Zero 7: Record

RIYL: Alan Parsons Project, Radiohead, Jose Gonzalez

Zero 7, the collaborative effort between two esteemed producers, Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns, keeps chugging along with some of the most intriguing electronic mood pop out there. So it should be no surprise that when the two went back into their catalog to put a “best of” collection together for Zero 7, they had a difficult task – choosing the most awesome tracks out of an already awesome catalog. But maybe the best part of all with the final product, humbly titled Record, is that Hardaker and Binns did not choose the obvious tracks -and that alone makes Record a pretty special collection. Sure, there are the standouts like “Futures,” sung by the remarkable Jose Gonzalez; the bouncy “Throw it All Away,” and the dreamy “Home,” one of the best Zero 7 tracks of all. But then the duo dig a bit deeper into the likes of the jazz-flavored “I Have Seen,” the soulful “Destiny,” sung by the sultry Sia; and “Swing,” the best track from their latest album The Garden. There are also some tasty instrumentals here, like “Polaris” and “Salt Water Sound.” All in all, you’d have a hard time making your own Zero 7 iTunes mix that turns out this sweet. Instead, just like with the music itself, it’s better to leave this one to the experts. (Atlantic 2010)

Zero 7 MySpace page


Morcheeba: Blood Like Lemonade

RIYL: Zero 7, Sade, Wire Daisies

It might feel like an eternity since lead singer Skye Edwards left Morcheeba (2003), leaving the brothers Godfrey to experiment on a couple of albums with different guest vocalists. But with Morcheeba’s latest, Blood Like Lemonade, Edwards has returned and it’s like the band hasn’t missed a beat – i.e., the reincarnation of Morcheeba as we knew it is back and better than ever. The trippy, bluesy electronica that put Morcheeba on the map is still mostly the same, but the songs on Blood Like Lemonade are slickly produced and, well, just damn good. Edwards’ voice is plain dreamy, and these songs are the perfect vehicle for that voice to shine. Most of the tracks are the band’s signature marriage of melody and electronica, as in “Crimson,” the title track and “Recipe For Disaster.”

But there are interesting tracks on here that bring Blood Like Lemonade to another level. The acoustic-guitar-with-beat-infused “Even Though”; the stunning guitar/vocal “I Am the Spring”; and the powerful closing anthem “Beat of the Drum.” Oh, and there’s also the uber-funky pseudo-instrumental, “Cut to the Bass,” which is probably best enjoyed in a very loud, dark, club. If you were already a fan or Morcheeba, you won’t find much wrong with this effort – if you weren’t, it’s the kind of genre-defying albums that just about anyone will like. (Pias America 2010)

Morcheeba MySpace page

Morcheeba MySpace Page


Lisa Papineau: Red Trees

RIYL: Air, Forget Cassettes, Zero 7

Singer/songwriter and electronic princess Lisa Papineau is back with Red Trees, the follow up to her critically acclaimed solo debut, 2006’s Night Moves. And while it’s hard to fault someone for being more experimental, as is the case on Red Trees from previous work (she’s worked with Air and M83 as well as with soundtrack composer Tyler Bates), it’s more difficult to full enjoy something when it’s lacking significantly in melody. That said, there is something eerily intoxicating about Miss Papineau’s music. It’s somber and moody and uplifting all at the same time, and a full set of her music packs quite a few surprises. And of course, her voice is intoxicating all by itself. One of the more melodic songs that stands out here is “White Leather Pants,” and there is an underlying lyrical theme that reflects Papineau’s move to France and the communication gap that ensued – such as on “Sorry I Cannot English.” But she also shines brilliantly on instrumental tracks like “Touch Time Out,” which has a freakishly haunting 30 seconds of climax. This album and Papineau’s music in general aren’t going to be universally loved, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t catered to both current fans and those who seek something different in their music on Red Trees. (Sargent House 2010)

Lisa Papineau MySpace Page


Zero 7: Yeah Ghost

RIYL: Radiohead, Jose Gonzalez, Sneaker Pimps

Zero 7 is a project more than a band – so while Zero 7 tours as a group and has actual band members, it’s still technically the brainchild of British producers Sam Hardaker and Henry Binns. And some of those “band members” are rotated out every album or so. Once you get a grasp on that, it doesn’t take much effort to like what Zero 7 is doing. And on their fourth album, Yeah Ghost, there is still the same electronica-driven pop, but with a few added dimensions this time around. In particular, singers Eska and Martha Tilston are new to the project, rounding out a lineup that includes a few regulars like Eddie Stevens, Tom Skinner and Robin Mullarkey. After a subtle opening instrumental, “Count Me Out,” there are some bouncy dance tracks, with Eska’s power-meets-soul vocal at the forefront of awesome tracks like “Medicine Man” and “Mr. McGee.” “Pop Art Blue” features Tilston’s folky timbre and there are some fine, if quirky, instrumentals, like the haunting “Solastalgia.” But the best track on here is “Swing,” an uber-catchy ditty that still has the Zero 7 “chill” trademark – and a song that immediately has the feel of an iPod commercial. This may not be the best Zero 7 album yet, but it’s not a huge regression, either. (Atlantic 2009)

Zero 7 MySpace Page