Jon O'Brien

Freelance Music Writer

Location icon United Kingdom

Freelance Entertainment Writer. Journalism Graduate. Have written thousands of reviews, biographies and features for Allmusic, Hollywood.com, Napster, Pressparty, ReDigi, Rhapsody, SongLyrics, Songza, Studio System News, TiqIQ, Yahoo!

Portfolio

2014

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02/02/2014
Above & Beyond "Acoustic" - Album Review

Following on from their triumphant sold-out shows at London's Porchester Hall and Los Angeles' Greek Theatre last year, trance veterans Above & Beyond now continue their unlikely love-in with all things unplugged for their fourth studio album, Acoustic.

Recordingconnection
02/02/2014
Duck Sauce "Duck Droppings" - EP Review

Fool's Gold (2014)Four years after famously combining a Boney M anthem with a shout-out to Barbra Streisand, Brooklyn-based superduo Duck Sauce, aka DJs Armand Van Helden and A-Trak, have yet to drop their much-anticipated debut album, Quack.

Songza
01/20/2014
The 10 Biggest Grammy Blunders

With the exception of Sara Bareilles' unexpected nod in the Album of the Year category, this year's Grammy nominations probably haven't ruffled many feathers. But don't you sometimes wish for a Kanye West-style stage invasion in protest of some of the golden gramophones' winners?

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02/02/2014
I Break Horses "Chiaroscuro" - Album Review

Largely abandoning the My Bloody Valentine influences of their debut - perhaps as a result of the real thing finally returning from a 22-year-absence last February - Swedish duo I Break Horses now gravitate towards a different sound from their youth for their second studio effort, Chiaroscuro.

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02/02/2014
The Crystal Method "The Crystal Method" - Album Review

Tiny e Records (2014)With The Chemical Brothers on a hiatus, The Prodigy still in the studio and Underworld focusing on their solo careers, Las Vegas duo Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, aka The Crystal Method, now become the first act from the mid-90s original EDM boom to release a record in the second with their long-awaited self-titled comeback.

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02/02/2014
James Vincent McMorrow "Post Tropical" - Album Review

Best-known for his fragile folksy reworking of Steve Winwood's 80s hit, "Higher Love," James Vincent McMorrow's 2010 debut, Early In The Morning, was a wintry one-man-and-his-guitar affair which understandably drew comparisons with the likes of Bon Iver, Damien Rice and Ray LaMontagne.

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02/02/2014
ATB "Contact" - Album Review

Still best-known for "9PM (Till I Come)," the pitch-bending Ibiza anthem which conquered the globe at the turn of the century, German DJ/producer Andre Tanneberger, aka ATB, has certainly tried his hardest to release that particular albatross from around his neck.

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02/02/2014
East India Youth "Total Strife Forever" - Album Review

Formerly the frontman of landfill indie also-rans Doyle & The Fourfathers, twenty-something William Doyle now reinvents himself as an ambient neo-classical composer, East India Youth, for his first solo album, Total Strife Forever.

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02/02/2014
Actress "Ghettoville" - Album Review

Two years after teasing the demise of his alter-ego with R.I.P., London producer Darren Cunningham now appears to be killing off the name for good with a fourth studio effort, Ghettoville, self-described as "a bleached out and black tinted conclusion of the Actress image."

Songlyrics
01/12/2014
Listing: The Top 5 Most Powerful Lyrics From Bruce Springsteen's 'High Hopes'

A collection of outtakes, cover versions and reworkings, Bruce Springsteen 's 18 th album, High Hopes , inevitably lacks the thematic arc of his more conventional studio efforts. But the follow-up to 2012's Wrecking Ball still proves that The Boss remains one of rock's great storytellers, whether he's lamenting about the loss of the American Dream, raging about the injustice of police brutality or revelling in the joy of a small-town engagement.

2013

Songlyrics
10/14/2013
Listing: The Top 5 Trips Down Memory Lane From Paul McCartney's 'New'

Following last year's underwhelming take on The Great American Songbook and an embarrassing performance at the London Olympics Opening Ceremony, Paul McCartney was in danger of being written off as a hasbeen who should gracefully retire while he had the chance.

