Uk Talent | 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 eyes: video updates [5]

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Still from the video for The Remedy

It’s been a while, right? Right. Moving on swiftly… I watched a few lovely videos in the past weeks/months and I wanted to share them with you, because sharing is caring. Those four videos are completely different and this is great because variety is the spice of life. As usual, I chose them specifically because they provide the viewer with something interesting and original, which is something all artists should aim to do, don’t you think? So, for this edition, you have a wonderful selection of visuals, courtesy of Stevy Mahy, a regular in this section, Mr. Bird & Greg Blackman, Maleiva Kem & James Klynn, and Raashan Ahmad. I told you it was varied! Now, without further delay, let me tell you more about those new(-ish) videos.

First of all, as I said above, Stevy Mahy has been featured in most of those video updates so far. The reason for this is quite simple: all her videos are amazing! This new one, complementing her brand-new single Ban di’w, taken from her upcoming album Renaissance Woman, is as beautiful and inspiring as ever. Singing both in French and Kreyol, Stevy addresses her lover with a delightful, heartfelt declaration, while the visuals present snapshots of a relationship that oozes love, affection and spirituality. This is what dreams are made of… The music is also an invitation to let your mind drift away and to envision a bright future for yourself, or at least it does for me. In case this is your first time hearing and seeing Stevy Mahy, I would suggest you browse this blog to discover my album review for The Beautiful Side of A Kreyol Folk Trip, as well as other posts about the lovely singer.

Then, UK artists Mr. Bird and Greg Blackman team up to provide you with visuals and lyrics dealing with the aftermath of a relationship, which apparently didn’t go too well… Taken from their collaborative album Low Fi Classics, released recently via BBE, Since You’ve Been Gone is undoubtedly among my favourites on the project. The concept of the video is quite simple but works very well and makes the message of the song all the more clear and powerful. While I haven’t really been in this type of situation before, I can still relate to Greg Blackman’s words and feelings. I am sure some of you will recognise yourself though and maybe wish you had said these words to a person or two… The duo also released a remix for this song, courtesy of The Paragons of Goodness, who are none other than Greg Blackman himself and Nathan Wacey. Available with the single, released via BBE last month as well, it’s a great addition to the album and provides a new dimension to this break-up tale.

Maleiva Kem and James Klynn also tell us about love with their new video/short film, taking us on a Cold Path and providing us with an original story to accompany their words. Part of Freedom Hall, a wonderful collective of artists I told you about in the past, they always strive to push boundaries and create art that is all at once innovative, thought-provoking and inspiring. This video is yet another example of their approach and it should not leave you unmoved. Taken from the recently released album of the same nameCold Path blends a lovely melody and Maleiva Kem’s angelic voice with James Klynn’s expert writing skills and candid lyrics. The result is a bittersweet tale that still inspires hope, which I think is what the visuals are all about. The hopeless romantic in me can’t but appreciate that and I’m grateful to the artists for giving me a reason to feel optimistic about love and life right now.

Last but not least, Raashan Ahmad just released a brand-new video for The Remedy, taken from the album Ceremony that was released last year and has become one of my favourites ever. Far from swoon-inducing declarations of love, post break-up relief or complicated feelings, what the American MC offers us is a testimony to his passion for hip-hop. Shot last week in Tokyo, Japan, during his tour in the Land of the Rising Sun, the video is full to the brim of positive vibes and energy. While the storyline is quite basic, the power of the visuals is to make you feel good. That is usually what a lot of Raashan Ahmad’s music is about and I have to say it works perfectly well. As I have been going through rough times lately, I can definitely relate to music being The Remedy, which makes it even easier for me to enjoy the song and video. It actually ranks among my (many) favourites from the album and listening to it, along with watching the MC do his thing in Tokyo, makes me feel better.

UK talent: Pencils Not Pistols EP, Imperial x K.I.N.E.T.I.K.

