After the release of several innovative and intriguing EP’s during 2010 and his break through track ‘Limit To Your Love’ finally seeing the light of day, 2011 was set up nicely for the release of James Blake’s much anticipated self titled debut album.
The second single to be released from his debut and in our eyes one of its stand out moments ‘The Wilhelm Scream’ showcases Blake’s knack for blurring the lines between Dubstep, Electronica and Pop with the greatest of ease, whilst journalists across the world sat scratching their heads trying to conjure up another meaningless genre to describe his incredible music.
Starting with a stripped back electronic rhythm, melancholic, mournful organ sounds and Blake’s haunting, soul fuelled vocal the song revolves and swirls around the constant repeated refrain of Blake’s voice. Borrowing the lyrics from James Litherland’s ‘Where To Turn’ – which Blake’s own father had a hand in producing – shows his ear for a great melody; but not only that it also shows how he can take one moment of brilliance and turn it into a whole song of something original and completely his own. As the track progresses the organs begin to slowly build and Blake’s vocal hook is drenched underneath a sea of white noise, manipulated and twisted to within breaking point whilst the instruments fade and all that there is left are his last remaining words.
After touring the album around the world and a recent collaboration with Bon Iver James Blake shows no sign of slowing down and personally we are glad to hear it. 2011 seems to be just the tip of the iceberg for James Blake and we can’t wait to hear what the future has in store for the young producer.
Switching gears from the minimal dubstep for which he is best known, ‘A Case Of You’ sees the Mercury Prize-nominated James Blake stripping things back to just voice and piano. While it might seem like a major departure for an artist so closely associated with urban music, this cover of the 1971 Joni Mitchell song actually makes perfect sense.
Long before he began dabbling in electronics, Blake started playing piano at the age of six, eventually going on to study Popular Music at Goldsmith’s college. While his early shows were mostly just him and a laptop, it’s clear that Blake’s love of live performance never went away. Following the release of his self-titled debut album Blake put together a full live band, allowing him to bring fresh life to his studio creations on stage.
“I’m a keyboard player, and just being able to play live in front of people and exercise that love of doing it in a way that I’ve never been able to do is great,” he told Pitchfork. “Before, there was frustration in being behind a computer and playing all this stuff – it was almost like being the pianist for a silent film. It’s not like you want the recognition, you just want to do it live and show yourself you can do it. There’s actually nothing better for me than to sing and play the piano in front of people.”
The haunting ‘A Case of You’ is an undeniably good fit for Blake. Joni Mitchell’s style is not an easy one to emulate, but he does a tremendous job of navigating the song’s vocal peaks and troughs. Despite its contrast to much of his musical output, Blake’s take on ‘A Case of You’ is a welcome addition to his repertoire.
James Blake returned last night to the cozy premises of St. Pancras Old Church, the same venue that just a few weeks ago was chosen for the presentation gig of his eagerly awaited debut album. The religious building became the perfect environment to showcase the warmth of his remarkably soulful voice, as well the intimacy and ethereal quality of his tracks. Support came by the hand of two new folk-rock acts from London, Cloud Boat and Catherine Okada, who nicely set the quiet but vibrant tone for the evening.
James Blake hit the stage with a band formed by a drummer and a guitar player, also in charge of some of the samples. The short but impressive set mostly focused in the tracks of his recent album and left behind favourites from the early groundbreaking EPs that helped cement his reputation as one of electronica’s most gifted young artists.
His live performance was an assured display of both technical skill and experimental spirit. A background in the fields of minimal techno and dubstep provided the heavy sampled bass lines that echoed through the church’s acoustics; building up magnificent and quite scary array of wall shattering effects. All in perfect harmony with his voice, which he uses as the main instrument for his compositions, treating it with multiple effects and creating vocal loops that when juxtaposed, form a hypnotically polyphonic impression.
Among the highlights, ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ was close to literally bringing the house down and his breakthrough cover of Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’. The track which opened the doors of radio stations and a wider public to the South Londoner - earning him comparisons with former electronica artists turned soulmen, Jamie Lidell. Live it reached new sonic heights; as did the latest single ‘The Wilhelm Scream’, which featured supporting band Cloud Boat back onstage adding some brass.
For the encore, Blake performed another cover, his rendition of Joni Mitchell’s ‘A Case Of You’ that has become a fixture in the blogosphere since he first played it during a recent BBC session. Here, we saw the artist’s in full acoustic manner at his most stripped down, just piano and vocals; mind-blowingly simple, yet truly touching. Altogether, one of the best live shows we’ve seen this year; strong enough to convert even the most cynical among those few who still remain unconvinced of James Blake’s unique talents.
