Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Throwback LP: Bruno Mars - Unorthodox Jukebox

It’s hard to imagine that after over 50 years of rock and roll we would find a recording artist who is truly original. In today’s musical landscape with its multitude of influential legends, it may be impossible. For instance outfits worn by Grace Jones 30 years ago have been rehashed by Lady Gaga. Adele’s bluesy “Rolling in the Deep” recalls a young Etta James as it borrows heavily from 60’s R&B.

That realization brings me to Bruno Mars, arguably Michael Jackson’s newest and most successful vocal doppelganger. Mars released his sophomore album Unorthodox Jukebox Dec 10th, and it‘s the best throwback LP I‘ve heard in a while.

Jukebox opens with a hot tribal beat on the radio ready “Young Girls” where Mars confesses he just can’t leave the “bright eyed honeys” alone. By track seven, the eerie “Natalie,” he’s a little more perturbed, telling his gold digging ex to lock her door and run. Apparently his days of taking a grenade for his girl are over. Did somebody rub him the wrong way?  “When I Was Your Man” further cements the possibility of a heart break as Mars powerfully belts “too young, too dumb to realize that I should have bought you flowers” over a simple piano backing.

Filler track “Treasure” sounds like something from the Off the Wall recording session. It’s also a eureka moment for listeners who couldn’t quite name Mars’ vocal influence  -- that being Michael Jackson. “Moonshine” continues the Jackson influence with its lush, ethereal 80’s production. I can imagine hearing it on easy listening radio after The Police’s “Every Breath You Take.” Speaking of The Police, lead single “Locked Out of Heaven” borrows a loop or two from “Roxanne” or “Can’t Stand Losing You” but to good effect. The song’s a funky record that just demands a repeated listen.

Mars brings listeners to his homeland of Hawaii with reggae tinged “Show Me,” and then takes them to the club with sexy stripper anthem “Money Makes Her Smile.” The latter boasts a production assist from Diplo but still serves as one of the album‘s weaker tracks. The closer “If I Knew” brings to mind Sam Cooke’s soulful civil rights piece “A Change is Gonna Come.” It’s another successful attempt at paying homage to past greats.

Unorthodox Jukebox may just be the closest thing to pop perfection on radio right now, even if it does borrow -- albeit to good effect -- so conspicuously from the past.

Tracks for your MP3 player:

Bruno Mars - Locked out of Heaven
Bruno Mars - Gorilla
Bruno Mars - Moonshine
Bruno Mars - Show Me

Friday, November 16, 2012

Future D'L: Teena Marie - Luv Letter

As I've grown older, my list of favorite recording artists has grown substantially, but I'll always have my personal favorites -- those artists whose music I grew up on or borrowed from my parents. Teena Marie is one of those artists.  Her commercial peak was in the 80's with hits like "Lovergirl" and "Ooo La La La." She took a brief hiatus in the 90's and then returned full force with comeback record La Dona in 2004, one of the first CD's I bought with my own money. Six years later, after obsessing over practically everything she released, I learned she passed away. I was devastated. Her daughter, up-and-coming singer Rose LeBeau, is determined to release Marie's final project, titled Beautiful. It doesn't surprise me that Marie had enough leftover material to compose an album. She released music pretty consistently before she died, so I'm sure her feverish recording pace never let up. The first taste of her posthumous album is lead single "Luv Letter."

