Monday, 8 July 2013

New Music Monday #59

Magna Carta... Holy Grail
by Jay-Z (out now)

Let me tell you something interesting. If you were to google the term ‘magna carta’ right now, you would find two entries at the top of the list. One of them would be the Wikipedia entry for the document of the Magna Carta, written in 1215 which influenced the building of our society as we currently know it (ie: it’s quite important) the other entry is a link to Jay-Z’s website (ie: maybe not so important, on a general scale of things). 

Whichever you think is more important, there’s no doubting which is most important to Jay-Z, because like the Jay-Z we all know and love(?), on his fifth album ‘Magna Carta...Holy Grail’ he is his usual self, as full of self-importance as always, if not more than ever before. What does it actually sound like? It sounds, essentially, like a Jay-Z album. He swears a bit, he tries to offend a bit, he raps a bit, he lets other people do a lot of the work, he tells us all how far he’s come and he is as annoying as he is catchy. It sounds like a Justin Timberlake song with Jay-Z guesting (hello track one ‘Holy Grail’), a Frank Ocean song with Jay-Z guesting (hello track five ‘Oceans’), a Beyonce song with Jay-Z guesting (hello track eleven Part II) and so on, like I said, a Jay-Z album. 

The stand out tracks? They’re stand out for various reasons. Let me tell you about ‘Jay-Z Blue’, a song about his daughter, but sounds like a bit of a mess rather than a tribute (perhaps he should have actually listened to that Stevie Wonder track he references in the lyric to figure out how to write a song for one’s offspring). Let me tell you about 'Picasso' where he tells us about all sorts of famous possesions he wants then blames society for his greed "don't forget America this is how you made me". Let me tell you about one of the most interesting tracks ‘Holy Grail’ which uses what is probably Nirvana’s most famous lyric in a way I wish I’d never heard (once heard it can never be unheard, sigh) and references Kurt Cobain himself (dare I say Kurt Cobain's talent is a holy grail to you Jay-Z, I'm not sure you'll ever find that).

That last one can almost be forgiven, because there is a reason Jay-Z is the artist he is today; when he's good, he's really, really good. Let’s talk about ‘Crown’ where in typical self-righteous style he starts the song with “you in the presence of a king, scratch that, you in the presence of a God” love that or hate it, that's Jay-Z doing what he does best. Let’s talk about ‘BBC’ which is a little three minute party between Jay-Z, Nas, Justin Timberlake, BeyoncĂ©, Swizz Beatz and Timbaland. It’s a whole bunch of fun beats which you'll like if you have a heartbeat and probably my favourite track;  ‘Somewhere In America’ it's the one that will make my Jay-Z playlist, with it's awesome trombone, keys and references to Miley Cyrus. That's the Jay-Z I like and it's fun. 

Let me tell you something. I'm not sure Jay-Z will be remembered as an amazing musician in ten, twenty, thirty years time, let alone eight centuries from now like the actual Magna Carta. What I know is this. Jay-Z has an exceptionally talented marketing team and there's a whole bunch of people who will never know that the Magna Carta was anything but a Jay-Z album. That's ok. It's certainly not the worst album released this year, which is a feat in itself. It's exactly as I said, it's a Jay-Z album and what were any of us really expecting? The Magna Carta? 

Jo Michelmore gives 'Magna Carta...Holy Grail' three Eminem heads out of five

Stuck in the Memory of You
by Shelley Segal and Adam Levy
Album: Little March (out now)

Now, here's something a little sweet and soulful for you to sink your teeth into. Australian singer-songwriter, Shelley Segal has teamed up with one of the world's finest jazz guitarists, Adam Levy for the album Little March. Led by the single 'Stuck in the Memory of You' it's the perfect introduction to the dreamy and jazz infused vocal works of Segal if, like me, you've previously been unfamiliar with her work. I find the word gorgeous to be highly appropriate when describing her voice. You could also say it's inviting; asking you to dance on a summer's night as the band plays at that restaurant you really like by the water. In Monaco. That kind of inviting. You'd be forgiven for thinking 'Stuck in the Memory of You' was a jazz standard, a credit to Segal's songwriting ability that she can create something that feels utterly timeless. I'm more familiar with Levy's work, as anyone that's heard Norah Jones' multi-Grammy award winning debut, Come Away With Me would be. He doesn't disappoint alongside Segal and there would be little doubt a seasoned professional of his experience would. If you're looking for a laid-back acoustic sound with a jazzy edge, congratulations, you've found it. Exploring Segal's previous releases as well as the rest of her and Levy's Little March will be a delight. 

P.s. your Mum or Dad would love this for their birthday. Or Christmas. Or just get it for them to show you care.

Matt Bond gives 'Stuck in the Memory of You' four Beatles heads out of five...  


Dance Apocalyptic
by Janelle Monae
Album: The Electric Lady (September 10, 2013)

Returning with the second single from her upcoming sophomore LP, The Electric Lady, Janelle Monae unleashes 'Dance Apocalyptic' and you know what? If the world was ending and you wanted to dance up a storm, you might as well go out with this. While the video isn't as visually striking as 'Q.U.E.E.N', there's still a lot to love about this follow up that's got an upbeat energy as infectious as the song itself. Monae again proves that there's a whole lot more to being 'sexy' than Minaj-ing it up on the beach, crawling through the sand in the world's skimpiest bikini. I suppose it helps that she's naturally one of the most beautiful women of ever. You can make your own assumptions about her legion of crazed female fans, the hysterical type generally reserved for someone like [insert Bieber-like douche here]. However, if you have a daughter and were debating the merits of introducing her to Janelle Monae or Miley Cyrus, I hope you'd know which choice was the right choice. Yeah? And hey, there's a zombie too. So that's a big win. 

Matt Bond gives the 'Dance Apocalyptic' video three Karen O heads out of five... 


by Little May 

Sydney's indie-folk outfit, Little May is comprised of vocalists and self-taught musicians Hannah Field, Liz Drummond, and Annie Hamilton. They are fantastic and one listen of 'Boardwalks' will have you falling over yourself to come up with words like fantastic, amazing, beautiful and enchanting to describe their talents. For a limited time you can grab a copy of the track over at Little May's Soundcloud page or there's also the more admirable option of purchasing it off the iTunes. 'Boardwalks' is a real gem of a track and if you were a fan of Seeker Lover Keeper you can start your swooning now. It's really that good. Keep your eyes and ears on Little May... they're going to be big. 

Matt Bond gives 'Boardwalks' four Michael Hutchence heads out of five...

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