Album | The Wonderful World of Carminelitta

Newness for your ears: Blood, Lianne La Havas

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Cover artwork for Blood

Lianne La Havas is a singer I absolutely love. With that disclaimer out of the way, please don’t expect this write up to be highly objective. When I first listened to the British singer’s work, I was immediately touched by her voice, her lyrics, and the music. The combination of those three elements works like magic, as was exemplified in her debut album, the excellent Is Your Love Big Enough?. After seeing the lovely lady on stage a few years ago, I was further convinced of my musical infatuation. In case you missed it, read my review of Lianne La Havas’ concert at Espace Julien in Marseille. Now, with all that said, I would be lying if I said I didn’t have a slight concern before listening to her brand-new album, Blood. Because you see, Lianne has come a long way in the past few years, signed with a major label, and became somewhat of a “big name”, with a growing fan base. All this has the potential to change a young artist for the worst. However, as soon as I listened to the first singles before the release of her second full-length album, and watched the mesmerising videos for Unstoppable and What You Don’t Do, I was reassured that the Lianne La Havas I grew to love was still here, with a twist. More mature, more confident, more sensual, she was a sight to behold. A little while passed between the moment I saw the videos and the day the album was released. On that day, July 31st, I bought Blood. It took me about two weeks to finally listen to it though. Hey, life happens… I guess I needed to be in the perfect mood and frame of mind to fully appreciate it. Since the first 3 tracks of the album were those she already made available (the aforementioned tracks, plus Green & Gold), the listening experience was like going from well-trodden paths to unknown territory. As soon as the first notes of Tokyo were played, and Lianne’s delicate voice started singing, I already had a smile on my face. Sounding familiar and somewhat similar to songs from Is Your Love Big Enough?, it was different, as mentioned earlier. Something more. While Unstoppable and What You Don’t Do have that positive, playful energy, and look at love and relationships from an optimistic place, Tokyo is the first song of the album that exudes melancholy and loneliness. Full disclosure: I have a weakness for sad songs. This means tracks like this one made me love the album. Next on my list of favourite songs, which actually happens to be the following track on the album, is the incredible Wonderful. I don’t think I even have the words to express how much I adore this song. Delicate, sad, precious, it just reaches deep inside of me and stirs memories and emotions I may have been keeping tucked in there for a long while. Before I get overly sentimental, let me move on to the lighter Midnight, which gives us a glimpse of a more mischievous young lady. Daring and confident, the singer invites us to live with her at the witching hour, an offer that sounds very tempting to me. I read somewhere Lianne saying that Blood was her most personal project to date, which is obvious with the tracks Green & GoldGhost, and Grow, dealing with her childhood, presumably past relationships, and what her generation is going through. Closing the project in the most beautiful way possible, Good Goodbye is highly emotional too, especially as I lost my uncle last year and have been thinking about my late grandmother a lot lately. Let’s not forget the “good” in “goodbye” though, as indeed, “no one ever leaves you“.

Now that you know a little bit more about Lianne La Havas’ second album, Blood, discover the videos for the first two singles, and of course go get your copy! The album is available on digital, CD, and vinyl via her store.

Find out more about Lianne La Havas on her website, Facebook & Twitter

Newness for your ears: Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears, Phraim

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Cover artwork for Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears

Phraim is one of the very few artists who can (and do) drag me out of my blog hiatus when they release a new project. If you have been following this site, or my radio show, you already know that the Chicago resident is one of my favourite producers. Therefore, when I discovered recently that he was planning on releasing his fourth full-length album today, I was quite excited. After the incredible Silver LinedKasbah Moments, and Scars To Prove It, the talented producer now presents the beautifully named Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears. In case you are not familiar with him, check out previous blog posts about Phraim, including a very interesting audio interview we did. Now, one thing I love about him is that while you can always recognize his touch, all of his projects are quite different. Some things are recurrent, like the witty wordplay in track titles, the cinematic dimension, or the influence of travel, but the overall themes and sonorities are always unique.

