Short Takes on 2 EPs and 1 Album

Little Boots - Business Pleasure EP

Little Boots – Business Pleasure EP

Little BootsBusiness Pleasure EP

Little Boots, AKA Victoria Hesketh, strips it back on her latest EP, peddling 4 mid-tempo electro-pop songs that sound like they’re in the demo stage of production.  Maybe too many producers spoil the sonic broth (Com Truise, Jas Shaw of Simian Mobile Disco, and Chris Carmouche), except this time around it’s because too little was added instead of too much.  This EP was released in December on Little Boots’s own label, the fittingly-named (but not in a good way) On Repeat Records.

And while Little Boots may show them who’s boss lyrics-wise, the music doesn’t follow suit.  She may be exposing the draining daily grind of modern life and the working woman with her defiant words (“I won’t give up on my daydream.” on the title track and “You think I’m pretty / Well, I can be pretty tough.” on “Pretty Tough”), but they are sung in a compliant, disconnected tone.  While trying to get her message across, the impact is lost due to her lack of emotion, the anemic instrumentation, and repetitive electronic refrains.   Little Boots’s airy vocal range, however, is admittedly pretty and she does connect at times with her layered vocal fragments on “Pretty Tough”, the sinuous groove of “Taste It”, and the deep club beat on “Heroine”.

Taste It” Official Video

 

Madison - In the Bright Light EP

Madison – In the Bright Light EP

MadisonIn the Bright Light EP

This review is short, but sweet: where Little Boots fails (as far as an engaging electro-pop EP goes), Madison prevails, nailing it with a 4-track EP of robust, energetic, super-catchy songs.  Madison rocks it on opener “Gotta Have It” with her sultry vocals, gritty guitar riffs, groovin’ tempo, organ notes, and quick-hit beat.  Sure, it gets a bit repetitive, but it sticks in a good way.  “Start a Fire” is a sizzlin’ rave-up with a pushy pace, jazzed-up handclaps and vocals on the verses, and motivating, exclaimed crowd vocals on the chorus.  The feel-good “Give Me Your Oh” is laid-back, yet still up-tempo, featuring a crisp beat, horn accents, and Madison singing with a KatieJane Garside-like beguiling coo.  These are the types of tunes that should be hits on dancefloors the world over.

Start a Fire” Audio

 

Thomas Doncker - Big Apple Blues

Tomas Doncker – Big Apple Blues

Tomás Doncker Band Big Apple Blues

 “Big Apple Blues” is the product of collaboration between Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Yusef Komunyakka and global-soul/blues musician Tomás Doncker and it’s considered to be a follow-up of Tomás’s previous acclaimed release, “Moanin’ At Midnight: The Howlin’ Wolf Project”.  Yusef and Tomás both contributed to the songwriting process, while Tomás features as lead singer and guitarist on this album.  A plethora of supporting musicians round out the band, playing guitars, drums, horns, strings, keys, and harmonica and supplying backing vocals on some tracks.  The outcome is a lyrics-centric cornucopia of gritty city blues (title track), soulful vibes (the hopeful “The New Day” and the smooth “At This Midnight Hour”), and funk with a message (“Hellfighters of Of Harlem” and “Ground Zero”), all built around Tomás’s gruff, lived-in, but clear vocals.  At times it gets cacophonous (“Can’t Say No”) and the production sounds a bit out of balance where Tomás’s vocals are placed too far in front of the instruments.  “Big Apple Blues” is the right fit for fans of the blues-rock genre who are interested in a varied global-soul album with a distinctive singer, carefully crafted tunes, and insightful lyrics.

 The New Day” Audio