Friday, June 24, 2011

Music Review: Wynter Gordon - With The Music I Die

Music Review: Wynter Gordon - With The Music I Die

So you're saying that you've not heard this dance diva? She has dominated the airwaves since the release of her solo debut album Dirty Talk which hit number one on both the Australian ARIA charts and the US Dance charts. 

Gordon has also worked with dance mastermind David Guetta on his album One More Love on the track Toyfriend. Not to mention her rise to fame started with writing the title track for Mary J. Blige's 2005 album, The Breakthrough. She's also had a hand in writing no less than four of the tracks on Jennifer Lopez's latest album Love. Gordon also worked with other dance heavy weights The Freemason's on the non-album track Believer. Adding to her credits is her track Putting It Out There which was the theme for Sydney's 2011 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras.

Not only is this woman an amazing talent at writing outstanding songs, she can also belt out a track. With slick production and catchy lyrics, there is no way that Gordon's debut artist album isn't going to be something that classics are made of.

Opening the album is the title track With The Music I Die. It's catchy, it's got a good beat. It's also not the strong album opener that one would expect. It's a not a bad track, don't be mistaken. It's just not the great track that an album should open with. Gordon's vocals sound shaky and like she is competing with the music when she really shouldn't have to.

Thankfully, here to save the album is Dirty Talk. This Australian three time platinum selling album reminds us why Gordon is in the industry. The catchy lyrics and easy beats are made for your pleasure. With seductive lyrics that put Rhianna's S&M track to shame, it's not hard to realise why this song took the world by storm.

Continuing the mission the get you dancing is Don't Stop Me. It's got a catchy riff that will get stuck in your head and a beat that bounces amiably along and is perfect if you're one of those people who like dance music before heading out. Gordon's vocal recovery is strong and confident. The music is just as powerful but, thankfully, doesn't threaten to overwhelm Gordon's singing.

The tracks Buy My Love and Still Getting Younger are both happy and playful. They prove that Gordon has set a new level and standard for all future dance diva's to live up. Her talent shines through with her dynamic and, at times, almost ethereal voice.

The track Rumba features Kevin McCall and is catchy like you wouldn't believe. It's certainly one of the reasons that even if you don't want to buy the album, you should listen to it. Fusing together dance music and Spanish guitar playing, the track is such a side step into something new, that it can't be described properly. It's a grabbing track that you want to hear.

Dance maestro Robbie Rivera also pops up on the album. He works with Gordon on the track In The Morning. It's as close to a ballad as you're going to go on this album. The rolling music that comes in waves from ambience towards up tempo and then back down to ambient is all very signature from Rivera and suits Gordon's voice perfectly. It's a track that's designed for a Sunday morning recovery after a big Saturday night out.

Gordon closes the album down with Renegade which features Static Revenger.  It's, again, quite a side step from the general sound of the rest of the album. It's very heavily electronic with the beats and basic melody. It's quite an addictive song with the way it deviates from Gordon's standard formula. It's catchy all the same, so don't worry. Just be ready to have a bump and grind dance time.

Despite the shaky opening, the album is quite strong in it's production and delivery. One slightly questionable track out of twelve is pretty good stats by anyone's imagination. this is certainly not a 'one listen only' album. The more times you listen to it, the more times you hear something different which you hadn't picked up on before. She's our new dance diva and definitely has something to share.

With The Music I Die is out now

Friday, June 10, 2011

Music Review: Above and Beyond - Group Therapy

Music Review: Above and Beyond - Group Therapy

Baby you think you've heard good music, you ain't hear nothing yet. Above and Beyond have just dropped their follow up artist album Group Therapy and it's fantastic! Hold onto your hats, you're in for an exciting ride with this album.

You learned to fall in love with Above and Beyond when they released their debut album Tri-State, now learn to fall in love again. This release follows a similar, almost ethereal, trance sound as the last did. This time, however, it branches off into it's own unique path and redefines the talent that Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness, and Paavo Siljamäki possess and sets them firmly back into the spotlight. 

There is heavy temptation to refer and compare to Tri-State but that wouldn't be fair to either body of work because both are exception beacons of what is very right in the trance world at the moment.

