Albums of Note... Deftly side-stepping the pitfalls of ‘second album syndrome,’ Everything Everything have stepped things up a notch with second album Arc, which looks set to raise their profile even further. They’ve retained their quirky dance geek sound, but this time around, the songs have a darker, more emotional sound. Where their debut was playful, a newfound intensity can be found on this follow-up. “Arc offers more drama and intensity than the playful-ness we heard on Man Alive, Everything Everything's 2010-released debut… each track stands in its own right; nothing is filler and Arc maintains interest throughout; it's a much more mature offering than Everything Everything's previous, particularly with the likes of the gentle, piano-backed 'The Peaks, which sensitively showcases their trademark falsetto vocals in an atmospheric setting.”
Paul Weller’s latest release, the ‘Dragonfly EP’ is described by our reviewer as a “victory lap.” The EP contains a number of unreleased tracks from the Modfather’s trilogy of experimental albums released in 2012. Described as “by no means essential for the casual fan,” the tracks contained herein are a step away from the sonic experimentation of the albums and are closer to his early solo days.“The Dragonfly EP is therefore well worth your time if you have any interest in Weller's more recent output. However, for the more casual listener, it may seem like it's business as usual for the Modfather. The 5 additional songs certainly deserve to be heard, and it's a welcome move that they haven't just ended up on the cutting room floor.”
2012 was another brilliant year when it came to Christmas on the box. As well as some seminal family movies, both old and new, December's festive comedy, sci-fi and drama TV brought us much cheer throughout the holiday season making the couch our favourite place in the world in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Here are our highlights still available to watch on BBC iPlayer, ITV Player, 4oD and Channel 5 online.
Doctor Who: The Snowmen
Ahead of his annual New Year's Hootenanny, ivory tinkling bandleader and TV presenter Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra return with a star studded cast of guests on The Golden Age Of Song, their latest album release and another sterling effort. Sounding takes from TV sessions (Hootenanny) alongside studio recordings and jazz standards alongside soul classics, performed with a variety of musical acts from various genres; it's a well-balanced affair.
Powerfully voiced Paloma Faith features on the opening track, Etta James' 'Something's Got A Hold On Me', during the first verse of which Faith sings each line a cappella and is then replied to with a full band chord. It's a dramatic and showy opening, perfectly exemplary of both hers and the R&B orchestra's performing personas, which then kicks into a trademark bluesy big band sound with horns and rhythm section et al. Big Band swing complete with blasting trumpets, Hammond organ and of course Holland's boogie woogie piano tones, the loud, confident band opening of 'Ac-cent-tchu-ate' completely contrasts soloist Rumer's beautiful, Karen Carpenter-esque vocal, but the band drop right back to mellow mode when the vocals enter. The band shine during instrumental sections but remain sensitively in the background during much of Rumer's singing, gradually building throughout. 'Lovin' Machine', from the 2009 Hootenanny, is a toe tapping blues track with a busy walking bass line doubled by the piano. Full of fun horn parts comprising an altogether louder vibe than the preceding track, Jools and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra are the perfect accompaniment to Nutini following his 2009 album Sunny Side Up. This is once again contrasted with 'Bei Mir Bist Du Schön', which starts as a more sultry and smooth number before driving into a funky reggae groove, gradually becoming more and more soulful towards soloist Joss Stone's style.
Tracklisting the likes of an eastern European folk tune ('Bei Mir Bist Du Schon'), alongside pop ballads ('Get Here') and jazz standards ('I Got It Bad (And That Ain't Good)'), the album's variety is, like its predecessors, its biggest strength. Also superb is the willingness for featured artists to step out of their comfort zones; Jessie J showcases the range and power of her superb singing voice on 'Get Here', though we're perhaps more used to her disguising it in a half sung, half rapped kind of style, and Paul Weller steps away from his familiar indie vibe during his duet with the late Amy Winehouse, again from the 2009 Hootenanny, despite the full Rhythm & Blues Orchestra arrangement being familiar ground for Winehouse. The latter, 'Don't Go To Strangers', sounds Winehouse's powerful vocal contrasting Weller's surprisingly smooth and gentle vocal. Later, another jazz standard, 'My Baby Just Cares For Me' also sounds Florence Welch stepping out of her comfort zone and bringing her distinctive flavour to one of Nina Simone's signature tunes. A dangerous inclusion, perhaps, as it's probably a piece that's been recorded to death, but it's actually refreshing to hear Welch's voice amongst a blend so different to her own and to hear her tame her tendency to wail.
Continue reading: Jools Holland - The Golden Age Of Song Album Review
Amy Winehouse's family and friends have been left devastated after thieves raided the late singer's Camden home, taking off with £130,000 worth of dresses, including the gown she wore on her wedding day in 2006. Several of the pieces were set to be auctioned in New York later this year to raise money for the family's charity The Amy Winehouse Foundation.
According to the London Evening Standard, a newsprint cocktail dress that she famously wore on the Jools Holland show in 2006 was also taken from the house, where she died last year. The wedding dress had a predicted value of $100,000, while the 'Jools' dress would have raised around £30,000. Amy's father Mitch said he was "baffled" as to why the thieves had not gone for the more valuable designer dresses, saying, "Her wedding dress was only a little cotton thing, a hundred quid at best in the shops. Whoever nicked it realised its significance and knew it had an extra value." In theory he's right, though the designer dresses would no doubt have been easier to sell-on. The dress she wore on the Jools Holland show is pretty recognisable and - like famous works of art - has a decent chance of showing up eventually. Mitch added, "It's sickening that someone would steal something in the knowledge of its sentimental value."
The Grammy award winning singer was found dead on July 23, last year. Traces of the alcohol withdrawal drug Librium were found in her body, though there were no signs of illegal drugs.
Continue reading: Thieves steal Amy Winehouse's wedding dress from Camden home