For anyone familiar with Marie's work, "Luv Letter" should come as no surprise. It's the same subdued, adult R&B format she's been releasing since the turn of the century. Her voice is still in excellent form. Her delivery is still fresh, hip and confident. Her lyrics here are delicious and still read like free form poetry. She demands her lover read her lines "because they never lie" and to listen to her lips because "they want to testify." That's the type of wordplay that as a poet myself keeps me intrigued. But Marie knows she's good. She even says so in the opening lines:

I know you heard about me and what the people say I do
The way I mix my metaphors, the way I do just what I do

On the second verse, she delivers more fun wordplay, singing:

I ain't saying nothing, baby, that ain't been said before
If all there is in life is vanity, I'm gonna even out the score
This one's for my music, pretty notes each melody
This one's for the many blessings, living inside of me

I can go on and on about Marie and her poetic lyrics. She will certainly be missed, because there was no other. If "Luv Letter" is any indication of the quality of her next album then fans of the late R&B legend are in for a treat. Be sure to feed "Luv Letter" to your MP3 player as soon as you can.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Standard: Billie Holiday - You Go To My Head

Some songs never grow old. Sure, some may be forgotten, but when you find them again, it's like opening up an old bottle of brandy. Virtually all of Billie Holiday's records are like brandy. She's a song stylist, not just a singer, so she can breathe life over the most dismal records (and there were plenty tin pan allen throwaways in the 1930's). But when you match a highly stylized singer with a highly stylized song, you take all that brandy, mix it together and you get a frat party. Take Holiday's reading of the J. Fred Coots classic "You Go To My Head." Years before Stevie Wonder wrote the book on pretty song harmonies, there was this 1938 gem. It sorta reminds me of Cole Porter's "Night and Day" in that the song is so gorgeous anybody can try singing it and sound good. Holiday recorded the song a number of times. First in 1938 to chart success, then in 1952 on her first full length album and then live in a rare duet with Helen Merrill in 1956.

The earliest recording is the most accessible and bound to hook new listeners on Holiday's work. It's a mid-tempo, sophisticated piece. The backing is subtle. Pianist Claude Thornhill strolls behind Holiday every time she sings a line, filling out the empty spaces of the song. For the bridge, there's a light tenor sax solo that's just as meaningful if not as memorable as Holiday's own vocal reading. Everything about the song is beautiful. The lyrics are sophisticated. Lines such as "sparkling burgundy brew," "bubbles in a glass of champagne," "You intoxicate my soul with your eyes" and the song title "you go to my head" sound high class and poetic. There's nothing about beer or picking somebody up from a bar here.

The second recording during the early 50s shows a major change in Holiday's voice. It's a lot deeper and fragile yet still poignant. For those entranced by the 1930's version, listening to her sing the song in such a different way should be a treat. All of her characteristic phrasing is here; she still catches the hook of the song and sings it in a cool way. The tempo is a lot slower and the backing more sparse. One of the greatest jazz guitarist of all time, Barney Kessel, gives the song a big boost. I would always listen to Holiday's 1950's records and wonder who was strumming so beautifully behind her. Kessel adds a pinch of class and sophistication to the song that arguably makes it a stronger performance than its 1930's counter-part.

For historical purposes, and also pure fun, there's a live, rare recording of Holiday in the apartment of jazz critic Leonard Feather singing the record. I guess they were having a random jam session. She suggests the song and then jokes about how she doesn't like clarinets (poking fun at contemporaries Benny Goodman and Artie Shaw). Jazz vocalist Helen Merrill alternates lines with Holiday, singing in a smokey, classy tone. It's rare that Lady Day ever sang with another person, so this was a real treat. Her reading was more drawn out than the other two versions but basically sounded like the one from a few years earlier.

Feed your mp3 player with as much Billie Holiday as you possibly can. Try all three of her versions of "You Go to My Head" if you want. But also, if you're feeling extra sophisticated, download pianist Teddy Wilson's version too.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Easy Listening: John Mayer - No Such Thing

Acoustic pop singer John Mayer has come a long way from his breakthrough 2002 hit album Room for Squares. Since then he's arguably garnered more attention for his bedroom follies than his music. Being labeled a womanizer by the media, he's dated several Hollywood A-Listers, dumped or been dumped by all of them, and even dished out the goods on Jessica Simpson's bedroom performance in a controversial Playboy interview. He made headlines in 2012 for feeling "humiliated" by Taylor Swift who reportedly penned the scathing Dear John about their breakup. Rewind back to 2002 and women seemed to be the least of Mayer's problems. His debut single the adult contemporary piece "No Such Thing" is all about rising above the usual path of going from high school to college to pursue your dreams.

