Release Date: May 15, 2012
Record label: Ample Play
Genre(s): Rap, Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
For his band's eighth album, Cornershop's Tjinder Singh called in reinforcements: Swedish songstress Izzy Lindqwister; SoKo, a French songstress who sounds like a Swedish songstress; and a bunch of English kindergartners, who light up a track called "What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag?" If Singh's genial, lounge-y tunes don't always hit groove nirvana, his wandering heart is at least in the right place. Listen to 'Urban Turban': Related• Photos: Random Notes .
According to singer Tjinder Singh, Beck’s creative guru once said Cornershop would be big, suffer a lull, and then go supernova. The concluding part here is yet to show but their recent albums justify the prediction that it will. ‘Judy Sucks a Lemon…’ (2009) was the classic-rock soundtrack to a day at the lido. ‘…Double-O Groove…’ (2011) refracted Punjabi folk through topsy-turvy electronica.
Twenty-one years. That’s how long Tjinder Singh and Ben Ayres have been plying their funked-up trade under the Cornershop banner for. And in that time the duo have never once felt the need to fit into the vicissitudes of grunge, brit-pop, trip-hop, grime, nu-rave, chillwave and any other poorly-coined micro-genre that signified the sound of the moment.
The buzzwords that tend to swirl around Cornershop-- multiculturalism, fusion, politics-- can make the band seem overly earnest and academic. The truth is, this is one profoundly and proudly silly band. But absurdity is ultimately Cornershop's greatest virtue: They may have made their name in the mid-1990s with a heady, cosmopolitan concoction of psychedelia, old-school funk, and mantric Punjabi folk, but their music also makes room for 1970s boogie-rock, cornball country, and vocoderized robo-disco.
Continuing a rebound into kaleidoscopic psychedelic dance after the happy retro vibes of 2009's Judy Sucks a Lemon for Breakfast, Cornershop concentrate on big elastic multicultural rhythms on Urban Turban. Much of this reflects some sounds from Cornershop & the Double-O Groove Of, their 2011 collaboration with Punjabi singer Bubbley Kaur, but here the Indian influence is matched with a heavier Western dance influence. Big rhythms pump throughout Urban Turban, with Tjinder Singh's sharp pop classicism fading to the background -- only the opening "What Did the Hippie Have in His Bag?" plays like a traditional pop single -- as Cornershop emphasize several different guest female singers.
These days, you’re only as good as your last album. Unless you’re a reality show contestant, of course – in which case you’re only as good as your last single.That could leave Cornershop in a precarious position, if you’re taking chart positions into account: their last high water mark was with the chart-topping Norman Cook remix of their track “Brimful of Asha” – which hit number one in the UK way back in 1998. Of course, if you’re an alternative act in 2012, chart positions mean pretty much zilch, such is the state of the music industry.
Cornershop brings us a funky, synth-coloured, hip-hoppish, far-out electronic music blended with full doses of Indian folk roots. Their opening track is a psychedelic children's song with a valuable life lesson at the end. The rest of the album has a heaping variety of featured artists. Among them is Izzy, who, along with the tabla, makes "Who's Gonna Lite it Up?" hard-hitting and seductive.
A collection full of life from a band that evidently loves what they do. John Aizlewood 2012 Those who predicted that Cornershop would be a one-hit wonder once Brimful of Asha bid a tearful farewell to the charts had a technical point – after all, they've never had so much as a British top 20 single since that 1998 number one. But they missed a more pressing point too: Cornershop were always in it for the long haul.
In 1999, flush from - and bewildered at - the success of the Norman Cook pitched-up version of 'Brimful Of Asha', Cornershop assumed a new persona and released Disco & The Halfway To Discontent under the name of Clinton. It was a chance to realise their funkiest urges, to enslave themselves to the bassline instead of the pop hook. And it did bugger all.