Fallon Jennings - "All Night Long" - (5:22) 92 BPM
Pete Campbell - "Holding Back The Years" - (4:01) 95 BPM
Toyin Adekale - "Smile" - (5:30) 87 BPM
Derrick Cross - "Never Too Much" - (5:32) 83 BPM
Carl Johnson - "I Wish He Didn't Trust Me So Much" - (5:07) 86 BPM
Trevor Walters - "Blood Is Thicker Than Water" - (5:38) 99 BPM
Review: Edinburgh-based Athens Of The North are best known for wonky leftfield house and disco/soul, but they've never been afraid to throw the odd curveball. One such came in the form of 2020's 'For The Love Of You', a compilation of lover's rock covers of funk, soul and disco classics, and now here comes a second installment, which packs reggae-fied takes on much-loved gems from the likes of Dennis Edwards, Randy Crawford, Bill Withers, William DeVaughn, The Mary Jane Girls and, perhaps more surprisingly, Simply Red. Covers collections have of course long been a staple of the reggae scene, but they can often be a bit hit-and-miss - thankfully this one features a lot more hits than misses!
Review: Tom Findlay of Groove Armada and James Alexander Bright are Bright & Findlay! Hooking up online to then meet in the studio real time - the result is a release for Athens Of The North, following some preeminent sessions via Groove Armada's Edge Of The Horizon LP (2020). Presenting their collaboration's explicit debut, Slow Dance, the pair dive into sultry 80s boogie mode. With raw, full and warm sounds lushing up "Punch" with its sensual vocals, big time basslines and syncopated groove, "Leave It All Behind" keeps with the deep keys and chords, while upping the tempo and flirting with a slightly housey, Junior Boys touch. With two versions of the title track, the 'Axes' mix spreads a touch more colour than the stripped-back appeal of "Slow Dance (Jazz Mix)". Oohee, hot stuff.
Review: If you're looking for authentically 70s-sounding disco vibes then you'll struggle to do better, this week, than this two-tracker from Athens Of The North "house band" East Coast Love Affair - so authentic-sounding are the two tracks featured, in fact, that on first hearing this writer assumed they had to be reissues! Replete with string sweeps and percussive breakdowns, 'Shake' is a near-instrumental workout that'll make a very solid set-builder and has hints of jazz-funk around the edges, but it's the title track that stands out with its Brass Construction-like fanfares and twin male/female soul vocals.
Review: Still reeling from the two Linkwood albums that Athens Of The North released last year, label regular Warren Hampshire presents his fifth major solo work, Language Of The Birds. It follows his Galaxies Like Grains Of Sand and The Honey Bear albums (recorded with jazz pianist Greg Foat) - with this LP particularly finding its influence through the countryside and woodlands on the Isle of Wight. Through an influence of '60s psychedelic rock, instrumental folk, guitar music and other silver strings, Warren Hampshire expresses a deeper connection with nature here while weaving subtle themes of 'Catastrophism' & 'Extinction" into a balearic sound-world of electrified, acoustic and classical refrain.