Review: SugaRush Beat Company

When she’s not in a tiny skirt, shaking her Afro and blowing a trumpet with Fedde Le Grand, Danish diva Ida Corr is one of the big voices behind SugaRush Beat Company.

Joined by New York soul singer Rahsaan Patterson and producer Jaz Rogers, Ida and co have come together with the promise of “a brief history of r’n’b, only turned upside-down, twisted, stretched and re-envisaged”. Brave words indeed, especially when your band name is the most ’90s sounding thing we’ve heard in years.

Read my full review of SugaRush Beat Company’s self-titled debut at Orange Music.

Music Go Music

Disco is so hot right now. Not only is Blackpool’s very own Little Boots sending everyone squealing with ‘Stuck On Repeat’ and her newer stuff, but Argentian / UK combo Heartbreak are also sending the blogs burning up in a frenzy.

Meanwhile on the other side of the Atlantic, I’ve just found anonymous trio Music Go Music. Totally embracing the ABBA side of disco, in particular on single ‘Light of Love’, the three songs on myspace are firey melancholic pop that leaves me very excited to see what else is coming.

I can’t spot who they are though, are the vocals familiar to you? Or is the mystery just there to develop some hype. Here’s the epic & dramatic ‘Reach Out’.

Music Go Music – Reach Out [MP3] (free mp3 provided by the band)

Review: Piaf at Donmar Warehouse

[Originally posted on Londonist.com]

Her last major role was as Eva Peron in the 2006 West End revival of Evita, and now Argentinian Elena Roger has gone from one iconic woman to another undertaking the role of Edith Piaf in Piaf. Opening last night at the intimate Donmar Warehouse in Covent Garden, Pam Gems’ biopic returned to the West End stage in a revamped format 30 years after it was first performed.

Telling the story of Piaf’s life from being discovered on the streets of Pigalle, through involvement in murder, the resistance, affair after affairs, and ultimately a destructive spiral into alcohol and drug abuse, this was 95 minutes of high drama, albeit with several laugh out loud scenes. Save Roger and the chuckling Lorraine Bruce as Toine, each of the other 8 cast members play various characters throughout Edith’s life. Katherine Kingsley, in particular, is dazzling as Marlene Dietrich and long suffering assistant Madeleine. With sex scenes and swearing aplenty, this is no leisurely ride and at times it felt eerily close to comfort with visions of Amy Winehouse’s current problems easily conjured up, in particular in a scene set in the Ritz.

But ultimately – what a performance. Elena Roger nailed Piaf’s singing techniques and manged to be convincingly French in what must surely be an award winning performance! We’ve never seen a standing ovation last for over 5 minutes as this did, but we were certain it was deserved. Plus, if you’ve not been to the Donmar, we urge you to try it. A blank floor and backdrop are surrounded on three side by seats, with a small three row circle. You can see from everywhere and it’s intimacy made this intense show even more so. Unfortunately advance tickets for Piaf are sold out so it’s down to the 10 day seats, and 20 standing spaces available on the day of performance each day from 10.30am.  A lot of effort, but it’s worth it.

Piaf runs from now until September 20th at Donmar Warehouse, Earlham Street. Find out more here.

All Hail Janelle Monáe

I have a new favourite pop star. Yes, only hours after RebekkahMaria I have now been drastically won over by the deliciously funky Janelle Monáe.

You may have heard her soulful tones on Outkast’s ‘Idlewild’ soundtrack, but I’ve just been introduced to her via awesome American blog Arjan Writes. Originally her EP Metropolis was released on a small label in 2007. As these things sometime do, it spread through the music lovers and built up a buzz before P Diddy signed her up to his label and Outkast’s Big Boi rocked up on production duties.

Yesterday she released ‘Metropolis: The Chase Suite’ in America and her full length debut will follow in early 2009. It’s a concept EP telling the tale of Janelle’s alter ego sci-fi android Cindy Mayweather who falls ‘madly in love with a human’. Although the two races live side by side, the androids are govered by a law that says no android can ever fall in love so it’s time for Cindi to go on the run and escape the droid control hunting her down with chainsaws. It’s bonkers, but coupled with the mash of strange hammond organ, James Bond-esque strings, funk, rock and soul, manages to completely work and sound magical.

Download: Janelle Monae – Violet Stars Happy Hunting!!! [MP3]

Introducing… As In RebekkaMaria


The former singer of Danish band Lampshade, As In RebekkaMaria is the latest in a long line of Scandanavian pop stars I’m enjoying. Considerably more bonkers acting than the rest, Rebekka Maria came to London for her first show last night and we went down to check it out.

With very little promotion and no one having a clue who she was, there were only about 22 people there but after a rubbish first 3 minutes it then turned into a mini rave. Wearing a massive purple scarf round her hair for the first part of the gig, there was unfortunately no live band with RM singing over a DJ playing tracks. Unlike when we saw Annie do this a few years ago though, you could actually hear what she was saying.

Twisted strange sounding pop with quite creepy electro, the highlights had to be the energetic ‘She Lion’ and finale ‘Army of Foxes’. Team her up with Roisin Murphy and you’d have an electropop duet made in heaven. I’m waiting for her awesomely named album ‘Queen of France’ to arrive but in the meantime take a listen to her myspace.

Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day

Back in February I watched a trailer on youtube for a film called Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. I’m not very up on my film but thought this looked simply wonderful. Ever since I’ve not heard a single peep about it until The Times offered it up last week for a free screening.

The screening took place yesterday and lived up to my expectation in every way. It’s a light hearted romp through the glitz and glamour of the days just before WWII broke out with the fabulous Amy Adams and serious acting lady Frances McDormand in the lead roles. Frances plays Miss Pettigrew, a dowdy & homeless former governess who accidentally becomes the social secretary of American flap about town Delysia Lafosse. With excellent costumes, a brilliant soundtrack and some tasty supporting male actors, it had everything to make it a karinski success review wise – music, Lee Pace, war, romance, pre war hair, Cole Porter, frocks, a run time of 1h 30, Amy Adams,  duets and old London.

Simply wonderful, go and see it when it’s released next Friday or at very least check out the trailer here.

Review: A Swell Party at Cadogan Hall

[Originally posted on Londonist]

The music of Cole Porter may not be something you would expect to be discussed on Londonist, but every since we sobbed our way through ‘De-Lovely’ in Whiteley’s cinema we’ve been a big fan. So we were excited to see Chelsea’s gorgeous Cadogan Hall promising 4 nights Cole Porter kind of biopic ‘A Swell Party’.

Originally staged at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1991, John Kane’s show attempts to re-create Porter’s life story using a narrator as Cole himself with songs sung by 4 of his friends. Featuring 47 songs in just over 2 hours, there’s a lot to cram in and as such some of our favourites such as ‘Night and Day’ and ‘You’re The Top’ get shoved into medleys.

Simon Green is a commanding Cole with all the dapper swing and flirtnyness you would expect from the man himself. He even deals with forgetting his lines in character with a twinkle to the audience. Accompanied by leading musical directors David Firman and Jason Carr on two pianos, the production is a little old fashioned, but if you’re just after songs rather than a dazzling stage show you’re in luck.

Maria Friedman, fresh from a recent one woman show at Menier Chocolate Factory, puts in a big performance of ‘Blow Gabriel Blow’ from ‘Anything Goes’; while other highlights include Daniel Evans’ once scandalous ‘Love For Sale’ and ensemble number ‘Coffee’.

Review: Red Blooded Women at Water Rats

Red Blooded Women

Good new girl groups are far and few between. While we may have loved Sugababes back in the day and Girls Aloud are still owners of our heart, for everyone of them there’s also been a Clea, a Mania and a Frank. Now, more than ever since the time of Spice Power, new girl groups are trying to make it, with Red Blooded Women being one name in a long list.

Put together by Mark Pattison, a former journalist for Popjustice, you’d expect them to be sassy, edgy and poptastic and it seems they are just that. We caught Carly, Candy and Liz at one a small London gig at Water Rats last night playing to an excitable crowd in an excitable manner. There’s no faux graces or stage school wide eyes about these three, instead you’re kind of transported to the world of the Spice Girls before they were famous with cheeky on stage banter, flirting with the audience and leader of the gang Liz becoming your new best mate.

As The Saturdays make the first girl group chart stamp of 2008 with their Yazoo sampling ‘If This Is Love’, Red Blooded Women somehow manage to choose the same band to sample on opening track ‘Colour Me Dirty’. Typical of their sound, it’s big, brash and oozing with 80s synths much like debut single ‘You Made Your Bed’, complete with ‘With Every Heartbeat’ style breakdown. Our favourite song had to be cheeky PWL homage ‘Keep up The Attraction’ dedicated to Banarama and built with mischevious dance routines.

We have to be honest here, but we’re not entirely sure that all vocals we heard tonight were live. They were a bit too perfect, still we’re not talking about anything serious and chinstroking here, just pure unashamed pop calculated for dancefloor perfection.

Check them out online here and download a megamix of their forthcoming album here.

Avenue

People going on about how ‘pop is back’ is getting a bit boring. It came back about 9 months ago, so heavily labouring how you’re pop and proud of it is nothing but a corporate line to take now.

Avenue are the new boys on the block. You might recognise them from X-Factor before they got kicked off for being specially manufactured for the show. Now they’re signed to Island Records and running round like it’s 2001 and they’re One True Voice.

Somewhat harsh, but the first time I heard their debut single ‘Last Goodbye’ I couldn’t believe my eyes. A terrible video and a really outdated song. Bizarrely some of their music has been written by Anders from Alphabeat so you would expect something more modern than this.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_oxm-MsD9xo[/youtube]

That said, now I’ve heard the song more than about 5 times it’s grown on me. Last week we went down to Avenue (!) in town to see them perform. They were much better live, but looked very nervous and a bit embarrased which is never a good sign.

After the gig a lot of really important radio people (and somehow me) went for dinner. There the crucial thing was decided – who was the hottest.

max-avenue.jpg Max came 2nd, but ultimately we decided he might make love to you and then murder you after spending their awesome first song looking like he was about to leap out into the crowd and kill us all.
Mad eyes.

andy-avenue.jpg Andy instead is cute, has lovely curly hair and is the type of boy you take home to meet your mum.
Andy wins!