sing the next line in her songs – and the sigh of relief that comes at the end of each sentence. I got a feeling that she may be laying down on either bed or on the naked concrete floor or sitting all alone in the dark while recording the album
So tight, close and without doubt very intimate.

Heres the album cover to Mirel Wagners self-titled debut album from 2011. You can hear it here; 

Click HERE to listen to the album in Spotify!

From start to end the albums steals only 35 minutes of your lifetime. The themes of the album is pitch-dark and grim stories of death, deep grief, problems and nightmarish small short stories spread over the 9 tracks.

If i should sort her albums in my record collection I sure would put her album in one of these fictional music genres; doom soul, dark folk, goth blues, minimalist folk.

If Mirel Wagner was a color – i would describe her as the non-colors black and white. As her musical world, and the album art, the pictures, the font and the liner notes and lyrics; All in rough black and white!

Only the song “No Hands”, in all of its monotone performance and simple naive text, are envisioned a tiny hope of simple childlike joy …

been riding my bicycle
all day long up and down the old
dusty dirt road
look mother no hands
see the sun filter through the trees
I am happy

…But the happines lasts only until the last open-for-interpretation and disturbing verse…

the wind and the speed
can not see the danger
look mother no hands

Maybe Mirel Wagners “No Hands” is written in a parallel world with the late Syd Barret in mind? Or at least her song is a part two of the song he wrote for his band Pink Floyd – the naive child like same-themed song “Bike”

The lyrics, music, photos
Step into Mirel Wagner
Dark, sensual world!

I have heard the future…

…And her name is…

I heard about her a few years back; checked out her music then I forgot her because artists like Amy Winehouse, Adele and Duffy – all three strong women (then) with a solid retrosoul backing – just like Kendras first EPs.

Kendra has so far released three EPs through iTunes – they can be downloaded here;

“Kendra Morris” 6 tracks released 2011

“Milk And Cookies Never Lie” 5 tracks, released 2008

“This Wont Heart A Bit” 5 tracks, released 2006

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But now Kendra Morris is back, and she has two really strong tracks out – more about that later!

So, who is Kendra Morris?

She is a singer-songwriter from New York. Her parents record collection was full of some of the greatest soullegends; Stevie Wonder, The Spinners, War, Marvin Gaye, Jackson 5, The Temptations and more! With this fabolous records playing and laying around in her parents house it did not take long time for a young Kendra to discover the joy of singing along – to some of the best artist ever!

Photos by Eric White, from Ladygunn.com

Even though she calls her self a singer-songwriter in her homepage I’ll promise you her parents record collection has made a great imprint in her sound! Kendra Morris soulful voice should make fans of Adele run for their money when she releases her debut album “Banshee” at the end of august 2012.

She has this hoarse like, soulful voice with more they one nod to the great soulsongers back in time. And if I should dare to call her a soul singer more than a singer songwriter I think no one would arrest me. If I could choose if I could sort the sound of Kendra Morris in the singer songwriter category or the soul genre there is no doubt where I would place her!

Kendra Morris upcoming 16 track debut album “Banshee” comes out 28th of august 2012 through Wax Poetics Records

She has now a on going project were she releases cover versions of well known singers and bands every tuesday – for free, through her homepage and her Kendra Morris Facebook page (you can also follow Kendra Morris on Twitter). So far she has released two fantastic cover versions of Chris Isaaks “Wicked Game” and Pink Floyds “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” (Click to listen on the band and song names to listen to her versions of the songs).
I love cover versions were the artists make the songs sound like it´s their own, and Kendra has so far has done some really great versions of the two aforementioned artists/bands. The Pink Floyd song is closest to the original, but with Kendras strong voice she really owns the song. A quite funny thing is that her version of “Wicked Game” has more similarities with Pink Floyd than Chris Isaak. Both of the songs are really strong and soulful – and suits her voice and music really good!

Photos by Eric White, from Ladygunn.com

With a great taster and start like this I am so looking forward to the next weeks with new cover versions. And to not forget her full complete album when it´s being released.

Another cool thing about Kendra Morris is that she makes her own album cover collages inspired by old nature books, school books, encyclopedias and vintage porn! They have this cool retro psychedelic feel – and makes a nice package for her music.

When I drew comparisons with Adele and Amy – it was if Kendra Morris forthcoming album “Banshee”, sounds as great as her last releases there is a great chance for her to become the new Adele.

The year 2012 is going to be the year everyone will know who Kendra Morris is – and if the wind blows her way – she will become one of the really big names in 2012!

Finally! Frank Ocean “Channel Orange”

I was so looking forward to R. Kellys new album “Write Me Back”! And then comes the long awaited “Channel Orange” Frank Ocean all of a sudden out on iTunes (nordic).

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You can download Frank Oceans “Channel Orange” from iTunes (nordic) by clicking this link!

I knew Frank Oceans debut was supposed to come out in the stores the 17th of july – but a random search on iTunes today and there it was – one whole week before I was expecting it!

