Show #70: Featured Artists—Mélanie De Biasio & Hollie Cook

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Two very different artists—both outstanding (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

I want to feature two new albums that showcase two young artists who couldn’t be more different: Mélanie De Biasio and Hollie Cook. Both of them are so outstanding, however, that their excellence binds them together. These two singers have fantastic, new albums out that I highly recommend.

Hollie Cook - Twice
Hollie Cook— Twice(The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

Hollie Cook is a young British singer. The daughter of Sex Pistols drummer Paul Cook, her mother Jeni was a backup singer for 1980s supergroup Culture Club. Hollie’s godfather is—you guessed it—Boy George. Originally a member of a British punk band called The Slits, she later went on to work with Ian Brown of The Stone Roses. Music is obviously in her DNA. On her new release, TwiceCook is backed by a terrific band and great production: vocal overdubs are perfect, reggae beats and bass lines flow smoothly through her musical tapestry. She so delightfully puts to song themes of life, love and loss, joy and pain, human emotions we’re all familiar with. The tempi of the various cuts is almost identical, but rather than sounding played out, you can listen the whole album through and fall in love every cut. I definitely recommend checking out this album.

Mélanie De Biasio is a young Belgian singer. Classically-trained on piano and flute, she delivers minimal sound with intensity. Her music is dark and moody, the piano chords are spare, drumming is minimal. She daringly covers Nina Simone, something that would scare away most singers, but she delivers beautifully; she does Nina proud. There’s a line in the song, “I need affection, not protection,” perhaps alluding to the fact that Nina married an ex-cop who protected her from others, and perhaps from herself as well. Having started her career as a classical instrumentalist, De Biasio was a reluctant singer when she began. I read that it was only after some friends encouraged her to sing at a party that she decided to record an album. Her music is not exactly pop, nor is it strictly jazz either. She has been called by some a “Belgian Billie Holiday,” but I disagree: her piano background and intensity puts her more in the Nina Simone camp. Her album, No Deal, also comes highly recommended by yours truly.


Rhythm Planet Playlist: 08/29/14

  1. Hollie Cook / “Twice” / Twice / Mr. Bongo
  2. Mélanie De Biasio / “No Deal” / No Deal / Pias America
  3. Hollie Cook / “99” / Twice / Mr. Bongo
  4. Mélanie De Biasio / “Sweet Darling Pain” / No Deal / Pias America
  5. Hollie Cook / “Win Or Lose” / Twice / Mr. Bongo
  6. Mélanie De Biasio / “I’m Gonna Leave You” / No Deal / Pias America

Here is Cook at a reggae festival.

Here is De Biasio performing a medley of “No Deal” and the Nina Simone classic “I’m Going to Leave You.”