Irish label Hipdrop Records' top five songs of 2015
Part four of our seven-part series featuring the best music moments of the year
Keith Fennell of Irish label Hipdrop Records shares his top five songs of 2015
Hipdrop Records is thriving. The independent Irish label which specialises in funk, soul and world music has added a steady roster of unique home-grown musicians since forming in late 2014. Their acts such as feel-good, funk supergroup Zaska, futuristic soul band Feather, new-soul act Danny G and the Major 7ths and new Afrobeat outfit, Yankari have made a big impact on the live music scene, infusing it with fresh sounds.
We asked the label's co-founder Keith Fennell to share his top five tracks of the year.
CC Brez - Not Here For A Long Time
Former Republic of Loose guitarist CC Brez aka Cormac Breslin exploded into my ear drum with his debut EP, Her Alibi released in June of this year. The track I have chosen isn’t the title track from the EP but rather a laid back stomper that’s catchy as hell. I’ll be totally honest lyrics don’t usually register with me initially but for some reason the chorus “Not here for a long time” is one that takes root deep in your brain. A hark back to the solid advice that artists like Prince and Sly and the Family Stone used to give like “Lets Go Crazy” and “Dance to the Music”. Irish track of the year for me.
Hiatus Kaiyote - Breathing Underwater
The Melbourne “Multi-dimensional, Polyrhythmic Gangsta Sh*t” quartet (They said it, not me!) released this offering earlier in year from their second album, Choose Your Weapon. The band’s leader Nai Palm described this as their ode to Stevie Wonder and vocally you can definitely hear the undeniable influence that Stevie has had on this lady’s style but the rest of the track is something entirely unworldly. This band is paving the way for what the future of soul will sound like incorporating influences from global sources and with two Grammy nominations under their belt they are themselves influencing on a global scale.
Thundercat - Them Changes
If you don’t know Thundercat then there is a good chance that you might have heard him before and hadn’t realised it. He has been a major contributor for such acts as Kendrick Lamar, Bilal, Erykah Badu, Kamasi Washington, Flying Lotus and many more. Them Changes is taken from the mini album (apparently that’s something between an EP and an LP) The Beyond / Where the Giants Roam released on Brainfeeder in June of this year. Thundercat is a man who is very much aware of the heritage of his sound and the legacy of where it’s going. The drumbeat that opens up the track is a sample from the Isley Brothers song Footsteps in the Dark. While that song is a slow jam about infidelity, Them Changes takes on a darker tone speaking of grief and self doubt.
Kendrick Lamar - Alright
Taken from his album To Pimp A Butterfly the political potency of this track is palpable. The chorus hook telling us that “We goin’ be alright!” also served as something of a motto for the Black Lives Matter campaign in the US echoing the civil rights campaign’s slogan from the 60s “We Shall Overcome”. Also my previous entry in this list, Thundercat pops up on bass at the start of this video and is littered all over the album punctuating it with his automatically identifiable creamy bass lines.
D’Angelo and the Vangaurd - Really Love
While the album was released in December 2014 after a 14 year wait, Really Love was released as the second single from D’Angelo’s multi Grammy award nominated masterpiece Black Messiah in January 2015. A carefully crafted piece of music that initially takes him out of his usual comfort zone with a beautifully emotive string introduction but settles in with the familiar laid back groove he is known for complemented by the wonderful flamenco style guitar playing of Mark Hammond.