Ray Charles

Last week I was lucky enough to be invited to Abbey Road Studios for the EMI 2012 showcase. Lots of people from radio to digital to press to tv and so on were all gathered together for a few songs from lots of artists across the Parlophone / Virgin / EMI stable on what was the last day before EMI was sold. On the bill was Leeds band To Kill A King, Morning Parade, The Good Natured, Professor Green, Emeli Sande and Kylie headlining and revealing her orchestral album for 2012.

Emeli Sande was an utter superstar live and I can’t wait to see her do a full live show, but the most obvious radio hit out of the lot of them was the new one from Chiddy Bang.  The duo from Philadephia released the brililant MGMT sampling Opposite of Adults and Passion Pit sampling in 2010 but nothing else seemed to happen. It’s all go now though with the release of their debut album Breakfast set for Spring 2012. This is the lead single and it’s a smash. Craig Charles can certainly make a good jingle out of it for his radio show if nothing else.

Somewhere in Italy

US r&b producers love to come out into the spotlight at the moment, and the latest are The Stereotypes now performing as Jon MCXRO (amusingly pronounced Jon McEnroe).

They’ve just released their debut album for free download (get it legally here) and a video for the fun electro-rap of LEGO.

The standout track for me though is ‘Somewhere in Italy’. Featuring former US boyband member Travis Garland (he was in a group with Artie from Glee), it samples Piero Umilani’s Crepuscolo Sul Mare, composed for the Ocean’s 12 soundtrack, and is just 4 minutes of a lush r&b groove.

Utterly gorgeous

Tanya Lacey

The name Tanya Lacey is probably a little familiar thanks to her feature earlier in 2011 on Loick Essien’s How We Roll. Signed by RCA earlier in the year she’s just about to start releasing her own material starting with the incredible ‘Letters To My Ex’. Super soulful, Tanya started her career in Bristol reggae band, Laid Back, when she was 16 and after learning her craft went her own way a few years later.  Now she’s been working with Roc Nation and Labrinth for her debut album and we’re told we can expect some of her reggae rapping abilities to present itself on forthcoming tracks. She can also play the steel drums! Bring it!

Currently she’s being introduced via specialist media, but the old school Alicia / Mary J / John Legend / Lauren vibes to this track feel like it would be enough to break her through so hopefully they’ll return to this song next year when it’s time to go mainstream.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NqG7p21D2Ys&feature=channel_video_title[/youtube]

A sound of 2012 contender for sure.

The House of Annie Lennox

I have a rather unfair opinion of Annie Lennox as a woman who doesn’t half bleat on. Thankfully it tends to be about amazing, worthy things that she’s upto or supporting. She’s certainly the most obvious AIDS activist I can think of. Had however, I have been about (in non toddler format) at the height of her fame I suspect I’d be a huge, huge fan and she would have been right up my street.

A strong, confident woman with able to manipulate her image, play with her sexuality, become an icon and put on a fierce show. What’s not to love? I’m a fan of the Eurythmics and solo songs I’ve just come across in my life but they’re another one of those bands that are on my very long list of people to properly invest time in when I have it.

This weekend I happened across The House of Annie Lennox at The V&A. We had half an hour in the museum and were quickly running through to see what we could find. I’ve only ever been around the fashion galleries there (currently closed until April 2012) and my childhood memory was that that was the entire museum. How wrong I am. I need to go back there and do some proper exploring.

This time however we were lucky enough to discover this nearly hidden room. It’s a gorgeous one room display, curated by Annie herself, that pumps out songs and displays some of her famous outfits, her awards, and various handwritten lyrics, notes and memories. Centered around what looks like a small wendy house, it’s really worth popping in quickly and checking it out if you’re in the area. It’s definitely reignited my interest and jumped the Eurythmics to the top of my bands to listen to list.

The exhibition is free and runs until the end of February 2012.

BETTER THAN SOPHIE HABIBIAS

… even possibly in name. Meet Phlo Finister – her real name is Elijah (even though she is a girl!). 19 years old and from LA, she’s obsessed with Edie Sedgewick and has reversioned Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang’ with a bassline sample from Mobb Deep’s ‘Shook Ones’. It could still do with a bit of an Audiobully’s DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN breakout.

[vimeo]http://vimeo.com/31053578[/vimeo]

Classy American swagger without the surgically enhanced lips.