The track was co-written by Clay Cook, Zac Brown Band member and one of Mayer's college buddies in the late 90s. Mayer starts out as a young man presumably being lectured by his condescending guidance counselor about "the real world" and how he needs to "stay inside the lines," grab a few credits from college and take the "so called right track."  By the time he hits the chorus, which is a bit of a climax, Mayer wants to run through the halls of his high school and tell everyone he made it the nontraditional way. He sings, rather melodically:

I wanna run through the halls of my high school
I wanna scream at the
Top of my lungs
I just found out there's no such thing as the real world
Just a lie you got to rise above

John Mayer's the type of songwriter that can send a chill down my spine with his lyrics. His songs make me think and daydream. It definitely helps that "No Such Thing" is strikingly relatable, and I imagine more-so for a coming of age crowd.

Mayer uses his trademark breathy vocals for the track. There's no over-singing here. I can detect a little bit of blues influence in his voice. He'll embrace it full on with songs like Gravity later in his career. For new John Mayer fans looking for entry level songs, "No Such Thing" is a sure thing for your MP3 player. Feed it the dreamy record ASAP!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New: Mary J. Blige - Don't Mind

Queen of Hip-Hop Soul Mary J. Blige has been a major force in R&B for the past twenty years. Whether covering classic hits like like Debarge's "A Dream" or belting out her own numbers like "Be Without You," Blige's husky, powerful voice is always authentic. Even in an age of disposable R&B, Queen Mary incorporates fresh rap features without being overshadowed or alienating her grown and sexy crowd. She keeps the momentum going with "Don't Mind," her fourth official single from My Life II... The Journey Continues. It's definitely a track you want to feed your MP3 player.

This song grabbed me as soon as I heard that electronic opening loop. Once the bass dropped, it became an instant head banger. Jerry Duplessis, Wyclef Jean's cousin, produced the record. He's known for his work on The Fugees classic album The Score.

Blige is in great form for the mid-tempo piece, going in for vocal runs when convenient but mainly taking a laid back approach. Her vocals are, as always, full and in great form. There's no whispering here. The song lyrics aren't much to harp over. Here Blige's character and her man have both done wrong, but he's the only man for her, so she doesn't mind saying she loves him.

The music video is gorgeous, showing Queen Mary all dolled up dancing on a stool. She's sitting and dancing fully clothed by the way. She's not half nude and performing some wierd sexual stunt à la Rihanna. Everything's classy here.

Here's the link for the video.

Don't deprive your MP3 player. Feed it a few Mary J Blige tracks from her My Life II album!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Try it: Siji - Ijo

London born singer-songwriter and producer Siji has been making a name for himself in the music industry since his 1996 debut. He's able to play piano, percussion and bass guitar. His influences include R&B titans Marvin Gaye, Al Green, and Otis Redding, as well as the rhythmic patterns and instruments of the West African ethnic group Yoruba in which he's a native. 

In October 2011 Siji hooked up with DJ and music producer Alix Alvarez to release various remixes of the Afro House track "Ijo"which means "dance" in Yoruba. The track is just what your MP3 player needs. If you're not familiar with Siji and you're just now discovering his music, "Ijo" is a great place to start.

It's always a good sign when the first beat of a record makes you wanna get up and dance. Everything about this track is accessible; there's no need for anything to grow on you here. The bumping rhythm is familiar House music territory. Siji's chants, spoken in Yoruba, give the record a nice touch without overshadowing the music or making you think too hard about a message.

For the music video, Siji pays homage to his hometown of Lagos, Nigeria where he is rediscovering his roots after growing up in London and working on his music career in the U.S. It has a cameo appearance by Yinka Davies who won the Voice of the Decade Award at the Nigeria Music Awards in 2007, among others.

