Lovebox ’17 – Friday Picks

Celebrating its 15th anniversary, Lovebox Festival returns to East London’s Victoria Park tomorrow (14-15th July) with an eclectic line-up spanning across the two days. Friday’s headline act is the one and only Frank Ocean, performing one of his only two UK festivals this year. With the success of his debut album Channel Orange, followed by 2016’s Blonde featuring collaborations from the likes of Beyoncé and Kendrick Lamar, Frank Ocean has wildly become one the most celebrated and critically acclaimed acts of this decade. With a whole host of amazing acts set to kick off Day 1 of Lovebox, celebrating the best of British and international musical talent, here are some of my top picks for Friday:

1) Jamie XX (Main Stage: 7.25pm – 8.40pm)

Jamie xx has the task this year of playing right before main stage headliner, Frank Ocean. However, when you have tracks such as ‘I Know There’s Gonna Be Good Times’, it pretty much speaks for itself. With the massive success of his 2015 debut album In Colour giving us transcendent singles such as ‘Loud Places’, ‘See Saw’ and ‘Gosh’, Jamie xx consistently delivers a wide range of textures & styles, firmly positioning himself as a unique & imaginative contributor to the British dance scene. Jamie xx pushes boundaries and offers up a new realm of possibility from that of his main project, The xx. Whatever you do, make sure you reserve your spot for Jamie’s main stage set.

2) Solange (Noisey Stage: 8pm – 9pm)

Over the past few years, Solange couldn’t be mentioned in an article without being referred to as as ‘Beyonce’s Sister’. However, after years of hard work proving herself as an established, forward-thinking and grammy-winning artist, Solange can finally lose the ‘Beyonce’ tag. Her most recent album,  A Seat at the Table, confidently dealt with the complexities of black womanhood. With stunning singles such as ‘Cranes in the Sky’, ‘Mad’ ft Lil Wayne and ‘Don’t Touch My Hair’ ft Sampha, Solange has made a fearless stance with her empowering body of work.  Having recently performed on Glastonbury’s West Holt Stage to rave reviews (one of the few performances that wasn’t allowed to be filmed for the BBC coverage) make sure you don’t miss her Lovebox set.

3) Rex Orange County (Noisey Stage: 2.20pm – 2.50pm)

Rex Orange County (aka Alex O’Conner) first came to my attention last year with his single ‘UNO’, serving up a refreshing slice of charming lo-fi mixed with witty conversational style vocals. When your talents have been recognised by Tyler the Creator, you know you’re onto something pretty special and unique. With the release of his self-produced debut album  ‘bcos u will never b free’, featuring on Tyler’s recent track ‘Boredom’, to his most recent debut album proper, Apricot Princess, ROC’s material offers up a personable outlook on life, effortlessly blending various styles from pop and indie to jazz and hip-hop. Showcasing  a talent far beyond his years, O’Conner’s melodic hooks are infectious and unassuming as heard in tracks such as ‘Best Friend’, ‘Sunflower’ and ‘Sycamore Girls’.

4) Sälen (Main Stage: 2.45pm- 3.15pm)

Self described as ‘Straight-talking, slightly to the left pop music’’, Sälen is made up of Ellie Kamio, Paul Taylor Wade and Simon Milner. The London trio, whose name is inspired by a small Swedish village with 652 inhabitants, serve up some effortlessly cool vibes with a unique edge. From their infectious synth-pop vibes of ‘Diseasey’ and ‘Heartbreak Diet’ to the saccharine-induced tones of ‘So Rude’ and ‘Copper Kiss’, Sälen’s eclectic influences set them apart from their contemporaries serving up a delectable form of ‘explicit pop’. With their glossy productions, breezy melodies and sweet sugary vocals akin to the likes of AlunaGeorge, this is one act that certainly won’t disappoint.

5) Ray BLK (Noisey Stage:4.00pm – 4.30pm)

23-year-old Ray BLK kicked off the year as BBC’s Sound of 2017 winner and has since gone from strength to strength with her straight-talking, down to earth attitude.  With the success of previous tracks ‘My Hood’, ‘Chill Out, ‘2am’ and her most recent offering ‘Doing Me’, Ray perfectly balances her free style vocals and soulful R&B melodies, delivering a refreshing slice of UK R&B. Having recently featured on Gorillaz’s latest album Humanz alongside Zebra Katz and Rag‘n’Bone Man, as well as previous collaborations with Stormzy and Wretch 32,  Ray is currently working on her debut album, which will no doubt represent her core values from her stage name, BLK (Building, Living Knowing)