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Cover artwork for Pencils Not Pistols

K.I.N.E.T.I.K. is no stranger to this blog and after I first told you about him and his Kinesis Thesis Vol. 3 last year, I am very pleased to let you know about his brand-new release. Teaming up with fellow UK artist and talented producer Imperial, the incredible MC presents the Pencils Not Pistols EP. Following a first collaboration between K.I.N.E.T.I.K. and the Illect Recordings affiliated producer for a single, and because the two artists have a common vision, they decided to keep on working together and create a project together. The result is a wonderful treat for your ears, with a blend of spotless, soulful and jazzy production courtesy of Imperial with K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s trademark lyricism and compelling rhymes. Dealing with anything from inspiration and motivation (Go HardCount Your Blessings) to relationships (Just The Way I Feel) and the need to unwind or modern ways of so-called communication (Zoning Out), among other interesting topics, the MC always laces his bars with great wordplay and well-researched information. The overall vibe of the Pencils Not Pistols EP is very chilled and engaging, which guarantees a lot of head-nodding and smiles on the listeners’ face. In addition to the quality of the music and the MC’s skills, our ears are also blessed by singer Tone Richardson’s suave’s vocals and Joanne Francis’ engaging hook. Offering an EP that stays true to the basics of hip-hop, Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K. also prove that The Pencil Is Mightier Than The Pistol indeed! In short, this project gives you the perfect balance between positive energy, education and emotion. Listening to it now, while feeling somewhat down for various reasons, I can’t but feel uplifted by the different songs, and especially Count Your Blessings, which reminds me that no matter what happens in my life I don’t have any reason to complain. To finish off the project, Put Your Pencils In The Air adds a little humour, just to make sure that you indeed feel good and smile after listening. Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K.: mission accomplished!

Now that you know a bit more about Imperial and K.I.N.E.T.I.K.’s Pencils Not Pistols EP, discover the album on Illect Recordings’ Bandcamp page, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy and tell your friends and pencil lovers about it!

Find out more about Imperial on his website and K.I.N.E.T.I.K. on Facebook & Twitter

UK talent: The Brilliant EP, Breis

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Cover artwork for The Brilliant EP

Breis’ name had been on my radar for quite a while but I have to admit I didn’t really check out his music until quite recently, after I discovered his amazing collaboration with French producers HornDogz for Movin’ On, a wonderful track that also features London MC Ty and singer Peeda (in case you missed it, watch the beautiful video for Movin’ On). When he shared the link to my podcast, where I played the track, I felt compelled to have a look at his page and the various links he posted. I had actually seen him post about The Brilliant EP but didn’t take the time to check it out (shame on me, I know…). The timing was perfect then though, and I am quite happy I clicked play. As soon as I listened to the first track, wittily called Landmarks & Spencer, I knew I would not only love the project but feel “homesick” for London. Full of wordplay and references to the English capital only people who visited or lived there can catch (and I’m quite proud to be one of those), the track is therefore a great introduction to the EP and sets the tone perfectly. A wonderful blend of hip-hop, afro-beat and various other influences, the album sounds like a snapshot of Breis’ universe and what life in London town can be. From the lively and enticing Strictly to the short but funny interlude Jammin’ On The Bus, or the more personal Fear of Failure and Mocking Bird, among other amazing tracks, the MC takes the listener on a very interesting journey through his mind where the thoughts and feelings he shares are easily relatable. It is always a pleasure for me to discover a new artist and realise that I can actually “get them”, that I can understand the experiences they recount and be touched by the creative ways they use to express themselves. The Brilliant EP may touch upon dark topics at times, as is the case with Sharon, but there is always a ray of hope and a conviction that things will be alright eventually. The others tracks I mentioned earlier, Fear of Failure and Mocking Bird are probably my favourite, as they allow Breis to bare his soul and share some emotions I know oh too well. While the lyrics are always perfectly written and Breis’ flow is seamless, the music also accompanies the MC in the best possible way, only enhancing the positivity or emotion, depending on the songs (those strings on Mocking Bird!). All in all, and I am sorry if I was not able to resist the temptation, it is indeed a Brilliant EP that Breis offers the listener! From the high energy, bouncing initial tracks to the more delicate and heartfelt final ones, the album evolves in the same way as a day does, with the rising of the sun followed by darkness. The beauty of it is that we know the light will be back. It has to be back. Thank you Mr. Breis, for this beautiful reminder!

P.S. I absolutely love the album cover!

You can listen to and purchase The Brilliant EP on Breis’ Bandcamp page, among others, or simply by clicking on the link below. Enjoy the ride and pass it on!