You can watch the video here.

Siji gave his fans a walkthrough of his hometown in this Youtube video. Be sure to feed your mp3 player some Siji tracks when you get a chance if you haven't already.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Future D'L: Alicia Keys - New Day

One of the most respected contemporary R&B artists is back with a fresh new song just begging to be fed to your MP3 player. Alicia Keys, 14 time Grammy award winner, leaked a snippet of the song "New Day" from her twitter account on June 26. Now the track has leaked in full and is available to stream online. There is speculation that "New Day" may be the first single from Key's upcoming fifth studio album expected to be released in fall 2012.

The song starts off with a banging hip-hop beat and Keys chanting "New Day" to get listeners pumped up. Initially the song may scare off fans expecting a more traditional R&B sound from her, similar to past hits "No One" or "If I Ain't Got You", but the song deserves a closer listen.  Keys is married to producer Swizz Beats who no doubt provided the edgy beats. About 20 seconds in, a few pretty piano chords come out of nowhere to anchor the song. That familiarity should appease fans. Keys keeps the energy going as she plows through the first verse with her powerful and voluminous contralto voice. The lyrics are typical empowerment fanfare. Keys sings during the first verse:

"It's alright to feel however you want to/ There's no limitation/ If you lovin' life, let me see your hands up one time/ I'll celebrate mine/ Cuz I ain't gonna get no more."

I recommend New Day, and I hope it grows on me over the years. It's always nice to listen to something that makes you move and feel upbeat. If the song is chosen as a single, it will be released on music outlets everywhere for purchase. Be sure to get your copy.

Alicia Keys - New Day

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Amel Larrieux - Don't Let Me Down

One half of the hit making 90's duo Groove Theory, R&B veteran Amel Larrieux has worked hard for over ten years creating her own style and making sure to stay outside the box. She's dabbled in hip-hop, collaborating on a posthumous 2Pac album, as well as jazz, lending her vocals to Sweetback's single "You Will Rise," a record released by Sade band members. In 2009 Larrieux began releasing new material for the then unnamed album Ice Cream Every Day. Resulting were the two singles "Orange Glow" and "Don't Let Me Down," with the latter being my favorite. It hasn't left my MP3 player since I bought it.

Because Amel Larrieux, or "Mellie" as she calls herself, is so considerate, she released two versions of "Don't Let Me Down." If you get bored with the sentimental ballad version, get up and dance around to the disco mix. The tempo of Larrieux's voice is practically the same in both, her phrasing more delicate as to emphasis the song's pleading lyrics. She sings during the hook:

"You have turned on a light/And I've lost my sight/But my heart still remembers the sound/ Of a dream of a love one day found/So don't let me down."

As with most meaningful songs, this one evokes strong images in me while listening. The song seems to illustrate a turning point in a relationship where the past triumphs and failures are taken into consideration to make a new decision. Everything is on the table, including a possible dissolution. There's even a hint of bitterness as Larrieux sings during the bridge:

"Never seen love face to face/Just seen it walking away/Why would you think I would recognize/Something that's never been mine."

The song's melody is pleasant. It's not a far cry from previous singles "Make Me Whole" and "No One Else," where it was just Larrieux and her piano and few, if any, backing instruments, carrying a simple melody. No music video has been made for the single. It's not a song that demands a video, so that's understandable.

I highly recommend "Don't Let Me Down" or any of Larrieux's records to be force fed to your MP3 player. It's sorta like Billie Holiday in that I love Larrieux's whole style, not just particular songs. Although I think her strength is found mainly in her songwriting. There's something about the melody of her songs and their lyrical sentiments that get me.

