Album Review: We Will Be Fine – The Serafinos

With the recent successes of Mark Ronson, case Pharrell, viagra order and, sadly, Robin Thicke, much has been made about the return of soul music as pop music. Certainly, this is true, yet soul music has never really gone away, with many independent artists and groups creating great music that has simply gone amiss of the mainstream. One such example is that of The Serafinos, a collection of musicians assembled by bassist Marco Meniconi, who has overseen the creation of a great new soulful album entitled We Will Be Fine.

 

The whole album fits into the mould of the Memphis soul style of Hi-Records, the label responsible for the success of Al Green and Ann Peebles; indeed, the tight drum sound and rhythm arrangements, coupled with actual horn players is a delight. The album opens with a great song entitled ‘Hand on Heart’, which has the horns blaring from the get go, setting the pace for the rest of the album, and introduces the main vocalist on the album Hayley Williams who handles her leads with ease and sophistication. Newcastle Student Radio is also represented on the song, with co-Station Manager Tom Payne throwing down some tasty guitar work in the bridge, helping to make the song one of the best on the album.

 

Another highlight is the title track, which sees Williams delivering another impressive vocal, combined with another superb horn arrangement accompanying the incredibly tight yet funky rhythm section. The track impresses further with the Rhodes solo of Spencer James, laced again with those horns, with Williams riding the track well with her vocals. The next track takes the album up a further notch; ‘Don’t Make It All About You’ is a sassy number that Williams delivers feistily, making it another standout.

 

Not all the vocals are led by Williams, on one of the albums slower cuts, ‘Better the Devil…’, Rietta Austin handles the lead, and does a very good job in ending the album on a softer, mellower note. The song itself is well written, and, again, is well arranged, particularly with a quieter, subtler horn arrangement, giving the track beauty and depth, making it a perfect closing number.

 

Marco Meniconi and his collection of musicians and collaborators have delivered a sophisticated and well-produced soul record that would not look out of place in any soul connoisseur’s collection. As announced on their website and their Facebook page, Meniconi is working on the next Serafinos album which will be “quite a difference” from We Will Be Fine, and I’m looking forward their next offering.

 

George Haffenden

 

The Serafinos ‘We Will Be Fine’ is available to purchase now on CD and digital download through MGP Records. For more information visit www.theserafinos.co.uk

ALBUM REVIEW: LIQUID SPIRIT, DELUXE EDITION – GREGORY PORTER

It’s either a testament to the quality of the album, or to Universal’s drive to squeeze as much out of it as possible, that Gregory Porter’s Grammy-winning LP Liquid Spirit has been re-released again. Overall, it’s probably a bit of both. Originally released in 2013, this week sees Universal Bluenote re-release Porter’s third effort (his first on the Bluenote label) which has already become a must have album for soul, jazz, and Radio 2 fans.

 

The album is spectacular, and is reassuring in a time when popular music has become somewhat bland and predictable. The title track, despite being massively overplayed, is nonetheless a wonderful piece of music; Porter’s voice powers over the handclaps and bass, joined by the tight horn arrangement to create a modern jazz classic. ‘Hey Laura’, equally popular on the radio, is a delight: a made-for-radio, three-and-a-half minute ballad with a catchy lyric delivered so brilliantly by Porter. Other highlights include ‘Wind Song’, which sees Porter’s voice glide over a piano-driven track in an incredibly soothing and calming manner; his take on ‘I Fall In Love Too Easily’ stands up to any version recorded; and ‘Free’, the album’s social commentary song.

 

This ‘Deluxe Edition’ sees Porter revisit one of the original release’s tracks, ‘Water Under Bridges’, this time with the help of rising star Laura Mvula. In contrast to the original’s starkness, this version adds a new arrangement, with Porter and Mvula trading lyrics well, with Porter ending the song by recalling other songs on the album including ‘Hey Laura’. Also added is his duet with Jamie Cullum, which is good, but falls in comparison with ‘Water Under Bridges’. Yet Porter supersedes both with his take on the Bill Wither’s classic heart-wrenching song ‘Grandma’s Hands’, which he duets with French soul-star Ben L’Oncle Soul. The acoustic guitar of Bill Withers is replaced by the driving force of the piano, which suits Porter in particular well; indeed, this duet is inspired, giving L’Oncle Soul exposure in the UK and US markets, which is mightily deserved.