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

Interview: Phoenix James (audio)

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Picture of Phoenix James

The first time I told you about London-based multi-talented artist Phoenix James was back in September 2011 (wow, time really flies! Catch up with my interview with the then budding actor in case you missed it) and I can say a lot of things have happened in his career since then so it was high time I did another interview. Phoenix, who has worn many hats in the past, including that of a spoken word artist, is now focusing on his acting career and more importantly on his new project as a director. Love Freely but PAY for SEX, which was released last month, is a “mockumentary” based around the idea of a new tax on sex imposed by the UK government. I won’t tell you too much more about it, as this is primarily the aim of the interview, but what I can reveal is that it has triggered a lot of commentary and feedback since it was released. During our conversation, Phoenix James talked about what the film is about, creating a lot of controversy, the creation of the whole project and much more. Without further delay, let me introduce you to Love Freely but PAY for SEX

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Event review: Lianne La Havas @ Espace Julien, Marseille

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Cover artwork for Is Your Love Big Enough

First of all, a disclaimer and a (kind of) apology: I am not a professional journalist and this quick review is not intended to be the most well-written, perfect analysis of the show I was blessed enough to witness tonight. What it is though, is an extremely biased and emotional reaction to something that touched me, made me feel good, made me want to cry and to laugh, or to put it simply, made me feel alive. After missing Lianne La Havas several times when I was in London, I finally had a chance to see her live in Marseille tonight and I had the most wonderful evening, as I knew I would. To the simple question, Is Your Love Big Enough? both Lianne and the audience replied by a beautiful, joyful and powerful YES! tonight and I need to say I was pleasantly surprised by the energy and atmosphere here in Marseille. I haven’t been to any concert in my hometown in years and I didn’t really know what to expect but my fellow Marseillais blew me away, as they apparently did Lianne. The young singer didn’t disappoint of course, and the incredible quality of her vocals and guitar playing, as well as that of the band, associated with a very receptive and involved audience made for one of the most amazing concerts I have ever attended.

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Newness for your eyes: video updates [4]

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Picture from the Imperial Sugar video

It’s been a while since I last posted one of those video updates and since my eyes were blessed by several wonderful visuals in the past days and weeks, I thought it was high time I shared them with you. If you follow the blog regularly, you probably know that I generally don’t post single videos but sometimes the beauty, originality or inspirational message carried by a handful of them tickles my interest. This time around, I have an incredible selection of four videos from artists coming from the States, the UK, Switzerland and France. Variety is the spice of life! The genres and themes of the song are varied as well, which makes for an interesting melting-pot. Anyway, enough rambling for now, let me tell you about the first one…

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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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Newness for your eyes: video updates [3]

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Picture from Comb My Hair video

It’s been quite a while since I offered some video updates and I stumbled upon a few in the past days or weeks that caught my attention. I don’t usually post videos on their own, but when I see such quality, I have to gather some of them and share them with you. The songs are in different genres and the themes vary, but all those visuals have something in common: they are beautiful and inspiring. A great video only enhances a song and can sometimes make it even more touching, powerful or entertaining. Let me tell you more about today’s selection and why I love them so much…

Fabian Akilles is an artist I discovered very recently, thanks to Dewey Decibel and I’m sure glad I did! Comb My Hair, taken from his album Evil Round That Corner, is a very interesting and uplifting song that everyone should listen to and particularly little girls who sometimes don’t have the best of role models if you consider current mainstream stars. The video is very simple and straight to the point so I won’t tell much more about it, but leave you to enjoy the great song and lovely visuals. You can get the album via Evil Round That Corner - Fabian Akilles More

UK talent: Lost & Found EP, Lianne La Havas

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Picture of Lianne La Havas

I first heard of UK singer Lianne La Havas about a year ago, with the “Black Cab Sessions“, and she literally blew my mind. Months have passed and she is getting more and more recognition, deservedly so. After several releases and many performances, the talented lady finally released her debut EP, the incredible Lost & Found EP. I know I have a tendency to use this sort of adjective a lot and anything I post on this blog is always something I love, but some artists or projects touch me more than others. In that case, I sometimes feel words are not really appropriate to express the depth and extent of what I feel when listening to the music.

While I already loved Lianne La Havas’ voice and style before, I have to admit the single, and more precisely the video, Lost & Found moved me so intensely I couldn’t help but cry. I won’t go into details, but suffice to say that I could relate to the words and feelings expressed. The wonderful video only enhanced the atmosphere of the song and made it all the more powerful (props to Colin Solal Cardo for this masterpiece). As I was thinking about the song yesterday, I realised that this is the kind of music that is deeply personal, as it comes from the artist’s own experience, but also universal as people can relate to it, even though they haven’t been through exactly the same thing. I believe that is one of the reasons why this particular song is so beautiful and precious. More

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