Yahoo
10/18/2013
'Prism' may secure Katy Perry's status as the new Queen of Pop

Katy Perry's last album, 'Teenage Dream,' became only the second in US history to spawn five number one singles, picked up seven Grammy nominations and sold nearly six million copies worldwide. Anything less than a bona-fide blockbuster hit, therefore, and her follow-up, 'Prism,' would be inevitably be deemed as a failure.

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10/10/2013
Chase and Status "Brand New Machine" - Album Review

Unfazed by the sell-out accusations that have been thrown at them since their leap from underground drum 'n' bass merchants to Rihanna-producing festival headliners, Will Kennard and Saul Milton, aka London duo Chase and Status, continue to straddle genres with wild abandon on their third studio effort, Brand New Machine.

Yahoo
09/24/2013
Jason Derulo talks both dirty and romantic on accomplished third album, 'Tattoos'

Despite spending six months in a neck brace after fracturing a vertebra during a practice stunt for his last world tour, Jason Derulo claims he hasn't been deterred from taking risks. Indeed, the 24-year-old has described his third album, 'Tattoos,' as 'a rollercoaster ride' which will most likely 'surprise and shock' his admirers.

Napster
Lemaitre "Relativity By Nite"

Named after the Belgian priest who proposed the Big Bang theory, Lemaitre have been hailed as Norway's answer to Daft Punk thanks to a series of Relativity Eps trading in filtered robo-funk, G

Songlyrics
09/20/2013
CHVRCHES - 'The Bones of What You Believe' | SongLyrics

Named with a V to avoid competing with Jesus for internet hits, CHVRCHES have continued to spark intrigue ever since they appeared on nearly every 'Ones to Watch' list at the beginning of the year.

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10/10/2013
BT "A Song Across Wires" - Album Review

Continuing to alternate between glitchy ambient instrumentals and progressive vocal house with each release, Brian Transeau, aka BT, now returns to the latter more club-oriented sound for his ninth studio album, A Song Across Wires.

Yahoo
10/11/2013
Latest adaptation of Romeo & Juliet opts for tradition rather than pizzazz

'Latest adaptation of Romeo & Juliet opts for tradition rather than pizzazz' on Yahoo omg! UK. Following on from his slightly unnecessary reworking of 'Titanic' for the small screen last year, 'Downton Abbey' writer Julian Fellowes now tackles another story which transformed Leonardo Di Caprio into the ultimate mid-90s pin-up with the latest big-screen adaptation of 'Romeo & Juliet.'

Yahoo
09/17/2013
Diana Vickers reinvents herself as disco diva on 'Music To Make Boys Cry'

'Diana Vickers reinvents herself as disco diva on 'Music To Make Boys Cry'' on Yahoo omg! UK. Despite reportedly leaving RCA Records over her plans to pursue a more indie sound, 2008 X-Factor finalist Diana Vickers now returns from her three-year absence with a record almost entirely devoid of any guitars whatsoever.

Yahoo
09/05/2013
Ariana Grande impresses with Mariah-esque debut, 'Yours Truly'

Best-known for her role as Cat Valentine in Nickelodeon series 'Victorious,' 20-year-old Ariana Grande doesn't yet have the profile of Demi, Selena and Miley. But her surprisingly self-assured debut album, 'Yours Truly,' suggests it's only a matter of time before she joins the former tween idol elite.

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10/10/2013
Jessy Lanza "Pull My Hair Back" - Album Review

Possessing the kind of airy falsetto so feather light it could float away at any moment, Ontario chanteuse Jessy Lanza has inevitably picked up comparisons with fellow high-pitched Canadian Grimes. But her debut album, Pull My Hair Back, has more in common with the luxurious electronic R&B of Toronto husband-and-wife team New Look than the glitchy future-pop of Claire Boucher.

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10/10/2013
Four Tet "Beautiful Rewind" - Album Review

Having announced on Twitter earlier this year that Beautiful Rewind would arrive without any YouTube trailers, iTunes stream or Amazon deal, Kieran Hebden's shunning of all modern promotional tools suggests that he wants his seventh album released under the guise of Four Tet to speak for itself.