 

Accompanying this release is a thirty-minute long DVD which features five songs from Porter’s performance with the Metropole Orkest, a fine ensemble of musicians based in the Netherlands. These musicians have been the go-to orchestra for many jazz, soul, and pop acts in recent years, including Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau, who put a live album out of their performance.

 

The DVD features Porter singing ‘Grandma’s Hands’: the original, minimalist version on the album is contrasted with this live performance, which sees the horn and string sections of the Metropole Orkest dominate, re-working the song into something of a soul-jazz standard. Porter handles this in his stride, delivering his vocal with trademark class and finesse. Also featured is an unusual and bold cover of the Muddy Waters classic ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’, which is transformed from gritty blues into what might be called ‘gruff-jazz’, with Porter demonstrating his vocal chops backed masterfully again by Metropole Orkest. However, the standout selection from the DVD is the cover of Donny Hathaway’s soul classic ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’, a song covered numerous times by a whole variety of artists. Unsurprisingly, Porter handles this soul number well; his voice, although slightly deeper, is in the same soulful ilk of Hathaway, who himself had a tendency to include many jazz elements in his recordings.

 

It’s easy to be sceptical of this release as another money-making opportunity for Universal and Porter; no doubt financial interests are at play here, but the additions have been carefully crafted, and unlike some ‘Deluxe’ albums, it has not been thrown together using just alternative/out-takes takes or other lesser songs being thrown in for good measure. Perhaps the only annoyance is that the songs on the DVD would be better suited to an audio only release. Whilst it is nice to see a full orchestra at work, and Porter performing, it’s unlikely anyone will be watching this day-after-day. In a similar vein, whilst this album is superb and nothing should detract from that fact, it has been two years since its first release, and his fans – myself included – are itching for a new Gregory Porter. This re-release is unlikely to make that itch go away anytime soon.

George Haffenden

Gregory Porter’s Deluxe Edition of ‘Liquid Spirit’ is out now on Universal Bluenote. 

 

Single Review: Bring Me The Horizon – Drown

Bring Me The Horizon are not a band that I would usually listen to, physician but like many bands and musician they continue to make music that can connect on a high level consistently, vcialis 40mg and ‘Drown’ is one of those songs. Along with a hard hitting riff and the help of a lyrically on point lead singer, Oliver Sykes, the newest single is one to remember. Do not be scared off by the label of heavy metal/rock tag because either way there is definitely more to this band that screaming and shouting and just plain racket. This song hits a lot harder than most ‘cry for help’ songs and makes us the listener take a step back a realize the deeper meaning. The band seem to have grown up in the last 18 months since there last record and changed the tone a bit differently adding substance and subtly to their music making it all the more exciting for those who are just beginning to take interest like myself.

 

It will take a few listens to click, it’s not an easily digestible song, but when it does you recognize the rise and fall and how it keeps you listening right till the last strum of the guitar. And as a stand alone single you really get a lot more of a song in there, they are not placing this on an album, making this stand out even more and can make the listener begin to appreciate the messages they bring to the song, “what does kill you makes you wish you were dead”/“it comes in waves, I close my eyes, hold my breath and let it bury me”. Heavy but also hauntingly beautiful one could say. Exactly what any music lover loves to hear.

 

The band has been on tour for a long time since there last record and are about to play at Wembley in December. And this song epitomizes why they are revamping there own genre, bringing it in touch with people through the help of clever lyrics and chorus you would pay to shout out whilst watching them live. They have connected with those who may have felt rock was just too much to handle. The next album is sure to be a strong one.

 

Alex Mackenzie

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DJ Legend John Morales Visits NSR!

