Friday, April 29, 2011

Music Review: Ali McGregor - Jazz Cigarette

Music Review: Ali McGregor - Jazz Cigarette

Australia is certainly well known for it's superb talent and to follow the tradition, let us introduce the stunningly fabulous Ali McGregor.

To some she is a household name after her appearance on the soundtrack to the 2004 film, One Perfect Day performing on the Paul Van Dyk remix of the title track. Since then, Ali McGregor has gone from strength to strength travelling the world and performing one stunning show after another.

Now in 2011, we have the release of McGregor's breath taking album Jazz Cigarette. With her sultry voice and unmatched talent, McGregor has hit the right notes to make a truly stunning album. From the captivating first notes to the enticing closing of the album, jazz lovers will fall in love with the genre all over again and embrace McGregor as a shining star.

As mentioned, McGregor sang the title track from One Perfect Day and then the second introduction to this heavenly voice was at the 2010 Melbourne International Comedy Festival where she sang with our favourite comedian Mr Sammy J. The audience at Sammy J's solo show Sticky Digits was blown away by the powerhouse vocals that this dynamic lady displayed. 

These vocals are out in full force as you traverse the 14 tracks of sheer listening pleasure that makes up Jazz Cigarette. The traditional jazz sounds met with the operatically trained voice of McGregor leaves such an impression that this album will be put on repeat and listed to at any chance.

The album includes traditional tracks such as Whatever Lola Wants and Georgia On My Mind. Also appearing is the Cry Me A River Medley which interpolates the classic 1953 song penned by Arthur Hamilton and also 2002 song by the same name performed by Justin Timberlake. The track is nothing short of amazing.

Also popping up are two surprises. The first being Sweet Dreams. Not the same as you are used to by the Eurythmics but instead a brilliant jazz version which meets beautiful smoky cabaret and sweet vocals which fuse to create one of the absolute stand out tracks on the album.

The other surprise is the adaptation of Oops! I Did It Again by Britney Spears meeting similar treatment. As an added bonus, McGregor works with the highly talented James Morrison on the track. The pair together make it a track that stands out and is more memorable than the radio disposable version that we are used to.

This album has been made for anyone who loves stunning music. Whether you are a jazz fan or not, after listening to this album there's no doubt that you will fall in love with the stunning Ali McGregor and her breath taking performances and sultry voice. This album would be amazing to play at a dinner party or have playing on a Sunday with a good book and nice glass of wine. Get this album now and fall in love with the voice of Ali McGregor.

Jazz Cigarette is out now.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Music Review: iiO - Exit 110 (feat Nadia Ali)

Music Review: iiO - Exit 110 (feat Nadia Ali)

After an extended break, iiO have returned with their follow up to the hugely successful debut album, Poetica. Continuing with their electronic experimentation, Exit 110 sees the return of Nadia Ali as the divine voice of the band.

It's hard to believe that it's been 10 years since iiO captured the hearts of clubbers worldwide with their debut smash Rapture. A track that has spawned dozens of remixes from the likes of Armin Van Buuren and Deep Dish. A track which, a decade on, still get heavy club rotation. Now, a decade on, we are getting new music from the band. Those looking for a rehash of old material will be sorely disappointed however. As any musical entity must, iiO have grown and so has the music. Still close to their electronic roots, it's no longer the overall ambient feel from Poetica.

The album starts strong with It'll Be Like. This is probably the closest track on the album to Poetica material we're used to. The song is captivating and enchanting. It's steady beat thumping away behind the stunning vocals. Both parts work together to capture the ear and attention of the listener.

The next three tracks More (Love Hi), All I Need and Meant to Be have quite a heavy 80s influence while still remaining uniquely modern. The seductive tones of Nadia Ali's voice and the excited energy of the music all work and fuse together to make each track an adventure for the ear. The three tracks are proof of just what made iiO such a household name.

Going sideways from the 80s style, the track I Don't Know branches off into a steady and almost tribal feel track. The beauty of the track though, is that the musical styling can't be quantified or actually defined given the fluidity of the track. It's electronic, it's tribal, it's got both a house and trance feel to it. As messy as that makes the track sound, it's actually not. It's polished perfection showing how easily the boundaries can blend.

Also on the album is P.I.C. (Partner In Crime). A track that returns to the 80s influence and even features an interpolation of Funky Town. It's a refreshing track with energy and excitement running free. 

Don't Talk to Her and Fiends are not the best tracks that iiO have ever released. As much as they are exciting and energetic, there's just something about the two tracks which make them feel a little bit like fillers which isn't something that has ever been said about an iiO track before. Each track has it's own merits, don't be mistaken. They just take a few listens before they start to grow on you.

Featured towards the end of the album is Poetica II. A musical sequel to the spoken word conclusion of the Poetica album. The track follows in the same vein as the original but Ali's voice tends to be drowned out by the music which runs over the top. It does, however, lead nicely into the closing track Exit 110. The slick production and instrumental track shows that MarKus Moser can create masterpieces on his own without Ali. 

All in all, Exit 110 is a great album. People looking for a mirror or reproduction of Poetica will be disappointed. The sound is similar but different at the same time. There will be those who don't like the evolution that has occurred and there will be bothers who embrace it. No artist can release the same album twice and iiO haven't either. Even if you don't have this album on your 'To Buy' list, at least put it on the 'To Listen' list.

Exit 110 is out now through made records

Monday, April 11, 2011

Show Review: Sammy J & Randy in Bin Night

Show Review: Sammy J & Randy in Bin Night

Never let it be said that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival doesn't showcase the most brilliant of comic minds from around the world. Included this year are two home grown talents in their latest show Bin Night. Yes, Sammy J and his purple pal Randy are back with another laughter filled hour of madness, slapstick and expletives.

Following up there 2010 sensation, Ricketts Lane, the team are back for more comedy featuring a tall, skinny man and a purple puppet. Sammy J and Randy (with the talented Heath McIvor pulling his strings) are back with another outlandish and out of control show.

The quality of the show is just as high now as when the pair launched themselves onto the stage, missed the top step, stumbled and fell into the spotlight looking slightly dazed. The amount of jokes, quips, touching moments and brief moments of possessiveness regarding a bin (don't ask - it's safer that way) that can be fit into an hour will leave the audience amazed, if not a little befuddled.

The pair are chasing the bin bandit. The mysterious figure who keeps stowing their trash in Sammy and Randy's bin. The hilarity comes from the shenanigans that the pair got up to. From the singing pizza box through to the snibbing of snibby bits (it's no less confusing when it's explained in the show than it looks written down) there is laughter that will left people in the audience with tears from laughing so much.

As per any good comedy show, nothing is sacred. From Ringtail Possums to Peru to Tom Cruise and even Father Time, everything is fair game. Even playing off each other missing the occasional line or an eye related incident, the pair soldiered on with their improvisational skills stunning and wowing the audience that say before them.

From start to finish, Sammy J & Randy provide hilarity and amusement for the crowd and make sure that the audience gets their money's worth. From the included songs to the madcap slapstick humor, the pair have shown why they won the 2010 Barry for Best Show (for Ricketts Lane) and delivered another comedic masterpiece.

If you get a chance to see this show, make sure you do. A tall, white, skinny man and a purple, somewhat acerbic, and sarcastic puppet. It's comedy gold in any language.

Bin Night is playing until Sunday 24th April at Melbourne International Comedy Festival