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10/10/2013
Darkside "Psychic" - Album Review

Hoping to capitalise on the praise heaped upon their static-filled remix of Daft Punk's comeback album, New York minimalist Nicolas Jaar and Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist Dave Harrington now release their first full-length studio effort, Psychic, under the guise of Darkside.

Yahoo
09/03/2013
Rizzle Kicks get down with the trumpets again on exuberant second album, 'Roaring 20s'

'Rizzle Kicks get down with the trumpets again on exuberant second album, 'Roaring 20s'' on Yahoo omg! UK. By far the most mischievous graduates of the BRIT School, Rizzle Kicks continue to get down with the trumpets on their second studio album, 'Roaring 20s,' an exuberant blend of brass-tinged hip-hop, ska-pop and reggae-funk which positively oozes cheeky charm.

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10/10/2013
Oneohtrix Point Never "R Plus Seven" - Album Review

Brooklyn-based producer Oneohtrix Point Never's fourth studio effort, R Plus Seven, has been described by his camp as the closest he's ever gotten to anything resembling a traditional song structure, which tells you everything you need to know about just how abstract, challenging and wonderfully strange his previous work has been.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Ikonika "Aerotropolis" - Album Review

The first female producer on the cult Hyperdub label that's also home to the likes of Burial, Zomby and Darkstar, in 2010 Sara Abdel-Hamid, aka Ikonika, proved that the whole post-dubstep scene wasn't just a man's world with a striking debut album that twisted the genre beyond all recognition.

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10/10/2013
Avicii "True" -Album Review

Ranked No. 6 on the Top 100 DJs list by DJ Magazine as far back as 2011, and recently placed at the same position on Forbes' annual DJ Rich List with an estimated fortune of $23 million, Swedish export Tim Bergling, aka Avicii, certainly can't be accused of rushing his debut album, True.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Moby "Innocents" - Album Review

With Moby now onto his eleventh studio album, Innocents, the days of rubbing shoulders with the likes of Gwen Stefani and Sir Elton John, getting into high-profile feuds with Eminem and appearing on nearly every film, TV and advert soundtrack going all seem a distant memory.

Yahoo
07/27/2013
Greatest Hits shows up Scouting For Girls as one-trick ponies

'Greatest Hits shows up Scouting For Girls as one-trick ponies' on Yahoo omg! UK. Arriving at a time when the whole dreadful indie lad-rock scene had started to lose its appeal, Scouting For Girls presented themselves as a much more polite, well-mannered and inoffensive prospect than the rowdy likes of Kasabian, The Enemy and Pigeon Detectives.

Yahoo
10/10/2013
The Saturdays remain as inconsistent as ever on 'Living For The Weekend'

'The Saturdays remain as inconsistent as ever on 'Living For The Weekend'' on Yahoo omg! UK. Having finally scored their first number one at the 14th attempt, arguably with their 14th most memorable single, 'What About Us,' earlier this year, it appeared as though the The Saturdays had finally made that leap into pop's big league.

Songlyrics
09/10/2013
RIFF'd: Arctic Monkeys' 'AM'

Revitalized by a triumphant headline slot at Glastonbury, Arctic Monkeys ' fifth studio effort, AM , sees Yorkshire's finest striking a balance between the vibrant indie-pop of their Mercury Prize-winning and the slightly alienating stoner-rock of their last two records whilst also toying with a new-found hip-hop and R&B sensibility.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
David Lynch "The Big Dream" - Album Review

A perplexing blend of warped electronica, avant-garde pop and gothic Americana, David Lynch's 2011 music debut Crazy Clown Time might have been just as mind-bending as his last big-screen outing, Inland Empire. But continuing his late-in-the-day recording career, his second album, The Big Dream, has much more in common with the soundtracks of his cinematic works.