Here's a Youtube link to Don't Let Me Down.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Surrealism: David Lynch - Crazy Clown Time

Film director David Lynch is known around the world for his take on the art of surrealism. Movies like Eraserhead, a cult favorite, and the Elephant Man, which was nominated for eight Oscars, have made him a pop culture icon. One curious fact that is lost on the mainstream media is that Lynch is a mult-instrumentalist and has been contributing to the soundtracks of his movies since Eraserhead in the late 70s. In 2011 Lynch released his first solo outing (he has previously released collaborative albums) Crazy Clown Time. Its title track is a little on the creepy side but shouldn't surprise longtime fans.

The song starts off simple enough with some bluesy percussion and creepy, zombie sounding synths. All's well until Lynch brings in his shaky voice -- high pitched, almost squealing and certainly deranged. He sounds absolutely twisted, even more-so given his spoken word delivery on the track. Then, after figuring the song to simply be weird or creepy, there comes a moment when you piece together the lyrics, and it gets worse: Suzy had ripped her shirt off "completely". Buddy screamed so loud, he spit. And Dede lit his hair on fire. Taken in together, the lyrics don't make very much sense (not that anyone needs a full understanding about something in order to be crept out by it) but neither do nightmares. While dreaming, one scene or locale can change without much explanation or much sense. The same can be said for the art of surrealism, which can easily be utilized in music if the lyricist uses a more abstract approach to writing.

Didi lighting his hair on fire

"Crazy Clown Time" is likely to evoke strong images into the minds of its listeners. Given a good crowd of friends and maybe a few drinks, it can evoke some pretty interesting discussion as well. I would recommend feeding "Crazy Clown Time" to your MP3 player -- just for the fun of it. The music video, which, of course, Lynch directed himself, takes the cake as far as creepiness is concerned, perfectly illustrating the song's twisted lyrics. Lynch has experience directing music videos for Michael Jackson and Moby, so he knows what he's doing.

You can watch the music video here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Gems: Billie Holiday - I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone

Nicknamed Lady Day by tenor saxophonist Lester Young, Billie Holiday is probably my favorite vocalist of all time. It's always hard to pick an individual song from an artist whose style I like as a whole. But there are several gems in Lady's 500 plus stock of recorded material. The Buddy Johnson Band classic "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone" was recorded with Lady by chance in 1949 with the Red Norvo Orchestra. She did a set of ten songs that were broadcast in June of the same year on Just Jazz, a radio show hosted by record collector and jazz enthusiast Gene Norman.

The song is special in that Lady has only recorded it once. And the version we're left with is of low quality sound-wise, possibly because of the limited recording technology of the day. I'm sure it's been remastered over the years but that doesn't really matter. One of Lady's calling cards -- her ability to manipulate the phrasing of her voice to where it glides back and forth and loops beautifully like a saxophone -- is intact. The melody of the record is absolutely gorgeous. By the late 1940s, Lady's voice was just beginning to deteriorate from drugs, so her rendering here is slower, more depressed, almost tired. Arguably it works to good effect given the song's theme of heartbreak, a theme closely associated with the singer given her ability to sell it so well. Lady sings during the climax:

"Oh what did I do, and what did I say/That ever could lead you to treat me this way/If I've been untrue, I'm willing to pay/And darling, if that's not enough, I'll do anything you say."

It's hard to believe that "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone" is typically sung by males (Arthur Prysock, Lou Rawls), because what I visualize through Lady's voice is a woman on her hands and knees, fully devoted to some dead-beat man who just wants to leave her for another woman. Ok, maybe that's an exaggeration but given the right mood or set-up, a Billie Holiday record can have you in tears. If you don't cry over the circumstance of the characters in the song or your own circumstances, you can simply listen to the beauty of Lady's voice and how it rides the gorgeous melody of "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone," and then you can start crying over that.

You should feed Billie Holiday's "I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone" to your MP3 player; it's hungry for it, I'm sure. Every MP3 player needs some Lady Day. You can find I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone on Rare Live Recordings, 1934-1959 from various music outlets.

