Jess Harlen – Park Yard Slang (2012 LP)


She’s toured worldwide with renowned Australian roots reggae band Blue King Brown (as their former backing singer) but this year Jess Harlen has decided to focus on her own music, cooking up some fresh new tracks.

Park Yard Slang is the second album by the Melbourne based artist which was released on March 30, 2012 through Obese Records. It is evident that there has been a significant shift of events in Harlen’s music since the release of Neon Heartache, 2011 LP (through Plethora Records).

Both albums were produced by renowned award-winning producer, Plutonic Lab. Therefore with the collaboration of two talented musicians bringing out a string of various skills – not to mention Harlen’s sweet and soothing voice, it was anticipated that we’d have sheer quality. And that’s what we got!

The opening and aptly titled track “Get Ready” is an appropriate introductory song to the album. With enticing vocals and the catchy beat it is already ample to draw the listener into further exploration of Park Yard Slang. Title track “Park Yard Slang” is a nice transition maintaining the slow tempo before “Weaving”. Here the tempo slightly builds up leading into jaunty, upbeat rock style track “Let You Down”, the first single released off the album. Reggae, dancehall influenced “Plantation” features Melbourne based reggae artist RuCL.

“Colliding” is a romanticised ‘feel good’ song that seems to depict the themes of patience and beauty. “Reach Home” is an emotive; melancholic yet encouraging and promising song about being courageous, facing present fears and of the past, insecurities and worries in order to overcome them. Harlen switches to the ukulele where the listener is gently lullabied with “Day Dreamer”, followed by another encouraging and humbling track, “Up To Me”.

Then follows “Beautiful Struggle” which illustrate life as full of love, pain, disappointment and change but also encourages the listener to accept it as inevitable as it is – a beautiful struggle. One is encouraged to take the responsibility of moving forward. Finally, one could say that “Silence” is another aptly titled track to top off the album.

Overall, Harlen maintains humility in her songwriting, which are personal reflections that people can relate to. It’s a courageous and great thing to see that there is more experimentation with the incorporation of different instruments and a variety of genres including soul, acoustic, reggae, dancehall and rock influences, producing something fresh and versatile to listen to. Harlen is definitely an artist to look out for this year!

Park Yard Slang is available on iTunes, JB Hi-Fi stores and other good music stores.

Review Score: 9 out of 10


Jess Harlen’s ‘Park Yard Slang’ Tour 2012

For more information visit www.facebook.com/JessHarlenMusic

*As originally appeared on The AU Review.

AUDIO: Departure Lounge Radio Afro-Funk Special feat. El Chino, The Liberators and Soul of Sydney DJ Phil Toke


Departure Lounge Radio: Afrobeat Alert!

Flight 1510 featuring Sydney’s Afrobeat crew the The Liberators and Soul of Sydney DJ Phil Toke in to have a chat about the upcoming  all things afrobeat in Sydney including The African Film Festival & Musical Showcases.

Sydney Afro-Beat BandThe Liberators on Departure Lounge Radio

Sydney Afro-Beat BandThe Liberators on Departure Lounge Radio

Flight 1510  Playlist

Elchinos’ Pre Switch On Take Off Set

  1. Light Summer Dress/Music of Ma(George Sheridan mx)
  2. Crystalilise/Elizabeth Rose
  3. Manhattan Bound/Briana Cowlishaw/BC218
  4. Blossom Tree/Zara McFarlane/Brownswood

Afrobeats Selection (The Liberators, Interview)

  1. African Rhythms/Oneness of Juju/Black Fire
  2. Buy Africa/Fela Kuti/Makossa
  3. Ade/Xalam/Senegal
  4. Bulletproof/The Liberators/Record Kicks
    ...
  5. Monkeyface/The Liberators/Record Kicks
  6. Give It UP,Turn it Loose/The Daktaris/Desco
  7. Ta Lega/Zeca do Trombone and Roberto Sax
  8. Cascavel/Antonio Adolfo

Friends As DJs Series Phil Toke (The Soul Of Sydney DJ’s)

  1. Opposite People/Fela Kuti
  2. Everything/Fela Kuti
  3. Expesive Shit/Fela Kuti
  4. Nigerian Thing/Disco Re-edit
  5. Boogie Woogie/Fatback Band
  6. The Midas touch/Nightlife
  7. Could Heaven Be Like This/Idris Muhummad
  8. Rising To The Top/Keni Burke
  9. Fantasy/Earth, Wind and Fire
  10. Victory ‘83/Mass Production

Fela Kuti: Music is The Weapon, Film Screening & Tribute Night (Oct 27)

The series will kick off with a night that is a distinctive compliment to the gift of Nigerian Activist, Political maverick & God-Father of Afro-Beat Fela Anikulapo Kuti. We will be screening the definitive documentary “Fela: Music Is the Weapon” as an introduction to Fela’s dogmatic ideas, political movement & immense contribution to African Music,

This will be followed by a special show by Sydney own Afro-Beat power-house collective The Liberators and closing the night will be Soul of Sydney DJ’s with a rare Afro-Beat, Afro-Funk tribute homage to the likes of Fela Kuti (of course), Tony Allen, Hugh Masekela, Antibalas, TV On The Radio, Public Opinion Afro Orchestra, Kola Ogunkoya, Sonny Okosun, King Sunny Ade, Ray Lema & Manu Dibango just to name a few.

Tickets are a kick ass $10 at the door for a film, funk gig and an awesome line up of djs.

DEPARTURE LOUNGE RADIO

SATURDAYS 5-5PM

Streaming HERE

El Chino is a well known Sydney DJ and music aficionado who spent some time wandering the globe, crate digging and developing his repertoire for what was to become the smoothest flight on the 2SER roster dropping everything from New-Jazz, Afro Beat, Disco & Hip Hop.

SOUL and FUNK Music That Should be Played in the Sunshine #1: Cymande – Dove (1972)


A top of 33 degrees today in Sydney, so though we should drop some more of that Soul music that should be played outdoors in tribute to that Sydney Sunshine.  This one’s by funk power house Cymande from their 1972 self-titled release. Special thanks to Tom Crown @ Good Groove Records many years ago for putting me on to this one.  Defiantly one of the gem’s in the music collection.