Songlyrics
08/27/2013
RIFF'd: Franz Ferdinand's 'Right Thoughts, Right Words, Right Action'

Emerging from a mid-00s British indie-rock scene which was obsessed with either 'lighters in the air' emotionally manipulative ballads (Snow Patrol , Athlete ) or laddish Saturday night odes that sounded like leftovers from the ' Cool Britannia' era (Kaiser Chiefs , Hard-Fi ), Scottish quartet Franz Ferdinand stuck out like a sore thumb with their artsy Talking Heads -esque production and spiky sardonic tales of doomed romance.

Yahoo
10/09/2013
Lucy Spraggan lives up to X-Factor promise on 'Join The Club'

Nearly twelve months after illness forced her to withdraw from the ninth series of The X-Factor that she would have at the very least reached the final of, one of the show's most distinctive contestants, Lucy Spraggan, now releases her first major-label effort, 'Join The Club.'

Yahoo
10/08/2013
Bangerz proves Miley Cyrus should let the music do the talking

Following a range of attention-seeking stunts which have transformed her into the world's most talked-about pop star in the space of six months, Miley Cyrus now gets the chance to prove that beyond all the MTV VMA stage-twerking, sledgehammer-licking and Sinead O'Connor-baiting, there's some substance to her provocative style.

Yahoo
08/01/2013
AlunaGeorge produce best debut album of 2013 so far with 'Body Music'

Pipped to the post by Tom Odell for the BRITs Critics Choice Award and Haim for the prestigious BBC Sound of 2013 poll, London duo AlunaGeorge may have started the year as the runners-up of new music. But their first studio effort, 'Body Music,' suggests they may finish it as champions.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
King Krule "6 Feet Beneath The Moon" - Album Review

With an abrasive vocal delivery that makes Shane MacGowan sound like a coherent teetotaller, Archie Marshall, aka King Krule, seems an unlikely graduate of the BRIT School that also helped to launch the careers of Amy Winehouse, Adele and Leona Lewis.

Yahoo
07/05/2013
The Internship is more concerned with product placement than laughs

Once regarded as the funniest man in Hollywood, Vince Vaughn has spent the best part of a decade wasting his talents in either charmless festive fare ('Fred Claus,' 'Four Christmases') or borderline hateful rom-coms with barely a decent one-liner between them ('The Dilemma,' 'Couples Retreat').

Songlyrics
07/23/2013
Listing: Gogol Bordello's 'Pura Vida Conspiracy' in 5 Introspective Sentiments

An on-stage performance with Madonna at Live Earth, an appearance in Everything Is Illuminated, 2010's Rick Rubin-produced Trans-Continental Hustle - Gogol Bordello 's riotous brand of gypsy folk-punk has regularly threatened to break out into the mainstream. But straddling that fine line between genius and preposterous a little too closely, the New York-based anarchists still remain very much a cult concern.

Yahoo
07/19/2013
The World's End brings Cornetto Trilogy to dark but silly close

The final bite of Simon Pegg and Edgar Wright's Cornetto trilogy, 'The World's End' shares many similarities with 'Shaun Of The Dead' and 'Hot Fuzz.' There's a group of men battling to save their lives against an evil force, a continuous fascination with quintessentially English pubs and of course the obligatory blink-and-you'll miss it product placement of everyone's favourite branded ice cream cone.

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10/10/2013
Braids "Flourish/Perish" - Album Review

Recorded in the wake of keyboardist Katie Lee's acrimonious departure, the title of Braids' second studio effort, Flourish/Perish, suggests that the Calgary trio are fully aware that the follow-up to Polaris Music Prize nominee Native Speaker may be something of a make-or-break career moment.

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10/10/2013
Postiljonen "Skyer" - Album Review

Sampled by Christina Aguilera, used as the soundtrack to countless commercials and featured prominently in everything from the pilot of fantasy reboot Beauty & The Beast to the finale of hipster drama How To Make It In America, the euphoric dream-pop of M83's "Midnight City" has become so ubiquitous that it now appears to have inspired a tribute record.

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10/10/2013
Sub Focus "Torus" - Album Review

Alongside the likes of Chase & Status, DJ Fresh and Pendulum, British producer Nick Douwma, aka Sub Focus, has been instrumental in drum 'n' bass's second rise from the underground back into the mainstream. But as on his self-titled debut, the 31-year-old has expanded upon the scene's usual breakneck speed rhythms and adrenaline-pumping basslines for his second album, Torus.