Billie Holiday - I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Flashback: Oasis - Champagne Supernova

One of the most popular bands in recent British history, Oasis has a long string of influencial hits across the globe dating back to their 1994 debut Definately Maybe. A major influence on fellow English rockers Coldplay, the band struck gold in the U.S. with radio-only single "Champagne Supernova," the chill, epic and reflective closing track of their most popular album (What's the Story) Morning Glory?.

For those who were alive and of age during 1996 (that's a little too far back for me), there's no telling what type of memories you have associated with this song. Lines like "Someday you will find me/Caught beneath the landslide/In a champagne supernova/In the sky" evoke such strong daydreams in me. I can imagine if this song was played at someone's 1996 prom how easy it would be for him or her to visualize everything again. Noel Gallagher, the song's lyricist, was a mainstay of the British tabloids because of his tumultous relationship with fellow band member and brother Liam Gallagher, but the man's a genius at wordplay. The song's climax "'Cause we don't believe/That they're gonna get away from the summer/But you and I will never die/The world's still spinning around/We don't know why" is poetry at its best. It's a celebration of life and friendship, I think.

I don't believe I can get by without mentioning the song's most repeated line "where were you while we were getting high?" That's sure to get a lot of giggles from people who are just discovering the song.

"Champagne Supernova" remains one of the band's biggest hits in the U.S. after the top ten smash "Wonderwall," which has over 50 million hits on Youtube. It has become a fan favorite and was included on their greatest hits release Stop the Clocks. Although "Champagne Supernova" is not actually on my MP3 player, my friends have been asking me to feed my mp3 player with the song for quite some time. It is a deep record. If I were to get into the band heavily later in life, I'll definately say this song got me started.

Oasis - Champagne Supernova

Friday, June 22, 2012

Lloyd - Valentine

R&B veteran Lloyd struck gold with his 2007 release Street Love, his best selling album to date. Many may remember the bona fide hit "You" or the pop smash "Get It Shawty". But there's another record from Street that barely grazed the charts but has never left my Mp3 player, Valentine. The track's vocals, and nearly everything Lloyd sings, reminds me of Michael Jackson. I think Valentine is descendant from Jackson's I Can't Help It -- those falsetto notes, the undulating melody. For those who don't know, I Can't Help It was written by my favorite songwriter Stevie Wonder, who's the king of melody in my opinion. Everything about Valentine is golden. It begins with a latin flavored guitar intro and then the throbing base comes in with Lloyd singing softly over it. There aren't any standout lines in the lyrics. They're pretty standard love fare. The brige is a tad notable. Here Lloyd coos:

"If this is a dream, don't wake me/the thought of you just takes me/to the moon and the stars/the world revolves around my heart."

What a perfect way to climax a song. I wonder if anyone has ever made love to it?

Lloyd held a brief "Be My Valentine" contest in honor of the song. Several women posted videos on Youtube to win. The winner was given a free photoshoot with the R&B singer seen below.

Here's a link to the song's Youtube Video.

This song's a must have for your MP3 player.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

90's Gem: Zhane - Crush

You probably know them by their 1993 anthem Hey Mr. D.J, but there are other gems in the Philadelphia R&B duo Zhane's repertoire. The tantalizing "Crush," released as their final single from 1997's Saturday Night, is one. Save for a feature on Naughty By Nature's "Jamboree," the song would end up as the group last effort on the charts before disbanding in 1999. It's a pity seeing as how Crush is arguably their best work. It starts off with a few simple piano chords and then goes into this funky baseline so characteristic of the 90s. Then it slips into some sexy but subtle lyrics:

 "I needed sunshine in my day/something to wash away the pain/I saw a very gentle side of him/that took my heart and made it sing".

While listening, I always imagine drag queens trying to seduce some man they have a crush on. Maybe it's because of the heavy make-up the two wear in the video. I don't know, but the whole song evokes this narrative of a man who's out of a woman's reach. Anyhow, the smooth and creamy vocals of these two, especially Renee Neufville's lower register, carry "Crush" to such a soulful apex, it'd be hard to EVER delete this piece from your MP3 player. If you do (and I've done it before) you're likely to download it again a few months to a year later. It's just that sexy.

