REVIEW: Phatchance – “Inkstains”

“Inkstains” is the 2009 debut album from Aussie hip-hop artist Phatchance. In hindsight, I can understand exactly why he’s nabbed spots touring with The Herd and Bliss N Eso, because “Inkstains” has got to be one of the most enjoyable and consistent debuts I’ve heard for quite a while.

Driving brass instrumentation leads the opening title track, and from the off-set Chance’s strong rapping slices through the fray, rising clear and balancing out with every other part, highlighting not only his vocal skills but the high production values instilled in this release.

Dealing with topics such as the difficulty of a music career, alcohol problems, and relationships, inspiration has been drawn from a myriad of situations. They may not all be brilliant feel-good hits of the summer, but as it’s put in “The Catchy Song”:

“That’s not true either, but I’m happy a lot / I just don’t make songs about the candy shop.”

Ultimately this sits perfectly with his music as well. Though that’s not to say this is a depressing album – Chance’s brilliant lyricism walks the fine line between emotive and moving, introspective, and entertaining. Filled with the kind of playful jibes at James Blunt and Kanye West in “The Catchy Song”, and the McDonald’s verse at the end of “Invisible Queen”, we’re given another side to Chance – one that ultimately benefits the album.

To compliment this, the variation in musical sound lends the album some movement. So many artists release material that all seems to blend together. “Inkstains” introduces guest vocalists (though not in excess!) like the brilliant Sam McNeill on “I Don’t Know”, and 360 and Smiles Again on “The Catchy Song”. Incorporating jazzy piano melodies on “Invisible Queen” then drawing in distorted guitar chords during the climax just shows the contrasts that Chance can bring together to form something cohesive and unified.

“Inkstains” is ultimately a solid debut, and the work put into it shows. The vocal delivery is brilliant, and with the lyrics manage to be both witty, serious, and heartfelt at the same time. Musically the album changes tone through a diverse range of melodies and instrumentation. This is a great debut. Let’s hope there’s more amazing material to come!

Verdict: Positive

You can check out some of Phatchance’s stuff at his Unearthed page, or download my I Forget, Sorry! mixtape here!

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REVIEW: Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – “The Sound of Wings”

The pairing of Coptic Soldier’s rapping and Miriam Waks’ soulful vocals proves to be an effective combination on their debut EP. Coptic has shown he’s got something special after touring with artists like Bliss n Eso, The Herd, and even De La Soul.  Miriam has been nominated for the 2007 ACE Awards, the 2008 MO Awards, and has featured on Spit Syndicate’s “Towards the Light” (an ARIA nominated album). These two artists clearly have talent. So how does it turn out when they work together on “The Sound of Wings”?

Let me begin by saying that it’s very interesting, and I mean that in the best way possible. There are plenty of hip-hop artists out there who have used great singers like Miriam as backing vocalists before, but the way that they’re both balanced out evenly across the release works excellently, and is a testament to both of the duo’s skills. Not only vocally, but in an instrumental sense “The Sound of Wings” proves to be something a bit different. Drawing influences from various cultures, it brings in bright brass sections, subtle plucked-string riffs, and traditional hip-hop beats.

Opener “Why Suffer” is a perfect starting track for the EP. It’s up-beat vibe and the tension built up towards the end really make this track work well. While it doesn’t feel like any other track really returns to this kind of, almost “party” (for want of a better term) feeling, which is a slight disappointment, the rest of the EP is fairly solid.

Title track “The Sound of Wings” provides a brilliant bridge to the last few songs. It feels relaxing, and though it’s short, I feel like it’s a really important part of the EP. To me it felt like it was what the whole EP was built upon, in a thematic sense. Despite being so drastically different, “The Sound of Wings” is captivating and feels integral to the release.

Lyrically, some lines just don’t feel right. They either feel clichéd or forced. This is a rare occurrence, but when it happens it’s noticeable. For example: “I can feel it coming in the air tonight” from closer “In The Air Tonight”. Unfortunately lines like this make it difficult to listen to a song and hear it as it should be heard – as the artist intended.

The extreme contrast between the two vocalists really adds some variation to the melodies, and it gives the duo more room to expand their style. Although Coptic’s rapping feels very laid-back and casual, at times I feel like it could benefit from a bit more of a bite. The vocals though are generally quite good, but often the songs feel like they wander along and just don’t go anywhere. Sometimes there’s just nothing to grab my attention.

