Sunday, 13 January 2019

Groove Junkies Gems

Picking out a few crackers from Groove Junkies heading as far back as the inception of their label MoreHouse Records.
Hope you enjoy the music!

Friday, 11 January 2019

Essential Earnshaw

Today's playlist features none other than Duffnote head honcho Richard Earnshaw and a collection of his music dating back to the early 2000s. Enjoy!

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

The Mighty Migs

As I prepare for the first new reviews of 2019 I'd like to continue with the series of Spotify playlists. This selection collection features some of my favourite Miguel Migs compositions and productions. Hope you enjoy the music.

Sunday, 6 January 2019

The Best of CJ Mackintosh

It's proved a struggle to find all the tracks that I wanted to include on this playlist and I'll be continuing to search for more to add as there are several glaring omissions. In the meantime I hope you enjoy the tunes I've picked out so far.

Thursday, 3 January 2019

Fabulous Frankie

There are few, if any, figures in the house music scene who are more revered than the late great Frankie Knuckles. To kick off the new year, and as part of a new feature for the site I have created a playlist on Spotify that picks out a few of my personal favourites. I hope you enjoy listening to them as much as I do.



Wednesday, 12 December 2018

Recommended Listening

Rob Hayes ft Rebecca Burgin - You Do Something To Me [Audio Honey]

Rob Hayes returns with another cracker on his own Audio Honey label. This time around he's joined by Rebecca Burgin who puts in an excellent stellar on vocals. The original version of the track is underpinned by crisp rhythms and a blend of soothing keys. The vibe is soulful and uplifting but it's those sultry vocals that steal the show. The package also includes remixes from Alex Vasco, Testone & Eric Faria, Ignacio & Susanne Alt all of which also work nicely. Available on Traxsource promo now with an official release date of 15th December.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini






Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Long Player Review

Hipsway - Smoke & Dreams [Pledge Music]

Rewind to 1985 and a proper old record store in my hometown of Falkirk; Sleeves was somewhere I visited daily on my way home from school in an effort to find the latest addition to my growing vinyl collection. If my memory serves me correctly I was introduced to "The Broken Years" and a release from the then little known REM; "Can't Get There From Here" at the same time. Neither track would go on to achieve commercial success but both would lead me to further explore the music of the bands concerned. The contagious guitars and distinctive vocals of "The Broken Years" allied to an up-tempo groove had me hooked from the first listen. The second single arrived later that year, in double pack no less and while not quite as instantly infectious, "Ask the Lord" proved a grower, intelligently crafted pop music with a soulful essence. I'm sure it wasn't long before I had the lyrics memorised, singing along, wishing I was old enough to see the band play live. The eponymous album that followed was a timeless masterpiece that was one of, if not the best selling albums in Scotland in 1986 despite its more modest sales South of the border. Reportedly brilliant live performances and a certain McEwan's Lager advert may have positively impacted the band's popularity in Scotland but it was richly deserved.

It took four years before the second album arrived in 1989 by which time bassist Johnny McElhone had left to form Texas. Polygram, their record label's attempts to promote "Scratch The Surface" were at best half-hearted and by the start of the 90s it looked like we'd seen the last of Hipsway. Then in 2016, seemingly out of the blue, a gig was announced, then a second night when it became apparent that the first would sell out. Finally after more than 30 years I would get to see Hipsway play live in concert. Not only was it well worth the wait, but there was a feeling by the end of the night that this wouldn't be a one off. The reception from a group of fans most of whom were now in their 40s and 50s was electric. Grahame's voice was as smooth and distinctive as ever, the tight musicianship was still intact and as I walked away from the ABC that evening there was a sense that this might just be a new beginning for Hipsway (although the venue has subsequently fallen victim to an unfortunate fire).

So here we are 33 years on from "The Broken Years", nearly three full decades after their last outing and Grahame and Pim have finally delivered album number three. Funded through Pledge music, there's no major label backing, just the band, their fans and a few helpful individuals to thank for nine new tracks and another tour. The record stores like Sleeves that helped to propel bands like Hipsway back in the day have gone, almost all of them in fact. We're in a completely different era of streaming and social media which, in this case at least, seems to have brought the band closer than ever to their fans. It's allowed Hipsway to make the album they wanted free from the shackles of record labels, music videos and marketeers managing their image. The seemingly glamorous Stateside recording trips have gone, as have the deep pockets of the major label but there's a degree of control and artistic integrity that's been gained in return.