With this brand-new offering, Phraim seems to have opted for much more concise musical treats, as most of the tracks are under 3 minutes, often closer to 2 minutes. On the one hand, this makes greedy me a bit frustrated, as I would love to listen to those tracks for a much longer period of time and discover how they could evolve. However, it is also a way to keep the listener on their toes, as atmospheres and ambiances change regularly.
When it comes to the title, I have to admit I looked up “ruby tears” because I had a feeling it could be a famous saying or something like that. When I discovered it was actually a flower, I was both intrigued as to what that was supposed to mean in the context of the title and mischievous in my decision to stick to my own interpretation. Yes, when I saw the title for the first time, and discovered the gorgeous cover artwork for the album, I decided it was a reference to a beautiful lady crying precious tears. Whatever the case may be, both the title and the picture hint at music dedicated to love and a muse. The “Midnight Kisses” part of the title only reinforces the sentiment, and I was therefore ready for a beautiful journey through emotions and feelings even before I hit the play button. If this album sounds slightly less cohesive than its predecessors, I could still feel a specific direction and imagine how and why the music was created through the lens of love and relationships. In addition to this theme, the wordplay in the title of the tracks, as well as the various sonorities, makes the idea of travel quite obvious. Then again, love is a journey, so that fits perfectly.
In terms of actual music and sounds, Phraim makes a clear departure from his latest project, Scars To Prove It, which was much more electronic than others, and comes back to very melodic tracks. From the samples to the notes played by the producer, there is much to please your ears in Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears. Speaking of the differences and evolution from previous projects, the artist himself says that the album is  “indeed a senior release of sorts”. Confirming my first impression, he adds that “while it combines heart from past production, something about the formula of MKFRT is clearly different. Evolved, but grounded. Keen.” The feeling I get is that both the man and the artist have indeed grown, and it’s a beautiful thing to behold and hear.
As the project ends on “Hopeful Headaches”, I am equally optimistic about music and love after listening to the whole album. That’s probably why I had to start all over again, and again. Without a doubt, Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears will join Phraim’s previous three projects at the very top of the list of the albums I listen to the most. It should be on yours too.

Now that you know more about Midnite Kisses For Ruby Tears, you can listen to the album and purchase it on Phraim’s Bandcamp. Enjoy the journey, support, and spread the word!

Find out more about Phraim on Bandcamp & Twitter

Newness for your ears: Scars To Prove It, Phraim

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Cover artwork for Scars To Prove It

Whenever I have been away from this blog for months and do not really plan on updating it, I can always count on a few artists to release a project so amazing, beautiful and powerful that I won’t have a choice but to come back here and share it with you. Phraim is one of those artists. Last time I told you about him, he had just released his sophomore album, the enchanting Kasbah Moments. Today, the Chicago-based producer offers us a third full-length album, the wonderful Scars To Prove It, and I am very happy to tell you about it now. Just before I go into more details, I just wanted to highlight the power of this project (and great music in general), as it helped me snap out of my PTDS (Post Travel Depression Syndrome) and the gloomy mood I have been in since I came back from my amazing trip to New York City and spent days under grim London skies.
Besides the inspiring power of the album, what I always appreciate about Phraim is his tendency to craft detailed, multi-layered concept albums. After his debut release Silver Lined, created after and inspired by the passing of his grandmother (something that was easy for me to relate to), and the beautiful musical journey to the Middle East that was Kasbah Moments, the producer now delves into darker territories with Scars To Prove It, as the project is centred around “invasion” and the physical or mental scars left by difficult experiences and life trials. Once again, this is something I can definitely relate to. I am actually struggling with a few of those scars at the moment and it’s always a great thing to know that other people go through similar predicaments (even though the triggers and weapons creating the scars are not the same at all), but decide to use music as an outlet for their pain. As always I may read too much into this, but that’s just how I do. There is also an obvious reference to war and armed conflict, which could very well be taken literally, considering the current state of the world. This is something that has become quite difficult to ignore nowadays, and I appreciate the duality (or multiplicity, actually) of the album, since it can be interpreted in different ways.
The music itself is a delightful addition of a myriad of details, one of Phraim’s trademarks, which was already mentioned when I told you about Kasbah Moments. As was the case when listening to that previous album, I found myself imagining the “musical architect”, who clearly deserves the nickname, spending hours and hours on each track, making sure they sound as perfect as he wanted them to sound, and adding tiny details that make them whole. While the overall atmosphere on Scars To Prove It is more electronic than the producer’s previous endeavours, I am not one to complain. Variety is the spice of life and I really appreciate when artists provide their listeners with something new with each project. What’s the point of creating a different piece of music otherwise?
Finally, something that Phraim prides himself on, and that is quite obvious here, once again, is the cinematic quality of the project. Try listening to it at full volume while closing your eyes and tell me you don’t visualise specific scenes in your head… Whether it is cruising in a car in the streets of the Windy City at night trying to fight your demons, walking along your nearest lake/river/ocean and indulging into a quiet session of introspection, or simply reminiscing on days long gone, the project is sure to create snapshots in your mind and will most likely become the soundtrack for special moments, real or imagined. Listening to the album as I type, I have to admit quite a few thoughts and emotions go through my mind and heart, and I am truly grateful for music’s ability to take me to different places and times. Traveling without moving indeed…
I guess I’ll stop my rambling for now, but not before I urge you to give the album a listen and to add it to your collection. Also, if you are a film director, please get in touch with Phraim. I would love to see what a creative mind could do with such a beautiful and inspiring soundtrack.

