Music

Newtown Rocksteady EP

Newtown Rocksteady EP coverThis tasty 5-track EP has an unmistakable Wellington sound, with solid rhythms, skanking guitars, soulful keys and the ubiquitous horn section to round it out. There is a nice selection of tracks which take you on a little journey through the well trodden and colourful Newtown streets.

‘So Long’ features vocals of Ras Stone (Safari, Rhombus et al) and is the stand out track for me. It has a beautiful warm vibe and a bit more dynamism with a political message. The lyrics ‘oil on the water’ – referring to the recent oil prospecting in our waters – made this a bold statement wrapped in rocksteady. A genre which started out with sociopolitical messages when it evolved from ska in the mid sixties. (more…)

Jah Red Lion EP

Jah Red Lion EP coverThis is an outstanding debut for the Chilean singer now based in New Zealand.  Two heavyweight local producers collaborated on these rhythms which were recorded and arranged by Iron Will at ‘Riddim Central’ in Auckland, and then mixed and mastered by Messenjah at ‘Reality Chant’ in Christchurch. 

The EP format is just perfect for these five songs as they are all strong and there was no necessity to fill up an album with other perhaps weaker tunes. 

Highlights are Burn Vampires and Free Ganja Plantation, both of which have previously stood out as live anthems from performances with The Iron Hammers band.  Jah Red’s Chilean compatriate Anbless Nabi also features on Fire I Blaze, with their voices complementing each other well.  Watch out for the Anbless album, Fountain Of Life, also dropping soon.  Sweet Lady is a smooth love song, with Ilumina being the only track sung in Spanish and is all about the children.  (more…)

The Yoots – Sing Along With The Yoots

Sing Along With The Yoots album coverAs a kid in the late 80s/early 90s, I was trying to find my scene, music tastes and style. I grew up in Brisbane where the rude boy and sharp skinhead scenes were flourishing (think Fred Perry and Ben Sherman shirts, braces, Levi 501’s and Doc Martens, not to be confused with the fascist skins that have been portrayed in the media today). So being young and impressionable, I naturally followed what were the trends of the time.

With the fashion came the music – Two Tone, Ska and Rocksteady. The Two Tone movement was starting to flutter out, and there is only so many times you can listen to that same Specials album over and over again, so my friend Guy and I moved onto the roots of the music we loved so much. Two twelve year old kids digging through old Desmond Dekker, The Skatalites, Prince Buster and Stranger Cole 7″s was a sight to see. (more…)

Mungo’s Hi Fi – Forward Ever

Forward Ever album coverFor the many eager fans of Scotland’s finest export since stuffed sheep’s intestines (obligatory haggis reference), the new Mungo’s Hi Fi album has been a long time coming.

Indeed, although they’ve certainly unleashed their share of tasty releases over the past couple of years, by their own hyperactive standards this gaggle of Glaswegians have been mysteriously quiet since their acclaimed Sound System Champions LP dropped back in 2008.

But rest assured, they haven’t been sitting on their dates for the past three years eating deep-fried pizzas (a Glaswegian speciality). They’ve been hard at work in the riddim laboratory working on Forward Ever – set for release on 14 November. (more…)

Dub Terminator – Babylon Annihilation

Babylon Annihilation album coverBy now most dancehall and dubstep heads should have heard of Dub Terminator. If you haven’t you’re missing out.

For those that haven’t heard the Dub Terminator sound – Dub Terminator and High Freequency released their first album, Soul Island Vol.1 as a digital promo release for radio and DJs in mid-2010.

2010 saw many highlights, including collaborations with fellow New Zealand reggae producer and Reality Chant founder Gabriel ‘Messenjah’ Calcott, for the remix of Fyah Bed (featuring Natty King) and Uniting (featuring Hua and Melloquence). (more…)

Jstar & Dr Cat present DubZealand – Bass Culture Music

Dub Zealand album coverA change is as good as a holiday and you might as well do both in the sunshine. Plus a knowledge that what he was finding was the ‘business’, could be some of the thinking behind the DubZealand compilation, a selection of tracks put together by frequent summer visitor to Aotearoa, Jstar, with a bit of help from his mate Dr Cat.

Having turned up at this end of the world to regularly avoid the northern winter with his bag of mashed up reggae hip-hop goodness, sleeping on a few couches and chilling in cafes up and down the country, all between liberally dosing crowds with his bass response of the moment, Jstar has picked up on the local vibrations that sit in tune with his musical way of thinking.

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NorthernXposure

NorthernXposureWhen we think of Scotland down here in New Zealand, we think of all the cliches the rest of the world usually does – kilts, bagpipes, haggis, funny little tartan hats and that thick accent. Well, NorthernXposure is proof that apart from the cliches, a bubbling cauldron of reggae and hip-hop culture also exists.

All I previously knew about the music scene in Scotland was that Mungo’s Hi Fi hailed from there, but after delving a little further and through a bit of snooping, I found this crew. The first time I heard them I nearly choked on my haggis – they bring a tight, lyrically driven, conscious breath of fresh air.

NorthernXposure have that something extra that is just so likable.  Is it the accent? Is it the lyrical content? Is it their choice of beats? I personally feel it is a perfect blend of all of these things.

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Riddim Tuffa ft. El Fata – Tell Them Again

Tell Them Again 7"Tell Them Again – out on 7″ or MP3 – is the first release for rising Edinburgh-based production crew Riddim Tuffa on their Tuffa Dubs UK label. It’s a debut single that firmly announces their arrival on the new-school digital reggae scene.

Like Jahtari, Scotch Bonnet and Maffi, the Riddim Tuffa sound clearly draws massive influence from the music of Jamaica’s digital dancehall revolution in the mid-1980s. However Riddim Tuffa’s productions have a slightly cleaner, more modern aesthetic than their contemporaries.

Tell Them Again sees them collaborate with London-based vocalist El Fata on the Ruler riddim. The riddim employs a satisfyingly thick bass line, a two chord minor key skank, an austere keys part and a stripped-back drum beat propelled by some interesting percussion samples. It’s a simple but very effective formula which provides plenty of space El Fata to excel.

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Hi Kee – Self Reliance

Sel RelianceSizzla, Capleton and Anthony B – now add young upstart Hi Kee to this list of strong reggae singers. I once heard someone say that that Sizzla ‘could purr like a kitten and then roar like a lion’, and on my very first listen to this album this is exactly what I thought.

On the opening track, Woman of Virtue, Hi Kee gives us a great example of his vocal range, from a silky falsetto to a mouthful of gravel, which is evident through the whole album.

Released by Truesounds, the production on this album is amazing and so consistent, which is surprising considering the diverse producers, hailing from as far abroad as Finland, Jamaica and New Zealand’s own Reality Chant from Christchurch.

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