Now I've only listened to "Smoke & Dreams" twice so far so this review, such as it is, isn't designed to be an in depth appraisal of the merits of each track, more an informed observation of the experience of hearing these new tracks for the first time. Listening to "Old Time Religion" it's unmistakably Hipsway, it's more raw than the previous albums and I would expect that it's a more accurate portrayal of the live performance than many albums you could listen to, regardless of genre. "Saturday Night" oozes elements of the postcard era that preceded the emergence of Hipsway and a few of the notable Glasgow bands of the mid to late 80s. Those guitars grabbed me instantly. "The Cost Of Getting Lost", "You Don't Know" and the melancholy "Fatal Kiss" are deeper, moodier affairs charged with emotion. "New York Night New York Daze" takes me back to the Hipsway of old with its uptempo groove and enticing guitars. "Sidestep" with it's light, funky and uplifting groove reminds me a little of another Glasgow band from the 80s whose lead singer had a legendary quiff. The penultimate track, "You're A Star" evokes memories of the Seventies with it's funky guitars and drums; I'm getting flashbacks to Starsky & Hutch. Listening to that intro, you almost expect Isaac Hayes to start singing before the keyboards drop in and Grahame's voice reminds you that we're in Scotland rather than California. We reach the end of the road and "TV Dream" which has a distinctly American influence to it in the way the guitars blend together and in the vocal delivery. The one thing that I haven't done yet is to fully immerse myself in the album. I'd like to hear it sitting in total darkness with no one else around to interrupt the experience; just me, the music and the lyrics - I'd bet there's plenty to digest from the lyrics but that's for another day.

Smoke & Dreams is available on most major streaming platforms now and if you weren't one of the ones that helped fund the project through Pledge Music then you can pick up the album at the upcoming gigs later this month. Personally, I've got my eyes on the blue vinyl and a T Shirt, although it's fair to say it won't be the same size as it might have been that afternoon back in 1985.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini

Wednesday, 14 November 2018

Flashback

Kim English - Treat Me Right [Nervous Records]

I find it difficult to believe this track has been around for quite as long as sixteen years but each passing year and every additional grey hair time seems to pass even more swiftly. The first time I heard this was on a rare visit to Ministry of Sound for the launch of Soulfuric Sessions when it was played by Simon Dunmore. I've been hooked ever since on the Jon Cutler Remix; the blend of the vocals, keys and rhythms works for me every time. Given that the Original Mix was the work of Maurice Joshua it speaks volumes for the quality of Cutler's interpretation.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini

Recommended Listening

Guri Guri Boys ft Josh Milan - Be Yourself (Remixes) [King Street Sounds]

Following on from July's initial release, Guri Guri Boys are back with new mixes that are destined to see plenty of dance floor action over the coming weeks and months. This time around the package features a couple of DJ tools plus four new mixes. First up is Michele Chiavarini whose "Exotic Remix" and Piano Dub" both introduce a light hearted Latin flavour that almost instantly transports you to warmer climates; I'm thinking cocktails on the beach. The double bass dovetails perfectly with the percussion while the keyboards and brass dance around Josh's warm vocal tones. Namy & Fuminori Kagojo team up to create an organic soul infused ride that mirrors the uplifting sentiment behind the lyrics. The package concludes with the equally effective "Monolog Dub". Four excellent mixes but it's Michele Chiavarini's Exotic Mix" that's making the greatest impact on me. Available to pre-order now on Traxsource with an official release date of 23rd November.

Reviewed By Dean Serafini



Recommended Listening

Reelsoul, Groove Junkies & Solara - For Those Who Know [MoreHouse]

Deep bass tones, atmospheric synths, crisp driving rhythms and enticing keys are all in evidence as Will "Reelsoul" Rogriguez and Evan Landes collaborate once again. Featuring the exquisite vocals of Solara, the result is a proper slice of underground house music that will drive the floor with more than just a touch of soul. If you can imagine "Summer Madness" meeting deep soulful house you might begin to form a mental picture. That said, you won't have to do too much imagining given that you can listen to the samples below for yourself. Available to pre-order now on Traxsource with an official release date of November 16th.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini



Recommended Listening

The Jersey Maestros ft Donald C Locklear - Never Will Forget [Gotta Keep Faith]

The Jersey Maestros return to Gotta Keep Faith with an uplifting slice of soulful house. The package includes three mixes and accompanying instrumentals all of which hit the spot rather nicely. Up first is the "D3 Funky Gospel Mix" complete with bounding keys, live bass and funky guitars, all of which compliment Donald C Locklear's silky vocals. Next up is the "Sol Brown Vocal Mix" which is the funkiest of the three mixes underpinned by a contagious, squelchy synth bass groove. The final mix is actually the "Original" which just oozes soul with classy keys, gentle guitars, and skippy beats that implore you to dance. The vocals are the stand-out element in all three mixes which, for me at least, renders the instrumentals surplus to requirements but I'm well aware that some of the more creative DJs might make good use of them to create their own edits. One for the soulful heads, "Never Will Forget" is available on Traxsource promo now with a release date of November 23rd.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini




Wednesday, 7 November 2018

Recommended Listening

Mousse T ft Cleah - Melodie [Peppermint Jam]

This is a late contender for the most infectious release of the year as Mousse T delivers a monster of a tune! Featuring the sweet vocals of Cleah, "Melodie" is a disco infused soulful house groover that is guaranteed to fill floors for the rest of 2018 and beyond. "The Shapeshifters Remix" also hits the spot with an exceedingly funky bassline, beefed up percussion and some catchy brass added to the original elements. The final remix takes a deeper, dubbier path as Tensnake get in the act to great effect. Instrumentals of each interpretation are also included. Whichever mix you favour, those vocals are so enticing, so contagious that you might just find yourself singing along as well as dancing! Set to be huge when it finally gets released on 7th December although it will be available via Traxsource pre-release from 23rd November.

Reviewed by Dean Serafini