(From top left to bottom right) Blood Orange - Freetown Sound, DJ Shadow - The Mountain Will Fall, Charles Bradley - Changes, NxWorries - Yes Lawd!, Jack DeJohnette, Ravi Coltrane & Matthew Garrison - In Movement
Seasons greetings to all! It's been a great year filled with fantastic new music releases and reissues of stone cold classics. For any last minute holiday shoppers out there with a music lover in their life we've got the gift guide just for you!
(From top left to bottom right) Maxwell - Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite, King Geedorah - Take Me To Your Leader, Jimmy Forrest - Out Of The Forrest, The Avalanches - Since I Left You, Willie Dixon - Willie's Blues
Best New Reissues 2016:
From highly coveted long out of print albums to top notch audiophile presses, this has truly been the year to reintroduce some long overdue classics. Maxwell's Urban Hang Suite and Since I Left You are groundbreaking albums that signalled the changing of the guards with their then out of the world sound and vision. They have long fetched high prices on the open market and should not be missed out by fans.
Take Me To Your Leader features possibly one of the best looking packages for a reissue this year. Pressed on red vinyl housed in a crisp cream outer sleeve with metallic foil lettering, not forgetting the special pop out inserts. Only the finest for the metal-faced villain!
While on the audiophile end of the spectrum, Analogue Productions has once again kept up their consistent quality reproductions. Their pristine and crystal clear vinyl reissues of Out Of The Forrest and Willie's Blues are perfect companions for the gloomy year end weather. Best served with a side of whiskey.
(From top left to bottom right) Andrew Bird - Are You Serious, Bon Iver - 22, A Million, NAO - For All We Know, Whitney - Light Upon The Lake, Case/Lang/Veirs - Case/Lang/Veirs
Favourite Indie Releases 2016:
Delving deeper into some of the best new Indie releases this year, admittedly we're suckers for troubled troubadours. Bon Iver with his adventurous sonic palette has come a long way from his early days of being a pure folk-oriented artist. This year he breaks further from his stripped down roots with an album that one can only describe as an electronic-folk album superbly crafted and not an album to be overlooked.
Seasoned veterans Andrew Bird and the immaculate super team of Neko Case, K.D. Lang and Laura Veirs each provides their own grand masterclass in creating tight compositions that truly show why their the best in the business.
In a year where we lost the purple prince himself, electronic R&B artist NAO channels his early works with her smooth as velvet blend of electropop and funk sensibilities. She will be playing at the upcoming Laneway Festival Singapore, so time to get your funk on and perfect your dance moves before then!
Also playing at Laneway Festival Singapore, Chicago band Whitney comprising of former members of psychedelic bands Smith-Westerns and Unknown Mortal Orchestra perfectly creates a blend of folk and soul, channelling adult oriented rock vibes akin to Steely Dan which truly sounds timeless. Effortless and lush it's no wonder this album was named Best New Music by Pitchfork.
(From top left to bottom right) Moderat - III, James Blake - The Colour In Anything, Aphex Twin - Cheetah, Nicolas Jaar - Sirens, Honne - Warm On A Cold Night
Favourite Electronic Releases 2016:
If you thought 2016 was the advent of the apocalypse with the loss of numerous treasured musical icons and the troubling political climate. You are not alone.
Here to brood with and comfort you into the next year are some of this year's electronic releases from seasoned artists with a darker edge. From the long awaited sophomore album by Nicolas Jaar to relative newcomers Honne with their soulful electronic styling, let these releases keep you warm on a cold, cold night.
(From top left to bottom right) Various Artists - Re:works, Matthew Bourne - Moogmemory, Ólafur Arnalds - Island Songs, Steve Reich - Four Organs/Phase Patterns, Johann Johannsson - Orphée
Favourite Neo-Classical/Experimental Releases 2016:
Think less Tudor-style hairstyles with fancy ceremonial dresses and more scruffy geniuses surrounded by synthesizers and Moogs. Modern classical music is highly experimental in production and often borrows techniques used in electronic music. These are some of the best modern classical releases out this year which admittedly will have even the most ardent classical music abstainers quite possibly indulging in.
(From top left to bottom right) De La Soul - And The Anonymous Nobody..., Czarface - A Fistful of Peril, Sampa The Great - The Great Mixtape, Knxwledge - WrapTaypes, Oddisee - The Odd Tape
Favourite Hip Hop Releases 2016:
Check the mic and drop the beat, 2016 marks the return of boom-bap legends De La Soul with their crowdfunded come back album! Slowly permeating modern hip hop with his beats, Knxwledge puts out a real banger with WrapTaypes. Just as heavily influenced by comic books as ol' metal face, we have Czarface with a sound that answers the question to what if MF Doom was a gangsta rapper?
Smoother than butter and fresher than coffee in the morning, Oddisee puts out the chillest of albums this year. Like a fresh cuppa joe in the morning, Oddisee encapsulates a day in the life beautifully with The Odd Tape. Refreshing.
