ALBUM REVIEW: Hey Sholay “((O))”

‘Buzz Band’ is a title that can kill a band before they have even had time to shine. While a group needs to garner attention as they are on the rise, to be suddenly awash with praise can be more than a little bit detrimental. A ‘buzz band’ often explodes, basks in the immediacy of success and glory, then fails to live up to the praise. Sheffield ‘buzz band’ Hey Sholay have done far from that. While they have clearly won over the music press, both at home and overseas, they have far from rush released a product to appease fans. Instead, the five piece have focused their energies on crafting a brief, but fully captivating and most mesmerizing debut album, “((O))”.

Clocking in at just over half an hour, and boasting only nine tracks, “((O))” is a short, sharp, well executed introduction as to what is to come.  Though there will be obvious comparisons to an array of other leading Sheffield acts, notably the jaunty indie pop of Alex Turner and his pals, Hey Sholay have produced a sound that has their signature all over it.

Lead singer Jono is a dynamic presence. His raw, rich vocal sends shivers down the spine. He delivers each line with an emotional punch, yet never overblows his point. With echoes of JJ72’s overwrought Mark Greaney and Starsailor’s commanding James Walsh, Jono is compulsive listening. Surrounded by a cacophony of sound, he takes you on a sweeping, moving journey that allows you lose your inner self along the way to the hypnotic beats and melodies.

Hey Sholay are a band who defy categorisation. Though they are a commercially entertaining proposal, with a radio friendly sound, they are far from pointed solely in that direction. At the core is clearly a love of electro, while the classical also rears its head with tender piano recitals. While “Burning” and “The Bears, The Clocks and The Bees” are easily the strongest contenders for the top of the pop charts, it is the dizzy “Dreamboat” that really gets you going.
‘((O))’ is a stunning debut, but it is also far too brief. While it wows and woos with every turn, you can’t help but want more as it comes to an early close.
Hey Sholay are so much more than a ‘buzz band’. They are a stunning, engaging sensory treat.
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: The Ex-Senators “The Ex-Senators”

There is far more to The Ex-Senators than first meets the eye. The Chicago based fivesome may be represented in comic form and carry superhero-esque pseudonyms, but their songs are meaningful anthems.

Having kickstarted it all with the political surge “Start A Fight”, “The Ex-Senators” has much more to it than musos making a change. Filled to the brim with enlightened social observations (“The Kids Are Trouble”) and moving personal tales (“Angel”).

While The Ex-Senators more than showcase their ability for the riotous romp, charismatic frontman D-Mac is at his finest when he channels his emotion. Without question the album peaks as it draws to a close with the tear-inducing, spine tingling ‘Disappear’.

“The Ex-Senators” proves the old cliché; never judge a book by its cover. The Ex-Senators could not be further from 2D.

Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

ALBUM REVIEW: Lianne La Havas “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

An appearance on the Jools Holland show is rarely a bad career move, but seldom does it really bolster an artist to the next level. However, when 22 year old South Londoner Lianne La Havas appeared on the show last October, her tender, thought-provoking rendition of “Age” became the talk of the music world for her stirring delivery and unforgettable vocal. Any music journo worth their salt knew that La Havas was a star in the making, and unsurprisingly she went on to appear in a wealth of Tips for Top 2012 lists. So with so many eyes watching her, the question on many a tongue this week is can La Havas overcome the external pressures and deliver on her highly anticipated debut “Is Your Love Big Enough?”

Thankfully the answer is a resounding YES! “Is Your Love Big Enough?” may be a little ballad heavy, but La Havas’ silky smooth tones and subtle compositions are beautiful to the core. “Is Your Love Big Enough?” truly showcases La Havas’ ability to really channel her emotions without ever overblowing the sentiment puts her in a similar league to effortless chanteuses Erykah Badu, Ane Brun, Ayo and Asa.

La Havas is at her finest when she is at the extreme of a spectrum. Album standouts are the effortless beauty of the stirring introspective “Lost & Found” and the fresh bite of break-up anthem “Forget”.

