Tag Archives: Jordan Rakei

Biggest Ups: Over 40 Artists Share Their Favorite Albums of 2017

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Bandcamp artists pick their favorite albums of the year.

One of the features on Bandcamp Daily that generates the greatest amount of enthusiasm is Big Ups. The concept is simple: we ask artists who used Bandcamp to recommend their favorite Bandcamp discoveries. So, in honor of our Best of 2017 coverage, we decided to take Big Ups and super-size it. Here, more than 40 artists to tell us their favorite albums of the year.

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Album of the Day: Jordan Rakei, “Wallflower”

Ever since his debut 2013 EP Franklin’s Room, 25-year-old New Zealander Jordan Rakei’s jazz-inflected, soul-imbued sound has garnered praise from heavy hitters like the Soulection crew. He’s collaborated with Ta-ku, Tom Misch, and FKJ, and provided vocals for sibling duo Disclosure. With Wallflower, his debut on Ninja Tune, the producer continues what he started with last year’s debut album Cloak.

Branching out from the good-vibes, boom-bap aesthetic of his earlier EPs like Cloak—the clear result of an early love for 9th Wonder and Pete Rock productions—Wallflower is much more ambitious in scope, sprawling into sometimes unexpected sonic territory. Taking in the haunting piano chords and soaring vocals of “May,” to the expansive strings and lush, lilting harmonies of “Goodbyes,” and the more familiar, ska-tinged groove of “Clues Blues,” Wallflower is the multi-instrumentalist reveling in the myriad of new found musical possibilities triggered by his life-changing move to the English capital.

In Wallflower, Rakei has crafted an emotionally powerful work that not only sees him bending genres with an intoxicating array of tones and textures, but finding healing. “See me hide into the dark place / Hopelessly I’m desperate,” he repeats on “Hiding Place”—like a mantra rather than a statement of self-blame. The songs on Wallflower feel deeply cathartic, as the most powerful art often are. And you get the sense that Jordan Rakei is now free, finally in the light.

—Ian Hsieh

Album of the Day: Jordan Rakei, “Cloak”

Jordan Rakei hails from Brisbane, Australia, a continent that produced the acclaimed jazz-funk ensemble Hiatus Kaiyote, and harbors a soul scene in thrall to the nu-funk stylings of early ’00s America. Rakei’s debut, Cloak, harkens back to that same sound; it has the jittery, “boom-clap” kick drums made famous by J Dilla, and the warm and enveloping keyboards that turned up on D’Angelo’s Brown Sugar and Kool & the Gang’s “Summer Madness.” Its centerpiece is “Midnight Mischief,” a five-minute swirl of seduction garlanded with hi-hat percussion and Rakei’s jazz-inflected vocals. On “Rooftop,” Rakei describes the sensation of a first kiss in blushingly intimate terms. Throughout, his voice is quietly insistent, luxuriating naturally within the groove; but he’s just as effective when he picks up the pace. “Talk to Me” combines strummed guitar with Latin jazz rhythms, and on “Toko,” Rakei sings, “Time flies inside of me” over a splintering hard-bop beat. And while Cloak is mostly an album about introspection, Rakei keeps moodiness at bay. On “The Light,” he sings, “life is better when you’re open”; Cloak is the sound of relaxing and letting go.

Mosi Reeves