Now that you know a bit more about Scars To Prove It, go listen and buy the album on Phraim’s Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the journey!

Find out more about Phraim on Twitter

Newness for your ears: Chayé Kow, Érik

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Cover artwork for Chayé Kow

I have been meaning to update the blog for a while now… In the same way as life is made of ups and downs, my levels of motivation and inspiration have this way of taking rollercoaster rides, creating severe inconsistency. While listening to the album I am about to write about today, I felt a desire to share. Again. At last. Add a friendly but firm virtual kick in the ass (thanks Keisha ;)) and you get a blog post. Hooray!
While this album is not “recent” by any musical industry standard (which I couldn’t care less about), it is new to my ears and probably many of yours. Hence its presence on the blog in my regular “Newness for your ears” category. Released in 2009, Chayé Kow has this type of timeless sound that makes it enjoyable from the day of its release till… infinity? I can’t vouch for that just now, but I can say that 5 years after it came out, it pleases my ears and that is all that matters to me. I actually first heard about French singer Érik several months before he finally released the album and it was beautiful to witness his journey from new, young artist with an innovative sound to well-known personality in the West Indies (he is hailing from the beautiful island of Guadeloupe) and mainland France. The first songs I heard, sometimes accompanied with beautiful videos, are present on Chayé Kow, making the album slightly familiar at first listen. While a couple of those tracks (On bel jouné and Si ou pa la) remain my favourites, all the ones I discovered were pleasant surprises and made my ears and my soul happy. Overall, the project is a comprehensive introduction to Érik’s universe and a lovely musical journey into his various influences. Singing both in Kréyol and in French, the young man tells us about love, loss and growth, among other topics. In addition to his extremely appealing voice and well-written, heartfelt lyrics, the other strong point of the album is undoubtedly the music. From delicate strings to uplifting percussions and compelling bass and piano, all the instruments appeal to my ears in various ways and each song creates a different atmosphere, allowing me to experience a wide range of feelings. 
Parler de tout ça, specifically, is an emotional tale about the struggles you can encounter in a relationship and, while I didn’t experience anything similar myself, I can’t help but be touched by the quality of Érik’s words and delivery. Another favourite, the closing track, Viré tombé, is an hypnotic number that deeply touches me and entices me to vibrate to the rhythm of the percussions. Quite a wonderful way to end this listening experience and leave listeners enthralled!
As a conclusion to this short presentation, I would like to say that Chayé Kow is one of those albums that seduce me as soon as the first notes of the first song are heard and it will most definitely be listened to on a regular basis. In case you didn’t listen to it when it was released, as was the case for me, don’t fret: music like this is a gift that you receive whenever you are ready. I know I was and it came into my life at the perfect time.

PS. His new album, École créole, was released last year. I have yet to listen to it but I will most probably keep you updated once I do.

Now that you know a little bit more about Érik and Chayé Kow, I invite you to discover the whole album on iTunes (or other various digital music stores). If by any chance you still need convincing, watch the two videos below, for Si ou pa la and Chayé kow, very different but equally beautiful tracks that give you an idea of the variety of sounds and atmospheres you can find on the album. Enjoy and please share!

Find out more about Érik on his website, Facebook & Twitter

Newness for your ears: Invisible Man, Shinobi Stalin

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Cover artwork for Invisible Man