Also headed this way for Laneway Festival Singapore is Sampa The Great with her bold and inspiring The Great Mixtape. If you think she's great then you're not alone as she had been chosen to support the king himself Kendrick Lamar, Thundercat, Hiatus Kaiyote and Ibeyi in the past. A feat worthy of greatness!
Bonus: On the sly, we would also like to highlight Danny Brown's Atrocity Exhibition and ScHoolboy Q's Blank Face LP which is not pictured but highly recommended.
Of course not forgetting A Tribe Called Quest's We Got It from Here...Thank You 4 Your Service! (However it will only be arriving post-Christmas)
(From top left to bottom right) Nas - Illmatic XX, A Tribe Called Quest - People's Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm, Dr. Dre - The Chronic, Outkast - ATLiens, Common - Resurrection
Hip Hop 101 - The Golden Era:
Now here's a little story that must be told about the golden era of hip hop. Spanning across the coasts and cities, here's a little selection introducing the different sounds and styles of hip hop. Jazz-inflected and the epitome of boom-bap A Tribe Called Quest's debut brings rap back to a more positive and conscious note in a time where harder street oriented rap dominated the airwaves.
Influential and often associated with reviving the east coast rap scene in the mid-nineties. Illmatic is a masterpiece in the gritty hard edged east coast sounds boasting production work by some of the greatest producers of all time such as DJ Premier, Pete Rock and Q-Tip to name a few.
Sun baked coasts and low riders popping to the beats, the West Coast popularised gangsta rap and caused quite a stir. The one and only Dr. Dre further refined it into G-Funk with The Chronic, cementing hip hop's status in the mainstream consciousness while launching the careers of then little known rappers Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Warren G.
While in the windy city and way down south, Common brings to mind his brand of intellectual soulful gospel-infused rap and Outkast's Andre 3000 pushes the technical limits and skills of a true rap MC with the seminal ATLiens.
(From top left to bottom right) Miles Davis - Kind of Blue, Charles Mingus - Mingus Ah Um, Stan Getz & Joao Gilberto - Getz/Gilberto, John Coltrane - A Love Supreme, Duke Ellington - Ellington Indigos
Intro to Jazz 101:
We often get queries to recommend jazz that's good for people just getting into the genre or have absolutely no clue as to where to begin. Here to provide a starting point for the budding jazz aficionado, we have five classic jazz albums ranging from the more contemporary to slightly more adventurous.
A pervasive album that has rightly seeped into the public consciousness and inspired not just countless jazz musicians but pop and rock artists. It is none other than Miles Davis' Kind of Blue, its iconic opening bass line is one you will be humming in no time.
Further building upon the common aural ideas of jazz are Mingus Ah Um and Ellington Indigos, with the former being a politically charged album being a predecessor to the spirit of our current hip hop artists who continually challenge the social consciousness of the world. While the latter being an album which channels the smoky jazz piano lounge with some definitive renditions of several classic jazz standards.
For the more adventurous we have the smooth bossanova styling of Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto with their perennially loved Getz/Gilberto and verging on the cusp of free jazz is Coltrane's A Love Supreme. Spiritual and out of this world, an album that transcends the depths of what jazz really is and strives to reach a higher state of mind.
(From top left to bottom right) Gregory Porter - Take Me To The Alley, Nina Simone - Little Girl Blue, Julie London - Julie Is Her Name, Jose James - Yesterday I Had The Blues, Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Armstrong - Ella & Louis
Jazz Vocals Favourites:
For those who prefer more vocals as opposed to just instrumentals in their jazz. These are our top picks for essential albums any jazz collector would be glad to own, ranging from the classic to the modern.
Timeless masterpieces are best enjoyed on high quality wax productions, Analogue Productions pressings of Little Girl Blue and Ella & Louis, and Box Star Records' long out of print reproduction of Julie Is Her Name are some of the best you can get apart from searching for good condition original pressings.
Sophisticated and refined Jose James and Gregory Porter proudly carry on the tradition of jazz crooners. Performing soulful new compositions and reinterpretations of classic standards.
(From top left to bottom right) Kamasi Washington - The Epic, Madlib - Shades of Blue, Esperanza Spalding - Junjo, Badbadnotgood - IV, Avishai Cohen - Into The Silence
Modern Jazz Classics:
Some would have you believe that jazz is stuck in a rut, stubbornly seeking inspiration solely from the past. These modern artists would beg to differ, drawing from a myriad of inspirations and applying modern techniques forging new paths.
Building on the storied history of jazz, Junjo and Into the Silence are more traditional jazz albums which are well executed, creating unique and melodic atmospheres.
Extrapolating from the legacy of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, Kamasi Washington spins a truly epic tale with his highly spiritual jazz. While barely legal jazz wunderkinds Badbadnotgood has come a long way from doing jazz covers of hip hop tracks to coming into their own as bona fide electro-jazz musicians. Is this the shape of jazz to come?
Coming from a left-field perspective, heavily blunted genius Madlib raided the Blue Note archives, pulling and weaving samples to create a phenomenal mosaic bridging the connection between jazz and hip hop. Truly questioning and pushing the limits of what is to be considered a jazz album today.