Here's the Youtube link.

D'L Their Ish: Quadron - Average Fruit

Dannish group Quadron released their self titled debut album in 2009 and have been steam rolling ever since. I'm quickly becoming a fan of this sophisticated R&B duo. I don't know why, but it seems Europe is spitting out the best soul artists of late (Adele, Amy Winehouse, Corinne Bailey Rae, Duffy). One track that's been on my MP3 player for probably some years is the much remixed "Average Fruit." The song bears no resemblance to the classic and historic Billie Holiday number "Strange Fruit." It's a slick, seductive track that, for some reason, makes me imagine a black cat scurrying across a roof-top. The violins, coming in full force mid-way through the song, feed my mind images of the Victorian era or maybe Madonna performing Vogue at the 1990 VMAs. The ending, where vocalist Coco O purrs "I like your heart/I want to start" is just dripping with sophistication. Throughout the song, Coco's voice is layered over itself which makes the track sound even more hypnotic. Check it out on Itunes, Amazon or whereever you buy your music and sync it to your MP3 player IMMEDIATELY!

Click here for the Youtube video.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Review: The Slakadeliqs - The Other Side of Tomorrow

BBE artist Slakah the Beatchild has been making lush, soulful records since his 2008 debut "Soul Movement, Vol. 1". He even caught the eye of Canadian rapper Drake who, after a collaboration, called him "one of my favorite producers I ever worked with" on Twitter. Lately, Slakah's been teaming up with fellow soul crooner Justin Nozuka for a couple of music videos and singles from his new album "The Other Side of Tomorrow" which we'll review in a moment.

"The Other Side of Tomorrow" was released without a record label and under the pseudonym The Slakadeliqs, which I'm assuming is an alter-ego of Slakah. I must say, it is definately an album I've been feeding my MP3 player. I recommend heading over to Itunes (or wherever you purchase your music) and feeding a few tracks (or the whole album!) to your MP3 player as well. Here's why:

The Other Side of Tomorrow is an album where its entire style, not just a few tracks, I have on repeat. It's cohesive. Lyrics like "don't let your nine-to-five eat you alive," or "all I know just keep breathing," for example, are down-to-earth and inspirational and found throughout the entire record. Slakah isn't going for any big statements here. He just wants to tell his favorite girl to keep her head up. In fact, some of the tracks have few words or repeated verses. Lyrically, the album's easy on the brain. Take "Call Me Your Friend," with Sandie Black for example. Sandie sings during its hook:

"Call me in the morning/call me at night/call me when you need me, it's alright/tell me what you're thinking, I'll understand/If you call me, call me, call me, call me your friend"

I hear some motown influence in tracks "Dear Lucy" and "Speed of Time," maybe "Tears of a Clown" by Smokie Robinson or something from that era. Lucy's "lu-lu-lu" hook is infectious. Nozuka assisted tracks "Love Controls the Sun" and "Keep Breathing," the two singles with accompanying music videos, are both melodic, layered with ethereal vocal deliveries from the two soul titans. Slakah cites Lenny Kravitz as one of his primary influences and this influence is crystal clear in the track "Beneath It All." On first listen, I can imagine someone thinking its a Lenny Kravitz track just from the rocked out vocals. Track "Defective"is chill and "Love Judge" with its long length is quite atmospheric. All in all, this album is drenched in soul from the opening track to the bouncy instrumental closing. I recommend The Slakadeliqs' "The Other Side of Tomorrow" for those who want some melodic, easy-on-the-ears, soul dripping R&B.

Tracks for your MP3 Player: 

The Slakadeliqs ft Sandie Black - Call Me Your Friend
The Slakadeliqs - Dear Lucy
The Slakadeliqs ft Justin Nozuka - Love Controls the Sun