Wednesday, February 23, 2011


James Blake (James Blake) (2011)

The best genre albums are those that don’t even sound like what they represent. The dubstep artist James Blake has been making quite a name for himself and now here, at last, is his astonishing debut. Surely critics will have the best new artist award already with his name on it and who can blame them: Unlock is a marvelous and soulful amalgamation of diverse sounds entwined and masterfully set in motion. Give Me My Month puts Antony Hegarty with a stunning falsetto set to piano. It’s more soulful and sincere than anything on contemporary R&B radio in ages. The diversity on display by this 22 year old Brit is the real treat; I Mind sounds as if it’s being stir-fried from outer space while Wilhelm’s Scream is the best soul any man has done since D’angelo. 8/10

Anna Calvi (Anna Calvi) (2011)

There’s no escaping the PJ Harvey comparisons. Not only has Calvi enlisted Harvey’s long-time drummer Rob Ellis to tweak the album, but her phrasings are reminiscent of Harvey in her younger, less oblique days. In fact, some of the tracks—Desire, The Devil—cover the same torturous terrain. But therein ends the similarities if one delves deeper. Calvi is more melodic and incorporates more refined sophistication in her music. She doesn’t have the rawness that was once uniquely Harvey’s nor the will yet to wreak havoc without a script in hand but this is one terrific debut. Calvi has the working-girl’s appreciation of Kate Bush as well. The standout is Blackout, the first release and it is a gushing ride of pop perfection. 7/10

Outside (Tapes ‘n Tapes) (2011)

Though critics continue to deride their efforts, the fact is that Tapes ‘n Tapes continues to pull through some pretty decent music. Outside is no classis but the guitar riffs are heavy and laden with promise. The issue therefore is lyrical content; the riffs on Freak Out propel a new direction but we’ve heard these situations before from the band. They seem to have been stuck in a warp but every now and then—the soothing People You Know—they spring a sweet surprise. Their career arc is reaching out for a blues revisit and once they succumb to those urges then a real gem may yet appear. 6.5/10