“Is Your Love Big Enough?” is so intrinsically beautiful that it is night on impossible to criticise. From the reflective pondering of the heartbroken – “Is Your Love Big Enough?” to the nonchalant sass – “”Don’t Wake Me Up”, La Havas engages her listener with her insightful musings and toe tapping numbers.

La Havas is unlike many of the artists who show early promise, top polls and the disappear, she has managed to followed through with a gracefully impressive debut and if there is any justice in the world, she will reap the rewards of her consistently superlative efforts. Without any doubt La Havas is the true star of 2012.

Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Jeremy Williams

The Kaje talks Stop Making Sense to Nick Agha

In addition to the headline-grabbing big hitters such as Carl Craig, The Very Best, Friendly Fires, Theo Parish and pals, the Stop Making Sense festival will also showcase the estimable talents of some of the UK’s best upcoming DJs and producers, and none more so than Nick Agha, a Brixton-based house and techno zealot best known for being the brains behind club/events company Don’t Panic. Below we caught up with Nick to find out more and also there’s a free mix of his for you to download for free! Aren’t we good to you?

Download SMS 07: Nick Agha

Tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for SMS?

My productions range between deep house and techno but I wanted to keep this mix on the house tip to create the feeling of outside daytime dancing in sunny Croatia. It gets more slamming in the middle with an abstract peak with my track satellite over and out of Nikola Gala and into some Levon remix genius mellowing again with some old school productions at the end. I haven’t mastered my tracks so it was tough mixing and EQing these waves into vinyl so sorry if the sound quality isn’t the best but I think I’ve achieved a live raw loose which is important to me. All the effects are done live in the mix with a midi controller.

Any exclusives on there?

There’s 8 exclusive tracks of mine on there which until released we can call works in progress.

Summer’s coming, what’s on the agenda?

Got my first release scheduled on a great new label Canta run by some serious young house heads really into the music and the scene as well as the creative and design element of the label towards the end of Summer and a few other labels interested. Definitely hitting Sonar and hopefully a holiday to Borneo!

Tell us about your latest projects?

Really it’s the music all the time and Don’t Panic keeps me pretty busy.

What current artists are you drawing inspiration from right now?

Levon, Omar, Prosumer, Qu, Jus Ed.

What are you favourite/biggest tunes of the moment?

Party People Clap / Doublejointed Cosmodrome

What can we expect from your show at Stop Making Sense?

More of the same music-wise hopefully with a visual element if its possible.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at the festival?

So many! Juan Atkins, Theo, Patrice, Wbeeza, Giles and James, Rob Summerhayes, Girlcore.

Any unusual festival tips?

Don’t forget the magic word.

Where will we find you at sunrise on Sunday morning?

Dancing on the beach hopefully.

The Kaje talks Stop Making Sense to Allez Allez

DJ’s Sam Willis and Steve Nolan go by the name Allez Allez and with their distinctive prog-disco techno sound, it will be hard to miss them at this years Stop Making Sense in Croatia. For a taster of what you might expect you  can download one of their mixes by clicking here, and we caught up with Sam and Steve to find out more…

Tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for Stop Making Sense…

Steve did the first half, Sam did the second… this always works well for us as it keeps us inspired and means that we try to pack in as many great tracks to our 30 minutes each.

Any exclusives or particular favourites on there?

The mix contains ‘Weird Science’ which is a track from our forthcoming EP for the awesome NYC based label RVNG Intl. and ends with the beautiful solo piano piece ‘Nanou 2’ from Aphex Twin’s Drukqs album.

What current artists are you drawing inspiration from right now?

We’re big admirers of Matias Aguayo, Optimo and Nathan Fake so we’re really happy to be playing alongside them on the SMS bill. In terms of recorded stuff, we’re particularly enjoying Mount Kimbie and of course Sam’s forthcoming Walls project on Kompakt!

Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at SMS?

