Natty – Out of Fire EP

Natty - Out of FireAs usual I have left listening to this EP to the last minute. And boy am I kicking myself. This guy is a straight-up bad man and I should have been banging these tunes for the last month now.

On my first listen I was happy to say that Natty is the UK Jahdan Blakkamore. Now that might be a great comparison and all, but Natty really does have his own vibe and style.

This is a conscious EP, heavy on the bass and quite steppy, with an acoustic number tagged on at the end for good measure. I have always said I prefer more dub than step in my dubstep, and this EP delivers that. Natty has a great voice and flow and doesn’t put on the Patois voice too heavily which is a refreshing change. He delivers a somewhat political message in his lyrical content, but in saying that it still has a feel good vibe about it. (more…)

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Silva MC – Neva Done EP

Neva Done EPNeva Done is the debut EP from well-known Auckland vocalist Silva MC. Silva has been rising quickly through New Zealand’s roots and dancehall scene in recent years and established herself with an authentic JA style and flow in the live arena.

Her live work alongside serious names like Ladi6, Cornerstone Roots, Dam Native and Che Fu illustrates the speed at which she has cemented herself in the reggae scene.

The EP is short and sweet with four solid tunes and no unnecessary filler. Production is a truly international affair with producers from New Zealand, Jamaica, France and Chile lending their hands. (more…)

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The Resonators – The Constant

The ConstantThis is a group that until recently I knew nothing about, and as I am usually a little pessimistic on giving new things a go, it took me a while to give these guys a chance. I put the album on in the background and carried on with the house cleaning.

After a few minutes I had to stop and check that I hadn’t accidentally put on The Selecter instead. I cut my teeth on the two-tone sound during the late 80’s early 90’s and am still in love with the British ska sound (The Specials were amazing, and I’d only waited 24 years to see them in New Zealand). (more…)

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Courtney John – From Letters to Words

From Letters to Words coverI reviewed a tune from Courtney John earlier this year, after I first discovered this modern day lovers rock champion. He has a voice that really sounds like no other modern day reggae recording artist. A smooth falsetto crooner matched with impeccable song writing skills has Courtney sitting high on top of the modern-day lovers rock throne.

This album doesn’t miss a beat. It has some very Peckings sounding production could have you thinking this album was made thirty years ago. It was in fact released in July 2012, and the much anticipated release of this album has been met with rave reviews from not just reggae fans, but all music lovers from all corners of the globe. Strangely classed as world music, it has hints of soul, jazz, Latin and is very reminiscent of the late Gregory Isaacs. (more…)

Solo Banton – Higher Levels

Higher Levels album coverTo top off a busy summer performing in Europe, it’s pleasing to see the highly anticipated release of Solo’s Banton’s new album ‘Higher Levels’. With 15-tracks by a variation of Europe’s leading producers this will surely be on replay all over the world.

Like his 2008 debut album ‘Walk Like Rasta’, Solo and Reality Shock Records producer Kris Kemist team up, and things are straight down to business, with Solo unloading his mind with ‘Mi No Know’ on the catchy Ba Ba Boom riddim. In an uninterrupted flow from verse to chorus and back again, he delivers the first of his cautionary messages with melodious ease.


The Best of Conscious Roots

The Conscious Roots compilations have brought together a selection of roots music particular to Aotearoa’s time and place. The first one, released in 2004 ‘showcased the growing full band live roots music scene in Aotearoa / New Zealand.’ This 30-track, double-disc bumper release compiles eighteen tracks from the five volumes of Conscious Roots and includes twelve fresh offerings from emerging artists.

The ‘best of’ showcases the development of roots music in Aotearoa over the last eight years and includes some of the future classics you will find yourself singing along to. In the sleeve notes, compiler David Allan states ‘the song selection has been determined by lyrical meaning and musical flow rather than popularity’. The idea of ‘conscious roots’ definitely holds the selection together, with all the songs exploring themes of identity, culture and social justice. (more…)

Battle-Ska Galactica – Everybody’s Got An Opinion

The long anticipated debut Ska album from Battle-Ska Galactica, ‘Everybody’s Got An Opinion’, prompts me to give my opinion. Sweet and Dandy!

This release is a lively eight-track LP from this seven-piece band. Battle-Ska are an accomplished, tight outfit, determined to get their listeners on the floor skanking with the best.

All the tracks are written by members of the Wellington-based band, and the unmistakable sound of 70s Two Tone comes through the rhythms, with the exception of possibly the last track ‘We Can Go All Night’. This tune throws in a slice of New Orleans Jazz, which belies the roots of the original Jamaican Ska, and states the attitude of the band who you feel would go all night if you let’em. (more…)

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Skitz feat. Rodney P, Roots Manuva, Solo Banton & Darrison – Never

‘Never’ is the stirring new single from UK producer Skitz and is the first shot from his recently released new album. The single features a dark rootical hip-hop flavour and is accompanied by an equally dark and gritty video which shows images of life on London council estates. Each guest delivers outstanding verses and the  track is tied together by Solo Banton’s haunting hook, ‘See them all go down, ya never gonna see their face again…’.

Drawing from traditional reggae themes of ‘toppling Babylon’, particularly in light of the world wide ‘Occupy’ moment and various localized uprisings around the world, the lyrical content of the track is very poignant. As Rodney spits at the end of his first verse, ‘the shit they’ve been telling you ain’t nothing but some lies!’, and Roots Manuva suggests we ‘position the plan with some self sufficiency‘. Good advice Roots.


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Dark Angel – Lay Down My Burdens

Lay Down My Burdens coverI’ve been waiting for this 12″ to drop since first seeing clips of Dougie Wardrop in the studio, as it brings together Foundation Sound, Wardrop (Conscious Sounds) and vocalist Dark Angel, each of whom in their own right rate highly in the UK scene.

Foundation Sound, founded by Tony Roots, are Ed Foundation (sound system operator / selector / record label manager), Papa Barn (sound system operator / selector), King Sammy (producer), Tony Roots (singer / percussionist), Jimmy Ranks (singjay / MC), Darien Prophecy (singer), and Guvnor (tech crew), plus nuff extended family, including all the singers on the label, guest selectors, producers and mix engineers.

They are based out of Norwich, and the sound has been running for over twenty years. More recently the record label associated with the sound has begun releasing tunes. (more…)

Jahtarian Dubbers Vol. 3

On first encountering Jahtari back in 2008 before having even listened to any of their music, I was sure I had stumbled upon something pretty good. The name alone was sheer brilliance, as were the low pixal-rate Atari style graphics on their website.

Sure enough upon hearing their anomalous laptop-crafted dubs, released on free Net 7″s, I became enamoured with what was at the time an obscure online label run by a couple of Germans from Leipzig named Disrupt and Rootah.

These were chaps from a techno music background who had a strange obsession with 80s video games. They had only recently begun dabbling with reggae after discovering the joys of dubwise music through Berlin-based Rhythm and Sound. Their early riddims weren’t flawless, they had a distinct bedroom producer feel about them. But the ethos behind their sound grabbed me.

In contrast to so many tacky contemporary productions doing a sub-par job of faking a live roots sound, it was something of a revelation to hear unequivocal reggae music that proudly embraced its computerised mode of production. Jahtari were the original purveyors of the ‘digital laptop reggae’ sound. (more…)