Thursday, January 29, 2015


Rest in Peace


Gave My Name

Songs of the Day

Got the final four on deck for review this evening: "Underwater," "Rest in Peace," "Talk," and "Gave My Name."
"Underwater" is certainly titled correctly, as the bass and guitar give this track a definitely underwater vibe.  I like how smooth and relaxed the groove is, and while it gets a little repetitive, you can definitely get lost in it.  Simple vocals from Fatima blend nicely with the beat, it's all very suave.  I'm not the craziest about the horn sample, something about it sounds a little smooth jazz-y, which - let's be honest - isn't the best kind of jazz, but it works for what it is.  The track is short and sweet, but its simplicity makes it a little forgettable compared to other tracks on this record.  An overall good song.
It's unfortunate that I'm not a fan of either of the a cappella tracks, because I'm such a sucker for that.  While I like "Rest in Peace" better than I did its a cappella predecesor, "Sun, Star, Solar," the harmonies still seem off for me.  Her lead vocals sound great, but the backgrounds don't click for me.  Like SSS, this track is also very short, more of an interlude if anything, so it's not too much of a bother for me.  I could do without it though.
"Talk" has a slow, eerie vibe to it that I dig, but like "Underwater," it's almost too simple and gets lost among the rest of the record.  The bass is probably my favorite aspect of the beat, it's so low and in the background that you almost can't hear it, but when you do, it becomes very strong and present.  Fatima's vocals are nice, but they don't showcase her talent in the way that other tracks have.  It's got a dream-like feel to it, but like many dreams, I might forget about it as soon as I wake up.
"Gave My Name" ends the record on a jazz note just as it had begun, but this definitely isn't my favorite track.  The rhodes sounds great (but when doesn't a rhodes sound great?), but this is probably my least favorite track vocally.  Fatima comes in flat, and the pitchiness is definitely noticeable in other spots throughout the song.  She sounds good for the most part, but since this track is just rhodes and vocals, the spotiness in her vocals is much more noticeable, and can be distracting at points.  Her vocals simply aren't as strong as they are on tracks like "Do Better," and "Family," which is a shame because she has a really lovely voice.  That being said, it's very clear that she's giving her all into this track, and that says something.  I would have hoped for a more solid ending to what was overall a strong record, but we can't always get what we want.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Ridin' Round (Sky High)


La Neta

Biggest Joke of All

Songs of the Day

Giving tracks 5-8 a listen this evening: "Ridin' Round (Sky High)," "Family," "La Neta," and "Biggest Joke of All."
"Ridin' Round (Sky High)" is a certified banger, and I'm about that life.  It's got a Little Dragon kind of vibe that I'm really digging (I reviewed their 1st and 3rd records) - a perfect blend of electronic, hip hop, and a little extra grit that makes your head nod.  This is along the same feel as "Technology" from yesterday, which was probably my favorite track of the first reviews - that kind of old school steady meets new school experimental ish.  Fatima's vocals work great on this style as well, probably the best of any style shown on this record so far.  I'm sure I'll be singing "ridin' round sky hiiiiigh" all evening.  So dope.
While the groove on "Family" is awesome, I think the way Fatima's voice floats on top of it is my favorite aspect of the song.  The melody is nice and light, which is a nice contrast to how staccato the bass line is, and Fatima's vocals glide on top of it perfectly.  The B section is less exciting than the A, but the feel switch is cool and keeps you interested.  The groove has a latin flavor to it that makes you want to move your body, which I'm all about.  I also dig how minimal this track is, making Fatima the focal point.  I dig, I dig.
"La Neta" is such an interesting groove.  You immediately feel the waltz/3 feel going on, which combined with the chimes & bass line remind me a bit of a circus, but in a cool way?  It's curious, but I'm intrigued, especially when it picks up into the triplet part of the groove.  The rhythm play with this track is my favorite part as it keeps me interested as to what's going on/where's it going (but in a good way).  Dope harmonies on this one as well, they provide a richness to the groove that I enjoy. "I can do what I want" is her final line, and she has certainly made her case. 
"Biggest Joke of All" brings the feel back to the jazzy element first brought by the opener "Do Better."  It's simple with keys, drum, bass, and Fatima's vocals, so you certainly pay attention.  I think her vocals could be a little higher in the mix, but what vocalist doesn't feel that way?  I love the melody of the verses, fast and slow right when it needs to be.  The groove stays simple until a little past the midpoint, which I think was smart as it gave the listener time to relax and vibe out to the simplicity of the initial groove.  No bells and whistles to this one, and there's no need cuz the lady's holdin it down.  Solid.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Do Better



Sun, Star, Solar

Songs of the Day

Got the first four tracks on deck today: "Do Better," "Technology,"  "Circle," and "Sun, Star, Solar."
"Do Better" is a pretty dope start to the record.  The unison guitar & bass line gives me a little bit of a Budos Band kind of vibe, and I dig that.  I also like that the record is opening with real instruments, a nice full band.  The horns come in really strong, which coupled with Fatima's entrance, makes me pay attention.  Fatima has a nice tone to her voice that I enjoy - it's soft, but it's got some umph behind it.   I do wish the mix had her vocals more in the forefront though, as she's getting a little lost behind the colorful band (particularly when the horns are in).  The build up is super dope, and I like that it drops off to the opening bass & guitar line again, going out nice and smooth til the end with Fatima singing "I can do better."  Solid way to start the record off. 
From the beginning, "Technology" has a heavy vibe that grabs you (or at least it did me).  I love how the vocal melody is in unison with the bass line - simple, yet effective.  The beat has an old school hip hop feel to it that I dig, it sounds like Tribe could have rapped over.  The groove is very simple, which is quite the juxtaposition from the last track, but I think that makes it that much easier to vibe out to.  Dope track.
So far, I'm diggin that every track has its own feel to it - it gives Fatima a chance to show off her vocal versatility. "Circle" has the most "future-soul" feel to it, and is also the first fully synth track.  Both the groove and her voice have a darker kind of vibe, which I dig.  It's a kind of grime that gives you stank face, and you gotta love some good stank face.  Love the layering of her vocals on this track, as I am always a sucker for some good harmonies.  Some of the synth sounds add an old school element that I dig, and her smooth vocals pair well with them.  Two thumbs up!
"Sun, Star, Solar" is my least favorite track of the day, which is disappointing considering it's a cappella, and I luh me some good a cappella.  I'm just a little confused by the harmonies going on.  It's as if they're going for the complicated kind of feel, but it comes off more out of tune than anything.  I can't immediately detect the key, and that's off-putting to me.  Maybe she wants the listening to be uncomfortable?  Luckily it's a short track, so my discomfort was tolerable.  The other tracks make up for it.

Album Factoids

Yellow Memories

Released: May 12, 2014
Genre: future-soul
Label: Eglo Records
Producers: Floating Points, Oh No, Computer Jay, Shafiq Husayn, Scoop DeVille, Flako, Knx

Week 97: Fatima

This week's suggestion comes from my big brother Taylor, as this is the record that won Gilles Peterson's "Record of the Year" (beating his own debut in the process...I still love ya, bro).  Figured that it must be dope if it beat out my brother's record Early Riser, which was fucking amazing.  I've never heard of Fatima and am completely unfamiliar with her music, so it'll be nice to check out what she's about.  Yellow Memories, my fourth-to-last record, let's see whatcha got.

This Week's Album...