James BlakeIt’s a new year! First and foremost, my sincerest apologies for skipping a couple weeks of Cheap Tunes Tuesday entries – vacation was calling my name. But we’re back today, and I wanted to piggyback on an article I saw on the TDS Business Blog. Fellow blogger Kris wrote this article about to trying new things in the New Year. That got my thinking—maybe I should introduce you all to something new as well; something that probably has never crossed your ear waves.

James Blake Litherland was born in London in 1988. He was born into music, as his father is a singer and guitarist. He’s worked with many well-known English hard rock/prog rock acts and continues to make music to this day. Since his dad used their last name in his music work, James decided to drop the surname and just be known as James Blake. After getting a degree from the University of London in popular music, he felt he was ready to get his feet wet.

Having done a few solo extended play albums and collaborations, his name was already getting out there as someone to watch. Capitalizing on that momentum, he released James Blake, his debut self-titled album in February of 2011. Across the pond, it was immediately ruled a success. Critics and listeners were blown away with the composition, and the different sound this album had. It was quickly nominated for the 2011 Mercury Prize, which would be equivalent to Best Album Grammy award here in the U.S. (He would later win the award in 2013 for his sophomore album).

What doesn’t this album have? There are genuine love songs, tracks of mourning and loss, soulful melodies and an overall sound that is totally unique. Dubstep music is typically known as electronic dance music with very high production value and overwhelming bass lines. It’s typically very upbeat and uses clipped samples from other artists with only occasional vocals from the actual artist. James Blake takes that idea, and does a 180 with it. It’s still VERY high production value work, but it slows everything down, and takes that bass line and works to mold it into a slow melody. And perhaps the greatest feat – no sampling on this record. Everything you hear is truly Mr. Blake’s voice.

I certainly can understand this type of music isn’t for everyone. I’m a sucker for artists that take as much time to perfect their music as he does, and that might be mostly why I love this record. It really conveys the love and passion he has for what he does, and the time it took to bring all this together. Some people will be turned off by the use of auto-tune – but if you can get past that, and really focus on the arrangements, I think you’ll respect it too.

In the spirit of the New Year, go ahead and try something new this week. Even if it’s not Mr. Blake, expand outside your comfort zone this week. But at the signature $5 bucks, James Blake’s debut is certainly worth a shot.

Top 3 Tracks:
1) The Wilhelm Scream
2) Limit To Your Love
3) Lindisfarne I & II

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