Thursday, 27 January 2011

Introducing Ms. Topley-Bird

Martina Topley-Bird is one of my favourite artists/vocalists of recent times, making her debut on Trip Hop pioneer Tricky's Maxinquaye in '95 and featuring on his next three albums until 1998, when her personal and working relationship with Tricky ended. Martina set odd to launch a solo career not long after, however it wasn't until 2003 she was able to begin her solo career with Quixotic (released in the US as Anything with a slightly different tracklist). Since then, she has gone on to release two more albums and collaborate with other artists such as Gorillaz, Massive Attack and Leila.

Her albums tend to be a mish mash of all sorts of styles, the majority of her songs though are in a Trip Hop style with just a tinge of 60's Soul in the vocal department. Here I'll be sharing some of my favourites from her first two albums as well as showing off the range of different genre styles on offer, starting here with a Rock based track:

Martina Topley-Bird - Need One [click to download]

Moving into slightly more conventional territory with some quasi-R&B that makes up the majority of the album are these next few songs, all strung together by MTB's unique voice. There's nothing more I can say about it.

Martina Topley-Bird - Lying [click to download]

Martina Topley-Bird - Anything [click to download]

Martina Topley-Bird - I Still Feel [click to download]

Good news if you liked those ones, it didn't take her nearly as long to release a second album, The Blue God, on which the 60's soul and pop influence becomes a lot more apparent and refined. If I had to sum it up for you I'd say picture what Amy Winehouse did, only a hell of a lot better thanks to guest producer Danger Mouse. The result sounds a little like this:

Martina Topley-Bird - Phoenix [click to download]

By far the easiest track to hear the 60's influence on: Baby Blue merges elements of past and present, taking the vintage sound of groups like The Supremes and bringing it to the modern era.

Martina Topley-Bird - Baby Blue [click to download]

In what I see as the spiritual successor to Sandpaper Kisses from Quixotic I posted a while ago, Valentine is a slow and fuzzy number punctuated by sparse guitar chords throughout. Brilliant.

Martina Topley-Bird - Valentine [click to download]

One more tune before I go, this one generates a fantastic atmosphere, with the lighthearted backing hiding the dark lyrics mused by MTB herself through what sounds like an old CB Radio.

Martina Topley-Bird - Razor Tongue [click to download]

And there you have it, a short guided tour through the difficult to pin down music of Ms. Topley-Bird, hope you enjoy it as much as I do and as usual tell me your favourites!

All I Can Say,
-Claude Van Foxbat

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