I Really Needed This Right Now: Michael Kiwanuka – Love & Hate

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It’s been a crappy week in this ‘Year That Sucks.’ With darkened mood, I look to my turntable for a lifeline, something…anything to shine a bit of light into a world that no longer makes any sense. Nothing seems to work until a conversation I have with a friend leads me down a path to the record store.

You see, as per usual, I arrive late to the party. Somehow the floatation device I had been searching desperately for had been put on the shelves months ago and I failed to see it. In a black cover with a melting grey heart, I place my hopes on the vinyl circles within.

The needle strikes the groove and I’m gone. The O’Jays meet Pink Floyd in a drawn out sonic line in the sand. Slow and melodic “Cold Little Heart” creeps under the skin and my head sways to the rhythm. A lead guitar soars out over with the voice of angels in the background. It smacks me in the head as if I’m listening to Ennio Morricone in a Philadelphia setting. It’s new old soul. Visual images dance in front of my closed eyes. It’s neon shimmering lightly in the rain, sad and powerful simultaneously.

“Standing now Calling all the people here to see the show Calling for my demons now to let me go I need something, give me something wonderful”

Projecting. I’m projecting. Kiwanuka’s “Love & Hate” has said something that makes sense to me. Tears begin to flow. This art understands me… or do I it?

Fuck it!

Why overanalyze this?

I’m moved. I need this. It’s the soundtrack to this moment; music for broken people in broken times.

“One More Night” with its mix of horns and bass plays out with quiet desperation. Like a tired person who can’t stop walking. And, quite honestly, this is how the whole record is. It’s heartbreakingly beautiful.

Love & Hate isn’t your over-produced modern R&B. It’s organic, it rings with emotion, and it never feels like you are being sold some auto-tune cliché meant to promote sales over a genuine musical experience. It’s the one record this year that I am not only happy I purchased, but grateful to have found in the first place.

(Now if only I could get some tickets to his sold out show here in Toronto I might even crack a smile.)

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More Than Meets The Eye or Django Django – Born Under Saturn

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I’ve never really found a soft spot for electronica, and I’ve never worshipped at the altar of Kraftwerk. I say this because it seems that when you have bias against the master, you’re just not going to like the apprentice; except, like in life, things aren’t always that straight forward. Where you might hear Kraftwerk I hear Depeche Mode; where you might identify with echoes of Primal Scream I hear whispers of pre ‘wall of sound’ rock ‘n’ pop and when you say Animal Collective I mention Pink Floyd.

All this means is that influences as descriptors gets old fast and the music has to stand on its own merits. Certainly their Mercury nominated self titled debut managed that in spades, but can they continue to do so?

Well, yeah!

Opening track “Giant” is a slow burner that rides waves of psychedelia to create an atmospheric mood pool. The second song “Shake and Tremble” starts with a “Peter Gunn Theme” like riff before breaking into a minimalistic early rock style you might think was Phil Spector producing a lo-fi record.

Each song has these elements that contain little nuggets of influence and sound that seem to drift up and down as if they were a bubble in a light breeze. A funky base leads to a carousel, or a synth line turns all 60’s go-go dance.

Born Under Saturn is like taking a drive (as a passenger) in a convertible with a blindfold on; you don’t know where the hell your going but the journey sure feels incredible.

The other cool thing about this release is the work that Django Django has done to impress their fans. While you can get Born Under Saturn in multiple formats you need to check out the bands vinyl option with Rough Trade, it is absolutely gorgeous.

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