Last Friday evening myself and Ricky had the immense pleasure of welcoming DJ legend John Morales into the studio for a chat about his life and his work.

John Morales is a pioneer in the mixing scene, beginning his career with a mix of Inner Life’s ‘Caught Up (In A One Night Love Affair)’, to his most recent compilation ‘Club Motown‘. He has influenced countless DJs, and remains as in-demand as ever in both the studio in the club. This weekend we had the privilege of watching him at work at the fabulous Hoochie Coochie on both Friday and Saturday night; your Heads of Music and Station Manager managed to dance away the full three hour set away.

John’s latest CD is entitled ‘Club Motown‘, and is a compilation of great Motown funk tracks featuring rarities, M&M mixes from back-in-the-day, and five brand new remixes of Teena Marie, Val Young, Tata Vega, Thelma Houston, and Diana Ross. For more information on John, visit his website: www.johnmoralesmix.com

We are so pleased to have had the opportunity to speak with John for an entire hour, and you can listen to it in it’s entirety below!

 

George Haffenden.

Haff & Ricky Meet DJ Legend John Morales by Newcastle Student Radio on Mixcloud

 

Live Review: Hybrid Minds, WHQ

At the end of last month I was lucky enough to go to World Headquarters in order to see Hybrid Minds play an extensive 2 hour set. For those of you that don’t know, cure Hybrid Minds are a two-man act, cialis comprising of Josh White & Matt Lowe, who have revolutionised the Drum and Bass scene, with their unique twist on the relatively new ‘Liquid Drum & Bass’ sub-genre.

Whilst ‘DnB’ is known for it’s deep, powerful bass-lines, contrasted against a hard hitting drum kit, it’s ‘Liquid’ counterpart places more focus on creating a soulful melodic sound; instead utilising gentle, rhythmic drums combined with a subtle ‘rolling’ bass line. This variation creates an easy going, yet energetic deviation from what can, at times, be an aggressive genre – and Hybrid Minds are a perfect example of this.

With a set built around their recent debut album ‘Mountains’, the intimate World Headquarters crowd were excited to get a chance to hear their new material, alongside some of their genre defining tracks – and they did not disappoint. The feeling of eagerness and anticipation I underwent as I heard the slow teasing intro to ‘Halcyon’ is an overcoming of emotions that is few and far between for me these days; as I find that few acts have that novelty factor left – however, Hybrid Minds is certainly one of them. I was not alone in this feeling, as the rest of the crowd danced along beside me, stimulated by the familiar ‘kick – snare’ pattern that we have come to know and love.

Their set continued to improve onwards and upwards, as they entered into their final hour, playing tracks such as ‘Meant To Be’, ‘Fade’ and ‘Summer Rain’, with each song providing perfect examples of the smooth, melodic yet emotional sound that Hybrid Minds have become famed for. As each song seemingly extracted more energy from the passionate crowd than the last, they geared up for their final track of the evening; the lead single from their debut album, ‘Trauma’. The song was met with an equally warm reception, and the familiar chant of ‘One more choon!!’ ensued, as they were escorted from the stage and out of the club.

I felt that it was unfortunate that the act were only allowed to play a two hour set, as I feel they had far more music to offer. However, with that said, the opportunity to see my favourite act for the first time – inside the four walls of my favourite club in Newcastle – is an event which I am unlikely to ever forget.

 

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Interview & Live Review: Mallory Knox

Mallory Knox headlined the Newcastle O2 Academy this week and it turned out to be wilder than I had expected. Half an hour before the doors even opened the queue to get in was practically circling the O2 and everyone seemed so excited. Since the release of their new album Asymmetry a couple of weeks ago, drug the band has grown ever more popular than they already were, here landing 16th place in the UK album charts.

