Review: London singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka builds on the success of his first two albums by drafting in Danger Mouse and Inflo to produce the beats that house his hugely expressive voice. That voice is of course front and centre - and whether delivering tender moments of intimacy or more breezy soul, it is always wrought with tension and emotion, slow burning and buttery smooth. The production feels timeless yet contemporary whether offering gauzy, guitar laden textures "Hero" or soaring pop ("Final Days") and makes this an album that touches on all forms of soul with equal originality.
You Gon' Learn (feat Royca Da 5'9" & White Gold) (3:54)
Alfred (interlude) (0:29)
Those Kinda Nights (feat Ed Sheeran) (2:57)
In Too Deep (3:19)
Godzilla (feat Juice WRLD) (3:30)
Leaving Heaven (feat Skylar Grey) (4:24)
Yah Yah (feat Royce Da 5'9", Black Thought, Q-Tip & Denaun) (4:55)
Stepdad (intro) (0:15)
Never Love Again (2:57)
Little Engine (2:57)
Lock It Up (feat Anderson Paak) (2:52)
No Regrets (feat Don Toliver) (3:22)
I Will (feat KXNG Crooked, Royce Da 5'9" & Joell Ortiz) (5:05)
Alfred (outro) (0:30)
Review: Whether you appreciate the man himself, or even his music, there is no denying that Eminem's enduring ability to lay down the tightest wordplay and most cutting bars is second to none, even decades after he first shocked the world. His eleventh studio album - realised digitally back in January - shows off more of his technical skills and explores plenty of interesting ideas. The mood, as if often the case with this nasal rapper from Detroit, is defiant, and takes aim at critics as well as making superb use of a hook from Q-Tip, collaborating with 27-year-old Young M.A and plenty more besides.
Emma Stone, Callie Hernandez, Sonoya Mizuno, Jessica Rothe - "Someone In The Crowd" (4:18)
Justin Hurwitz - "Mia & Sebastian's Theme" (1:38)
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone - "A Lovely Night" (3:55)
Justin Hurwitz - "Herman's Habit" (1:51)
Ryan Gosling - "City Of Stars" (1:47)
Justin Hurwitz - "Planetarium" (4:20)
Justin Hurwitz - "Summer Montage/Madeline" (2:04)
Ryan Gosling, Emma Stone - "City Of Stars" (2:28)
John Legend - "Start A Fire" (3:11)
Justin Hurwitz - "Engagement Party" (1:27)
Emma Stone - "Audition (The Fools Who Dream)" (3:45)
Justin Hurwitz - "Epilogue/The End" (7:55)
Justin Hurwitz - "City Of Stars (Humming)" (feat Emma Stone) (2:44)
Review: It looks like Damien Chazelle, the young, impressive director of Whiplash and the more recent La La Land, likes to surround himself with equally talented youngsters. For the latter film, he's chosen Justin Hurwitz to compose the score for his successful musical featuring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone, and we have to say that this is a real keeper. There's a bit of everything in here, a little vintage pop, some classical elements here and there, but jazz is what's at the core of this original score, and that's why we think it's great. What's more, you can listen to Gosling and Stone sing on your turntables. Check it out.
Review: 'Goat's Head Soup' succeeds where a lot of Deluxe Edition releases fail - it adds a LOT to an equation most of us thought we had sussed out years (well, decades) ago. It's not necessarily the first Stones record fans would want to see expanded over a massive four discs, but let's face it, it's not the last by a long shot. The record met a wishy washy response when it arrived in 1973, following the benchmark-setting 'Exile On Main St.', yet this package proves it's very much worth revisiting.
Heard in a different light - one not overshadowed by preceding landmark releases - 'Soup' actually does stand up, whether it's the Americana twang of "100 Years Ago", or the proto-funk of "Doo Doo Doo Doo (Heartbreaker)" there's a lot to like. Add to this the fact the previously unreleased stuff here, "Scarlett" being a prime example, really stands up, too, and you've got so much more than a mere collection-completer.
Review: One of UK soul's brightest sparks and Danger Mouse on production: Michael Kiwanuka's highly anticipated sophomore takes a running jump and kicks the Motowns out of the difficult second album cliche. Ranging from epic urgent cinematica "Rule The World" to the smouldering blues ballad "The Final Frame" by way of ELO-meets-Finlay Quaye fuzzy rock funk "One More Night" Michael and Mouse take us through a detailed, dreamy and dramatic adventure that really explores Michael's gutsy range and developed writing style. On level, if not better, than Home Again.
Review: There's a pleasing contradiction at the heart of James Blake's new album, the much discussed "Assume Form". Lyrically, it's a weighty affair, with Blake musing on mental health and other serious issues. His distinctively emotive delivery remains heart aching and poignant, making each of Blake's utterances sound like they're shot through with genuine sadness. Yet musically, "Assume Form" is surprisingly chipper by the artist's usual downbeat standards, offering a blend of chunky R&B beats, swirling strings, memorable piano lines, crystalline melodies and glassy electronics. It's this fusion of darkness and light that makes it such a rewarding listen, and arguably Blake's most well rounded LP to date.
Review: You can almost feel the California sun reflecting back off 'Los Angeles', the opening track on HAIM's third album. An unapologetic ode to their hometown - as is made clear with straight-shooting lyrics like "New York is cold/I tried the winter their once/Nope" - it's also an unapologetically smiley and smile-inducing slice of strutting pop. While first appearances can often be deceiving, and books shouldn't always be judged on their covers, in this instance the first bite is a fitting preamble for what follows. There's plenty of variety, for evidence just compare the reflective and damaged air of 'I Know Alone', and its razor sharp shimmering production, with the back-to-basics acoustic build of 'Leaning On You'. Ultimately, though, it's all sophisticated and intelligent pop, celebrating the genre's breadth by showing how capable of matching that scope this lot are.
Review: Repeatedly mispronounced Los Angelean sister act Haim return with 'Something To Tell You', an upbeat and optimistic tale of making amends to a lost love, moving forward and letting go. The trio channel a Rumours-era Fleetwood Mac style of love song into a modern pop context that sounds as fresh as it does respectful to their influences. Furthermore, building on 2013's critically acclaimed 'Days Are Gone', their sophomore set proves that Haim's prowess as high calibre songwriters, vocalists and multi-instrumentalists continues to demand respect.