6) Joe Goddard  (Corona Sunsets Stage: 4.00pm – 5.30pm)

As one half of house-duo 2 Bears, member of electro band Hot Chip and co founder of the Greco-Roman imprint, Producer/DJ Joe Goddard has released over a decade worth of albums and remixes – even earning him a Grammy nomination for his edit of the Chemical Brothers’ ‘Wide Open’. While his many side projects keep him busy, Goddard finally unveiled his highly anticipated first official solo album, Electric Lines. The album skilfully pays homage to the history of dance music and retro electro. His infectious form of house, disco, techno, creativity and left-wing pop music, has given us gems such as ‘Gabriel’, ‘Taking Over’ and more recently ‘Home‘ and ‘Truth Is The Answer’.

With so many incredible acts kicking of Day 1 of Lovebox, it’s impossible to narrow down my top picks. Notable mentions have to go to Sampha, Eats Everything, Bicep, Seth Troxler, Kaytranada & DJ Jazzy Jeff – all of which I’ll definitely be checking out throughout the day. So to get you in the mood for some sun and music this weekend, check out my Lovebox Playlist below. Check back soon for Saturday’s picks!


Year in Review: Top 100 Tracks of 2012

top 10

With 2013 just around the corner, I wanted to compile a list of my favourite tracks of 2012. Not an easy task, considering the amount of standout tracks throughout the year. From TNGHT’s massive trap anthem ‘Higher Ground‘, to Frank Oceans RnB odyssey in ‘Pyramids‘, below are my top 100 tracks. Roll on 2013 and here’s to another exciting year in music!

Top 100 Tracks of 2012

  1. TNGHT – Higher Ground
  2. Azealia Banks – Esta Noche
  3. Frank Ocean – Pyramids
  4. Kendrick Lamar – Swimming Pools (Drank)
  5. Kanye West – Clique Ft Big Sean and Jay Z
  6. Frank Ocean – Thinkin’ Bout You
  7. Major Lazer – Get Free
  8. Jessie Ware – Wildest Moments
  9. Plan B – Ill Manors
  10. Disclosure – Latch
  11. Rudimental – Feel The Love ft John Newman
  12. Mumford & Sons – I Will Wait
  13. Frank Ocean – Bad Religion
  14. Foals – Inhaler
  15. Angel Haze – New York
  16. Knife Party – Sleaze
  17. Kanye West – Mercy Ft Big Sean, Pusha T, 2 Chainz
  18. Hot Natured & Ali Love – Benediction
  19. MIA – Bad Girls
  20. Baauer – Harlem Shake
  21. Angel Haze – Werkin’ Girls
  22. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs – American Dream Part 2
  23. Lianne La Havas – Is Your Love Big Enough
  24. Swedish House Mafia – Greyhound
  25. Jack White – Sixteen Salteens
  26. Julio Bashmore – Au Seve
  27. Jake Bugg – Two Fingers
  28. Steve Aoki – Beat Down ft Angger Dimas & Iggy Azalea
  29. Dillon Francis – Masta Blasta (The Rebirth)
  30. Todd Terje – Inspector Norse
  31. Grimes – Oblivion
  32. Florence + The Machine – Spectrum (Say My Name)
  33. Scissor Sisters – Lets have a Kiki
  34. AlunaGeorge – You Know You Like It
  35. Haim  – Forever
  36. Calvin Harris – Sweet Nothing ft Florence Welch
  37. Solange – Losing You
  38. DJ Fresh – Gold Dust Shy fx re edit
  39. Chvrches –  The Mother We Share
  40. The Maccabees – Feel to Follow
  41. Everything Everything – Cough Cough
  42. Ellie Goulding – Anything Could Happen
  43. Example ft Clavin Harris – We’ll Be Coming Back For You
  44. Purity Ring – Fineshrine
  45. Alt J – Something Good
  46. Palma Violets – Best Of Friends
  47. Django Django – Default
  48. Skrillex –  Breakn’ a Sweat
  49. Redight – Lost In Your Love
  50. Polica – Wandering Star
  51. Haim – Don’t Save Me
  52. Jessie Ware – Night Light
  53. Taylor Swift – We Are Never Ever ..
  54. Two Door Cinema Club  – Sleep Alone
  55. Madeon – Finale
  56. Kasabian – Goodbye Kiss
  57. Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs- Tapes & Money
  58. Puirity Ring – Lofticries
  59. Benga – Pour Your Love
  60. Grizzly Bear – Yet Again
  61. Polica – Lay Your Cards Out
  62. Santigold – Disparate Youth
  63. AlunaGeorge – Your Drums Your Love
  64. The xx – Angels
  65. Coldplay ft Rihanna – Princess of China
  66. Knife Party – Bonfire
  67. Baauer – Dum Dum
  68. TNGHT – Bugg’n
  69. The Maccabees – Ayla
  70. Emeli Sande – Read All About It (Part III)
  71. Underworld – Caliban’s Dream ft Alex Trimble
  72. Madeon – Icarus
  73. Villagers – Nothing Arrived
  74. Alt J – Matilda
  75. Language – Porter Robinson
  76. Bat For Lashes – Laura
  77. Grimes – Genesis
  78. Diplo – Express Yourself
  79. Kasabian – Man of Simple Pleasures
  80. Scissor Sisters vs Krystal Pepsy ft Azealia Banks – Shady Love
  81. Alabama Shakes – Hold On
  82. Maxsta – I Wanna Rock
  83. The Neighbourhood – Let It Go
  84. Passion Pit – Take A Walk
  85. The 2 Bears – Work
  86. Bloc Party – Octopus
  87. Ben Howard – Only Love
  88. Roses Gabor – Stars
  89. Hooray for Earth  – No Love
  90. Benzel & Jessie Ware – If You Love Me
  91. PartyClub – Young and Free
  92. Delphic – Good Life
  93. Tame Impala – Elephant
  94. Major Lazer – Jah No Partial
  95. Blur – Under The Westway
  96. Muse – Survival
  97. The Killers – Runaways
  98. Bombay Bicycle club – How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep
  99. Hot Chip – Night & Day
  100. The Cast of Cheers – Human Elevator