I discovered Shinobi Stalin quite a few years ago and I told you about him on several occasions, including with my review of his debut album Zombie School and with an interview I did with the Orlando-based artist, so it is with great pleasure that I now present you his sophomore album.
The highly-anticipated Invisible Man was released last week and it was definitely worth the wait. With this new project, Shinobi Stalin proves, once again, how gifted he is when it comes to penning lyrics and expressing them over instrumentals. While he invited several of his frequent collaborators, including his Vets of Kin crew, as well as other independent hip-hop artists such as Roc Marciano, he clearly shines on this project, from start to finish.
From the very first seconds of Anticipation, a heart-felt track, he steps out of the shadow and goes straight into the heart of the matter, taking the listeners on a journey through his thoughts and feelings, equipped with clever rhymes and seamless flow. Here Not There, which could have been the subtitle for the album, is probably the best explanation of its name. The beautiful, slightly hypnotic instrumental serves a perfect backdrop to what is probably the most relatable track for me, as it describes how you can sometimes be present physically but actually somehow aloof. This is something you can also find later on Energon, where Shinobi Stalin explains how he is more of an observer, something I can definitely relate to. 
The MC then proceeds to touch upon relationships (Game Should Never Play), politics, history and the media (ControlHis Story), or his Black-Puerto Rican heritage (Nigger Rican), among other topics. He also offers an ode to his city of Orlando, FL, nicknamed the Ozone, on the aptly-titled Welcome to Ozone, and invites the Vets of Kin and Kap Kallous for N.I.K.E., a posse cut that makes my ears quite happy. Another guest worth mentioning is Mike Rosa, who is none other than his brother, as well as a talented skateboarder, and joins him for Brothers Influence.
In addition to the great quality of Shinobi Stalin’s lyrics and flow, I can’t but mention the wonderful instrumentals, provided by talented producers Reeplay, Abbott, Tempermental, Soy Is Real and Shinobi Stalin himself, among others. The different soundtracks match his flow perfectly and create a very pleasant atmosphere, which helps increasing the level of replayability (yep, that’s a word). I need to give a special mention to Control, which, in addition to being my favourite track in terms of lyrical content, benefits from the most beautiful instrumental you could ever dream of (shouts out to Tone Blare). Also, Sing The Blues is a wonderful combination of lovely production and honest lyrics that stands out as one of the most personal and compelling tracks of the album. 
Overall, Invisible Man is a comprehensive and cohesive project that serves both as a worthy follow-up to Zombie Skool and a testament to the MC’s brand of quality, timeless-sounding music. If you are just discovering Shinobi Stalin, this should make you want to dig deeper and listen to the rest of his discography, both on his own and with his crew.

You can now discover Invisible Man by heading to Shinobi Stalin’s Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy, share and support!

As a bonus, here is the official video for Welcome to Ozone, complete with cameos from his Vets of Kin crew members and other Orlando MCs.

Find out more about Shinobi Stalin on Facebook & Twitter.

French touch: ɘnvol (vol#1), Tum’Soul

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Cover artwork for envol

Oh, hello there! I know it’s been forever and I actually feel a bit weird, typing this after so long, but I dare to hope this is a “real” come back for me and a new start for The Wonderful World of Carminelitta. I won’t digress and write a long-winded introduction explaining why and how I have been away for so long, as it’s not especially interesting. Instead, I want to dive into the matter at hand, i.e. a wonderful little project I discovered today. Tum’Soul is a very talented French producer I became acquainted with in the MySpace days, but as is the case with many artists I first listened to that long ago, I did not really follow his work until I found him again on Facebook a few years ago. After collaborating with many French soul singers, including Osmojam, Rémi aka Tum’Soul (I’ve always loved the pun in his name, which only French-speaking people can understand) is finally ready to spread his wings and take off on his own. The title of the album, coupled with the incredible cover artwork, is a reference to this new plunge the producer is taking, as well as to the concept of the project. Indeed, the music is very atmospheric and makes you feel like you are soaring high in the sky, floating alongside clouds and travelling to distant lands. After a long week of night shifts at work and plans for my weekend to be all about R&R, ɘnvol (vol#1) is the perfect soundtrack to this Saturday afternoon. In addition to the beautiful music, my ears are also quite delighted to enjoy heavenly vocals courtesy of several of Tum’Soul’s frequent collaborators. A little under half an hour long, the project is both a lovely introduction to the French producer’s universe and a teaser for listeners, who may want more to appease their ears’ hunger. However, the replay factor is very good and it is extremely easy to put ɘnvol (vol#1) on repeat over, and over… and over again. This is probably what I will do today, as the music is very soothing and constitutes a great way to unwind. Finally, because of my very sharp sense of detail, I can’t fail to notice that this album is actually the first part of a series, which makes me rejoice and look forward to what’s coming next.

Now that you know a little more about ɘnvol (vol#1), you can discover the whole project on Tum’Soul’s Bandcamp page, or by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the flight!