Apart from the ones mentioned above I’m pretty excited to check Theo Parrish out for the first time. Also Carl Craig and Juan Atkins – you can’t beat the godfathers!

Any unusual festival tips?

Don’t forget to hit the beach, and to bring a good set of earplugs!

Where will we find you at sunrise on Sunday morning?

Gazing at the horizon, sipping a beer and thinking how lucky we are to be doing this!

The Kaje talks Stop Making Sense to Russ Jones

We caught up with Russ for a few words about the mix, what you can expect from his Saturday afternoon beach bar set at Stop Making Sense in Croatia this September and why sunrise is a quasi-religious experience, of sorts…

Tell us about the mix you’ve recorded for Stop Making Sense…

I tried to record this mix five times live on my laptop but after too many crashes finally gave in to putting it together in Ableton – talk about pulling teeth! But I am really happy with the outcome and it’s something a little bit different – a reflection of what I am playing in the clubs and on my radio show. Not all bangers but great and varied music from around the world both new and old.

Any exclusives or particular favourites on there?

Where do I start? Love all these tracks or otherwise they would not be in the mix. Dj Farrapo’s ‘Swingy Mama’ is pretty exclusive, ‘Sistema Solar Sin Oficio’ is a really big tune for me over the last few months. Love the two Vampire Weekend tracks. Toy Selectah’s mix is a killer and Diplomat’s ‘Son’ is a great piece of modern pop. ‘Slow Motion Radiovox’ by Benjamin Zephanai is an amazing remix by what has to be one of the most talented producers out there at the moment, Corin from Latin Dub. Keep an eye on him, he is about to take right off. ‘Soul Inside’ by Spiteri is great piece of Latin rock reissued by Vampi Soul via London and Venezuela circa 1973. I’ve never put a rock track in a mix before but this one is a winner and it’s well worth checking the album.

What current artists are you drawing inspiration from right now?

All the ones mentioned above, Franco, Lucho Bermudez, Skitz, Bootlegumachine, Schlachthofbronx, Douster, all the releases on Soundway Recordings,so many amazing live bands in London- Yabaa Funk, Conjuto Sabroso, Los Chinches, Hackney Empire, Brassroots and it goes on…

Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at Stop Making Sense?

Never checked out Carl Craig before so that should be cool, Son of Dave always turns in a great show and to see The Very Best for the first time will def be something to look forward to.

Any unusual festival tips?

Wellingtons? Think we will need them in Croatia? Would be unusual but best to be prepared. Once in a queue to get on plane with a guy who had his own life jacket. Did he know something I didn’t? Not sure, but he was prepared!

Where will we find you at sunrise on Sunday morning?

Getting ready for Sunday mass. What else…

The Kaje talks Stop Making Sense to Benji B

Benjamin Benstead, or rather Benji B is probably best known for his Radio 1Xtra radio show, running since the station opened in 2002.  Either that or it’s the dance club he owns regularly hosting Skream, MJ Cole and of course himself as part of his infamous “Deviation” nights. He can also be seen world-wide, all year round and if you’re lucky enough to be in Croatia this September, you might just catch him there too at this years Stop Making Sense and we took a few mins of his time to have a quick chat about it:

Summer’s coming, what’s on the agenda?

Sunshine, hopefully.

Tell us about your latest projects?

Deviation Deviation Deviation – we have had some incredible sessions recently and our nights at Gramaphone and Camp have been classics. 2010 heavy so far.

What current artists are you drawing inspiration from right now?

Kode 9, Theo Parrish…. and all the producers that send us amazing music every week.”

What are you favourite/biggest tunes of the moment?

Zed Bias – Badungdeng, Zomby – Tarantula.

What can we expect from your show at Stop Making Sense?

No compromise, quality music all night. Deviation style.

Who are you most looking forward to seeing play at the festival?

Theo Parrish

Where will we find you at sunrise on Sunday morning?

DJing somewhere around cute and hot ladies!

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