New Borns: Shamir, The Tallest Man on Earth

There is no hiding from the fact that we are a little quiet on the New Borns front the last few weeks.  That doesn’t go to say that there isn’t some exceptional releases that we urge you to listen to.  Before we offer you the fantastic debut album from Nevada, Las Vegas born Shamir, a 21 year old, bloody talented youngster who delivers all the groove and weird synth glitches you need to create a top 10 album of the year.  Swedish singer/songwriter Kristian Matsson, aka The Tallest Man on Earth, offers his 4th album that builds on his voice and accoustic guitar, to create a layered and fair album in our opinion.  So perhaps only two albums that we reviewed but dont forget to listen to the new release of Paul Weller, Tanlines, The Vaccines, Holly Herdon and Froth

shamirArtist Shamir

Title­ Ratchet

Label XL

Genre Hip House, Experimental

Moments Of  Lazy J, Sonique, Yvonne Elliman, Marina and the Diamonds, Hot Chip

Stand Out Call It Off

shan kapaFor those of you who consider yourself relatively hip to what’s new in the deluge of musical talent that pervades us in this day and age, the name Shamir Bailey should come as no surprise. The twenty-year-old gender referentially reluctant Vegas native has been doing some remarkable things of late, and this week I opted to check out his irreverent debut Ratchet, an electric, category defying ode to millennial goodness and disco.

You may have inferred from that preamble that this album rather excites me – and you would safely be correct. It’s somewhat rare that I encounter an artist that genuinely piques my interest outside of what they do artistically. But Shamir Bailey is an utter exception to that rule. Namely I think, because when it comes to rules, albeit perhaps without deliberation, he defies them all.

Legend suggests Bailey (in the backdrop of his native Las Vegas) started off singing country, but when the suits told him that marketability might prove difficult he pulled the ol’ switcheroo and house disco was seemingly the next cab off the rank. It’s a good fit too seeing as he wails with a kind of deliciously thin falsetto then will juxtapose it against beat poetry verse that you could occasionally swear came from 14 year old girl. And this friends, is all part of the magic. Shamir’s whimsy is just so wonderfully non – descript you have to wonder if that in and of itself is the golden ticket.

Aesthetically, he teeters eerily close to the prospective love child of a sprightlier Azealia Banks and Eddy Grant. But more interestingly, he not only looks it but sounds it, if not in equal then most certainly more overtly obvious measure. And all that androgynous fluidity is strangely permissive in his occasionally spoken flow. I gravitated to On The Regular instantly, as it’s a turn of phrase I use in everyday vernacular but it also feels like a less frenetic version of Bank’s seminal hit ‘212’, there was that unmistakable Lazy J sensibility replete with the intermittent bliss of a cowbell. Lyrically it’s fresh, capricious and utterly addictive. Whereas in contrast to a ballad like Darker which is clearly a more vulnerable refrain, some of Bailey’s phrasing so beautifully demure you really have to second guess if you’re not listening to more juvenile version of neo – disco diva Sonique. Make a Scene and Hot Mess also scale the dizzying heights of transformative pop gravitas but I really enjoyed Call It Off, a refreshingly frank commentary on post break up comtemplation.

I just love all the weirdness that punctuates this zany album. Its hard to put my finger on exactly what it is I love amongst all the busy sonic melodrama but, that permissiveness is precisely what makes this record so damn enthralling. We all know that pop stars are adept at playing up the androgynous card and I hate to prattle on about gender roles. But it lends a certain authenticity to what takes place on this album. Just loved it, and you will too.

9 5




The_Tallest_Man_On_Earth_-_Dark_Bird_Is_Home_(2015)Artist The Tallest Man on Earth

Album Title Dark Bird Is Home

Label Dead Oceans

Genre Folk

Moments Of Bob Dylan, Eddie Vedder

Stand Out Fields of Our Home, Sagres

jameslondon_jerome_yellowNew recipe, same ingredient! for his new album,The Tallest Man on Earth has decided to let  a full band play for almost the entire album. Created in 2006 by the Swedish Jens Kristian Mattsson, Kristian Matsson, released his first album Shallow Grave in 2008 and two follow-ups, The Wild Hunt  in 2010 and There’s No Leaving Now in 2012,  three real critical successful albums given the nod around the world. After three years of waiting, The Tallest Man on Earth releases his fourth album: Dark Bird Is Home. Recorded in various cities and studios, the Swedish folk pop draws his essence from his travels and experiences, rushing on a an emotional journey.

Jens Kristian Mattsson, a member of Montezumas, is pretty often compared to Bob Dylan for his folk songs, filled with feeling and underplayed talent. This is with the same excitement that he released his new album, this time built and created in a  very different way. In addition of being surrounded by a full band for the first time, Dark Bird Is Home enjoyed an unconventional production. Indeed, the album was recorded in various places, each studio treating the instruments in their way, leaving its footprint on the sound, a small effect that make the album’s authenticity and remains an original parti-pris took by songwritter.

Fields of Our Home, a first almost accoustic song where Mattsson sings his feeling of being far from home, folk songs, in which guitars take to the front and played out dynamic and playful, sentimental and sweet.  They come together to provide a feeling of happiness, despite nostalgia and sadness that remain very present through out the whole album. The texts emerge from feelings of guilt and confusion, anger and sadness, and appearing as an freeing way  for a tortured Mattsson. However, the melodies are for their part more rhythm-and joyful, optimistic and involving. A recipe that works pretty well but, in my opinion, is a bit exhausted over the listening.

While the entire album continues with his trademark folk sound, the fact remains that, in my opinion, there are still lacks of a little something that catches, the little more that the artist such as Bob Dylan and Eddie Vedder have so much.  I appreciate the mass following of Mattsson on the alt-folk scene (and commercial status) but there is something in the songwriting that doesnt grab me as many other artists of this same genre. Dont get me wrong this is not to say that TTMA is devoid of talent, the album is perfectly pleasant but  missing that « hook »

The Tallest Man on Earth successfully demonstrated his talent and his rising figure of the folk scene but, because of his lack of risk-taking, has trouble to found his originality and his own musical universe. Too bad, but it’s still an artist that i want to keep under the radar , maybe the future holds a surprise of this tallest man in the earth, just not my earth right now. Time will tell.