Paul Lester

Jessie Ware: Things are looking up for the queen of UK soul

By Paul Lester, September 18, 2014

Back in the days when Jessie Ware was a young web reporter for the JC, she helped to compile a gig guide. "I used to do the listings for Jewish people appearing at Brixton Academy and now I'm playing there," says the acclaimed soul singer and songwriter, amazed by the transition. "It's fabulous." Has her change in fortunes exceeded her wildest expectations? "Absolutely."

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Jess Glynne: The chart-topper who lives with her mum

By Paul Lester, July 24, 2014

In her description, Jess Glynne has experienced a "whirlwind" of a year. Twelve months ago, she was still working as part of the brand management team for a company dealing in the importing and exporting of alcohol. Then, last August, she handed in her notice, signed to the prestigious Atlantic label and began releasing records.

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Matisyahu: He's lost his locks and wife but found a new voice

By Paul Lester, July 10, 2014

In 2011, American Chasidic reggae-rapper Matisyahu (aka Matthew Paul Miller) shaved off his beard and announced that he was "reclaiming" himself. "At a certain point I felt the need to submit to a higher level of religiosity… to move away from my intuition and to accept an ultimate truth," he told fans via his website.

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Lana Del Ray: Ultraviolence

By Paul Lester, June 26, 2014

Lana Del Rey's previous album, 2012's Born To Die, sold seven million copies and made her one of the biggest new stars on the planet, albeit one of the most mysterious. She seemed almost too good to be true, like a '50s B-movie starlet who had stepped straight off the screen into a recording career. There were, as a result, questions raised about the authenticity of the artist born Lizzy Grant.

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Interview: Howie B

By Paul Lester, June 6, 2014

There are two Howard Bernsteins who are regularly in the news. One - a Sir no less - is chief executive of Manchester City Council. Perhaps to distinguish himself from his civic namesake, the other operates as Howie B and is famous for producing U2, Björk, Tricky, Massive Attack, Goldie and Soul II Soul, and for remixing everyone from Annie Lennox to Steve Reich and Simply Red.

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Interview: Mark Ronson

By Paul Lester, May 15, 2014

Amy Winehouse's producer Mark Ronson hasn't exactly been quiet since last interviewed by the JC in 2007. He released a solo album called Record Collection in 2010 and has produced, among others, Adele, Bruno Mars, Duran Duran, Beyonce's sister Solange, Kaiser Chiefs, rap legends Nas and Ghostface Killah, and Paul McCartney.

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Blondie mainstay gets to focus on the negatives as 10th album comes out

By Paul Lester, April 17, 2014

When a prominent member of a legendary American pop-rock-disco-rap band inquires as to your well-being, you’d better make sure your reply is more interesting than “Fine, thanks”.

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Kylie Minogue - Kiss Me Once (Parlophone)

By Paul Lester, April 7, 2014

When Madonna wore a Kylie Min-ogue T-shirt to the MTV European Music Awards in 2000, it was assumed she was being magnanimous and ironic. But the fact is that, in this country at least, Kylie is as big a deal these days.

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Rothman reaps rewards for brushing up on his Grammar

By Paul Lester, February 20, 2014

London Grammar’s melancholy chill-out pop, with its blend of wan melody and gently pattering trip hop rhythms, has been one of the musical triumphs of the past year. The trio, who met at Nottingham University in 2009, saw their 2013 debut album If You Wait reach number two in the UK and go top 20 around the world.

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Life in Rough Trade: How Geoff Travis became a major player for indie bands

By Paul Lester, February 17, 2014

As founder of the Rough Trade record store, distribution company and label, Geoff Travis has done as much as anyone to promote indie music as an alternative to mainstream, major record company product.

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Barbara Streisand: Back To Brooklyn

By Paul Lester, January 17, 2014

Back To Brooklyn is a CD and DVD package recording Barbra Streisand's return to her roots - her concerts in October last year, which were her first in the neighbourhood where she was raised.

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Saul Milton is keen to remain in the background as Chase and Status hit the big time

By Paul Lester, December 5, 2013

Chase and Status are the most successful electronic music duo in Britain, having assumed that mantle from The Chemical Brothers. Their albums and singles regularly reach the higher echelons of the charts, they have remixed the great and good of UK dance from Plan B to Tinie Tempah and they are the British collaborators of choice for international music royalty including Rihanna and Jay-Z.

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Songs about 'women and insanity'

By Paul Lester, September 16, 2013

It is not uncommon to find American alternative or indie bands with one Jewish member. Some down the years — such as legendary New York punks the Ramones — have featured two. But it’s quite unusual to find a band like Papa, a four-piece from Los Angeles, where all the members are Jewish.

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Hitmaker who became kung fu queen is not so rock ’n’ roll

By Paul Lester, August 8, 2013

Lynsey de Paul was the Adele of her day — a small, mousey blonde, Jewish version of Adele. For several years in the 1970s, she was everywhere, with that facial beauty spot and that inimitable breathy voice cooing songs that she wrote, performed on piano and produced. Not for nothing was she heralded at the time as the British Carole King — and, subsequently, as the precursor to Kate Bush.

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The stars are out for Hawthorne

By Paul Lester, July 15, 2013

Mayer hawthorne
Where Does This Door Go? (Island)
Four stars

Youngblood hawke
Wake Up (Universal Republic)
Three stars

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Burt showing off his six-pack

By Paul Lester, June 13, 2013

There aren’t many composers, American or British, who could support a six-CD box set of their work, but Burt Bacharach — who has just turned 85 and is due to perform in Israel for the first time in July — is one such giant of post-war song. The last major collection of his music was The Look Of Love, a mere three-CD affair from 1998.

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Review: Primal Scream

By Paul Lester, May 6, 2013

It is 22 years since Primal Scream released a truly important album (Screamadelica) and 13 years since their last great one (XTRMNTR). The former captured the heady moment when house music entered the mainstream; the latter was the most successful example of the band’s rampant eclecticism.

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Suddenly Remarried: My dysfunctional week of functions

By Paul Lester, February 28, 2013

You’ve heard of Four Weddings and a Funeral, right? Well, during a single week at the end of February, I had two shivahs, a barmitzvah and a bris.

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Review: Playing Cards 1: Spades

By Paul Lester, February 14, 2013

There is a lot to admire about this technically brilliant offering from renowned French-Canadian director Robert Lepage. For a start, it is a measure of Lepage’s skill that at two and a half hours without an interval, the evening goes remarkably quickly.

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Haim - the three sisters who are this year's pop sensation

By Paul Lester, February 14, 2013

Right now, Este, Danielle and Alana Haim, from Los Angeles, are three of the hottest names in pop, rock and r&b (and their sound is a blend of pop, rock and r&b — imagine Fleetwood Mac jamming with Destiny’s Child).

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