Yahoo
08/17/2013
Anti-chick-flick Bachelorette leaves a sour taste

At first glance, 'Bachelorette' appears to be little more than a shameless attempt to capitalise on the success of 'Bridesmaids.' There's the maniacally jealous best friend of the bride. There's the accidental destruction of a wedding dress. And of course, there's one of its breakout stars, Rebel Wilson.

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10/10/2013
Kaskade "Atmosphere" - Album Review

As a 42-year-old teetotal practicing Mormon in a genre renowned for its youthful hedonism, Ryan Raddon, aka Kaskade, certainly isn't afraid to embrace polar opposites. His eighth studio album, Atmosphere, continues in that vein, flirting with everything from high-pitched trap music to brooding post-rock on thirteen ambitious tracks which immediately distance him from his superstar DJ peers.

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10/10/2013
Krewella "Get Wet" - Album Review

Arriving in the same month as surprisingly distinctive releases from superstar DJs Avicii and Kaskade, Chicago trio Krewella now bring the EDM scene crashing back down to earth with a bump thanks to debut album Get Wet, which lacks any sense of individual identity whatsoever.

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10/10/2013
Morcheeba "Head Up High" - Album Review

Renowned for possessing a much sunnier disposition than their trip-hop peers Portishead, Tricky and Massive Attack, Morcheeba return arguably more cheerful than ever with Head Up High, their eighth studio album and their second since reuniting with their original vocalist Skye Edwards.

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10/10/2013
Maps "Vicissitude" - Album Review

Named after the term for a typically unwelcome change of fortune, UK producer James Chapman's third studio effort under the guise of Maps, Vicissitude, doesn't exactly shy away from revelling in doom and gloom.

Yahoo
06/15/2013
Tina Fey and Paul Rudd are wasted in sluggish and unfunny Admission

The star and writer of one of the best sitcoms of the last decade, one of the most likeable male romantic leads of the same era, the co-director behind 'American Pie' and 'About A Boy' - college based comedy drama 'Admission' comes with the kind of credentials that would get it automatically accepted into anywhere.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Thundercat "Apocalypse" - Album Review

Previously a member of both a boyband who scored a minor German hit in the early 00s and Los Angeles skate-punk outfit Suicidal Tendencies, it's little surprise that singer-bassist Stephen Bruner is much less of a chin-stroker than his Brainfeeder label mates.

Yahoo
07/18/2013
Selena Gomez leaves the Disney pop behind on 'Stars Dance'

Out of all the Disney Channel graduates, Selena Gomez appears to be the most unaffected by fame. Indeed, despite becoming a staple of gossip magazines thanks to her on/off relationship with Justin Bieber, there hasn't been any trips to rehab or public meltdowns while even a role in the controversial 'Spring Breakers' hasn't damaged her girl-next-door persona.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
DIANA "Perpetual Surrender" - Album Review

Co-founded by the saxophonist in Vancouver collective Destroyer, Toronto quartet DIANA are the latest Canadian outfit to embrace the concept of the guilty pleasure scene with their debut album, Perpetual Surrender. Indeed, there are times when the band appears to be on some kind of quest to discover just how many soft-focus soft-rock 80s acts they can reference in just eight songs.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Moderat "II" - Album Review

The side-project of glitchy hip-hop duo Modeselektor and IDM guru Apparat, Moderat's early working relationship was so fraught that they named their first E.P., Auf Kosten der Gesundheit (At The Cost Of Health). A long string of creative differences meant that their self-titled debut album only arrived seven years after they began recording it.