If you’re a music fan, musician, or industry person then you’re bound to have read or heard something about SXSW by now. That being said, we’ll keep this short and sweet.
SXSW is still an exciting event for all things music, but the festival also covers digital and film. Whether you’re an aspiring artist or creative mind – you’ll be sure to learn something in Austin. However, it’s not for the faint hearted. 40K global folks come into town to share their wares, music, gadgets and movies. So if you plan on making a statement down there – best start working on it now!
None the less, cutting through the noise is still very possible. There is still that crazy opportunity to perform in front of industry brass (see Lord Huron) or seeing an already developed group perform a pop-up show (Foo Fighters, Kanye West and Jack White all laid down not-so-secret gigs this year). Heck the only wack moment? Waiting in line to get into the Rachel Ray Party – just to see her introduce Das Racist: the band cancelled their set due to throat issues.
And one last tip. For food, Stubbs BBQ is amazin’. And the insider info: go to bar during lunch hours and get served pulled pork sandwich pronto. You did not hear that from me. SXSW is great time to tap into culture discovery with friends. It’s a festival built on building memories patiently waiting for a song.
After making the final shortlist for our UK breakthrough acts of 2011, James Blake has announced his self titled debut will be released on February 7th through Atlas/A&M. The 22 year old producer/DJ drew huge plaudits this year for a string of well received EP’s and his unique cover of Feist’s ‘Limit To Your Love’, showing his ability to craft heartfelt ballads as well as bass driven dance tracks.
Aside from ‘Limit To Your Love’, the album consists of entirely new material. The tracklist for ‘James Blake’ is as follows:
1. Unluck. 2. The Wilhelm Scream. 3. I Never Learnt To Share. 4. Lindesfarne I. 5. Lindesfarne II. 6. Limit To Your Love. 7. Give Me My Month, 8. To Care (Like You). 9. Why Don’t You Call Me. 10. I Mind. 11. Measurements.
As we near the end of 2010 and continue our countdown of the year’s best tracks, our eyes are already looking ahead to what artists will dominate 2011. While there are many other polls predicting what records will soundtrack the year ahead, Shazam’s chart is unique as we look at what our users have been tagging in order to make our predictions. As our weekly pre-release charts show, our most popular tagged tracks often go on to dominate the charts in the UK & US.
Shazam’s Music & Content Director, Will Mills says: “The listening and buying public is the ultimate tastemaker and Shazamers have once again picked out some brilliant acts to watch in 2011, including Nero, Jessie J and Jay Electronica.
“Shazamers have had a great track record of choosing the breakout acts over the past three yearts, including highlighting Ellie Goulding and Nicki Minaj in 2010, Lady Gaga and Florence + The Machine in 2009 and The Ting Tings and Duffy in 2008. So this is one set of predictions people really need to take notice of.”
The emerging U.S acts chosen by Shazamers to most likely succeed in 2011 are:
Jay Electronica (Pictured)
CyHi Da Prince
The emerging UK acts chosen by Shazamers to most likely succeed in 2011 are:
Up and coming British electronic musician James Blake has been earning a lot of plaudits for his music thus far, where he has flirted in very personal manner with dubstep and minimal. With his new song, Blake takes an unexpected career turn by covering Feist’s beautiful MOR ballad ‘Limit To Your Love’, recorded and produced completely on his own.
The track goes far beyond the limits of bedroom electronica and offers for the first time James Blake’s warm and soulful vocals without any trickery; next to a stripped down, yet striking production that’s bound to reach a much wider audience than previous offerings, as blogs and DJ’s all over the world have begun to rave about it.
This track is also the first taste of Blake’s debut album, not expected until the first weeks of 2011. The video is directed by Danish filmmaker Martin De Thurah, whose surreal touch previously seen at work with the likes of Fever Ray and Röyksopp has turned him into one of the most sought-after promo directors of the moment; is available to watch here.
‘Limit To Your Love’ will be released as a single on November the 8th via Atlas.
UK production team Mount Kimbie are a busy bunch. Fresh from lending their soundto Foals for a remix of their track, ‘Spanish Sahara’; the duo are set to release two 12″s compiling new mixes of their own material. Their unique sound can be placed somewhere between ambient electronic landscapes, dubstep and hip-hop and has already produced critically acclaimed tracks such as ‘Maybes’ – of which a new version with regular collaborator James Blake is included on Mount Kimbie’s new 12″ releases. (See above for the live video)
The duo formed by Dom Maker and Kai Campos are giving away one of the new tracks, ‘Serged’, as reworked by New York’s FaltyDL. You can get it through the widget below.