Barclaycard Mercury Prize – Albums of the Year (Part 2)

Continuing on from Part 1, we take a look at the next 6 albums in the running for the coveted Barclaycard Mercury Prize – Album of the Year.

7) Michael Kiwanuka – Home Again

Home Again‘ is the debut album from singer-songwriter Michael Kiwanuka, released by Polydor Records in March 2012. It features the singles, ‘Home Again’, ‘I’m Getting Ready’ and ‘Bones’.

The 25 year old Londoner started off the year on a high, after winning the BBC Sound of 2012, beating off tough competition from Azealia Banks and Frank Ocean. His debut album, produced by Paul Butler, is a soulful folk album showcasing Kiwanuka’s rich jazz voice. Having been inspired by Otis Redding ‘Sitting on the Dock of the Bay’, Kiwanuka’s style ranges from the laid-back summery atmosphere of ‘I’m getting Ready’ to the old school retro sounds of his latest single ‘Bones’ and the smooth mellow sounds of his debut single, ‘Home Again’.

Having supported both Adele and Laura Marling on tour, Michael has just set off on his own US tour, with a European tour set to start Nov 9th in Paris. Be sure to check out his new single ‘Bones‘, set for release on September 24th.


8) Plan B – Ill Manors

East Londoner Plan B (AKA Ben Drew), released his third album ‘Ill Manors’ through Atlantic Records in July 2012. The album, which was also the soundtrack to his directorial film debut of the same name, includes contributions from Labrinth and Kano and features the singles ‘Deepest Shame’, ‘Lost My Way’, and ‘Ill Manors’.

‘Ill Manors’ skillfully depicts the underside of London and the harsh realities including protests, drugs, racism and violence.  Combine that with soulful choruses, stirring strings, classical samples, bursts of dialogue and drum ‘n’ bass and you’re in for a brilliantly perceptive album.  We’re presented with a genuine sense of frustration and hopelessness in ‘Lost My Way’ and although the album is relentlessly grim, it offers a somewhat positive message in ‘Live Once’ to ‘follow your dreams’.

Plan B recently performed at the iTunes festival last week, but if you weren’t lucky to get tickets, you can catch him on his UK tour starting February 2013.


9) Richard Hawley – Standing at the Sky’s Edge

Standing at the Sky’s Edge‘ is the 6th album from Richard Hawley. Released through Parlophone Records in May 2012, the album features the singles ‘Down in the Woods‘ and ‘Leave Your Body Behind You

The Sheffield based singer has worked with the likes of Pulp, Robbie Williams and Red Hot Chili Peppers and has gone on to create 5 critically acclaimed albums. ‘Standing at the Sky’s Edge‘ refers to an area in Sheffield that once boasted amazing views of the city, but is now over-run with council estates and crime. Again, not the most uplifting subject matter, however the music captures this perfectly with its echoed vocals and distorted guitar solos.