I got freaking goosebumbs all over – because this was a album I was really looking forward too! It took me two seconds to hit the buy button. A few short minutes later I had it in my hand – or more correctly in my iTunes account!

Hit the PLAY button and as I knew – because I had the “Nostalgia Ultra” already – a album I really loved. The mixtape has already been played to death, if it was a real cassette mixtape – But thank God it was also digital download and it still sounds as fresh as it did the first time I heard it about a (long) year ago!

I write this blogpost as i listen to the album – have now listened to less than the half album – track 7 of 17 – and I can already say – R. Kellys made a great album – but Frank Ocean has made the soul album everyone should own! His voice is as amazing as ever, and the album has classic album written all over.

The album includes, just like the legendary mixtape, interludes and sound bits – samples and sounds like a concept piece. His voice I sounds like a mix of Stevie Wonder, Prince, the earlier mentioned R. Kelly, Al Green – but most of all – Frank Ocean! Soulful, laid-back, smooth, funky! And while writing this, when coming to track 9 “Crack Rock” a drum sample from Jimi Hendrix “Little Miss Lover” appears. A track that has also been sampled uncredited by Prince on his “Graffiti Bridge” album track “Tick, Tick, Bang” (this was released before they had to credit the samples I guess). Another Prince reference!

The 10th track – the first official single off the album, the track “Pyramids” a 9 minute 3 part epic song. The second track on the album “Thinking About You” has been released on youtube, featuring first song Frank Ocean sings in falsetto and his voice is really smooth and fluid.

On the 11th track even John Mayer does and appearance on guitar. A track called “White” and it´s a little piece on only 1:16 minute, other guests is Andre 3000 of OutKast fame, Pharell Williams of the Neptunes and N.E.R.D, Earl Sweatshirt from Frank Oceans crew The Odd Future Crew, and Tyler The Creator , Lala Hathaway (Daughter of late soul legend Donny Hathaway).

Samples used on the album is Mary J. Bliges “Real Love” is sampled and replayed and a sample from “Fear And Loathing in Las Vegas” and audio clips from “The Last Dragon”, and other samples.

I don´t think there is more I can say about this album exept It is not being released many albums of this really great quality! A full complete album that should be listened to from start to end!

I have heard the full album and can only say one thing; If you prefer digital downloads as i.e. iTunes, or the real thing such as CDs or on Vinyl (hope it comes in that format)

You should own it! I repeat YOU SHOULD OWN THIS!

Frank Ocean "Channel Orange" 7/17/12

IT´S FINALLY HERE!

Frank Oceans official debut album, named “Channel Orange” to be released the 17th of July 2012.

YOU SHOULD MARK THAT DATE IN YOUR CALENDAR!

On his official homepage (tumblr btw!) http://frankocean.com/ you can see the front and back cover

It can contains as you can see – it´s first single “Pyramids” and the earlier released “Thinking About You”.

Guests include (for me, until now, unknown) Earl Sweatshirt fra Odd Future crewet som også Frank Ocean er en del av, the fabulous John Mayer and André 3000 from OutKast.

Have you checked out Frank Oceans unofficial debutalbum, the classic mix tape “Nostalgia, Ultra”, you can read more about it here – or download it for free on the datpiff mixtape page!

SO LOOKING FORWARD TO “CHANNEL ORANGE”! 
ARE YOU? 
 

Jem Warren vs John Mayer

It’s maybe like av battle between David vs Goliath this small fight between the debutant Jem Warren vs the established artist that is John Mayer

Jem Warren vs John Mayer
Lets get ready to rumble!
Play album in Spotify by clicking the cover!
Play album in Spotify by clicking cover!
It may be unfair but hey! It’s just for fun.

They both released their records within a couple of weeks. John Mayer releases his 5th studio album “Born & Raised” and Jem Warren released his debut album “Heart Knows How”
The cool thing is that both artist have a quite similar genre mix; Americana, folk – with a large dash of singer-songwriter. So there is some likeness there.

They both sounded like they have the time of their life in the studio.

Jem Warren has released as mentioned earlier – his first album – and this has become a really great record, full of fabulous writing and real songwriting – all songs and lyrics by Jem himself! This has to be one of this years strongest debut-album. Give the album time – and it´ll stick like glue. I´ll never tire of the album – even if I’m listening to it time after time – even several plays per day!

This album should be a real door opener for Jems future!
I really hope people open their eyes and give him a spin or two…Do you hear radio stations?

The last album om John Mayer is probably his best ever. The man seems to be a source of non-stop writing potential singles. Not one song of the album sound out of place! It´s really fabolous!
John has had a mighty trilogy with the album “Continuum” – made his most pop and AOR album in “Battle Studies”, and comes back with av bomb of a album with “Born & Raised”

Even is both Jem and John have their own voices and their own sound – these two albums can be played back-to-back without it feeling wierd or out of place! To really high quality albums you should check out!

Jem Warrens “Heart Knows How” vs John Mayer “Born & Raised” 
Since both albums is really good in their own way – this battle ends with no losers, only two winners!