Yahoo
06/26/2013
Tom Odell's Long Way Down isn't worthy of BRIT Award or NME abuse

Discovered by Lily Allen, linked with Taylor Swift, a confirmed support act for The Rolling Stones' summer gigs - 22-year-old singer-songwriter Tom Odell has built up quite the impressive C.V even before you take into account the fact he became the first male recipient of the BRITs Critics Choice Award earlier this year.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Pet Shop Boys "Electric" - Album Review

Pet Shop Boys' hugely underwhelming last album, Elysium, sounded like synth-pop's most arch duo had simply given up. So it comes as something of a surprise that less than twelve months on, they have returned not only with a brand new record, Electric, but also the most pulsing, energetic and vibrant album of their thirty-year career.

Songlyrics
08/06/2013
RIFF'd: The Polyphonic Spree's 'Yes, It's True'

Still arguably more famous for their flowing white robes than their hippie-friendly psychedelic gospels, Dallas-based symphonic pop-rock choir The Polyphonic Spree have yet to reap the rewards from their relentlessly positive approach.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Goldfrapp "Tales Of Us" - Album Review

Seemingly burned by the underwhelming response to 2010's Head First, a full-throttle foray into 80s Hi-NRG synth-pop which frontwoman Alison Goldfrapp has since admitted she isn't particularly proud of, the electronica scene's most chameleon-like duo now return to the dreamy cinematic sound of their debut for sixth studio album, Tales Of Us.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Daughn Gibson "Me Moan" - Album Review

Named after an amalgam of Nashville crooners Don and Stevie Ray, Pennsylvania truck driver-turned-troubadour Daughn Gibson twisted country music beyond all recognition with last year's debut All Hell thanks to an array of warped loops, samples and distortion and a remarkable baritone which sat somewhere between a Vegas Elvis impersonator and the frontman of the Crash Test Dummies.

Yahoo
08/09/2013
Adam Sandler continues career slide with 'Grown Ups 2'

While nowhere near as hideous as the critics suggested, the first 'Grown Ups' was still one of those movies where the cast and crew seemed more concerned with having fun themselves than providing anything entertaining for the viewers.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Example "#Hits" - Album Review

Initially a cult geezer-rapper signed to Mike Skinner's The Beats label, Elliot Gleave (aka Example) was then accused of becoming a sell-out when he transformed himself into an electro-pop maestro, selling out arenas and regularly topping the UK charts as a result.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
I Am Legion "I Am Legion" - Album Review

Formerly the sole preserve of aging rockers, the supergroup has recently become a staple of dance music culture following the colossal success of the now-defunct Swedish House Mafia.

2012

Songlyrics
06/18/2013
Listing: The Top 5 Boasts From J. Cole's 'Born Sinner'

North Carolina rapper J. Cole 's debut album, Cole World: The Sideline Story , may have debuted at number one on the Billboard charts in 2011, eventually shifting over 600,000 copies in the process.

Yahoo
07/17/2013
Robin Thicke forgets the charm on 'Blurred Lines'

Apart from a brief foray into the UK Top 20 with 2007 single 'Lost Without U,' Robin Thicke's slick brand of loverman R&B had gone pretty much un-noticed in this country until he hooked up with Pharrell Williams, another artist now enjoying something of a career renaissance, and recorded one of the most attention-grabbing, if hugely controversial, promo videos of the year.

Yahoo
07/23/2013
Jahmene Douglas succumbs to usual X-Factor cliches on 'Love Never Fails'

Runner-up to James Arthur on last year's 'The X-Factor,' former ASDA worker-turned-gospel singer Jahmene Douglas already seems slightly apologetic about his debut release, 'Love Never Fails.' Indeed, alongside an admission that it wasn't his choice to fill the album entirely full of cover versions, the 22-year-old has also claimed that it's merely a stepping stone to a second record which will showcase his own self-penned material.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Hot Natured "Different Sides Of The Sun" - Album Review

Following on from Disclosure's chart-topping Settle, supergroup Hot Natured are the latest act from the new class of British house music to test their skills over the course of an entire studio album with Different Sides Of The Sun.

Recordingconnection
10/10/2013
Marnie "Crystal World" - Album Review

Co-producing with bandmate Daniel Hunt and featuring several numbers originally written with her day job in mind, Ladytron lead vocalist Helen Marnie doesn't appear too concerned about making any giant leaps with her solo debut album, Crystal World.

2011

2010

2009

2008

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