Hawley really lets loose in this album, from the hazy distorted echoes of ‘She Brings The Sunlight’, to the rock n roll vibes of ‘Down in the Woods. Don’t Stare at the Sun’ presents us with a chilled out track highlighting Hawleys melodic vocals that builds to one of his statement guitar solos. His recent single ‘Leave Your Body Behind You’ allows Hawley to rock out, as the reverb almost overpowers Hawleys vocals. The constant repetition of Hawley and the choir chanting ‘Leave Your Body Behind You’, adds to an extremely effective finish.

Be sure to catch Richard Hawley at one of his many upcoming UK and EU dates.


10) Roller Trio – Roller Trio 

Roller Trio consisting of James Mainwaring (tenor sax and electronics), Luke Wynter (guitar) and Luke Reddin-Williams (drums), released their self titled debut album in August 2012, through F-IRE Presents.

The trio, who are previous recipients of the 2011 Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, are a dynamic group filled with rhythmic patterns and melodic riffs and also combine elements of hip hop, rock and funk. Roller Trio think outside the box, to deliver a fresh take on contemporary jazz that is greatly influenced by popular culture.

The 9 track album features the tracks ‘Deep Heat’ ‘R-O-R’ and ‘Where’s my Whip’. Keep an eye out for one of their many upcoming UK dates from September 23rd.


11) Sam Lee – Ground of its Own

North London’s Sam Lee, released his debut album in July 2012 through The Nest Collective and  features the singles ‘The Ballad of George Collins’ and ‘Goodbye My Darling’.

‘Ground of it’s Own’ is a compelling and uplifting debut album, that breathes new life into old songs from the Gypsy traveller communities. He celebrates the British tradition of the ever changing British folk song, and sings with such charm and beauty. His interpretations of the songs, allows him to explore both lost and current sounds. In ‘The Ballad of George Collins‘, he incorporates the use of a jaws harp, to propel the once mellow track into a more trance-like song. His rich baritone voice further highlights the storytelling aspect through out the album.

From The London Jazz festival at The National Maritme Musuem in London, to the Folk Aliance in Toronto, Sam has plenty of upcoming performances to look out for.


12) The Maccabees – Given to the Wild

Brighton based five-piece band, The Maccabees, released their third album ‘Given to the Wild’ in January 2012, through Fiction Records. It features the singles ‘Pelican’, ‘Feel to Follow’ and their latest single ‘Ayla which was released September 10th.

Given to the Wild’ is a creative and lyrical album that captures your attention throughout. The album serves as a nice change from their typical acoustic origins, and shows how the band has matured by incorporating a variety of different influences to evolve their sound. The wonderfully structured album presents us with a varied selection of tracks, from the soft ghostly echoes of ‘Child’, to the beautiful melodic harmonies of ‘Heave’.  ‘Pelican’ packs some quirky punches with its infectious energy, upligting chorus and angular guitar riffs, while the laid back vocal style of ‘Feel to Follow’ builds to a transcendent, uplifting moment.

Currently in the middle of their US tour, the band are set to support Florence + The Machine in their upcoming North American Tour.


Frank Ocean – Channel Orange

Frank Ocean has surprised his fans, by releasing his highly anticipated album, ‘Channel Orange‘, a week early. Having had the opportunity to collaborate with many of his creative heroes, including, Earl Sweatshirt (Odd Future bandmate), John Mayer, and Andre 3000, ‘Channel Orange‘ displays a huge creative and musical statement, that has unfolded in quite a short period of time.

Ocean decided to release the album a week earlier, to avoid any leaks. He wanted all the promo to be retroactive and follow the album with a video and tour, similar to how Jay Z and Kanye West released their ‘Watch The Throne’ album.

“I wanted to let the music speak for itself”

The Album consists of 17 tracks and has a clear beginning, middle and end, which a lot of people forget about these days. Ocean wanted to make things cohesive, and follow through on the album, from start to finish.

Speaking to Zane Lowe on BBC Radio 1, Ocean said he wanted to do something he hadn’t done before, including structurally with his songs. Instead of a typical studio environment, Frank rented a house in LA, where he recorded Pyramids, Lost … and made very good use of the swimming pool. Ocean was conscious that he completed this project with a limited amount of people and was lucky to get creative feedback, from many of his creative heroes, who he values so greatly.

“I wanted to create something true to what I heard in my head, and  true to what i thought the future should be for me – music wise… I just hope I’m allowed do this for as long as I can”

Frank Ocean has a busy few months ahead of him. He will soon embark upon his own ‘Channel Orange’  US tour, International festivals such as Lollapalooza in Chicago, Way Out West in Sweden, V Festival, Bestival and supporting Coldplay on their tour.

Channel Orange is available to purchase from iTunes, the album can also be streamed Online