The crowd were already geared up after the support acts, especially Frnkiero- a band that a lot of people in the crowd went wild for. Though, lead singer of Mallory Knox, Mikey Chapman, is the king of encouraging an audience, and that’s exactly what he did from the word go. They graced the stage, inevitably beginning their show with a few songs from the new album, QOD II, Shout at the Moon and Getaway. Though to the crowd’s delight Mallory Knox were keen to perform some of their older stuff like Lighthouse and 1949. It was clear these weren’t here to promote an album, but to play a kiss-ass show. The climax of the night came in the form of a wall of death, encouraged by Mikey- there is nothing more appealing to their fans than to be thrown about in a mosh pit, and with good reason. The crowd was mental, but it was exciting

Mallory Knox are a band that like to play with your emotions- sure they can throw down a head banger, but they can just as equally stand there with one guitar and play a slower, more emotional song. These boys thrive off a crowd’s reaction, which is what makes them so amazing live and they’ll keep ever growing. To think that they were once playing the smallest room upstairs in the O2 is unbelievable.

 

Hannah Maloney

 

Interview with Mallory Knox by Newcastle Student Radio on Mixcloud

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Legends of Soul and R&B on NSR!

This week we’ve been in contact with some legends here at NSR-HQ! First up, we had a chat with Gwen Dickey, the former lead singer with the group Rose Royce. Gwen sang on timeless classics such as ‘Car Wash‘, ‘Wishing On A Star‘, and ‘Love Don’t Live Here Any More‘. Take a listen to our chat below:

NSR Meets Soul Legend Gwen Dickey of Rose Royce! by Newcastle Student Radio on Mixcloud

And if that wasn’t enough, we also had a chat with Mary Davis from The S.O.S Band this afternoon, which you can hear below.

 

NSR Meets Mary Davis of The SOS Band! by Newcastle Student Radio on Mixcloud

The S.O.S Band, Gwen Dickey, and Loose Ends will be in London 21st November, Middlesbrough 22nd November, and Manchester 23rd November.

George Haffenden

Live Review – Nick Mulvey, The Sage Gateshead

Last Monday evening the footfall across the Millennium Bridge at the Quayside in Newcastle seemed to swell as people flocked to The Sage. In the main hall was the Britain’s Got Talent Opera singer Paul Potts, yet I found myself stood in the hexagonal Hall 2 looking up at James Page, better known on the stage as Sivu. The 25-year-old warmed the crowd with his quirky shirt, distinctive falsetto and haunting melodies before Nick Mulvey graced the room.

 

Shortlisted for The Mercury Prize again, this time as a solo artist, Mulvey picked up the ears of the crowd where Sivu had left them, and continued to entrance us with his first song choice of the evening, ‘April.’ From the offset with his guitar playing skills it was obvious that Mulvey was going to bring something a bit extraordinary to the evening, reminding me of the last time I had seen him play in support of the musical idol/guitar god Ben Howard two summers ago. With Howard in my mind being the master of the guitar, it is evident that Mulvey has simlarly learnt a thing or two in his time as a musician, as the riffs and musical patterns that he proceeded to play throughout the night were truly memorizing.

 

His bluesy and jazzy background (former part of Portico Quartet, once nominated for Mercury Prize in 2008) proved evident in the melodies of ‘Nitrous,’ and ‘The Trellis’ that followed, with ‘Meet Me There’ holding an intricately intriguing off-sync drum beat. With the prolonged instrumental introductions and mid song riffs, it became obvious the more Mulvey played, that the highlight and creative focus was on the instrumentals and over all sound patterns, leaving the voice and lyrics as a more subtle yet welcome accompaniment, rather than the other way around.

 

Instead of feeling like a distant member of an audience at a gig, with the combination of the room’s incredible acoustics alongside the surrounding laid back atmosphere, Mulvey enabled us to feel like he had invited us into one of his jamming sessions amongst friends.

 

Concluding the main set with the crowd favourites of ‘Venus’, ‘Fever To The Form‘ and the popular ‘Cucurucu‘, Mulvey left the stage briefly before his encore and cover of Drake’s ‘Just Hold On We’re Going Home,’ which tickled the audience in all the right places. It was a great night in a great venue, and I think we can expect even greater things to come from this very talented artist in the near future.

 

Zoë Troughton