If you did not understand the previous comment about how they can produce an almost ethereal track, listen to the opening track Filmic. It's a clever move on the band's behalf as it is almost misleading as to where the album itself will go. It's haunting and near spiritual with the serene beauty of the track.

Unsurprisingly, they do have vocal trance tracks on this album. Rather than polluting the album with a new singer for every track, they have used the same two the entire way through. Zoe Johnston has returned to add her stunning voice to five of the tracks which includes the outstanding highlight Giving It Out. The steady driving beat and up tempo make it easily one of the most enjoyable songs on the album. 

The other vocalist on the album is Richard Bedford. We've all heard the first song that was released off the album being Sun & Moon but don't take that as the penultimate song Bedford will be featured on. There's also the stunning track On My Way To Heaven which has an almost symphonic opening before ensnaring the senses and dragging them to the dancefloor.

Then, of course, there is the latest single Thing Called Love which is a strong reminder of just where Above and Beyond started. That's moving people on a dancefloor with heady beats and pulsing rhythms. If this track hasn't become a favourite at music festivals yet, you can't help but wonder why? This is trance. This is the track people want to dance to. This is the track that trance artists inspire to write.

For those who like pure trance track with just the steady beat that will get you moving, you haven't been forgotten. As mentioned, the album opens with Filmic but then you get halfway through the album and your senses will be blown open with Prelude. Don't worry, it's not a 15 second filler track that some artists do. This is sensory bliss that will have you amazed and moving your head in time up until midway through the song where the anthemic and symphonic music kicks and you can't help but raise your eyes towards the heavens in agreement. Just wait for the tribal chanting, you'll know beauty.

Closing out the album is the other instrumental track Eternal. It's a blended elegance between piano and eletronica. There's something spellbinding by this piece of work that you will listen to it repeatedly. It really is the perfect song to have as the final track on a release. It's serenity and beauty is seamless and just breath taking.

All in all, Above and Beyond make have taken 5 years to release this album but it's more than worth it. If more trance artists could follow in this group's footsteps, we would have any amazing world of dance music out there. This album is going to be a legacy. This album is going to get played for years to come, just like it's predecessor. This album will remind you why you fell in love with trance music. You want this album.

Group Therapy is out now through Ajunabeats Records

Monday, June 6, 2011

Music Review: Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills

Music Review: Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills

In a musical era where reproduction and mimicry are so common place, it's refreshing to find original work that stands tall above so many other acts. The stunning release of Josh Gabriel and Meredith Cal's work under the guise of Winter Kills is welcomed with open arms to an industry where astonishingly mediocre is considered highly acceptable.

The introduction to Winter Kills was made back in 2009 with the release of the club phenomenon Deep Down. Since then, the team have been in the studio, not only working on their own debut artist album but also contributing to Armin Van Buuren's last artist album with the track Take A Moment

The first thing that is apparent as the album takes hold is the innovation and unrestricted musical freedom that the duo have been given to create this brilliant piece of art. The slow pick up of the first track, Tomorrow, to the steady beat of the latest single, Hot As Hades, and onto the eerie Deep Down. The album is a journey that loops back on itself and, at the same time, keeps soldiering forwards.

Meredith Cal's voice across all the tracks is haunting and enticing. The songstress has found her niche in the market full of pretty faces and dainty voices. Her singing ability is genuine and refreshing. Her talent undeniable. When this is coupled with Josh Gabriel's 25 odd year career, there is something undeniably right about the release.

Surprisingly, they even include a cover version of I'll Stand By You. It's been modernized since the original 1994 release by The Pretenders. Cal doesn't try to replicate the sound of Chrissie Hynde's voice. She finds her own footing in the track and makes it her own. The two version cannot be compared as they are so unique and different that to say one is like the other or one is better than the other is to do it no justice.

Over the 13 tracks of diverse musical creativity, it is difficult to find stand out tracks as the pair have worked hard on each and every track. The success of the album will make that apparent to anyone who takes the chance and listens all the way through the album. 

As a debut, this is the album that many artists want to release. Showcasing an awe inspiring talent and commitment to the perpetuation of the music industry by providing a legacy that will live on, even if Gabriel and Cal choose not to continue with the Winter Kills project.

Josh Gabriel Presents: Winter Kills is out now through Armada Music