blimey! nearly missed the boat this month! anyway...better late than never, huh? in no particular order (because like children, if i had them, i couldn't possibly pick favourites) here's a selection of the beats and breaks that have been consuming my ears the most over the last 30 days or so...
Fort Knox Five - Insight (A Skillz remix) [Fort Knox Recordings]
Around this time last year people started caning A Skillz' remix of Kraak & Smaak's "Squeeze Me"...and it lasted right through the summer as a festival party anthem - a true banker for any DJ dropping a funky breaks set. Well, i think Mr Skillz has gone and done it again here, and this time it's Fort Knox Five who get the man with the golden touch's treatment. Uptempo, solid big beats, ravey synths and a vocal that urges you to "put your hands in the air" - bet you can't resist, either. Buy it now so you know what it is before it drives you mad with curiosity at every festival you attend in 2009.
Download @ Juno
Dwilt Sharpp feat. Lorett Fleur - I Need You Close [Favorite]
I don't know anything about Dwilt Sharpp...nor Lorett Fleur, i'm afraid - but this is one of the loveliest bits of nu-soul i've heard in a good while. Low-slung beats and a guitar hook that oozes class, Fleur's vocals smother the track in beauty and sublime dubbed-out soul stylings. Favorite have put out an early summer winner here...a must for any soul or downtempo fan...or DJ.
Dwiltt Sharpp @ MySpace
Rupert - Just Woke Up [Hear Today]
OK i'm cheating here - this is an album release - but I wont do this often unless the album in question is really outstanding...and this one is, believe me. Previously signed to Tru Thoughts' sister label, Zebra Traffic, and then known as Rup, this young man from South London has been carving a name for himself on the UK hip-hop scene for a few years now. With his vocal style often drawing comparisons with Mike Skinner, his "everyday" lyrical content is a joy to listen to. On this album, released through the brilliant Hear Today records, he's teamed up with a swathe of fine producers; from Steve Clear and Naim, and even a track with former TT label-mate Bonobo. Full review soon, honest...but in the meantime get over to the Hear Today website, buy it, and then come back to have a go at me when you can't get the hook to "Something That You Like" out of your head. Mwahahahaha.
Rupert @ MySpace
Buy the album @ Hear Today Records
Lopez - Jellybean [Keep Up]
You'll be able to hear this on the Beat Dispenser E.P. - yet another quality release from the ever-consistent Keep Up records. If you've been following the label's output you'll have undoubtedly come across Lopez's work before; usually a producer of latin-influenced funk beats and breaks, on this release the producer has turned things around and opted to give us a taste of his more wonky, electro-tinged side. It doesn't disappoint either, and hasn't been off my decks since I got hold of it earlier in the month. Hint's also done a smart remix of this tune, but you've gotta check out the plod and bassy drive on the original. Essential listening.
Lopez @ Keep Up
Buy the "Beat Dispenser" EP @ Juno
Hint - One Woman Army (Hint Remix) [Tru Thoughts]
The original was brilliant, i'll give you that...so I was intrigued to see what Hint could bring to his own track to take it somewhere else and enhance an already perfectly acceptable slab of music. Well, he's knocked the tempo up to a 2-steppy, broken beat speed, laced some subtle organy-synthy (i believe that's the technical term) stabs over the top, and then underpinned it with a proper knee-wobbler of a bassline. Oh, and did I mention the undeniably fantastic strings? If you liked what he did to Hot 8 Brass Band's "Jisten To Me", you'll love this. Just go and check it out on his MySpace, then buy it - you know it makes sense.
Hint @ MySpace
Amplified Orchestra - Fun Thing [Clone Records]
It's all the rage at the moment, this disco-chug stuff. I've never really known where to start, as there's simply so much about it's a bit bewildering. If you like things with a little bit of wonk, a splash of acid moog, a backdrop of funk and strings direct from a 70s New York pimp's underwear drawer, then check this out. Relentless, funky and all kinds of disco greatness - ideal for late-night grooving. Or something.
Listen/buy @ DJDownload.com
Mayer Hawthorne & The County - Just Ain't Gonna Work Out [Stones Throw]
Late. I'm bloody late again! By now you've probably read about this recent signing to the brilliant Stones Throw label - and if you haven't you should really check out this feature here. Originally this double-sided, heart-shaped vinyl was put out on a very limited run. I missed it that time round. Then another slew of them came through, and I grabbed one while the going was good. It's nu-soul, but it sounds vintage...it's really quite remarkable, and i'm yet to play it to a classic soul fan who doesn't love it...and insist "this can't be modern...it just can't". Expect big things from Mayer Hawthorne in 2009, and grab anything you can by him until the inevitable album drops.
G Frequency - Let's Begin EP [Scribble Records]
A real beaut of a hip-hop four-tracker here, from a label who hail from Dublin, Ireland...of all places. Tracks like "Flight Ticket" ooze a Pharcyde-ish sensibility and production style, and the groove and charm on title track "Let's Begin" (with its contents encompassing a bunch of kids being tutored in the ethics of real hip-hop) is irresistable. Not an offensive track on it, you could play this to your Nan and she'd probably love it. Well, i know mine would. Seek out and enjoy - it'll sound great in yo yard with a beer when the sun shines.
Listen/download @ Clickgroove
DJ Wood - Eye Know [Goodgroove]
This is actually tucked away on the latest Featurecast "Regrooved Series" EP, and while the A-side tracks are entertaining enough ("Soul Flower" being particularly enjoyable, with its sneaky interlooping of Paul Weller's "Sunflower"), it was this track that caught my ear and had me bopping, and grinning, like a loon this month. Basically, it's the hook from De La Soul's seminal tune of the same name, but turned into a 127bpm banger with a nice summery vibe to the whole damn affair. Another one for the bars at the festivals, i'd imagine.
Listen/buy the 12" @ Juno
John Robinson - The Author [Fat City]
Yet more ESSENTIAL hip-hop i'm afraid - but again, if you haven't heard this already, I think you'll be thanking me for hooking you up (and in turn I gotta thank Beatsfortea for bringing it to my attention). It's not new, this - I believe it was released back last year (2008) on the truly awesome "I Am Not For Sale" LP, but it's one of those that could have quite easily passed you by. Man-of-the-moment Flying Lotus is employed to produce this particular beat, and it carries his typcially wonky, off-kilter style...which matches perfectly with Robinson's delivery (who you'd be forgiven for thinking sounds a tad like MF Doom - they're good pals, after all). Get hold of the album and revel in a bit of quality NY hip-hop...and realise that the good stuff hasn't "disappeared".
John Robinson @ MySpace