Review: We can confirm that Adam "Admin" Wickens is not only a hugely talented DJ and producer, but also a thoroughly nice chap. Here he makes his bow on Better Listen with a three-tracker packed to the rafters with warmth, soul and groove. Check first A-side "Adjust Your Love", a sample-fired workout that effortlessly joins the dots between disco, deep house and star-kissed jazz-funk, before turning your attention to the chopped-and-screwed samples, toasty sub-bass, languid beats and echoing piano snippets of "Easy Love Dub". The Bristol-based producer rounds things off in fine style via "Horizons", a slightly bouncier house cut that makes great use of some bluesy piano samples and another stoned, glassy-eyed bassline.
Review: Better Listen's latest signing is dusty-fingered producer Saint Paul, who impressed us greatly with his debut single on Moonrise Hill Material this time last year. There's a wonderfully summery feel throughout, starting with the lilting horns, fluttering flute loops and Brazilian disco-flecked deep house shuffle of superb title track "Naturist Behaviour". Other highlights include the elongated, alien-sounding synthesizer lines and squeezable deep house/jazz-funk fusion of "A Hawaiian Trip" and the suitably deep, soulful and heady warmth of "Feels Good". He's also included a tasty '80s boogie/soul revision entitled "Tell Me", which sounds like the kind of glassy-eyed jam you'll be hearing an awful lot at outdoor parties this summer.
Review: Stockholm based Ari Bald is up next for Better Listen after inaugurating Honey Butter Records last year with that great release. He keeps on with that deep disco spirit with these four funky and lo-slung jams. On the A side, we have two ergonomic edits in the form of "That Lonely Night" and "Enchantress" respectively which are looped to perfection with some somewhat familiar hooks that gradually build up to that drop! That's where the thumping kick comes charging in and it's sure geared for maximum dancefloor dynamics. On the flip, get ready for the funk explosion that is "Moonshiner" or what could be your First Choice (mind the pun!) in the form of the smooth and sexy late night groove of "Are You Mesmerized?"
Review: Sheffield's Thatmanmonkz returns with the Feels Trip To The District EP, where he teams up with his good pal Martin Miguel. The record is inspired by several trips to dope parties in the District of Columbia, home of the quickly rising label Better Listen Records. Starting off with the the lo-slung disco deepness of "Sweetiez Fresh", it's a dusty and looped up jam that will appeal to fans of the Robsoul sound. On the flip, things take a well funkier and more soulful turn with that familiar vocal on "The Assassinator" and finally things end on a groovy and sun kissed note with the slo-mo/hip-hop inspired boogie of "XDC". Real name Scott Moncrieff, he's appeared previously on a who's who of labels such as Delusions Of Grandeur, Kolour LTD and Classic in recent times.
Review: Following up that awesome last release by Closed Paradise and one by Thatmanmonkz, the mysterious Parisian Chevals joins District Of Columbia based Better Listen for their eighth outing, after making his debut on NYC's Homage with a global affair. The sultry and bumpin' disco house of "Hot!" starts things burning up fairly quick on the A side, looped to perfection much like early Rick Wade or DJ Sneak. It is followed by the smooth, early evening boogie-down vibe of "Layover" featuring yet more come hither vocals and hypnotic xylophone action. On the flip, we have a surprise in the from of the blunted hip-hop joint that is "Homecoming" getting that gritty MPC feel on, with choice use of sampling.
Review: Last year, Better Listen handed Joe Corti a chance to revitalize his career via a first EP in three years. He took that opportunity (via the brilliant "From London With Love") and here returns with an arguably even better sequel. Check first the languid, sun-kissed bounce of "The First Time", where super-sweet disco and soul samples gather around a chunky house groove, before turning your attention to the heavyweight disco-house pump of "Lula". Corti successfully ups the sweatiness via the dense drums, restless bass and jammed-out musical flourishes of peak-time bumper "Fourth Base", while "Oh Lord" is an inspired slab of lolloping deep house smothered in fuzzy synth stabs, swirling orchestral samples and just the right amount of sampled vocal sweetness.
Review: Coming at you on vibrant pink vinyl, Better Listen's First Class EP more than lives up to its' title. Check, for example, the screaming sax lines, life-affirming orchestral disco loops and bumping bottom end of Folamour's brilliant opener, "Oneness", and the bouncy disco-house positivity of Ari Bald's edit-not-edit "First Class", which is guaranteed to put smiles on faces on out on the dancefloor. Dorsi Plantar successfully tries the same trick on to woozy, ultra-soulful bliss of swirling sunshine shuffler "Boogie Sunrise", while Ethyene's undulating "Watching You" brilliantly wraps eyes-closed synthesizer lines and glistening disco guitars around a leisurely mid-tempo house groove.
Review: Lyon soulboy Ethyene continues to rise in style with four deliciously silky, hazy house gems. Deep rooted in all the right foundations (particularly Paris and Chicago's take on the movement) the sense of timelessness seeps through every cloudy pad, every slo-mo jack and every sultry vocal. The prize piece here is the absolute soul surging opener "Why My Love" with longtime friend Folamour but every track commands attention - both from you and your dancefloor. The filtered finesse of "Loneliness Of The Shadow Dance", the cascading vocal honey drips of "Playin' With Fire" and the jazzier shuffles and deep confessional funk of "I Sold Yayo To Buy Kicks". Honest.
Review: London-based deep house producer and occasional Morrissey lookalike Joe Corti made his debut back in 2015, but has been surprisingly quiet since then. Happily, Better Listen has given him the opportunity to re-invigorate his career via a first ever appearance on vinyl. There's much to enjoy throughout, from the bold, ear-catching bassline, "Get a Move On" style drums and disco-funk party samples of "Special People", to the spiraling disco-house heaviness of "Thinkin". Elsewhere, he peppers an Afro-house groove with swirling Afrobeat samples on "Fela" and brilliantly cuts-up a lesser-known version of a genuine disco classic on the rubbery release of "Fulham Broadway".
Review: District of Columbia-based deep house imprint Better Listen has barely put a foot wrong since launching late last year. Predictably, their latest missive, which comes courtesy of rising star Dorsi Plantar, is another beauty. Title track "Everlast" opens proceedings via jazzy, jammed-out pino riffs, dewy-eyed electronic flourishes and dusty deep house beats, before "You're Solid as Fuck" re-focuses attention on a chopped-and-looped deep house/jazz-funk fusion. Flip to the B-side for the grandiose orchestration of disco-house pumper "Fool's Gold" and the near-Balearic sweetness of sun-soaked chunky house closer "Babesonite", which comes on like a disco-house enthusiast's tribute to Pepe Bradock's "Deep Burnt".
Review: Cody Currie's self-titled EP on Pusic Records was one of the better deep house debuts of 2016. This follow-up for Better Listen is similarly impressive. It sees him showcase a range of tracks that fuse a hip-hop, sample-digging mentality with the dusty, soul-flecked deep house swing of Chicago and Detroit's jazzier producers. The rich and organic sounding opener "Hearty & Healthy"- all hip-hop vocal samples, spacey boogie synth breakdowns and MPC-driven deep house beats - is particularly alluring, though the 'Disco Mix' of "Dynamite" is also superb. The liquid deep house funk of "Beer Machine", where disco samples pop in and out of a rich backing track, feels like a late night anthem in waiting.