If there was ever a genre called “blue devils hip-hop”, Andy Kayes may just be its choice practitioner. His blustering, electronica-squelched hip-hop is heavily saturated with moods so blue, his music grows heavier with every play. The France-based Englishman has been working the underground scenes of Lyon for some years now, splitting his time between open mics and recording studios whilst hooking up with some of the genre’s most respected names.
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He’s from England’s West Country but he sounds like he’s straight out of the Bronx.
Like a strange musical answer to The Lonely Londoners and The Planet of Junior Brown, British rapper Luca Brazi’s solo debut, Dying Proof, bridges the gap between the salty airs of English dives and the danger and panic of the South Bronx. The 20-something MC has been circulating in the UK’s underground hip-hop scenes for a number of years now, as a member of hip-hop collectives Granville Sessions, Moose Funk and B.O.M.B. He’s now just released his first solo album this past summer. It’s the product of everything the rapper has loved about hip-hop, his saving grace from his early school days as a young child growing up in the West Country.
Nick Santino is well known from his days of being lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist in American pop-rock band, A Rocket to the Moon. In 2013 they called it a day, and Santino carried on by himself.
While the split may have come swiftly, Santino moved on. He released a couple of EPs last year, and then released his first solo, full-band album, Big Skies, in May of this year. The record continued where A Rocket to the Moon left of, yet left Santino in a position to add new influences here and there, while expanding his musical career.
Now, being signed to 8123, Santino is touring with the UK on the label’s own tour, supporting alternative-rockers The Maine and indie-pop group Lydia. The tour has been a major success, and PopMatters caught up with Santino in Nottingham to talk about the transition from touring in a big rock band to gracing the stage with just a guitar.
Back in 2008, the song “Nightdrive With You” seemed to emerge out of nowhere, with virtually no information known about this ‘80s-indebted pop wonder who simply went by the name Anoraak. Yet some solid singles and some very high-profile remix work with artists ranging from Neon Indian to Mika to Phoenix has suddenly made the Raak’s sound very much in demand.
Now, three years since his debut release, Anoraak is back with the neon-atmosphere synthpop work that is known simply as Chronotropic. Mixing a multitude synths sounds with his very plainspoken voice, the imagery and feelings this song conjures are both celebratory and cerebral, emotional but not without a solid beat behind it. Although sexy jams like “Guest Star” may work for your own private dance party, it’s things like the soaring chorus to “Falling Apart” that makes you stick around well after.
In celebrating the release of his new disc, Anoraak answers PopMatters’ 20 Questions and in doing so reveals a love of Starship Troopers, moderately-proportioned red wine, and the sincere advice his father gave him after school.
It’s hard to believe that you haven’t heard of Mansions yet.
The brainchild of Christopher Browder, the very ‘90s-indebted alt-rock sound of Mansions is quite a sound to behold. Recorded in apartments and the his parents’ basement (moreso the early years than now), Mansions sound has evolved from the early lo-fi thump of his EPs to his meatier full-band dynamic sound now, moving from focused indie pop to the full-on rock conquest that he’s been on, but boy howdy does his third album, Doom Loop, pack a wallop. The album is filled with hooks, has a very strong ‘90s alt-rock bent, but with the vulgar shout-along chorus to the immensely catchy “Two Suits” in tow, it’s obvious that Browder is a unique entity in the pop landscape, and, for lack of a better term, just one hell of a songwriter.
Although the band has had good amounts of acclaim (and a wildly dynamic amount of touring partners ranging from Taking Back Sunday to Hellogoodbye), Doom Loop is very much poised to be the band’s breakthrough. To help celebrate the album’s release, Browder sat down to answer PopMatters’ 20 Questions, and here reveals which Mad Men character he’s most like, his academic approach to album listening, and his open drink invite to Bill Clinton ...