Find out more about Tum’Soul on Facebook & Twitter

French touch: Le Voyage, Erika Lernot

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Cover artwork for Le Voyage by Erika Lernot

Today being summer solstice and the “longest day” of the year, which means more time for you to listen to and enjoy some beautiful music, I thought it was a good time to update the blog with some goodness. Additionally, today is a special day in France, as well as in several countries around the world, where the “fête de la musique” is celebrated. This celebration, initially launched in France in the 1980s has become a very important event for unscrupulous promoters, bar or restaurant owners music lovers. Even though I am not one to celebrate “commercial” holidays and never need a special day to tell people I love them or enjoy some music, I think it can be a good way to discover new artists and support any type of musical creation. With that said, today is also a way for me to catch up on posts I have meant to feature on the blog in a (very) long time, hence this article about an album that was released in June last year. I already told you about the beautiful and talented Erika Lernot quite a while ago, when I introduced you to her debut EP Le Voyage. After this appetiser, the French singer delighted our ears with the LP of the same name. As full of lovely melodies, enchanting vocals and inspiring lyrics as the EP, Erika Lernot’s debut full-length album is simply perfect. A true “voyage” through music and an invitation to venture in unknown territories, the project is one I have listened to quite regularly since it was released and which never fails to make a smile appear on my face and my body dance to the most lively songs. More

Newness for your ears: Kasbah Moments, Phraim

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Cover artwork for Kasbah Moments

I know, I know… I haven’t blogged in forever and many of you probably wonder what’s going on with me. Well, I won’t go into details, as this is not a personal blog, but I apologise to all the artists I should/could have written about in the past months. I may or may not catch up on all the posts I was planning on writing, but tonight something special happened. So special that I feel compelled to write again! It’s as if inspiration was coming from a very distant place and possessed me entirely a few minutes ago. This fire I feel burning inside at the moment makes it impossible for me to do anything but type these words and experience a wonderful moment of pure musical ecstasy. In case you are not familiar with my tendency to get carried away at times, you may think I’m slightly crazy, but if you know me and read most of my previous posts, you already have an idea of how totally subjective and irrational I can be when it comes to music I love. So… after quite a lengthy introduction, it is now time I tell you what mesmerised me tonight, what incredible thing took over me and encouraged me to update the blog again. More

Newness for your ears: Travel Light, Rebekka Ling

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Cover artwork for Travel Light

When I first told you about Dutch singer Rebekka Ling, she was already working on her debut album Travel Light. Giving priority to hard work and quality over trends and “hot” albums that are forgotten in a matter of weeks, the artist provides the listeners with a solid project that will be remembered as all timeless music is. She also proves that the Netherlands definitely have soul (in case we didn’t know that already…). Once again I am quite late in telling you about this, since the album came out last June (oh, how time flies!), but of course I had to do it eventually. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on such quality music and I hope you will be grateful to me for that. Now, let me tell you a bit more about Travel Light and why you need it in your life.

What I really appreciate about an artist is when they create music that is based on what they love to listen to, but they add their personal touch. While I tend to be quite open-minded and eager to discover experimental sonorities, I am always delighted to hear a good old soulful/jazzy album that makes me vibrate and touches the sentimental side of me. With Travel Light, Rebekka Ling draws influences mainly from classic soul and jazz but adds a contemporary twist, with tracks that will make you want to dance the night away, or some that flirt with broken beat. More

UK talent: The Kinesis Thesis Vol. III, K.I.N.E.T.I.K.

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Cover artwork for The Kinesis Thesis Vol. III

Here is one of the many posts that have been waiting in line for months and that I absolutely wanted to share with you. I guess “newness for your ears” may be replaced by “long overdue” in some instances, but as I stated several times on this blog already, better late than never… Why did I want to tell you about this project that came out several months ago? Well, it’s quite simple: few artists have this capacity to blow me away on first listen. K.I.N.E.T.I.K. is one of those. If you are not yet familiar with him and his music, then I consider it my mission to get you acquainted. I first discovered him when he was part of Grand Central, one of the most famous hip-hop duos in London, and I have followed his adventures ever since (however late I was). After seeing him on stage when the group opened for Black Milk during one of his shows in the English capital, I was impressed by his flow, witty rhymes and energy. While the dynamics in Grand Central worked quite well, I have to admit I’ve always preferred his solo endeavours and I was happy to learn he was still working very hard after the split, releasing projects and videos on a regular basis. The latest to date is the one I will now tell you more about, the last instalment in his album series, The Kinesis Thesis Vol. III.

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