Despite all of the EP’s highs and lows, I feel like Coptic and Miriam have produced a solid debut EP. Musically, the cohesion between the different genres and cultural styles sounds effortless, providing enough contrast to hold interest without creating friction. Lyrically they deal with subjects they feel strongly about, like alcohol and religion, and this heartfelt outpouring of emotion shows some sincerity and artistic integrity. I can’t help but feel there are areas for improvement, but clearly Coptic Soldier and Miriam Waks have a dynamic way of creating music together, and I’m sure in the future they’ll refine their style. Until then, “The Sound of Wings” aint bad at all.

Verdict: Positive.

Check out some of their work, with other artists, in my I Forget, Sorry! mixtape here.

Or grab a couple of free songs from their triple j Unearthed page here.

MIXTAPE: On The Tune Mixtape Vol. 3 – I Forget, Sorry! mix

Hey everyone. I’m going to be doing some reviews for Aussie collective I Forget, Sorry! over the next few weeks, so I thought it’d be a good idea to introduce you all to some of their stuff.

They’re primarily a hip-hop collective, but they merge other genres and styles through their music, so it’s a pretty interesting listen. Check ‘em out.

Tracklist:

1. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – Why Suffer

2. Elgen and Johnny Utah – Matchbox ft. Phatchance & Steve Hollins

3. Mind Over Matter – It’s Not A Secret

4. Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks – No More Waiting feat. Phatchance

5. PhatchanceInvisible Queen

6. Elgen and Johnny Utah – When The Rain Hits ft. Steve Hollins

7. Mind Over Matter – Still Skinny (Konfuzion Remix)

8. Phatchance – Mountain Of Glass

Download

Size: 25.16 mb

Don’t know how to unzip stuff? Download 7zip here.
Don’t know which download link to click? I don’t know what .msi files are either. Do you use Windows? Try this one.

I’ve already reviewed Elgen and Johnny Utah’s “The Welcoming Party”, so look out for reviews of Coptic Soldier & Miriam Waks, Mind Over Matter, and Phatchance over the next month.

MIXTAPE: On The Tune Mixtape Vol. 1 – Aussie Indie

Remember how I said I was working on a surprise? Yeah, well this is it.

I was sick of seeing other blogs giving away cool music while mine didn’t. So I decided I’d go around and find a tonne of bands who would let me use their music in a mixtape. I want to do this legally and do the right thing by the bands. So I sent out e-mails to many a manager and band, asking for permission to use their songs in a free mixtape. Quite a few didn’t reply, but many did. For which I am quite grateful.

So as a consequence of this, I now proudly present to you the first volume of my On The Tune Mixtape. As you’ve probably noticed, this one is themed around Australian independent bands, but future ones may not be themed at all. We’ll see how it goes.

Tracklist:

1. Kill Teen Angst – Gen Y

2. Lovers of Modern Art – I Got The Shakes

3. Goodnight Owl – Maps & Compasses

4. Faux Pas – Chasing Waterfalls

5. Guineafowl – Botanist

6. Kid Sam – We’re Mostly Made of Water

7. Emperors – Favourite Colours

8. The Weekend People – Mascara

9. The Good China – All Nothing

10. Polaroid Fame – Face Off

11. Elgen and Johnny Utah – When The Rain Hits ft. Steve Hollins

12. Sleep Decade – Colour In Between The Lines

13. Tyrian Dawn – Colours to the Mast

14. The Jezabels – Hurt Me

Download

This had been downloaded at least 250 odd times before it was taken down. Why? Because apparently it contained artists like The Black Eyed Peas and Rihanna. Clearly, it does not.
Thanks for that IFPI. You also seem to be ignoring my e-mails regarding the matter. This is why bloggers who operate legitimately and legally with regard for musicians get annoyed with you.

The above is the re-uploaded version everyone.

Size: 68.46 mb

Don’t know how to unzip stuff? Download 7zip here.
Don’t know which download link to click? I don’t know what .msi files are either. Do you use Windows? Try this one.

Just a quick shout-out to all the artists/managers for allowing me to use these tracks! I really appreciate it.

Also; feel free to (in fact, please) spread the word about the mixtape! Just link back to my blog post here. Thanks!

I’ll see you guys in 3 weeks! Most likely. Unless I get some spare time.

ATTN: Short holiday.

Okay, just a heads up, I’m going to be away until Sunday the 11th, so there won’t be any posts for a few days.

Hope everyone had a good Easter, for those of you who celebrate it.

Also, don’t forget, I’m on the lookout for some Australian independent bands. If you know of any that’re really good, or you’re a part of one, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail: jeremy@onthetune.com

Cheers.